How important are your fans?

How important are your fans? Think hard before you answer this one because a fan is far more than just a source of income. They are the reason why you write. Without them, a writer is nothing, a voice without an audience. You should listen to them, interact with them, and always treat them with respect.

People have been saying for a long time that an author should have a wide social networking footprint. That means spending time on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and a host of other sites. Recently, I’ve read that a study has concluded there is no benefit in sales from having a strong social presence. The same study also concluded that winning an award also has little to no affect on sales. I was surprised. I thought about that for awhile and then noted that the key word here is ‘sales’.

Most people buy books based on verbal recommendations from their friends. Some read the reviews but many now realize that reviews may not always mean anything because everyone has different tastes. Writer awards are mostly for the writer community—few people other than writers have ever heard of most of them and most people simply don’t care. The average consumer wants to spend as little as possible to read a well-written book. If you write a good story and a reader enjoys it then that reader will come back for more—you’ve gained a fan.

Does all this mean that every author should quit blogging and vanish from the social network? After all, instead of writing this blog or updating my Twitter feed I could be spending that time writing. If sales is all you care about then perhaps that would be a proper strategy. I look at things in a different way.

Don’t get me wrong—sales are important; it’s what helps pay a writer’s bills. But a writer—a true writer—does not write strictly for the money. He writes because it is an insatiable itch that must be scratched. The urge to tell a story to someone else is too strong to ignore. A writer needs an audience otherwise there’s no point in writing. If you think about it carefully, this means that the reader—your fans—is all that matters. And the best way for a person to feel like they matter is to make yourself available to them for comment and to respond to those comments in a professional manner. Social networking is the modern way to accomplish this.

Example: I have a few fans who have given me feedback—good feedback. I listen to them and I try to learn from what they’ve told me. Recently, I asked one such person his opinion on an aspect of my current work in progress. The reply I received was an eye-opener and has caused me to go back and rewrite the beginning of my next novel. His feedback has changed the entire course of my main character. The novel’s basic plot remains unchanged but my main character now has a more interesting life, a more human experience, and hopefully the book will be much better because of it. I’m going to give that reader a chance for more feedback since he’ll be one of my beta-readers for Peacekeeper 2. Thank you Lee Dilkie! (You didn’t think I was going to leave your name a mystery did you?)

In case you’re wondering: I’m on Twitter (@author_farren) but I only follow fellow writers or a very few select other Twitter feeds—feel free to follow me if you desire. I have both a personal and a fan Facebook page. Because of my limited time (I do work for a living) I rarely look at what others are saying on Facebook. I also have a Google+ account and I look at that feed even less. I am on LinkedIn. I have a website and I write a weekly blog. There you have it—my complete social networking platform. If you want to get in touch with me the best way to do it is by emailing me. My email is available on all of my social network platforms which is the main reason why I have them—so people can find me. If you write me, I will write you back.

Peacekeeper update: I have managed to get some writing done this week. Peacekeeper 2 now stands at 27,788 words with a new beginning still in progress.