Colander vs. Bucket: Staying in touch with readers

How are you keeping your readers and getting permission to continue the conversation with them? Did that question cause you to break out in hives because you have no idea? Grab the cortisone cream and let's chat.
Activities such as social media are an outreach. You can contact and engage with readers online through Facebook, Twitter and other sites. You can also meet readers in person at signings and conferences. These activities are a great way to let readers know about you and your book.

The problem is, none of those touch points are permanent. Facebook and Twitter may feel invincible right now, but go ask MySpace how it felt back in 2007. Yeah, it wasn't all that long ago that MySpace was the place everyone hung out online. Now, dead space. You can't depend on any of these social sites to still be popular five years from now.

And even if those sites are still around, who knows what the rules will be. Facebook used to be a perfect way to engage with fans. Now, even those readers who become fans of your page aren't guaranteed to get your content. In fact, you'd be lucky if 1/3 of your fans see any one post. How many are missing your most crucial announcements?

The only way to ensure your message reaches the readers who want it is to control the flow of information.

Your website, and more specifically, your email list, is how you gather your readers in a way that establishes permission to talk with them and continue building the relationship. Your mailing list is the bucket. Readers can always splash out the top by unsubscribing, but most are going to settle in and stay collected.

By inviting readers to join your mailing list, you control the content and frequency of your messages to them. You avoid the risks of a social media site fading out of popularity or changing the rules. Don't wait. It's never too early to start building your list of readers.