I recently had a chance to catch up with Kate Sparkes, author of the best-selling Bound Trilogy. I asked her a lot of questions, from how she shows up for her art, to how she prepares for launch, and even markets her book. Below, find part 4 of a 5-part series exploring how this talented author, who has managed to spin her dream of a full-time writing career into reality, shows up for your art. I hope you enjoy it!
If you haven’t read Kate’s work yet, well, get to it – you won’t regret it. Let’s begin with a little bio:
Kate Sparkes lives on the magical island of Newfoundland, where she’s always checking wardrobes, locked doors, and interesting caves to see whether they lead to new worlds. She passes the rest of her time hanging out with her family, reading, walking her dogs, and writing fiction that lets her come very close to escaping reality.
She likes sending treats to newsletter subscribers, so be sure to sign up for bonus content, sneak peeks, advance review copies, news about future books, contests, and more! Visit www.katesparkes.com for details.
Kate Sparkes on Showing Up For Your Art – Part 4: Finding Readers, Getting Reviews
Laura: How do find readers?
Kate: I actually don’t know sometimes. I’m not good at getting out there and finding them. Most of my readers come to me through word of mouth or Amazon’s recommendations.
Laura: How do you get readers to give you reviews?
Kate: I ask for them. I put a pleasant, friendly call to action in the author’s note in the back of my books explaining how important and appreciated reviews are. And I’ll ask my reader group or newsletter members for reviews. Nothing pushy, ever. Just, “If you enjoyed _____ and haven’t had a chance to review yet, it would be wonderful to have your review out there to help other readers find the book. Here’s the link.” Other than that, it’s kind of a numbers game. Some readers will review no matter what. Others only will if they’re really mad about the book. And some just need a little reminder that it helps. Most people really don’t know how badly we need reviews.
Laura: Do you pay for review services such as Kirkus, etc?
Kate: Not so far.
Laura: Do you connect with review websites?
Kate: No. If my books are on review blogs, it’s because the reviewer found it on their own or they requested an ARC. I feel like I should, but again, it’s one of those things I’d do if I had more time, but just can’t now.
Laura: Do you feel that building connections with fans helps to increase readership, and the likelihood of getting them to leave a review?
Kate: Yes, absolutely. I know I’m far more willing to leave a review for an author who I’ve interacted with than one who doesn’t seem to care about me except as a review machine to help them sell more books. And I don’t know whether building connections helps find new readers, but I think it helps hang onto the ones you have. And fans are pretty awesome people to connect with.
Laura: What have you found to be the best way to connect with fans/potential readers?
Kate: Facebook is wonderful for regular connection and conversation, but I couldn’t make it work until I started a group instead of relying on my page. Facebook page posts are really suffering in terms of visibility, but members of my group seem to see a lot more posts. And it’s a more private, comfortable place, so they get to know me better there than on my professional page (not that I’m too concerned with being professional there…)
Laura: What’s the best approach to winning a reader’s heart?
Kate: I’m going to say that the books are the most important thing. If they fall in love with your stories and characters, that’s as good as them falling for the author. And I think authenticity is important. I don’t wish readers in my group a happy birthday because I’ve calculated that it will sell books, I do it because I want to make them smile. I don’t post encouraging memes or offer NaNoWriMo support because I think it will help Amazon rankings, but because I care about these people and want to make their lives better. And as long as that’s not taking time away from my writing, it works for everyone.
Laura: What’s the fastest way to lose a reader/potential reader?
Kate: Being a snarky (redacted) toward other authors is a big one for me. I really hold back on my criticisms of bad books these days because negativity is so off-putting for me as a reader that I don’t want to have that image myself as an author. “Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate” is something I’m really trying to live by.
Laura: Any advice to authors struggling with finding readers and getting reviews?
Kate: Be yourself and see what happens. You never know what might spark a genuine connection with a reader.
Thanks so much, Kate! Stay tuned folks, part 5 will feature Kate’s thoughts on Marketing and Promotion. If you haven’t read earlier parts of the series, you can find part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here, and part 5 here. You can check out some of Kate’s work for free – check out how: