What Do Your Readers Want to Know About You?

Heart of Forest by Wojtek Kowalski via Google under Creative Commons license
Heart of Forest by Wojtek Kowalski via Google under Creative Commons license

Twice this week I have read or heard something that made me sit up and take notice. In both instances, some of the discussion centered on our readers and the importance of placing the focus on them.

In other words, what is at the heart of your blog? Why are you blogging? What do you want people to know? AND what do your readers want to know about you?

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The first incident was while reading a post by Joel Friedlander in which he talks about the importance of an author maintaining a blog. After he has provided a list of things to include in your blog, Joel moves into a discussion of the “origin story,” basically where you are coming from.

In other words, our readers deserve a bit of our background and experience in order to trust that we are qualified to be writing what we write. We must share where we come from, our background, and our experience — the things that qualify us in their eyes.

Joel closes with a great example of how he used this himself after taking a course on blogging. He calls it his Publishing Timeline, an overview of the places where he had gained experience in publishing, the topic on which his blog is based.

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The second time I came across a similar reference was in a webinar presented by Joe Bunting of The Write Practice and Story Cartel. The subject of the webinar was building a platform for creative writers.

I know none of us like hearing any more about “platform,” and I understand most of you reading here are nonfiction writers, at the moment. I signed up for the webinar to learn a bit more as I have two historical fiction projects waiting in the wings. And I did pick up some good bits of information.

During the webinar, Joe talked about creative writersplacing their emphasis on writing about the genre they are writing in, others writing in the same genre, and books published in that genre than about how to write.

Granted Joe’s comments were directed to writers hoping to publish creative fiction and therefore he points toward writing about the writer’s chosen genre rather than so much about his “origin story.” Joe also pointed to sharing the story you are writing. He pointed out that Tim Grahl of Out:think says 40% of a book can be given way to some people but not everyone. A good example is James Patterson who gave away approximately 19 chapters of his last book.

Therefore, sharing your story on your blog is an effective way to begin building that platform, for capturing your readers’ interest now and when it’s time to publish, you have a following already interested.

Afterwards I thought to myself, “Well, you don’t have to tell me twice!” Usually hearing something repeated, or something similar, impresses on me that these are ideas worth remembering.

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Both Joel and Joe emphasize the impact these actions will have on building platform, drawing readers, and making our image known giving us a stronger reference point when we are ready to publish that next big book! As writers, our blog readers may become our book readers and our most valuable marketing tool.

?4U: What do you see here that will help you improve your standing with your readers? What do you want to start doing to implement either of these ideas? Join the discussion below!

24 thoughts on “What Do Your Readers Want to Know About You?

  1. This is something I struggled with in the beginning. At first, I was very anonymous but found that I have much better engagement and conversation when I’m a bit more transparent in my blog. Of course, I still have moments where I wonder if I’m over sharing but luckily I have friends who will tell me. Hasn’t happened yet, but there’s still time. This is a great question. Thanks for asking it!

    1. Allison, it’s always pleasant to find a fellow book reviewer here. This question is one that has dogged me for as long as I’ve been blogging. The issue of transparency is one that walks a fine line. I see you as so professional that I’m not sure you will ever overshare, but you never know! Want to make a pact? I’ll tell you if you’ll tell me. πŸ™‚

  2. Sherrey, Thank you so much for highlighting these valuable tips from Joel and Joe. And kudos to you for honing in on the issues that matter the most to writers. Your blog has become a source of essential information and inspiration to us all. Great job!

    1. Isn’t it interesting that I highlighted “Joel and Joe” — sounds like some kind of team name, doesn’t it? I loved writing this one, and the one coming up tomorrow is one I loved doing even more. You’ll see why. Once again, I appreciate your continued encouragement and inspiration.

  3. Your post today gave me pause to reflect. Before entering the blog world with my stories, I wrote only for academic publication and enjoyed the research. Memoir writing is entirely different but feels creative in a different way. Your tips and links always help advance my understanding and hence direction in writing. Thank you, thank you.
    Based on past response, my readers respond to tales of both my past and present. Today I am pondering, “What, if anything, should I hold back?”

