How to Connect With More Readers in Just 5 Minutes

Finding your readers

Photo by hatalmas / Flickr

Today’s guest post is by Toni Tesori (@duolit) of Duolit, which offers a free guided workbook, the Weekend Book Marketing Makeover.

You’ve been plugging away, day after day, trying to build the fan base you know your work deserves, but it’s not going the way you’d pictured when you started out. It’s like you’ve tried everything under the sun (including blogging, tweeting, and participating in promotion after promotion), but you can’t find passionate readers for your work.

It’s not that your book isn’t any good (you and your editor spent tons of time making sure it is) and it’s not that readers are uninterested in your genre (your author friends are selling books by the truckload).

Perhaps the problem is that your message simply isn’t connecting with readers on a personal level. Your tweets, blogs, and e-mails aren’t convincing them to check out your work.

It’s a problem I see quite often, and I’ve even given it a name: Superstar Author Syndrome. That might sound a bit backward, since you’re not (yet) on any sort of author walk of fame, but hear me out.

Authors with SAS commonly have an issue connecting with readers because their blogs, social media updates, and promotional materials sound too vague, almost corporate. There’s nothing personal or engaging for a potential reader to “hook” onto and remember.

That’s because those of us in charge of our own book promotion may be modeling our communications on our big-name brethren, most of whom have entire PR teams crafting those blog posts and whatnots for them. For Stephen King or James Patterson, using that impersonal, third-person speak in their website, tweets, or blogs may be entirely appropriate.

But for those of us trying to build a grassroots following, it’s a one-way ticket to obscurity.

Luckily, there’s an easy way to inject life into your marketing efforts.

Narrow your target

To find the perfect balance between professionalism and personality, craft your messages with just one crazy-dedicated fan in mind.

This may seem counterintuitive. After all, you’re probably trying to attract as many readers as possible. Won’t targeting a single reader exclude thousands of others who are nothing like that person?

Surprisingly, narrowing your promotional focus in this way helps you better connect with more readers by giving you (1) focus and (2) direction.

Gain focus

When you tailor your marketing decisions to one person, you’ll attract a wider variety of readers because your communications will sound far more personal and engaging. You’ll sound like a real human being having a conversation with folks who love your book.

Find direction

Targeting one reader helps you find marketing direction. Trying to figure out where to spend your limited book promotion time can be overwhelming and confusing, but having a unique person to center your marketing decisions around makes this task much easier. Instead of trying to figure out what appeals to everyone in your target market, you’ll be able to ask a single person. And it’s a lot easier to figure out what appeals to one person than thousands, right?

3 steps to create a No. 1 fan profile

Here’s how to craft a reader profile (kind of like a character profile) that will uncover your biggest fan. Keep in mind there is no right or wrong answer here. If you’ve met a few of your readers, base your profile on one of those folks. If you’re just starting out, simply imagine someone you think would love your work. And if that’s too difficult, but you’re a fan of your genre of work, answer the questions as yourself.

1. Picture someone reading your book and devouring every single word. Someone who’s dreading the book coming to an end.

2. Describe the person you see just like she’s a character in your book. If you have a preferred character profiling method, you may use that, or you may choose to answer the following questions:

Where is she reading your book? Describe the setting. Is she at home, on a train or out in the park? Is she in a chair, a bed, the bath?

How did she find your book? Is she reading an e-book or a paperback?

Fill in her personal details. What’s her name? Where does she live? How old is she? What does she look like?

3. While continuing to picture your No. 1 fan, think of two or three ways to connect with that person. Think about the following:

How does she choose books? Does she search for new titles on her own or follow the recommendations of her friends or family?

Where does she hang out online? Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, blogs? What about offline? Is she in a book club? Does she have a favorite bookstore?

What are her other hobbies and interests? Are there any ways you can use those to reach out to other readers like her?

Now that you have a basic profile of your No. 1 fan, feel free to spend a bit more time fleshing it out. The more detailed your reader profile, the more effective it will be for helping you make those difficult marketing decisions.

The next time you craft a tweet, write a blog post, send an e-mail, or share an update on Facebook, think about your biggest fan and the profile you created. What type of content would she want to read (and share)? What wording would appeal to her? What promotion would she gladly take part in?

