12 Mistakes Authors Make in Connecting with Readers

The whole idea of “building a platform” and “marketing your book” is to get people to read what you’ve written. Whether you’re traditionally or self-published, connecting with potential readers is crucial. There are many good ways to do this (although it’s not necessarily easy), and plenty of resources to  help you. Today I want to point out the most common mistakes I see authors making in the effort to connect with readers.


1. Not creating a plan or strategy for connecting with readers, but remaining completely haphazard.

2. Not understanding who your reading audience is.

3. Trying too hard to “sell” rather than gather a reading community.

4. Spending too much time on the blog, when that might not be the most effective way to gather a community. (Many author blogs are read by other authors.)

5. Trying to do it all yourself, i.e. failing to crowd-source.

6. Focusing on places authors hang out online, rather than readers.

7. Not getting any social media coaching or doing any serious study of it.

8. One-sided communication on social media: failing to engage with fans and respond to them.

9. Not using social media to its fullest potential, i.e. neglecting Facebook campaigns, Goodreads promotions, Pinterest engagement, Twitter chats, Instagram stories.

10. Trying to do too many things in the attempt to connect with readers, rather than choosing a couple of avenues that suit you, and becoming expert at them.

11. Not using the special topic, era, genre and content of your book to locate and engage readers.

12. Ignoring opportunities for local, in-person appearances (book signings, book clubs, writing groups, school visits, workshops, library readings and local area meet-ups.).

Are any of these areas problematic for you? If you haven’t marketed a book yet, what do you anticipate will be the hardest part?


Photo by Rémi Walle on Unsplash




Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Kay DiBianca on July 15, 2018 at 8:22 PM

    Thanks for this post, Rachelle. It’s difficult to navigate the labyrinth of marketing and promotion, but you’ve helped!

  2. […] There is a method to marketing madness. Rick Lite shares the ultimate book marketing timeline for indie authors—part 1 and part 2. Penny Sansevieri has a simple method to market your book, Therese Walsh lists 13 ways to promote before publication, and Rachelle Gardner brings us 12 mistakes authors make when connecting to readers. […]

  3. […] Tip #1: The World is My Office Tip #2: Edit Your Editing Tip #3: Marketing Mistakes Made Obvious […]

  4. Peter Bostwick on July 8, 2018 at 1:10 PM

    Thank you Rachelle, perfectly good ideas for me now. As we are beginning to expand our reach, our online and most importantly our face to face message must be clear. If we don’t know what we want to say, how can we hope our audience will hear it.

  5. Pat Iacuzzi on July 5, 2018 at 10:22 PM

    Thanks so much for these tips, Rachelle. Need to really keep these in mind as I step out into the swift-flowing waters of social media with my new blog. I’ve already got to reconsider some parts; but one step at a time…

  6. Steven Fantina on July 5, 2018 at 10:06 AM

    That is very good advice. I have recent a Christian work of fiction for children and appreciate all the tips I can get.

  7. maka bly on April 4, 2015 at 9:57 AM

    Thanks For This Great Post Indeed…

    I Love The Way You Write And Connect With Readers…

    I Think It is Important To Build Relationship With Our Readers…

    Thanks Again ! 🙂


  8. writerrobynlarue on December 15, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    I want very much to make connections and have fun with social media, How does one get over shyness and show a little personality? I’m trying. 🙂

  9. Tips For Writers | Nancy Faltermeier on November 26, 2013 at 11:58 PM

    […] The whole idea of “building a platform” and “marketing your book” is to get people to read what you’ve written. Whether you’re traditionally or self-published, connecting with potential readers is crucial. There are many good ways to do this (although it’s not necessarily easy), and plenty of resources to  help you. Today I want to point out the most common mistakes I see authors making in the effort to connect with readers. Click here to read more. […]

  10. Kathy Steinemann on November 22, 2013 at 7:53 AM

    Thanks, Rachelle.
    I’ve started posting flash fiction pieces on my blog, and I share exclusive short stories with readers who sign up for my newsletter. AND–important–my newsletter only goes out once monthly.
    It’s a slow process, but it grows readership over time.

  11. […] Randy Susan Meyers explain the difference between marketing and publicity; Rachelle Gardner lists 12 mistakes authors make in connecting with readers; Stephanie Chandler shows us how to create a great marketing plan for your non-fiction book; and […]

  12. Jason Andrew Bond on November 20, 2013 at 4:54 PM

    I particularly like #8. I don’t care for it when I tweet at authors and they can’t be bothered to tweet back or tweet back something canned and brief. It takes time but it’s worth it!

