Tuesday, November 22, 2011

When do readers trust you?

The reason you can't publish a book and expect people to immediately buy it is this . . . you haven't built a trust with the people.

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.


widdershins said...

I've come across a website of an author whose caught my attention only to discover they last updated it in 2007! - and, I'm gone.

Or a blog that was updated months ago with something akin to,'I don't know what to write so I'm going to insult your intelligence with some drivel'.
That'll make me leave with an instant mouse-click, never to return.

If you don't want to be bothered, then don't bother!

trump said...

I'm visiting new blogs today for the first time, so i also thought id wish you a Happy Thanksgiving to you and your readers. And i hope that the day is spent generating positive memories for years to come. Richard from Amish Stories.

Hope Clark said...

Thanks Richard. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too. Come back soon.

I know what you mean, widdershins. I'm the same way. It comes across as an author holding his hand out for me to buy his book, but can't take the time to update his site or blog for me. Authors always say they don't like a one-way street, where editors do not take them seriously. It's the same between an author and the reader.

Arlee Bird said...

I have faithfully written on my blog, treating it much as I would a job. My readers know when to find me and I haven't let them down yet. Likewise, I try my best to deliver a consistent quality of my posts, although I suppose that is an often subjective perception.
When you come to depend on a writer's consistent performance you are more willing to invest in the next thing that writer produces.

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