The answers of your biggest fan are sure to connect you with others just like her.

In the comments, let’s hear about your No. 1 fan. Do any of her characteristics surprise you? How will you use your reader profile to better focus your book marketing and promotional efforts?

Posted in Guest Post, Marketing & Promotion and tagged , .

Toni Tesori is one half of Duolit, two gals who help passionate fiction authors sell more books by building their crazy-dedicated fanbase. If you're ready to stop dreading and start loving the process of book promotion, check out their FREE Weekend Book Marketing Makeover, a guided workbook that jumpstarts your fanbase-building efforts in just two days!

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Colleen Kelly Mellor

I like the back-door approach to finding your fans…In essence, let THEM find you, by envisioning and going after who’d LOVE your stuff. I started out, blog-writing, 3 years ago, with “Biddy Bytes: Encouragement in a Difficult World” With that wording, I got labeled (by Google) with Born-Again’s and Bible Thumpers (not that there’s anything wrong with that.) Now, that association works for Joel Osteen (and as you say, people like him have entire PR teams,) but Not For Me. So, I niched myself–Now, I write to audiences who travel between states, for residence…Specifically Asheville, NC and RI. narrowed my… Read more »

Kathryn Barker

Thanks for sharing these great ideas. Can’t wait to get started….it helps to have a “picture” of someone in mind!!

Angela Ackerman

Good post and advice–would have loved to see some examples of static vs “ideal fan’ tweet marketing. I love the idea of brainstorming up one’s ideal fan in a similar way a person brainstorms a character profile!

Happy writing,


Esther Aspling

I’ve been surprised by who some of my readers are, leading me to try to re-brand a little. I had started talking to women, and now find that I need to broaden and include men (who seem to comment the most).

Connie Flynn

This is fresh and incredible information, Toni. It makes complete sense and I’m going to sit down and write my reader profile today. Thanks for sharing.

Anne R. Allen

Fantastic advice. I’ve been blogging this week about the futility of racking up Twitter numbers/FB “Likes” and all the nonsense that means nothing when trying to connect with actual fans. This is such a great antidote to that “corporate” approach. Love it.


[…] connecting with readers or imagining who your readers will be? Toni Tesori (@duolit) suggests in How to Connect With More Readers in Just 5 Minutes that you focus on just one (ideal) reader. The idea isn’t new but the point behind it is simple: […]


This is very interesting. I write nonfiction, a topic that’s admittedly a tough sell: grieving the death of a friend. I could say my audience is everyone, because let’s face it, eventually we all go through this experience. But… I split my book into 6 separate small books, each focusing on a different audience (like people who lost a military buddy, or lost a friend on 9/11). The latest one is on AIDS. I wrote it from the perspective of someone who was around for the horrific beginnings, who lost a lot of friends, who remembers the bad old days.… Read more »

Gabrielle Mazur

I really enjoyed this! It really helps focus in on the target. I may come back and read this again when I feel overwhelmed marketing my book.


Toni and Jane I love this idea, I have been doing a similar thing in the Jeff Goins writing course we have to define who our tribe is, the people we can speak out for. So it narrows our focus down to who our readers would be. This post adds some more depth to the concept and will be very useful thank you so much. After reading so many posts on how to be a better writer etc this is the most original piece I have read in awhile.

Lexa Cain

This is a wonderful post, and I love the idea of targeting one fan. At the moment, I have no idea how to answer the questions you posed, but I’ll continue to ponder and look for clues in the readers and forum members I know. Thanks so much for your insight! 🙂

Cathy Elliott

This great blog post was passed on to me by Kathryn Barker, who commented below. (Thanks, Kate.) Love your idea. It really takes pressure off, no? Early on, I’d been advised to write to that one reader, my target reader. It made a big difference. So it makes sense to me that it would work beautifully on social media, too!

Dianna M. Winget

My books are aimed at middle grade readers, so I’m not sure if I should be tweeting/promoting to them or a parent or librarian. But your post has helped me to visualize my reader. I based it on a sweet note I received from a young fan who wrote to tell me how much she loved, A Smidgen of Sky. She’s twelve years old, with curly blond hair, very smart, reads hard back books while stretched out on her bed, and lives in southern CA. Thanks for the great post, Toni!