    1. Marian, your faithful readership makes it a joy to write these posts. You underscore for me that what I’m doing here is worthwhile. I like your reference to memoir writing feeling creative. It is difficult to think of it as creative since we’re not making it up, but the creativity comes in how we present our stories. And yes, readers of life stories love both past and present.
      On a personal note, if you look at the excerpts from my memoir on this blog and my letters to mama, you’ll note that it’s been awhile. I don’t want everyone to know everything before I publish. So I’m thoughtful about what I select to put here and I also save some things to use for readings at conferences, etc. You will know how much to hold back based on what you want to surprise your reader with some day.

      1. I have thought about the “holding back” aspect of memoir writing and have some “surprise” elements to stash away. Thanks for observing–and caring.

  4. Perfect bit of info today! Thanks. I agree that info on the genre is more interesting usually than tons of personal stuff about how hard it is to write πŸ™‚

    1. Sue, I’ve been around but you’re right — busy behind the scenes. Also, rebuilding our company’s website after a computer crash which damaged most of our local file. πŸ™ But it will get done in time. How are you these days?

  5. Hi Sherrey – in these days when writers are inundated with the latest in a list of things we “must” do, you have presented this in a refreshing way -offering good advice. Joe always has great tips. I’m headed over to Joel’s site right now.
    Blessings to you, my friend, and thank you for what you are doing through your blog.

    1. Joan, thanks so much for dropping in and commenting. We writers are inundated daily with the “must” do’s. Joe is great and I enjoyed his webinar and considered his Story Cartel course. But I think I’m waiting for Jeff to open up Tribe Writers again. Enjoy Joel’s post!
      Blessings on you my faithful friend and writing sister. You too are always sharing a great deal with us all.

      1. Sherrey – I think Jeff is going to open the class real soon. (Maybe mid-October). Hope to see you there. Once you’re in, you have lifetime access.

  6. Sherrey,This is what I like in a writerly post. You gave us valuable tips and links, even veering off non-fiction for a bit. I did post parts of my memoir in postcard form, as you may recall. I had great feedback and requests for me to publish it, then I kind of fell apart over the grief it pulled back out, then new griefs. I hope that I am able to get back to it soon and that I have not lost the interest I had going.
    For now I spend my time learning and encouraging others. Baby steps:>)
    Thank you,
    Patti

    1. Hi Patti, it’s been awhile since we’ve chatted. BTW, thanks for the comments you left for Cate today. πŸ™‚ Also thanks for your comments here. I do hope that soon you will be able to pick up with your memoir and use those baby steps to get yourself going again. The last two years of working on mine have been hit by loss and upsets of the family kind, but we do keep going but distractions of that sort are hard. I’m thinking special thoughts of you on the coast finding your muse.
      Personal question: Did you work for a law firm in Seattle at one time?

      1. Ok, one more time…so frustrating..I wrote you a long reply and it just disappeared…on the last sentence, of course!Thank you for the special thoughts. My only employment in Seattle was at the Seattle Center House where I helped a friend run her little sundries shop and I also so managed or was assistant at several apt communities.

      2. I hate it when I’ve done a really nice long comment, and it decides to go somewhere else! Well, I worked in Portland for Perkins Coie, a huge firm based in Seattle, and had conversations more than once with a Patti and since I couldn’t remember her last name, I figured asking you was worth a shot. I’m going to be looking for more writing from you in the near term.

  7. Let me know if you’d like a critiquing buddy for those historical fiction projects, Sherrey. I’m hoping to have the creative writing guide out of the way by the end of this year, so that should allow me to focus on the novel again next year. And those characters are calling. Just yesterday, I set up a blog post featuring an excerpt; as you know, the current series is about my nonfiction. Apropos your post and Joel’s tips, what do you do when you’re working on several projects all at once? My advice: call attention to each within an appropriate series of blog posts so that they’re clearly targeting the ‘right’ audience. Great post; can’t wait for you to release the memoir πŸ™‚

    1. Oh, Belinda, you’re the first to ask about critiquing buddy on the historical fiction projects, so you’re at the top of my list. One is still a dream, the other I’ve begun doing some research and drafting tidbits. The memoir is coming along but still a work in progress. Always something is getting in the way — this time our website for our small business we operate. When the computer crashed a couple months ago, the local files for the site were damaged and in order to update our online presence I have had to start from scratch to rebuild it. πŸ™ I do what I can on that each day and try to write too, but some days it just doesn’t happen what with the blogging and book reviewing.
      Appreciated your comment about working on several projects at once. Good advice! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on everything! πŸ™‚

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