How to Reward Your Readers

Today’s question is how do I reward my readers?

(If you prefer audio, you can listen to this episode on the Smarter Artist Podcast)

The most basic answer here is to write good books and offer them at a reasonable price, and your readers will feel that they’re valuable.

You don’t ever want your readers to feel like they’ve been ripped off.

I see a lot of people that write these tiny 10-15 page ebooks and charge a very high amount for them.

That’s very short-term thinking.

They might make a lot of money but they won’t develop a good relationship with readers, because readers won’t feel like they’re getting value for their money.

You want to provide value, in fiction and non-fiction.

Even more so in non-fiction because people are coming to you for a solution of some sort, and you want to provide value.

Not just in the book that you sold them. You can do this a lot of different ways. You can do blogs, social media, whatever.

You can answer people’s questions. You can offer your time. If you’re an expert in some field, you can offer your time to readers.

Maybe like an Ask Us Anything sort of thing, where you can do that once a month or every so often where you can answer their questions in a way that you’re not making any money from it whatsoever.

But you are developing a relationship with your readers. They appreciate when people offer their time.

shutterstock_326249162Another way is giving out free books or free short stories, or behind the scenes sorts of the things.

We’ve do that in our Collective Inkwell books. We’ll have an Author’s Note that will talk a little bit about the story behind the story.

We got that directly from Stephen King, especially his short stories. He doesn’t do it in his books as much, I don’t think. But in his short stories a lot of times he’d have a little story about the story you just read.

I love that. That to me is an author over-delivering.

You’re not just getting a story, you’re getting this little bonus and you get to see how their mind works. To me, as a reader, that’s awesome.

We’ve done that with all of our short stories. We do that with most of our books as well, I think.

Another thing that you can do is having a mailing list and regularly converse with your audience, provide value to them that way.

Don’t just email them when you have a new book that’s come out, or is on sale. Email them regularly. Once a week, once every two weeks, enough that they don’t forget about you, but not so much that they’re like oh, jeesh, this guy’s mailing again or this girl’s mailing again. What the hell!

You don’t want that.

You want them to remember you and to open your email because they know there’s going to be something cool in there and they won’t think you’re wasting their time or spamming them.

Ways you can offer value really depends on if you do fiction or non-fiction and who your audience is.

For instance, if you’re writing horror stories, you can send out regular emails and talk about many different things, like your favorite horror movies. You can do horror reviews of books or movies on your web site and send out a link to that when you send out your mailing list.

It’s content that you’re creating. Nobody’s paying for it but it’s something that your audience may enjoy.

You’ve got to find the thing that is congruent with your audience and what they like.

You’ll find that as you get to know your audience.

Whatever genre you’re in, obviously there’s other books that you’re aware of, or maybe you’ve read them and you like them, or you know a lot of people are talking about it and it’s just gone on sale or something. You could tell people about that.

When you send out your mailing list, it has stuff of value. It has something that entertains people in some way or informs them. That’s a reward for your reader.

They care enough about you and your books to sign up for your mailing list, so you should offer them regular content of stuff that you feel that they’ll enjoy.

You can even ask them what sorts of things would you like to see in this mailing list.

Another thing you could do is offer a discount on your book first day it launches, maybe the first two days or even week

A lot of authors, and we’ve done this in the past ourselves, we were kind of clueless, they’ll put their book out, regular price, and then a month or two later, they’ll put it on sale really cheap.

That is one of those things that sends the wrong signal to your regular readers that you want to reward. You’re suddenly telling them hey, everybody, come buy this thing full price. Okay. Now we’re going to discount it to everyone else really cheap.

It’s sort of like you don’t appreciate them if you’re doing that.

You’re sending a signal: why buy the book when it first comes out? I know I can wait a few weeks or a few months and it’ll be really cheap.

I can see a counter-argument to this, that your most loyal readers won’t mind paying full price. We’ve heard from readers who have said that to us, they just want to support us and make sure that we can keep writing our books. I love that people feel that way.

I can see that side to it too.

Sales are really tricky. Doing a discount on books is very tricky and there’s a whole science to it on getting it right. They are necessary.

You can’t really compete without doing sales, like a BookBub sale for $.99.

At some point some people may feel ripped off because hey, I bought that book, even if it was discounted to $2.99 from $4.99. I bought that book, now it’s on sale for $.99.

But you can’t really worry about those people because that’s just a matter of doing business, it’s par for the course.

You have to have sales every now and then. That’s true across every form of media.

When a movie comes out, it’s full price on DVD, and then eventually they’ll have a sale when it’s not selling so well.

It’s sort of like an artificial booster to help it sell, help it find a new audience.

As long as you’re providing value to your readers all the time in different ways, I don’t think too many people will be upset when your book goes to $.99 or free.