Friday, January 02, 2009


Read another blog today about tracking hits on one's blog and decided to post my article about another kind of tracking.

This first appeared in Lynn Tincher's newsletter, The Literary Lynnch Pen.

The Gathering & Tracking of Fans

The most important resource for any author is a database of readers. Those who have enjoyed our previous work should be our number one target audience for the next book. This group can also be the deciding factor as to the subject matter. There are a variety of ways to gather and track fans, and we should employ as many methods as possible.

We all begin our author career with a list of addresses and emails of family and friends. Hopefully this includes a network of business contacts as well. Those who purchase our first book should form the base of our reader list, and those who did not will form the potential reader list. We need to keep alphabetized databases of the mailing addresses and create contact groups for the emails. Always include as many details as possible, such as when and where they purchased a book. As the list grows, we’ll be hard pressed to remember these facts otherwise.

Appearances are ideal for meeting and creating new fans. Never miss an opportunity to connect with these people after the event has ended! Utilize a sign up sheet or a guest book and collect email addresses. Encourage those interested to sign the form and make sure they realize announcements or a newsletter will be sent to them. Feature a contest with a drawing for a free book. This is a viable way to collect information above and beyond email addresses. Since we want to keep readers and potential readers separate, try to monitor which ones purchase books.

A great way to gather information is through our website. After all, the Internet never sleeps! Employing a retrieval device can be as simple as adding a comment box. Encourage fans to supply feedback on the books or make requests for future titles. Readers should also have the option of signing up for our newsletter online. This provides us with the opportunity to connect with our fans on a regular basis. Since we won’t always know if these people have purchased a book or not, we might place them into a third group of probable readers.

Our books can also be used to harvest reader data. In addition to listing our website in our books, we can include our email address or a P.O. Box to promote feedback. We might even want to consider a response form or an order form. This encourages fans to contact us, thus providing a means of connecting with them. We might even discover some interesting suggestions and ideas coming our direction as well.

The Internet provides numerous other resources for tracking our fans. Our online involvement greatly influences our chances to locate and connect with readers. We will gain many new fans through such exposure.

Every author should be involved in at least one community site. Which one will depend in large on where our fans congregate. By setting up a page on a community site, we give readers another way to connect and bond with us. These sites are much more personable than our main web page, thus making us more approachable. We can send out news and announcements faster and more often. Our involvement in forums and online discussions provide unique opportunities as well.

Every genre of book has websites devoted to its fan base. We can access these sites in several ways – adding our titles to their database; offering our services as a guest blogger; proposing an interview session; even sacrificing a book as a contest prize or giveaway. Our fans will be pleased to find us on these sites and it will undoubtedly lead to many new fans. Since many of these sites encourage feedback and reviews, we’ll discover what readers really think of our books.

This leads us to the final aspect – tracking what our fans say and do! The easiest way to do this is to set up daily “Google Alerts” and receive notification whenever someone posts or comments about us or our books. We need to see these comments, both good and bad, and locate their origins. Our website statistics can also tell us from where traffic stems. This will tell us how often fans are visiting our site and what prompts them to do so.

We don’t need to be a bloodhound to track readers, but we do need to possess a little ingenuity. If we begin gathering information from the beginning, we’ll be better prepared for the future. And if we make it easy for fans to find us, then it will be simpler for us to locate them!

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