How do you know if your ideas for a great storyline or character will appeal to your readers? Here are some ways that your readers can help you fine-tune your next bestseller.
1. Survey your readers
If you’ve started an author mailing list, survey your readers to find out what makes them tick. If you’re a nonfiction writer you probably want to know what their problems and concerns are. If you’re a fiction writer, you can ask them what books and authors they enjoy reading, or the genres that appeal.
2. Offer sneak previews
Show your readers aspects of your work in progress. You can reveal character insights, plot twists (without giving too much away) and even send sample chapters for your readers’ comments.
You can also share covers and blurbs. If you’ve prepared a couple of cover designs, ask your readers which they find most appealing.
3. Ask specific questions
Are your readers experts in a field, or do they have useful insider knowledge regarding the setting for your book, or the languages spoken by your characters? If there’s something you’re struggling with or you want a second opinion, try asking your audience. You might get a great response – and it’s also the sort of thing that can help you build a deeper relationship with your readers.
4. Think up fun competitions
Involve your readers in your next book by inviting them to take part in competitions, where the prize is to name a (minor) character or location, or to have some other say.
5. Set up an advance readers’ group
Another “reward” idea is to involve your greatest fans in your marketing and promotions. Send an advance copy of your finished book out to readers on your Advance Readers (or VIP) list, and ask for reviews when the book is published.
If you haven’t set up an advance readers’ group, you can still benefit from early buys and reviews by pricing your book lower for the first couple of days (and announcing it in your regular mailing list) or putting your book on Amazon pre-order.
6. Find beta readers for your work
Ask your fans to read your manuscript, or search for beta readers in your genre yourself. Beta readers can give you invaluable feedback and suggestions on plot or character holes, or even flag up language errors and inconsistencies. In short, beta readers can help you make sure that your book is as polished as possible before your final edit and publication.