One of the most important things I’ve learned as a writer is to listen to readers. I’ve talked about receiving feedback specifically related to your book throughout the revising and editing stages, but this advice applies to any point before and during.
I’ve heard a ton of advice from writers who seemed to stick to a formula and write to appeal to the easily pleased market, but also the easy to forget market. That’s fine to sell lots of books in a short space of time, but I want more for myself as a writer.
I want my books to stay with people long after they’ve read them, and I want readers to keep coming back for my characters, my worlds, my stories that make them truly feel something.
Listening to writers is definitely not as effective as listening to readers in this sense. Before you even set pen to page, taking reader’s thoughts and passions onboard can help you get your story off to a great start before it’s even fully formed.
Just to be clear, this isn’t about writing to a current reading trends, though you’re more than welcome to. But you risk missing the slot and turning up late to the part if you don’t write the book in time. I’m talking about looking for the types of characters that people keep raving over, the tropes that have been popular in your sub genre for years, and the books that keep popping up time and time again.
So how do you listen to readers that haven’t read your book?
- Find similar books and check the reviews on what readers liked and didn’t like. Use them to your advantage and play on the most popular comments in the high rating reviews while avoiding the common issues in the low rating reviews.
- Join bookish social media, but be sure to go beyond the surface level posts. Book nerds and other writers share their experiences on both sides for you to learn from in relating to what your potential readers want.
- Join reading groups on Facebook and Discord to see what they say about their favourite books and why they like them so much.
- Listen to your inner reader. If you’re anything like me, then you’ll love reading as much as writing. I know what I love as a reader, and I use that in my books as best as I can, because I know there are readers like me out there who’ll love it too.
This is pretty much the extent of it, but learning how to navigate these platforms takes time and patience. But it will pay off once you know what types of accounts, groups, and comments to trust as useful.
I’ve had entire conversations over a book that I knew was very similar to mine and thought… hmm, maybe I should try such a thing in that scene since it seems to work in other books.
I’m not saying to copy other books just because they’re similar to yours and popular. Your book is still your own story, but if you’re unsure of a particular path, or a certain comment sparks an idea that you feel truly works for your story too, then go for it.