Readers, Writers, and Tribe-Building

Collage of photos on a head-shaped backgroundA few days ago, I came across an interesting article by Wendy Lawton on the Books and Such site. It’s called The Trouble with Tribes, and in it, Lawton questions, not the value of finding or building your tribe, but whether it’s possible we’re building the wrong one. If you’re a writer, you probably already know where I’m going with this.  If you’re strictly a reader, please stick with me.

Lawton’s post immediately struck a chord with me. Not that I hadn’t already considered the basic concept; I’ve had many a conversation with fellow writers in which we made note of the fact that most of us are primarily only marketing to each other. It’s tempting, I know, because a) most writers are also avid readers, so it gives us the illusion that we’re reaching our audience, and b) we know what writers are interested in.

As someone who has known I was a writer since before I could pick up a pencil, I know how to give value to readers who are also writers. With writers, you talk a lot about process because we all want to know how other writers make the magic. What I need to know (and what a lot of us need to know) is what to offer an audience composed of people who don’t want to learn how it’s done.

I love my readers, and I want them to feel valued and heard. But I’m always afraid of sounding either too mundane or too self-absorbed. Some of you have said, “We want to hear more about the horses,” and “Tell us about the dog dancing,” and “What’s going on with the next Jared book?” and I will definitely be talking about those things.

Readers, what are the things you wish writers would share with you? Do you have questions that frequently go unanswered (or that are answered but you can’t get enough of)? Do you enjoy engaging with authors, or would you prefer they just write? Do you enjoy contests and freebies?

Writers, how do you build your reader tribe?


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