Posted On December 12, 2011 by Print This Post

Creative Ways to Find Your Readership, by Emery Lee

Good morning, RU! Today, I’d like to welcome fellow Sourcebooks author Emery Lee to the classroom. I first met Emery, not through our mutual publisher, but through her fabulous Goodreads forum. Emery is here to talk about the many ways in which authors can connect with readers.

Emery, the class is yours!

You are brimming with hope, joy and anticipation. Your beautiful shiny new novel, the work of your blood (if you count paper cuts), sweat, and tears is about to launch  – into the vast sea of a gazillion other beautiful shiny new novels – many by authors far better known, with many more books under their belts.

The image is both daunting and dismaying. With thousands of authors and tens of thousands of books being released each year, the good news is that the popularity of romantic fiction continues to grow. An estimated 74.8 million people read at least one romance novel per year according to a 2008 RWA Reader Survey. Furthermore, projected romance sales are estimated to exceed $1.3 billion this year. But with over 8,000 traditionally published romance titles released last year, in addition to the recent glut of self-pubbed books, how can we “newbies” avoid drowning in this tsunami?

We all know (or certainly should by now) the importance of social media in book promotion. Yet, if we take only a brief time to observe, we find that everyone is shouting and no one is really listening. Facebook and Twitter are barraged with messages: “I have a new release. Buy my book. Giveaway on my blog. Look at the great reviews.”  We all do it. We have little choice. But how effective is this? For a debut author, not very. Most readers have learned to tune it all out and continue to gravitate to those authors they already know and love. So what’s a new or emerging author to do?

I believe it all begins with a bit of self-examination. As writers we each have a unique voice and style, and our own stories to tell. We all offer a certain “brand” of romance. So ask yourself these questions:  Who am I as a writer? What makes me unique or sets me apart? Who are the authors most like me?

The next questions involve your potential readers: Who is my target audience? Who are their readers? Lastly, and most importantly – WHERE are those readers and how can I engage them?

As a debut author whose work straddles two genres (historical fiction and historical romance) and does not fit neatly into either category, the question of “branding” and finding readership was very difficult. Knowing this, prior to the release of my second book, FORTUNE’S SON, I set out on a deliberate course to find and engage potential readers. In the process I discovered a niche between historical romance and historical fiction that is filled by some wonderful authors, authors who write the kind of books I most love to read, and the ones I want to write.  Thus, eighteen months ago Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers was born, a group that began with a handful of members comprised of authors and readers I sought out for our common interests in books combining real history with romance.

Beginning as an endeavor to simply compile a great reading list of romantic historical fiction titles, the group has expanded into a discussion forum for over 800 avid readers, book bloggers and authors.  In addition to our original Goodreads site, we now have a very active Facebook group with over 200 members, as well as a weekly news digest, and a monthly book club featuring live author chats. It has become a thriving little community and tons of fun with lively interaction between authors and readers. For me, the answer was not costly and mostly ineffective advertising (Having spent a huge percentage of my first advance, I speak from experience!) but in relationship building.

Mohammed must go to the mountain folks! Go to the watering hole if you write westerns or to the water cooler if you write contemporaries. There are myriad opportunities if we only look for them.  Target a couple of discussion forums and groups and become an active presence there. No one will be interested if you simply introduce yourself, your book, and leave. In truth, many group moderators are insulted by this kind of author behavior. As authors we all love books. Talk about them! The genres we love, the types of heroes and heroines we adore, the era’s we most enjoy, our personal favorite DIK books. My advice to others just starting out is to engage the readers on a personal level and in time, you will find your own niche and your own following.


Statistics courtesy of RWA:


RU Readers, where do you go to talk about your favorite books? Authors, where can readers find you?

On Wednesday, agent Sara Megibow gives us an inside look at the mistakes she made as a newbie agent.



Emery Lee loves nothing more than crafting emotionally compelling romantic stories that bring a historical period vividly to life. Her debut novel THE HIGHEST STAKES, is an epic tale of star-cross lovers set in the high stakes world of 18th century horse racing. In FORTUNE’S SON, Emery spins a web of drama, passion, and deceit, deep in the world of high stakes gaming.

