Connect With Readers–Without Breaking the (Time) Bank

In my last post, I bombarded you with examples of writing in second person–that bizarre voice where the narrative is about YOU, the reader, as a character in the story. Hopefully, I answered your questions about what second-person voice looks like. I may have even answered the all-important question of WHY you might want to experiment with something as funky as writing in second-person voice voice. That is, that second-person writing pulls readers into your story world, deepens audience engagement, and gives fans a richer, more enjoyable story experience.

Time and Quantum Physics

If you’re like most fiction writers I know, though, you probably have another crucial question: How can you provide your readers with MORE content when you’ve already got two books in the works, kids to pick up, a dog that need to get to the vet, DINNER TO COOK, GROCERIES TO BUY, AND

Get the idea?

If your days go anything like mine do, you’re probably in an ongoing battle with too-much-to-do-itis, but you CAN level-up your readers’ experience without breaking the “time bank.” The key is defining your project before you begin, tailoring it to fit your specific situation. In other words, writing MORE isn’t enough. You need to pick the RIGHT writing project–let’s call it your “value-adding” project, since it increases the value of your primary work–to fit your specific needs and resources.

Read on to learn how!

1. Define Your Specific Audience

The absolute first thing you need to decide is WHO you want to reach with your value-adding writing project. It makes sense, right?

If you want to connect with readers, you first need to define WHO those readers ARE.

You might be writing for your ideal reader, the person you envision reading your books, or whatever your “primary work” is–you know, the one inspiring this value-adding project!

Example: The ideal reader for my middle grade fiction is about twelve years old, smart, a bit geeky, and likes to play strategy games. Does that describe you? No? No worries! That’s because the ideal reader for my blog is NOT the same as the ideal reader for my fiction…which brings up an important point. The ideal reader for your PRIMARY WORK may not be the ideal reader for your VALUE-ADDING project. In other words, you might want to connect with a NEW reader.

Think of it this way. You can create a value-adding project to appeal to the same audience as your primary work, or you can create something that will appeal to a different audience, such as:

  • Your CUSTOMERS–people who might buy your book for someone else

Do you write for children or young adults? Consider writing for parents, grandparents, and others who purchase books for children and young adults. Do you write for a niche audience? Consider writing something that will appeal to the friends and spouses of your ideal reader.

  • Your USERS–people who might use your book in some way other than simply reading or gifting it

Teachers and book club organizers might fit this category. Get creative!

2. Define Your Audience’s Specific Needs, Desires, or Problems

Once you’ve identified your audience for your writing project, it’s time to get to know them better. What problems do they face? What do they like or dislike? What need can you help them meet? Here are two examples to help you get started.

Audience Problem Solution
Teachers Getting students engaged in creative writing Offer a writing resource with second-person writing prompts that invite students to write themselves into your story world:
Why do the sidekicks get so little press? You’re [HERO NAME]’s best friend and companion, and do you get any mention in the news stories of his exploits? No! Well, it’s time to change things. You’re here to tell your side of [HERO NAME]’s story, because let’s face it: no hero saves the world in a vacuum.
Parents of geeky kids Finding books that speak to their kids’ particular interest Write a second-person voice description of the parent’s situation:
Does this describe you? Your son or daughter has read every fantasy novel in their elementary school library. They’re too old for chapter books, but still young enough to think anything with a hint of romance is ICKY—which rules out most of the young adult novels you’ve checked out. You’re desperate to find them more reading material!

For help defining your ideal reader–as well as others who might be interested in your book–check out these excellent resources:

3. Define What You Want This Project to Accomplish

Deciding WHAT you want to accomplish with this value-adding project is your next step. It’s important to get specific here. For example,

  • Broad project goal: Broaden your audience
  • Better (more specific) project goal: Create easy-to-share content that your existing fans will want to email/Tweet/post on Instagram for their friends

So…what DO you want to accomplish? Here are some ideas to help you get started.

Goal Target Audience Project
Connect with new readers Existing readers Create a humorous quiz to identify your latent superpower [or another trait related to your story world]–with a prominent SHARE feature to encourage readers to post results on social media.
Keep your writing top-of-mind between book releases Existing readers Create an online mini choose-your-own-adventure story to reward newsletter subscribers and give them story world content while they anxiously await your next release.

Other goal ideas might be:

  • Build an active fan community
  • Help existing readers to feel more immersed in the story world
  • Keep your stories top-of-mind between book releases
  • Give your readers opportunities to share your writing with friends
  • Engage reluctant or on-the-fence readers

I’ve put together a handy worksheet to help you identify the best writing project to help connect with YOUR readers. Download it for free now!

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  1. says

    Thanks for the shout-out! Great piece.

    • says

      Thanks, and thanks for YOUR great look at creating reader profiles. I found it really helpful!


  1. […] Many writers keep a blog—and sometimes run short of ideas. Glen Long gives us 6 tips to turn a crappy idea into a great blog post. And however we choose to connect with readers, Cheryl Reif shows how to connect with readers without it breaking the time bank. […]