In this interconnected world, we’re seeing that authors who engage their readers and create a sense of community can achieve great success, like the phenomenal success of Twilight, due partly to a huge Facebook and social networking fan base.
As you know, my focus as a writing coach is on adult nonfiction. While the ideas I’m about to share are being implemented for a novel, you can also be creative in applying them to nonfiction, even a how-to book.
My good friend, Donna Montalbano, author of The House on Benefit Street, has been serializing her second novel, The Shop on Wickendon Street.
I asked Donna how she came up with the idea of the contest.
“Crazy as it sounds, I stumbled on the idea while working with a travel agent on a trip to Italy. At the bottom of her emails, it said: How am I doing? Let me know if I can serve you better.…
I began thinking, “How am I doing as the author of The Shop on Wickenden Street?” Serializing the book on my website provided a rare opportunity to find out.
Before I post the next couple of chapters, which will essentially solve the mystery, I want to know if I am holding up my end of the unique bargain that exists between the mystery writer and the mystery reader.”
What bargain? you might ask.
Donna says, “I, the writer, promise to give you, the reader, a sporting chance to solve this mystery, but I am going to do my best to keep you from doing it, by hook or by crook! Unlike real life, in the mystery novel all the clues must be hidden in plain sight. The writer’s job is to make the reader miss, misinterpret or ignore those clues. The highest compliment a mystery writer can receive from a reader is: Wow, I did not see that coming!”
How is Donna doing, by her own standards of success?
“I received a few dozen emails, and some readers have come close, but no cigar. I intend to run the Whodunit contest for a couple more weeks, then post the remaining chapters and announce the winner or winners”
The prize is an autographed copy of Donna’s first book, The House on Benefit Street. The Shop on Wickenden Street is the second in the series set in historic Providence, Rhode Island, featuring that spunky fiftyish widow, Angie Russo.
How can we nonfiction authors engage our readers similarly?
- Can you create a contest around the theme of your book?
- How can you gauge whether you are meeting your end of the bargain readers (a reader quiz on your website?)?
- How else can you engage with your readers?
Comment here with your ideas, whether you’ve already implemented them or just got inspired!