Today we’re finishing the two-part series started last week with 7 Tips for Readers to Help Their Favorite Authors. I’ve compiled a list of things you might do to really help readers read and enjoy your books.
You’ve written your book and have lots of sales but somehow you’re not sure you’ve done everything you could have to make that book fantastic. Here are some suggestions that might have readers telling their friends about your book, buying gift copies for the birthdays of all their relatives, whether readers or not, or simply rushing to purchase your next book for themselves. Feel free to add other ideas in the comments section.
7 Ways Authors Can Help Their Readers
Publish books in readable fonts, both size and appearance. Reading should be enjoyable and even if you can read a 10-point font, do you really want to? I picked up a book which turned out to be a good read but it could have been so much better if I didn’t have to sit under a bright light to read it. I have perfect eyesight close up but the small font was most annoying for me. Authors, be kind to your readers!
Aim for perfection in your book. I know everyone is different but errors in a book really stop me cold and take me out of the story. We owe our readers as close to a perfect text as possible. Use editors. Their different viewpoints and new sets of eyes will see things you miss. And they’ll point out structural, plot, and other flaws you might miss. Pricing for editors is all over the map but persevere and find someone whose work you trust at a price you can afford.
Write clearly with a view to understanding so your reader isn’t going more than half way to understand your work. We writers like to keep our readers in suspense but sometimes we go too far and the reader just becomes confused. I’ve adopted for my guideline on this the idea that the reader shouldn’t have to go more than half way to figure out what’s going on in my book and, indeed, I’ve stopped reading more than one book which was just too confusing for me. As an author I read my work aloud to check the flow of my sentences and to catch the places where confusion happens because I’ve added in too many phrases and clauses which can be taken in more than one way. I don’t want my reader to have to stop and figure out just what the sentence means. Each day as I start writing I go back over the previous day’s three pages and check for the flow of the words. Of course I’ll probably read it twenty times before the book is published but this gets me started thinking like a reader.
Don’t write unnecessary words. Write only what is needed and leave the reader room to use his/her brain to understand. At the end of one of my chapters in The Loyalist’s Wife I set up the scene with Lucy going to bed in a calm state thinking only good thoughts. In the night, however, she wakes and sits right up in bed. I end the chapter with “Someone was in the room!” Needless to say the reader has to turn the page. I didn’t have to say that it might be that old skinflint, Daeger, who has threatened her before. The reader knows this and, in fact, would be bored with having me write those words.
Put a map or maps in the front of the book to make following your heroes’ journeys easier. This can be difficult but drawing your own is a good option. Your interior book designer will have suggestions on symbols for mountains, etc. I’ve put one of the maps from The Loyalist’s Luck above. My designer took my hand-drawn sketch and made it much more presentable. I especially like that she made it look like an old piece of parchment. That and the direction symbol really added flavor to the map.
If your cast of characters gets longer and longer, particularly with multiple family relationships, put a cast of characters or family tree list in the front of the novel. That’s really helpful for your readers to go back and remember some character you talked about earlier. Someone very close to me had a stroke and couldn’t remember as she read new books. Those character lists were a great help for her in getting back her reading skills and enjoyment. They’re also helpful when your readers write a review of the book. 🙂
Be accessible to your readers via Goodreads, Blogs, website contact buttons, and sign-up newsletters. Also set yourself up on Amazon author pages and other platforms like Selz where you might sell your books. Personal appearances are great and I always have a good time presenting and then talking to participants afterwards. Many of them buy my books and sign up for my quarterly newsletter. (More info coming on that.)
How About an Authors and History Cruise? Click here for details of this amazing cruise. Come join us!
***Need more information? We’re doing a webinar! Click for details.***
For All Lovers of Historical Fiction!
Book Two in The Loyalist Trilogy!
John and Lucy escape the Revolutionary War to the unsettled British territory across the Niagara River with almost nothing. In the untamed wilderness they must fight to survive, he, off on a secret mission for Colonel Butler and she, left behind with their young son and pregnant once again. In the camp full of distrust, hunger, and poverty, word has seeped out that John has gone over to the American side and only two people will associate with Lucy–her friend, Nellie, who delights in telling her all the current gossip, and Sergeant Crawford, who refuses to set the record straight and clear John’s name. To make matters worse, the sergeant has made improper advances toward Lucy. With John’s reputation besmirched, she must walk a thin line depending as she does on the British army, and Sergeant Crawford, for her family’s very survival.
The Loyalist’s Wife, Book One in The Loyalist Trilogy!
by Elaine Cougler, winner of the WCDR 2014 Pay It Forward Scholarship
Short-listed for Inspire! Toronto International Book Fair’s Canada Self-Published Book Awards
When American colonists resort to war against Britain and her colonial attitudes, a young couple caught in the crossfire must find a way to survive. Pioneers in the wilds of New York State, John and Lucy face a bitter separation and the fear of losing everything, even their lives, when he joins Butler’s Rangers to fight for the King and leaves her to care for their isolated farm. As the war in the Americas ramps up, ruffians roam the colonies looking to snap up Loyalist land. Alone, pregnant, and fearing John is dead, Lucy must fight with every weapon she has.
With vivid scenes of desperation, heroism, and personal angst, Elaine Cougler takes us back to the beginnings of one great country and the planting of Loyalist seeds for another. The Loyalist’s Wife transcends the fighting between nations to show us the individual cost of such battles.