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Walking the Talk – part three in a series

Walking the Talk – part three in a series

An odd topic this time: the author’s note. I’m currently writing a note for The House at the End of the World and realised that it’s a topic almost no one ever addresses.

That note is not something that anyone ever seems to care about. It seems less consequential than a synopsis or query letter – and, in any event, much easier to write.

But you have to think about what you want from writing and how you expect to achieve it.

Maybe, you’d love to get one book accepted by one publisher and that’s it. Perhaps you don’t want or expect to make a living from writing. You may not want or expect to be writing a book a year. Perhaps the idea of marketing your own work fills you with horror.

And that’s truly fine with me. Those aims are perfectly honourable and your life is your life. If you’re one of those people, then this email is not especially aimed at you.

For everyone else – everyone, that is, who wants something like a career from writing – then the author’s note matters.

It matters for two reasons.

First, because it gives you a chance to make a personal connection with the reader. Your text itself is your product. People want (let’s say) a crime novel. So they go to Amazon or a physical bookstore and buy a crime novel. A huge proportion of novels are never finished by their readers (especially literary fiction, ahem.) But that means, if someone gets all the way to the end of your novel, then chooses to engage with your author’s note, they’re well on the way to being fans.

What do you want to do at that point?

If you were at a physical book signing, and someone asked you to sign a book, telling you that they were a fan, what would you do? Would you scribble your name on the inside cover, tersely hand the book over, and yell ‘Next’? Or would you engage in a couple of minutes’ conversation? Would you seek to cement the relationship which the book itself has started?

Of course, you choose the latter option. I mean, if you have the sentience of an amoeba, then of course you do.

You do that because you are a naturally nice person, of course. But you also do it, because you are more likely to get a repeat purchase from someone who has bonded with you, no matter how glancingly.

The author’s note is a place to create that bond.

It’s not as good as face to face, of course, but one note can reach tens of thousands of readers. It’s a place to be personal, revelatory, funny, honest. It’s a place which can show your personality, shorn of the constraints placed on you by fiction.

If you do it right, people don’t just think, ‘Oh, today I finished a great crime novel.’ They think, ‘Oh, today I finished a great crime novel and I feel that I made some little personal connection with the person who wrote it.’ That’s the start of a relationship which leads to multiple purchases over multiple years.

That’s the first reason.

The second reason is that you can parlay that moment of connection into an actual marketing tool.

Every serious author today ought to run their own email list. It can be very cheap and easy to set up. (Use MailerLite if you’re starting out, Convertkit if you’re more ambitious and more techie.)

And your author’s note can say, “Hey, folks, if you liked this novel, then join my Readers’ Club.” Best practice is to offer a little gift in exchange for any sign ups. Roughly speaking: if you give me your email address, I give you a story that’s free and exclusive to club members.

Remember that in ebooks, that invitation – join my Readers’ Club – can use a clickable link to take readers straight through to your sign-up page.

And once you have readers on your mailing list, you can stay in touch. You can tell them jokes, share news and enthusiasms … and, of course, announce book launches.

I won’t get into the details here, but suffice to say a small but well-run email list can generate sales well above the size of the list itself.

There are multiple ways to seed your email list with names, but no question at all, the very best technique comes from harvesting enthusiastic readers who have just finished and loved your book. Those are, pretty much by definition, the very best emails to have.

So use that note.

Don’t be crass. Be seductive, not pushy. Be authentic … but maybe, be your best-authentic self, not your woke-up-on-a-rainy-Friday-with-a-headache authentic self. And ask for readers’ email addresses.

They’ll be happy to give them to you.

Feedback Friday

Write with Jericho Week #7 / Point of View

If you’ve registered for the course, you’ll already have received the course material.

If you’re a Premium Member and you haven’t registered, you can find the course material here. You can register yourself, for free, to get the same material by email.

If you’re not a Premium Member, and want to be, here’s what you need to do next.

Whether or not you are a Premium Member, I’d love you to participate.

This week, the task is important … but optional. It’s really focused on anyone who’s not sure about their POV choice. If you’re happily first, or third, person, then just go with that. There’s no especial reason to rethink it. I’ve never once thought about writing my Fiona novels in anything other than first person, and the result is about 800,000 words all written, first person and present tense, from the inside of Fiona’s head.

But, OK, plenty of people are worried about the decisions they’ve made, and this exercise is for them. Here’s what I’m after:



A line or two of explanation, if needed

A passage of 300 words or so. Choose a passage where you’re not too certain what Point of View feels right. Pop that passage (max 300 words) on Townhouse and say what your issues are. Let’s see what others think. And if you want to offer the same passage with two different POVs, then please do. Just make it clear what you think your preferred version is!

That’s it from me. Share yours here as a ‘New Discussion’ and include a sensible title, eg: ‘POV task, Option X, [Title of your WIP]’. Also, if you’re looking for some top tips to help you search Townhouse better, take a look at this thread.

Til soon.


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