Cathy Cassidy

It's Not Enough to Write a Brilliant Book - You Also Need This

What Do Readers Want From Their Writers These Days? The answer is – as well as a brilliant book - connection!

Once upon a time you could write a book, then sit back and relax. You might get a few letters in the post from readers and you’d answer them in your own good time.

But things have changed - it’s not enough to write a brilliant book anymore, readers want more. They have high expectations. They expect at the very least a website, complete with some way of contacting the writer directly through a message board, forum or email address. If you are also active on Facebook and Twitter this is a bonus. They want to connect with writers, talk to them about their books, and ask questions; sometimes they just want to say ‘hi’.

But how do writers cope with all this extra ‘work’ on top of their writing commitment? At the Patrick Hardy Lecture recently bestselling teen and tween author, Cathy Cassidy spoke about this issue. She gets over 150 emails a day from her readers and responds to them all. That’s a huge time and energy commitment.

‘I get more e-mails now than when I was an agony aunt,’ she said. ‘They don’t all need to be answered immediately but it’s a lot and it’s growing all the time.’

‘I appreciate the input from children and their feedback,’ she added. ‘They share their life with you and ask for your feedback and there may not be other processes available for them to do that.’

Like Cathy, I get emails from children every day, in much smaller quantities however (I have no idea how she deals with 150 a day!). And like Cathy I try to answer one of them honestly and thoughtfully. Yes, it takes time, but if someone has made the effort to write to me, they deserve an answer. And as Cathy says, there may not be another outlet for them. And it’s not hard for people to find me.

Each of my Ask Amy Green books (for age 10+) has details of my Amy Green website –, plus my direct email address – and Amy Green Facebook page. As I also write for adults (plus younger children) I also have my own website for my other books – the website hosting this blog - and an adult Facebook page and Twitter account @sarahwebbishere. I have two blogs, one on the Ask Amy Green website and this one. I also blog on the Girls Heart Books collective website once a month. If you google Sarah Webb, you’ll find me!

Luckily I like social networking, I’m a chatty, open kind of person and I’m happy to share some of my thoughts on-line. And I genuinely enjoy meeting readers, in real life, or via email or Facebook messages. It makes me feel more connected to the ‘real’ world, whatever that is! After hours sitting at my desk, I like reading what people have been up to via Facebook or Twitter.

Social networking is also great for running competitions and for letting readers know about book events and festivals. It’s revolutionised the reader/writer relationship. Yes, writers have to work hard to answer all the messages, deal with all the requests, but it’s a small price to pay for all the benefits.

I limit the time I spend on Facebook and Twitter to first thing in the morning, and late afternoon, when I have my writing done, which I think is important. Otherwise large chunks of time could be chewed up and writing is my number one priority.

If you’re a writer, how accessible are you to your readers? If they google you, can they find you? Or does the very thought give you the heebie jeebies? If so, you may want to think again!

Here is an older post for writers about Facebook, Twitter, blogs and websites. And there's a useful piece on setting up a blog here by Michelle Maloney-King.

Yours in writing,

Sarah XXX