Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Talking to Readers

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Micro_hLately, I’ve been interacting with readers quite a bit. This, honestly, is pretty rare for me. I usually speak to writers twice as often as to readers.

Speaking to writers is easy. I talk about promo or the writing craft, or something specific about writing mysteries.

But I’m frequently uneasy when I’m speaking to readers. I’m more worried about being boring. And I’m more aware that I’m supposed to be promoting the books that are on the table against the back wall.

I also find that I need to really brush-up on my books before I do the talks. The readers have usually read my books more recently than I have.

Lately, I’ve done a lot of reader-targeted programs. I spoke to a group of mystery readers, spoke to a local service organization, and participated in a chat with mystery readers online. In addition, I’ve been on several book blogs.

I actually put a good deal of time into preparing for these events. What I was most interested in finding out was, what do readers want authors to talk about? What’s interesting to them?

So here’s a roundup of the questions I got from readers, in case it helps you prepare for a talk or online chat: What made you choose to write your genre? How did you come up with your protagonist? What kinds of books do you like to read now? What kinds of books did you like to read as a child? Is your protagonist based on someone? Where is your book set? Have you lived in the place where your book is set? What made you decide to write a book about ______? Who is your favorite character? Who is the victim in your new book? What are you working on now? What is your writing day like? How fast do you write? Do you write more than one series? Why do you write under a pen name? What other writers inspire you? Do you know ______? (names a writer) When did you decide to become a writer? Do you have an English degree? Do your books have recipes? Who helps you with your recipes? Are your books available on Nook? Kindle? Where can I find your books? Are your books at the library? What’s your last release about? Do you put people you know in your books? Can I be in your book? Did you have to do a lot of research to write your books? Are you on Facebook? Are there other kinds of books that you’d like to write? Have you thought about putting your protagonist into (names a scenario?) How many more books will be in this series? Hope this helps a little. Want to add to it? If you speak to readers, what questions are you usually asked? As a reader, what would be interesting to you?

Through the generosity of Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi at The Bookshelf Muse, I’m giving away one of their insightful 1000 word critiques. Just send an email to me at elizabethspanncraig (at)gmail (dot) com with “contest” in the subject to enter. Entries accepted through November 21. The randomly-chosen winner will be announced here November 22. Thanks, Angela and Becca!

And—Anne R. Allen will be here tomorrow, with a post entitled: 9 Pieces of Bad Writing Advice it's Best to Ignore. Hope you’ll come by!