She also writes highly sensual historical romance as VICTORIA VANE. Her first erotic historical, A BREACH OF PROMISE is slated for a December 2011 release from ELLORA’S CAVE.

Emery resides in NE Georgia with her husband and two sons. She is represented by Nicole Resciniti of The Seymour Agency and is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America, RWA, Georgia Romance Writers, and the group moderator for Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers.

Websites:  http://authoremerylee.com


Facebook:  Author Emery Lee / Author Victoria Vane
Twitter:   @authoremerylee

Goodreads Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers:


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29 Responses to “Creative Ways to Find Your Readership, by Emery Lee”

  1. Hi Emery,

    Thanks for joining us today!

    You’ve done a fabulous job with your Good reads forum. Really active.

    One of my biggest challenges to becoming an active participant with readers is that I have so little time to read these days. LOL

    Besides the forum, what other ways (if any) have you used Goodreads to reach readers?

    Thanks again,

    Posted by Tracey Devlyn | December 12, 2011, 5:06 am
    • @Tracey-
      I am an active member of the Goodreads community as a reader as well as an author. I try to rate and/or review every book I read and actively promote the work of other authors that I enjoy. There are many people who follow my reviews who have not read my books.

      I have a funny anecdote to share about this. Recenty I reviewed and highly recommended a book by another Georgian era author. One of my Goodreads friends posted a comment thanking me for the recommendation and remarked that there are not enough Georgian era romances. Know this reader has not read mine, I couldn’t hold my tongue and wrote a teasing comment in return (warning:be extremely careful about posting anything tongue in cheek). This reader did take my remark in the way I meant it and actually apologized to me! She said she had regarded me as a “friend” for so long she had forgotten that I was an author! She then put both of my books on her TBR list!

      Since GR allows everyone to set a personal reading goal, last year I pledged to read 75 books. By cheating slightly (I included my research reading!) I achieved my reading goal and set the same on for next year.

      Not everyone has time to read a ton of books but everythign author shoudl be reading and GR is a great place to share. This is another way to build “honest” relationships.

      Posted by Emery Lee | December 12, 2011, 8:35 am
  2. Hi Emery,

    I find social media daunting. Summing up in 140 characters is a skill I lack. Colleges are using it to weed out potential students. Answer a question in 25 words or less. Maybe I should have my kids Twitter for me.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | December 12, 2011, 6:40 am
    • @ Mary Jo – I’m not a huge fan of Twitter. As I said, FB and Twitter are tools every author is expected to employ. I do use it but primarily to post links to my reviews and other people’s blogs that I enjoy.

      Posted by Emery Lee | December 12, 2011, 8:37 am
  3. Great post Emery! Thanks for being here with us!

    I hang out here – grin- Savvy Authors,and the Blaze Authors Blog. ALso, I like to interact with people on FB.

    Posted by Robin Covington | December 12, 2011, 6:40 am
  4. Morning Emery!

    I’m having a tough time too staying on top of the social media routine – and that’s before I’m published. yikes. I’m on FB and twitter, here and my blog. It gets to be a bit overwhelming some days to watch my 10 min turn into 30 and then rush through the shower etc to get to work on time! i’ve even started setting the alarm earlier. =( no fun!
    I feel totally unorganized with it all!


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | December 12, 2011, 8:28 am
    • @ Carrie -
      Social media and protional activity is a HUGE time sucker. So we MUST be selective about what we do, especially if balancing a career and family. It is great that you are active now before becoming published. I didn’t start any of this until after I was under contract because I had no clue what I was doing and had no one at the time to guide me. I learnd about RWA after the fact and had much catching up to do!

      Posted by Emery Lee | December 12, 2011, 8:49 am
  5. Hi Emery. As a debut author, I’m the first to admit that I’m struggling with the balance between social media (and marketing in general) and writing. I try to dedicate specific times for social media so I can get my daily word counts in, but there are days when that doesn’t work out so well.:)

    How do you balance it all?

