The secret to enticing readers

Neil Ostroff head shotWhen I read Neil Ostroff’s LinkedIn discussion about how hard he works to connect personally with readers, I asked him to share his story here. And so you know . . . Neil Ostroff has been a published author of dark, noir thrillers, romance thrillers, and middle grade sci/fi and paranormal novels including Drop Out for more than 20 years. He is an avid poker player when not working on his novels. Learn more on his blog

The secret to enticing readers

By Neil Ostroff

I recently had my first sit down interview with a magazine reporter and she asked me the question, “Once an author indie publishes a book, how do they get that book noticed?” I told the reporter the standard replies of using social networking and placing sponsorship ads on reader websites, but then I thought about what has helped me sell the most books. And I replied, “Communication with my readers.”

It is well known among the indie writer community that the best way to sell books is through word of mouth. No paid advertisement can beat a real live human being praising your book to another reader. So, how do you create word of mouth?

Make the time

I spend a minimum of two hours a day personally answering every e-mail, comment, or fan question that comes my way. I’ve joined dozens of Facebook writers groups and Google+ groups and actually interact with real readers and people who love books.

Drop OutI’ve watched my sales grow steadily as I discuss my books with readers and see my fan base grow. There’s nothing more personally and artistically satisfying than someone telling me they are buying one of my books and then writing me later telling me how much they enjoyed it. This is how you build readership! This is how you sell books!

Yes, it does take away a tremendous amount of my writing time to personally answer each and every inquiry, but I wouldn’t trade interacting with my readers for anything in the world. Go ahead, drop me a note or pick up one of my books and let me know what you think. I will get back to you.

What’s your best tip for connecting with readers?

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Sandra Beckwith is an award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to market their books. Three groups have recognized her site as an outstanding resource for authors, so you know her advice is author-tested.

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12 Responses to The secret to enticing readers
  1. Maria
    July 27, 2013 | 10:22 pm

    I just published my fifth novel, but all of my novels are collecting dust in Amazon’s basement, so to speak. I don’t know if people even see the titles. I have attractive covers, etc, etc, but I don’t know if people even look at them. I’m not much into blogging, but I’m getting better at twitter. I’ve got boards of my novels on Pinterest (story boards minus the end). What am I missing? (By the way, A TRIBUTE TO THE MOTHER OF THE WATERS is banned on Kindle. I’ve been advertising that but haven’t seen any sales.)

    • Sandra Beckwith
      July 29, 2013 | 1:40 am

      Maria, every book needs its own promotion plan — it’s hard to say what’s “missing” because it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. And sometimes you can be doing the right things, but not the right way. The key is to make sure that you’re getting your book title in front of your book’s target audience.


      • Margaret Oliver
        July 29, 2013 | 7:03 pm

        Yes, she needs to know who is her target audience.

        • Sandra Beckwith
          July 29, 2013 | 7:36 pm

          Thanks, Margaret.


  2. Romesh Chopra
    July 28, 2013 | 12:42 pm

    you are on the right track i entirely agree with you.

  3. Janet K. Brown
    July 29, 2013 | 8:31 pm

    Good info. Yes, it does take time away from writing. After a book is published, you just take on a 2nd job – that of promotion.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      July 29, 2013 | 8:36 pm

      So true, Janet! It’s a second job, but it can be a fun one!


  4. Margaret Oliver
    July 29, 2013 | 9:59 pm

    It’s also good to become known at first, perhaps for one or two great works. You should promote the book(s) you mostly want to be remembered or have more influence with. That’s one way I believe you’ll be able to build up your readership.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      July 31, 2013 | 4:27 pm

      All good points, Margaret. Thanks for taking the time to share.


  5. Dianne Gallagher
    July 31, 2013 | 4:02 pm

    I totally agree. One of the toughest nuts to crack is getting to the readers, rather than other authors. As writers, we all love to connect with each other and that can create some very meaningful professional and personal relationships. However, the real challenge is reaching your readers. Recently, reaching out to book clubs has helped with that. One club reads and passes the book to another club who reads and… well, that’s the beginning of something.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      July 31, 2013 | 4:29 pm

      SO true, Dianne! Authors have a tendency to spend their time promoting to other authors instead of to their book’s target audience.

      As for book clubs, you might like yesterday’s blog post on book clubs at

      Thanks for such a thoughtful comment.


  6. James W. Lewis
    August 2, 2013 | 1:53 pm

    I agree, especially in this social media age. It’s about establishing relationships with readers, not Buy My Book posts all day. I respond to every email, FB message and IM chat. I even had messages like, “I’m on Chap 13 of your book! Love it so far !” How can I not respond to a message like that? 🙂

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