  13. Monday Must-Reads [11/18/13] - YESENIA VARGAS on November 19, 2013 at 9:12 PM

    […] 12 Mistakes Authors Make in Connecting with Readers – Rachelle Gardner […]

  14. Nathan Perkins on November 16, 2013 at 4:59 AM

    I tend to making creating a blog a big deal and then I’m to overwhelmed to do it.

  15. :Donna Marie on November 13, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    OOooooh, I wish I could’ve attended this online conference. It sounds great! Meanwhile, I love the list. It makes it very succinct which makes it more easily doable. Thank you, Rachelle!

  16. […] article I just scanned called 12 Mistakes Authors Make in Connecting with Readers makes some good points – like trying too hard to sell rather than connect – but makes […]

  17. Chillman on November 12, 2013 at 3:54 PM

    Sounds great! Too bad I don’t have the money to attend…

  18. Shawn on November 12, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    It sounds like #9 and #10 contradict each other. Use social media to the fullest but doing too many things to connect with readers.

  19. Karen Kletzing on November 12, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    Are we talking about fiction?
    Zondervan marketed my first book for me
    Is that not what is happening now?

  20. Carol Balawyder on November 12, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    Hi Rachel-
    How do I find out where readers hang out online in order to reach them? I’m looking forward to the conference: Get read.

  21. Natalie Norwood on November 12, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    I have been a writer all my life, I was a journalist for many years. I went back to school and just graduated last week with my BA in Communications. The education gave me insight into marketing, public relations, and a vast knowledge of social media. The world is changing. The way we communicate and the venues we use to communicate with our target audience have changed. Just like a good book requires research, so does a good PR campaign.

  22. Cherry Odelberg on November 12, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    #4 – “Most author blogs are read by other authors.” Ain’t it the truth! ha ha, but at least I have friends now and am no longer alone:)

    • Jason Andrew Bond on November 20, 2013 at 4:55 PM

      This is one of the cores of social media for me. I used to think it was for selling my books, but now I use it to stay sane after a day of being trapped in my office! 🙂

  23. Andy Castro on November 12, 2013 at 7:58 AM

    Of coarse in all 12 points I’d have to get better. But in my universe, I would give #10 a 10. Sometimes I’m more scattered than a new 5,000 piece jigsaw puzzle.
    Thanks for the advice.

  24. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on November 12, 2013 at 7:25 AM

    II’d add this, about blogging –

    Your blog is a product in a competitive marketplace. You’re competing for readers’ time and attention, and you have to give them value for their investment.

    * Blog on a predictable schedule. Don’t make people wonder where you went.

    * There is no excuse for an “I didn’t really know what to say today” piece, on a day when the muse departs. Some bloggers have found it cute and personal to plead tiredness or lack of inspiration. Once, it’s cute. Twice, it’s unprofessional.

    * Grammar, syntax, and presentation are important. If your writing isn’t “stream-of-consciousness”, neither should be your blog.

    * Reply to as many comments as you can, but don’t get bogged down in ‘comment-conversations’ with a specific individual. It looks like favoritism.

    * Fin ally, remember that your blog isn’t about you. It’s about your readers’ perceptions and interests.


  25. Amanda C on November 12, 2013 at 7:01 AM

    Thanks so much for your blog, Rachelle. Such helpful info! I struggle with a haphazard approach. I write for children, which makes connecting with them online difficult. I struggle to know how to connect with their parents, especially since I am not a parent myself. When I post on my blog the most popular posts are those geared toward children’s speakers (we do lots of school assemblies and children’s events for churches). Haphazard… yep. 🙂 But I’m learning. Or will learn. Thanks again!

    • Nan Jones on November 12, 2013 at 11:09 AM

      Amanda, Maybe think about being interactive on early childhood teaching sites. Teachers are all about social media and are interested in new books. Even helping with curriculum ideas built around your book would be interesting.

      • Amanda C on November 13, 2013 at 12:51 PM

        Yes, that’s a great idea. Thanks! 🙂

  26. Dina Santorelli on November 12, 2013 at 6:18 AM

    Excellent post. I see many authors who think that just by posting “buy my book” on social media that readers will do so in droves. It’s all about engaging and, in my opinion, WANTING to engage. I spend lots of time on social media not because I have to, but because I WANT to. I enjoy talking to readers and sharing and networking with authors. And if I can spot the ones who don’t, readers can too.

  27. Roxanne Sherwood Gray on November 12, 2013 at 6:08 AM

    Thanks so much for this post. I’m signing up for the conference as soon as I return from the carpool run.

  28. D. Holcomb on November 11, 2013 at 10:22 PM

    Great post. I’m a humor blogger, and not quite sure how to define my audience.