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Why writers should meet their readers in person

Writers like to live in their towers and conjure up stories of ogres and maidens, robots and renegades, damsels and scoundrels, killers and victims. The perfect image in my mind of a writer's haven in a quiet villa in the south of France or Tuscany or Greece or Spain. Isolation is key. But isolation can lead us down a dangerous path toward boring writing. We are writing about people's lives, people's adventures, and yet we're content to stay hidden in our tower. What are we afraid of?
writer's tower

Recently I decided to set up a stall at the local markets to sell some author stock and to get me out of my comfort zone or getting "out there" as I refer to it. Here's what happened:

I set up the stall and put up signs that read:

(I shared a stall with another writer to reduce costs)

My books covered most of the table and Mirren's book was to the side of mine. One customer stood in front of my pile of The Bird with The Broken Wing and asked who the author was. I jumped up and said me. She shook my hand! (I was pleasantly surprised). She asked if I'd sign a book if she bought one and I said of course I would. I sign every book I personally sell (haven't met a person yet who bought a book from me without getting an autograph) and so she bought a copy. Then she took a photo of me and said she'd put it on Facebook. Wow, by now I'm feeling like I'm a famous author.

famous author Stephenie Meyer

Maybe a buyer shopping on line might have a similar reaction when buying my books (I can dream) but I'd never get to see their happy face. 

Another customer admired the books but said he owned a Kindle now., so I handed him a bookmark with my website address as all my books are on ebook. Maybe he'll buy a book. Maybe not. But I've connected with him and that is an important part of selling books.

The most fascinating part of the day was when a teenage girl stopped at the stall and asked me if I remembered her. Yes, I did.

We met two years ago and she told me about a green parrot she had called Elf. I told her I loved that name and one day I'd put him in a book. So  while she was standing at the stall I picked up Little Red Gem and told her Elf was a character. You should have seen the way her entire body lit up.
depiction of whole body lighting up
She ran to her parents to get some more money to buy the book. So there are effectively two points to this particular part of the story. The first being that if I hadn't taken the time to speak to her in the first place I would have created a character, perhaps a dog, and every book has dogs, not many have pet parrots. And the second point is that if I had not have gone to the markets  that day I would not have run into her to tell her about Elf being immortalised in fiction. It's safe to say that Little Red Gem is now going to be her favourite book of all time. It's what I'd do.

And after that came another customer who admired the books and then left. She returned ten minutes later saying "I have to support local writers". My sign SUPPORT LOCAL WITERS had worked on a subconscious level and was the deciding factor for her purchase. If I had not been there she would have gone home or bought from another stall. Yet, by meeting the reader face to face, I made the connection and thus the sale.

So if you write about people's lives and adventures, then you should think about getting "out there" , get out of the tower and into the real world to meet these people whose lives and adventures you are writing about. Real people add real details to a story that we might overlook or consider of no significance (I still love that I have a parrot called Elf as a character). And getting "out there" has bolstered my confidence levels so that I can chase up workshops, manuscript submissions, book stores for book signings, all the other types of promotion that are can be done from a writer's tower but not as effectively.

About the author:

Not one to accept being put into a box, D L Richardson writes speculative fiction for anyone who likes a twist in their tale. She now has six books published and is working on an apocalyptic series and a dystopian novel.
You can check out her more about books at her website


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