Apparently I do not sit through enough lectures on my course.
Why do I say this? Because on Wednesday I attended a panel on Building Reader Communities at Greenwich University. Unlike my regularly scheduled lectures, this event was held in the evening, and also… there was wine (a major plus).
Building Reader Communities? I thought it would be focusing on something like what the Royal Burough of Greenwich is doing to improve literacy rates in the council. But that’s what happens when you click attend to an Eventbrite event that you haven’t read the description of properly.
I was wrong. But pleasantly surprised.
In as little words as possible, this panel was hosted with people with experience in building a repertoire with consumers, heavily featuring recommended reads or acts, online fundraising campaigns and general fan interaction. I casually called it the “fandom conversation”.
The panel consisted of 4 (originally 5) people whose interaction with their communities in the physical and online world helped them in their endeavours. Our panelists were the Co-Directors of the Greenwich Book Festival, Auriol Bishop and Alex Pheby; Meike Ziervogel, novelist and founder of Peirene Press (they do translated “un-sellable” books); Alexis Kennedy, CEO of Interactive Fiction Studio Failbetter Games and Kate Russel, a tech reporter and author of Elite: Mostly Harmless, a novel based in the Elite Game World who attended via pre-recorded message.
We discussed the various ways that they have used their position in reader communities to promote their work and courses simply through interaction. Alexis Kennedy and Kate Russel both talked about crowdfunding and appealing to existing markets looking for new products- which were games based on literature, and literature based on games respectively. Meike Ziervogel was passionate about how publishers can do more for their authors in representing and creating a brand that communities are curious about, and therefore investigate. Auriol Bishop and Alex Pheby focused on how they try and elevate new author’s voices, especially those of Greenwich Uni’s Creative Writing students during the Greenwich Book Festival.
From them, I have learned 5 basic tips about building a reading community from. Below, in no particular order are these 5 tips for building a successfully engaged, enthusiastic community, with some quotes from the panelists as back up.
Unfortunately due to drinking wine and taking notes,these quotes cannot be properly credited, which does suck tremendously.
1. Be aware of the fact that community and audience are not the same. A community is more likely to enjoy your product if it is interactive, and audience implies passive consumption of your product.
“Audience is passive.”
2. Be genuine and interact with your community. Don’t just peddle your wares, take note of what others are doing and give them feedback because they will be more likely to return the favour. Interaction can also lead to hiring from the community.
“Find something you love and show interest in the genuine community.”
3. Be regular and consistent. Have a regular appointment to post a blog feature, set a number of tweets that need to be produced a day. Anything that keeps you constantly active in the community can only help.
“Keep the show on the road or you might not be able to continue to do so.”
4. Be creative. Pair this with consistency, find new or perfect old ways to engage with your community and bring fresh perspectives to them. Do not wait for your genius to be discovered, trust your gut and write for the sake of writing [if you write], not to sell.
“Go and create!”
5. Hold your nerve. In what you believe and in what you like and what you know the community has been proven to like, sometimes this is where bigger corporations can fail.
“We’re good at knowing whats good.”
Greenwich Book Festival is held during the 27th and 28th of May this year (2016).
Elite: Mostly Harmless Elite:Dangerous is available for sale on Amazon, Kate is working on the second instalment of the series.
Failbetter Games have just launched Fundbetter in order to crowdsource for the production of their smaller, narrative-drivenn games.
Peirine Press have recently announced a winner for their flash fiction online competition an will be publishing breach by Olumide Popoola & Annie Holmes in August (2016).