The most important people in publishing business today aren’t the authors, but the readers. An author might write their best work ever, but if the book doesn’t resonate with the readers, it is termed a failure. In today’s age, when much of our life is digitised and is insanely affected by digital media, authors often wonder about where this mysterious species called ‘readers’ exactly exists. And connecting with readers is the most important activity that an author can take up.
Where are the Readers?
The simple answer to this would, of course, be everywhere and yet nowhere. Readers are as diverse as their favourite authors and come from a range of professions and age groups. While critics may claim that there is a general decline in the number of people buying books, readership hasn’t necessarily shrunk. In fact, a Nielsen Book Scan Study states that India is the second largest English-language print book publisher in the world with over 9,000 publishers. Fifty-six percent of trade books are in fact in English. Connecting with readers just shifts weight from one medium to another.
Why Don’t We See Readers Outside Bookshops?
In this age of digitisation, the presence of readers at physical bookstores has diminished significantly. This brings us to the questions of where they are laying claim to their books and why we don’t see them at bookshops any more.
The answer to these questions is simple. Many people prefer to buy books online due to better prices and a more diverse range. However, this does not imply that the simple congregations of book readers which used to happen in the form of community book clubs have necessarily vanished. The culture of readership has simply shifted.
The Evolution of Reading and Reading Communities:
Reading as an activity has gone beyond reading a book to consuming media in its various forms. People now get their sources of information by reading blogs, newspaper features, watching YouTube videos, and following bite-sized news on Twitter.
There are new communities which have sprung up to accommodate the varying degrees of reading. Jaipur Literature Festival apart, nearly every state capital in the country has a dedicated Literary Festival of its own. There are even book festivals for young kids such as Bookaroo and Kahaani, making connecting with readers easier.
There are now book bloggers who ardently post reviews of books the minute they read them, dedicated book clubs in each city such as Bring Your Own Book Club, online book discussion groups such as Senior Reading Raccoons and even Book Deals for Broke Bibliophiles which tracks the best deals on books. Not to mention that you can also find a young and vibrant community of people who actively participate in Slam Poetry groups and community theatre.
Connecting with Readers: How?
Despite all the information at your disposal, the question still swims in your head. ‘How do I go about connecting with readers?’ We’ve put together a small exercise that you can undertake to get your work across to more and more readers:
- Make a list of all the book festivals in your city. Visit them, engage in discussions with authors and participants, and spread your network the old-fashioned way.
- Join Instagram and engage with the book-loving community who call themselves ‘bookstagrammers’. The active denizens of Instagram who post book-related pictures call this section ‘bookstagram’. And yes, it is HUGE!
- Look for books and reading-related hashtags on Twitter. Many readers are active Twitter users.
- Make a list of Indian book bloggers who actively write about books and connect with them. They will be the first ones who will read and review your book in the future.
- Be active on your social media accounts. In this digital age, most readers love to connect with their favorite authors and know more about them.
If you want to bring out your book, the most important tasks on your list must be understanding your target readership and reader engagement. And though you cannot afford to get complacent, these will solidly get you into the game.
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