Your Conversation

Dynamics of a Successful Book Lesson 9
Your book isn’t a transaction, it’s a launchpad, a business card, an introduction. It’s the beginning of a conversation. Your relationship with your reader doesn’t end when she buys your book, it begins.

Steve Spillman, Founder, True Potential

Reading a book should be a conversation between you and the author. …. understanding is a two-way operation; the learner has to question himself and question the teacher.
Mortimer J. Adler

American philosopher and author, Cofounder of the Center for the Study of The Great Ideas

Lesson 9:

Three questions about your conversation:

Question 1: How do I begin the conversation?

It begins with creating conversation starters within your book.  Does your story require a response? Asking a few questions at the end of a chapter is a great way to begin a conversation. Your book may not be asking your reader any questions but your reader is always asking a question, “Why am I reading this book.?” Asking your reader a question may allow your reader to discover that your story may be relevant to his story, and it invites your reader to engage in the story. Think of it as the difference between sitting in an auditorium full of people and listening to someone on stage giving a lecture and sitting with a friend over coffee at your kitchen counter. The language of your book should be personal, one-to-one, sharing. not lecturing to a crowd from a stage. If your reader believes you’re speaking to her,  one-to-one, she’s a lot more likely to engage when you ask her a question.

Question 2: How do I invite my readers into the conversation?

Communicate upfront that your book has been designed to inform and engage its reader. The first thing you’ll need to do is to create a place to have your conversation with the reader. This can be as simple as creating a page on your website for reader comments and questions (remember lesson 6? if you want to be a pro you’ve got to have a website).

A great way to engage your readers is to offer bonus content on your website that’s only available to your readers. You do want to continue the conversation after it has begun so you’ll want to trade your bonus content for your reader’s first name and email address. It’s not easy to maintain an ongoing conversation if you don’t know the name of the person you’re conversing with and how to get in touch with her. But remember that in the digital world, a person’s name and email address is something of value that you never was to take for granted or abuse. Be sure that you are giving something of greater value in exchange. Never bore, pester, or spam your reader once she has entrusted you with her contact information. Be sure your bonus content is perceived as valuable to your reader and relevant to your book’s content. Bonus content can be an extra chapter, a video or set of videos, even a checklist or answers or commentary to the questions in your book. Just make sure that the reader would consider the bonus material as a good trade for her name and email address.

Question 3: How do I keep the conversation going?

Once you’ve begun the conversation with your reader, how do you keep it going? By now, you have your reader’s first name and email address. Hopefully, you also have her attention and she’s open to hearing from you occasionally email from you. You could send a short email periodically with some information or tips (relevant to your book’s content!) that your reader might appreciate. Don’t overdo it, don’t sell, just offer a little valuable help or advice. If you do it right, she will look forward to your emails.

One of our authors, resilience coach Nannette Oatley Johnson, sends what she calls a “daily dose of resilience.” They’re beautifully illustrated inspirational quotes that take only a few seconds to read, but her readers welcome, even look forward to seeing them, in their email inbox.

As an alternative (or even in addition) to emails, you could start a Facebook group around your book’s topic and engage your readers from there.

Whatever methods or mediums you use, the goal is to communicate with and engage your readers regularly. We’ll see in the next lesson why starting a conversation with your readers and keeping it going is so important.

Homework

Is this the only book you will ever write and you have no desire to engage your readers?

  • If your answer is yes: Skip the homework, be happy that you’ve launched your book and set it adrift in the universe, and have a nice life.
  • If your answer is no: Answer the homework questions below and continue on your path to becoming a successful author.
  1. Does your book include built-in conversation starters like end-of-chapter questions ?
  2. Does your book offer a link to “bonus” material exclusively for your reader?
  3. Is your website or Social Media enabled to facilitate a discussion with your reader?
  4. Do you have a mechanism in place to capture your reader’s first name and email address?

Hey! Do you have a question for me about this lesson? I’d love to give you an answer! Just scroll down to the comment section below and ask away.

⇐ Click here for lesson 8: 

Your Transaction

Click here for lesson 10: ⇒

Your Relationship

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