As authors, we don’t want just to tell stories that readers want to read. We mostly want to “engage” our readers and sell books like I have with the Virtus Saga. So what does this mean really?
Well to me, engaging my readers means I write stories in which they can see or imagine themselves to be, in which they can relate to and empathize with the characters. However, this is not always an easy thing to do. Or also to write about characters that refuse to leave the readers’ minds once the book is over. If you don’t catch a reader’s attention from the get go, then that reader and potential book buyer may and often does go elsewhere. So, how can you the author engage your readers and thus encourage them to buy your book?
1. Start your story in the thick of the action. Authors that start their books with a bit of action are going to be far more likely to “hook” the reader into wanting to know more. I also encourage authors who are creating author spotlights to choose action filled excerpts that end in a bit of a cliffhanger making readers want to buy the book to find out what is going to happen next.
2. Ask a question. At author chats and even in your guest blogs, consider asking a question that in some way relates to the book. You can even share the “what if” question that you began with when you started writing the story, and encourage readers to share what they would like to see happen. Readers love to know how an author’s brain ticks and how they came up with a story line.
3. Help your readers get to know the characters with character interviews. Also, make sure you do them not just for your main characters, but your secondary characters as well. A well-crafted character interview will make readers want to know more about the characters, and their lives, thus encouraging them to, you guessed it, buy the book!
4. Provide ways for your readers to visualize what your characters look like. This can be in any number of ways, if you also happen to be an artist, you could draw your characters. If you’re also an amateur photographer, you could use models that look like your characters and photograph them (with their permission of course, and a signed model release). But even if you’re not an artist or photographer there are plenty of free stock photo sites and pay for stock photo sites that you can find photos that look like your characters. Add a quote and your website address and post them to Twitter, FB, Pinterest and your blog and newsletter.
5. Run a contest. Consider contests like “name my next heroine or hero,” or “send me a photo or drawing of my hero or heroine” and the winner will win some spectacular prize of your choosing, such as goodie packages with swag for example. These are just two ideas of contests you could run to engage readers.
The point with all of these ideas is to make it fun, and make your readers want to know more about your book. When they want to know more, they’re going to be more likely to buy. Also, these are all fun free ways that readers can engage with you and your book without any pressure on them to do anything else! (Although you it’s a given you want them to buy your book!)
And if these sound like just theories, check out the two Chapter One of The Sex and The Game, Book 1 and 2 respectively of my Virtus Saga. You’ll see that I’ve applied all the above tips to perfection :-)
PG EXCERPT – Chapter One
Where the fuck am I?
Glancing dejectedly at the unfamiliar land, he felt utterly lost.
Which was impossible.
Born and raised in the Silcamore District, he knew Black Rose had to be just around the corner, had probably been circling it for the past hour or so. Yet the fact remained. The more he raced his horse, the less he recognized the territory.
Damn! The whole day spent riding home only to be in the middle of nowhere!
Annoyed for the waste of time, his knees tightened around Fuzeon’s belly, vowing he would reach home if it were the last thing he would do. And he might just have gotten his wish had a fat drop not hit his nose first, then his forehead.
Rain, great! That’s all I need!
Night had just fallen, with Stella setting at the twenty-fifth hour, an hour ahead of time given the whole day long of cloudy overcast sky. Now it looked anything but friendly, and the big black clouds that had steadily gathered over the horizon promised nothing good, as did the ominous thunderbolts that pierced the velvety darkness with distant flashes.
Goddamn it! He needed cover and fast, but none seemed available in the flat emptiness he was crossing. Just my luck! Where’s a shelter when you need one?
To think his father had taken such pride in running the Shelter System, making sure that all travelers on Silcamore’s roads had adequate hospitality to see them through their journey. Too bad he hasn’t placed one here, wherever here was, or wherever he would be going as he hurried away from the wet drops.
The downpour suddenly increased as though to spite him. Irritating him mostly, since the watery droplets had the most unfortunate habit of infiltrating through his long hair and clothes to run down bare skin.
Snorting, the horse reminded the rider he might not be the only one feeling uncomfortable. “Hey, Fuzeon.” Bending toward the black head, he spurred him, “Let’s get a roof over our heads before we both drown.”
Fuzeon nickered softly in agreement and accelerated as if he had just such a place in mind. So the man raised his gaze and noticed a distant light on the left. Faint and unstable to be sure, still the first sign of life in what seemed to be an eternity.
Quickly steering Fuzeon, he rushed in that direction, only to realize he was at the village’s outskirts, just a stone throw away from Black Rose. Too tired, or rather too wet, to care, he reached the pale glimmer, amazed it came from such poorly kept and neglected shack, with an annexed stable that looked like a palace.
Must be Fuzeon’s lucky day. Getting the horse, he tied him up next to an empty trough. At least he’ll be sure to spend a better night than his master will.
Then speeding to the front door, he knocked loudly, trying to ignore how run down the rest of the place was.
“Yes, just a minute.”
He heard a female voice answer. After a few moments, she appeared on the threshold.
“Good evening, sir.” Lit from behind, a complete stranger stared back at him with huge green mesmerizing eyes.
And what he read in them was something so unusual he could not help sinking in it. < Read full Chapter One >
PG EXCERPT – Chapter One
Who is Cecilia Hurst?
ho is Cecilia Hurst?” And why don’t I give a damn about her, only about Prince Duncan Caldwell and his phase mate, Lord Christopher Templeton?
If she could just concentrate on piecing together the sketchy information gathered at the Nephis Valley and find the stolen heart, she would be the happiest woman alive. Instead, Ylianor Meyer’s attention kept shifting on the two gorgeous men riding by her side, which made it unproductive to focus on anything besides the scorching memories of their stay in the pledge’s sacred valley and their consequent hurried escape from it.
If it had been a spell, which she hoped it had not, it could not have happened with two more breathtaking creatures than the one she had loved all her life, and the one she had come to appreciate after weeks spent traveling.
Under her eyelashes, she stole a peak at her prince. Slightly older than his shiny blond phase mate, the very masculine Duncan Caldwell had raven black hair, falling down to his shoulders, dancing black eyes, a chiseled face with a square jaw over a tall, powerful, well-built frame with muscles rippling at every movement. Yes, he was impossibly gorgeous and impossibly taken, too, given how much he loved the very striking and very smug Lord Christopher Templeton.
Who was a real demon, no question about it, had been ever since he had walked into Black Rose with a load of rage and fury so great it would have annihilated anyone. Though not him, the eight-year-old boy that looked like an angel and had the core of a demon.
Goddamn him and his regular features with that aristocratic nose, the short thick hair flashing brighter than Stella’s rays and those intriguing blue-gray eyes she found hard to read at times. As if it were not enough, he was also tall, and his less muscular build spoke of a natural grace, elegance and sensuality that were impossible to resist. And goddamn him twice for having her fall all over him, as if she did not know he had despised her from the moment he had set eyes on her.
So there was no way around it.
Not just around his arresting appearance. Mostly around his preferences, since he was even more unreachable than the man whom he loved above and beyond his own life—Duncan Caldwell.
And to think that, however different they were, both had the same erotic charge, the undeniable allure to beguile men and women alike. Which made it all the more strange they would ever end up in the Nephis Valley, the place where couples tied their knot in order to have children. Hardly the place for two such attractive men and me in the middle to look for clues and end up in heated, passionate sex that still burns me all over simply remembering about it.
“The real question is—what was that all about?” Chris blurted.
No, the real question was—why could she not suppress the torrid images that had already started a furious throbbing between her legs?
“Wasn’t it clear enough, Angel?” < Read full Chapter One >