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

How to Drive Traffic to Your Website – Tips and Suggestions

WEBB, S 28.11.08 0074
WEBB, S 28.11.08 0074

So you have a shiny new website and you want as many people to visit it as possible. After all, what’s the point of putting time and energy into the whole online shebang otherwise?I’m a writer, not an internet expert, but luckily I have access to many people who are far smarter and more net savvy than I am, and I’ve picked their brains just for you. The one thing they have all agreed on is that having a fancy smancy looking website is all very well, but CONTENT IS KING. Content is what drives readers to your website in the first place and it’s what keeps them coming back time after time. And a WEEKLY BLOG is a great way of adding to that content, and updating your website on a regular basis. Luckily, I like blogging. I like telling people about books, writing, the publishing world. I have something to say. And that’s so important – having something to say. When I started my blog several years ago it was originally called ‘The Launch Lizard’. I covered book launches I attended in Dublin and all over. But there aren’t so many of them anymore, and I tend to put any launch photos or info up on Facebook these days instead. So I decided to make it a blog about what I do – about writing. From the feedback (and thanks to anyone who has sent in a comment or emailed me), it’s been useful to other writers, and I’ve enjoyed and continue to enjoy doing it which is also important. Blogs work best if you are passionate about subject and willing to share everything you know with an on-line community. My friend David Maybury has a great blog


where he posts all kinds of articles, reviews and links – all related to children’s books. It’s well worth checking out. He puts in a lot of work and he has a lot of readers because of this. If you are a writer or an author/illustrator, maybe you could blog about your own work – how you write your books, your techniques, and how you got published, found your agent etc. I’m always jealous of illustrators as they can make your blogs really come alive with their art. But everyone can share photographs – pages from their writing notebooks, book cover art etc. The important thing is to make your blog interesting, relevant and useful. Yes, it takes time and effort, but if you want readers, that’s what it takes, hard work and lots of it! Also think about your target market. Who exactly are you writing for? A good blog should also say something about who you are too. That’s why I believe that writers are ideally suited to blogging. They have a writing voice and they aren’t afraid to use it. And finally, post your blog on Facebook and Twitter and encourage people to share it and retweet it. Good luck with your own blog!

In a nutshell: 1/ Content is King 2/ Try to blog at least once a week 3/ Find something interesting and useful to blog about 4/ The more work you put into your blog, the more regular readers you will have 5/ Share you blog posts on Facebook and Twitter

Yours in writing, Sarah XXX