    Posted by AdrienneGiordano | December 12, 2011, 8:53 am
    • Hi Adrienne!
      It is VERY difficult at times but since my creative juices generally don’t surface until the evening hours, I try to schedule my blogging (I have a persoanl blog as well as participtaing in a couple of group blogs)and socail media during the daytime hours. Sometimes I only have a minute or two to comment to somethign but I make a point to do so daily. Bloggin is harder because it does consume both time and brain power that I would normally use for novel writing. Generally, if I have a blog to write I don’t get any other writing done that day. Interestingly, I thought when I gave up my job a year ago (long story I won’t go into)that I would be able to write twice as much as before when I was workign 50+ hours per week. Sadly that’s not the case! I’ve learned to my dismay that my brain only produces so many words a day no matter how much time I have.
      The secret is to prioritize your daily activities and stick to some kind of a schedule no matter how crazy it might be.

      Posted by Emery Lee | December 12, 2011, 9:21 am
  6. I don’t know how published authors keep up with everything – it’s hard enough to do when the only deadlines I have are my own.

    I’m going to bookmark this, Emery – you’ve given me a lot of food for thought!

    Posted by Becke Martin/Davis | December 12, 2011, 9:17 am
  7. Emery -

    Thanks so much for being at RU today!

    I joined Goodreads quite some time ago with good intentions of becoming involved as a reader, rather than primarily a pre-pubbed author. However, I’m with others here in that I find I have less time to read and I read less romance/fiction and more non-fiction than ever before.

    I’ve also been a little reticent to post reviews if I didn’t love a book, feeling like that could come back to bite me on the rear.

    What was your number one most successful tactic in finding “your” readers?

    Thanks so much!

    Posted by Kelsey Browning | December 12, 2011, 10:23 am
    • @ Kelsey-
      You are absolutely right regarding reviews – it can and WILL bite you on the butt. (Again, I speak from experience!) Realizing that people in glass houses cannot afford to throw sticks, my compromise has been to only review the books that I like. Nowadays, if I read a book I don’t care for, I just mark it as read and post nothing. That way my friends are aware I’ve read it and can email me privately if they wish to discuss the book or have any questions. I do want to keep the dialogue going but don’t want to offend anyone along the way. It can be a tough balancing act at times.

      Posted by Emery Lee | December 12, 2011, 11:52 am
    • @Kelsey – I realize I may not have clearly answered the question. My “tactic” has been to seek out and discuss other authors books! I have also made MANY new friends this way because whenever a new author is nominated for our group list, I have made it a point to email that author and invite them to join the group. I have set up a “resident authors” section in the Goodreads RHFL Group where our authors are free to promote without readers feeling like we a shoving books down their throats.

      Some authors choose to just drop by and say hello and others have become very engaged and even show up for our live book chats. The group members are thrilled for the chance to personally interact with some of their favorites and I am just as delighted to get to know such great authors as well.

      Posted by Emery Lee | December 12, 2011, 12:04 pm
  8. The trouble is, after spending a lot of time on promotion, it’s difficult to switch to a right brain activity like writing. It can affect your creativity. It can also be exhausting. After worrying that I just wasn’t writing enough, I’ve re-planned my writing day – writing first!

    Posted by Maggi Andersen | December 12, 2011, 2:58 pm
    • You are so right, Maggi! Unfortunately I can’t usually write in the Am – too many distrac tions. I dig in in the PM and frequently stay up half the night. I agree with you that the most important thing is to have a schedule and stick to it – whatever it might be.

      Posted by Emery Lee | December 12, 2011, 3:06 pm
  9. Hi Emery!

    Like everyone else, I’m on FB and Twitter. I see author tweets promoting books, but I wonder how effective Tweets and FB promos are because the majority of followers are other writers, not readers. Same goes with ads in trade mags.

    I guess I’d do some research on book clubs and see if they have an on-line presence.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | December 12, 2011, 4:32 pm
  10. Emery, thanks so much for spending time with us! This is an area I know I need to increase my efforts.

    Have a fabulous week!

    Posted by Tracey Devlyn | December 12, 2011, 6:57 pm


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