Karen Clayton

My 13-year-old son and I are in the same boat. We co-authored a middle grade novel, Mason Davis and the Rise of the Storm Makers (Amazon), and have been trying to figure out not only how to reach out to the tweens, but the parents. Most parent sites we’ve found are for younger kids. Any ideas on how to reach those parents with tweens and teens?


Some ideas, like this one, feel so right, and yet, are so different from the way my mind wants to think. It would be like the difference between studying French in a book and then trying to speak it. Naturally one keeps studying the book, but also one accepts that marketing-voice is a language that take time to develop. Thanks for this tip. I do agree that visualizing a warm, curious, friendly audience can help me focus my message. I’ve even been astonished by a couple of people who fell in love with my book Memoir Revolution, and I would… Read more »

Fragrant Liar

That’s one of the best pieces of advice I’ve heard. It makes perfect sense! I’m going to give this approach a shot, so thanks, and wish me luck!


Excellent advice. I think it could also be applied to bloggers.

[…] How to Connect With More Readers in Just 5 Min by @duolit via @JaneFriedman […]

[…] Tesori: How to Connect With More Readers in Just 5 Minutes. Excerpt: “You’ve been plugging away, day after day, trying to build the fan base you know […]

Julia McCoy

Great stuff! Narrowing a target may seem counter-intuitive because you could eliminate some readers, but you were right on point about using it to draw closer to your real reader base.

Cynthia Loveland

This is great advice. Sometimes all my social media-ing feels like banging my head against the wall. It’s important to remember who’s really reading and write for them.

G Ken Kremsreiter

Toni, thanks! It’s what I call “touching the heart” –one person at a time. It is easy to do in person, not always so easy to do in a written outreach. Right now I am at that place. Getting ready to publish my first EBook
Title: Moving Forward Subtitle: Getting Beyond Your Current Situation

Thank you for your wisdom.



Ahhhhhh- a target! Finally! Wonderful advice – and so right that as I read it, I immediately envisioned my rabid fan: she’s on the subway, giant trendy purse with everything in it, reads a Kindle, gets so engrossed with my story she misses her stop. She’s so hooked she risks reading at work, fabricates a dental appointment to stay home to finish the book and then checks my website to see if a sequel is in the works.
What fun! Y’all made my afternoon….

Rhett Bigler

I read this and immediately thought of two people. One of whom is a nonauthor beta reader who seems to really like my book. Interestingly, I sent him a paragraph that I wrote this morning because it made me think about him and his taste in reading. I am now thinking about turning that into a blog entry somehow. The other is a person who seems to hit the Like button on almost every blog post I write, but I’m not quite sure how to reach out to him. Any suggestions?

[…] How to Connect With More Readers in Just 5 Minutes by Toni Tesori at Jane […]

Amy Jarecki

Oh wow, my head is swimming with ideas already…and I’ve been targeting writers…I’ve had it all wrong!

Shirley Corder

Tina, what great advice. When I started my book, Strength Renewed, Meditations for Your Journey through Breast Cancer, I actually worked on just such a profile. I forget where I got the idea from. I used it when I wrote the book, which is probably why I get so many enthusiastic responses from people who match my profile. How funny! I never made the connection, and here I’ve been targeting all over the globe. (Literally! I live in South Africa.) Now to try and find that profile, or work on another one. I love, love, love this idea. Thank you!

Alan Scouser

As a published paranormal Kindle book author, I am forever seeking new ways of attracting more readers. I therefore found your post very helpful.

Steve Vera

Thank you so much for writing this blog. The funny thing is, somewhere in the back of my mind I already knew the wisdom of having a No. 1 fan profile, but seeing this blog and hearing your words in my head just woke me up and said, “That makes perfect sense! Why don’t I do something about it?” So I’m starting today. Thank you again!

[…] SAS. I read about this terrifying syndrome about a month ago. I believe it was first reported on Jane Friedman’s blog. The symptoms are simple . . . you model your promotional and marketing activities after actual […]

[…] How to Connect With More Readers in Just 5 Minutes by Toni Tesori at Jane […]