Tuesday, November 22, 2011
When do readers trust you?
Many writers equate trust with glitz, 10,000 blog readers, Facebook fans and so on. While numbers often hint that trust has been involved in the process of building that platform, being flashy doesn't mean you've garnered trust from your potential readers.
This is what I interpret as trust between a writer and a reader:
1. Quality. The reader can focus on content, knowing that the writer has done his job well.
2. Consistency. The writer is where he's supposed to be: blog post, newsletter delivery, speaking engagements, website updates, new stories. He promises and delivers.
3. Empathy. The author understands and believes in his readers. He connects instead of just writing to sell.
So here we go again, the chicken or the egg dilemma. You feel like nobody. You don't know how you're supposed to make a name for yourself and find your readers. How do you bridge the chasm between the unknown writer and the searching reader? How do you build trust?
STEP 1 - Put your best writing in the public's eye.
STEP 2 - Repeat until they find you.
No, it will not happen in a month. Expect trust building to take time. A reader has to know you're in this for long haul, not to use him for your guinea pig as you figure out whether you want to be a serious writer.
Put . . . yourself . . . out . . . there. And do it repeatedly, consistently, reliably. Readers need to know that if and when they decide they want to read you, that you'll be there. The reader who doesn't want you today may want to buy all your stories a year from now. If you decided after six months of rejection that you were done or taking a break, all that platform building stops. Readers who seek you are disappointed. Even if you decide to renew your vow to write, they'll remember you as the person who disappeared. You become unreliable. There's no making up with those readers.
There isn't a profession out there who considers a one-year history in the job as trustworthy. It takes time. Blogs aren't something you do occasionally. Websites are not updated once a year. Letting several weeks lapse in your effort to become a known author can hurt. And whether you realize it or not, a silent reader who may have heard of you, who decided after hearing about you twice thanks to some word-of-mouth, finds out you aren't what or where he thought you were. And he moves on.
And you basically start over on your platform. Tortoise and the hare, people. We all know the end of that story.