Many of my books include a reader letter – it usually runs at the front of the book, and begins “Dear Reader…” They’re tough to miss, when you have the actual book. But until you have the book, you miss out on all that chat about the writing of it, the characters, the creative challenges associated with that book, etc. Of course, for all of my new editions, I’ve written new reader letters.
This summer, I heard Courtney Milan talk about digital books and metadata, and she made the observation that what used to be the front matter in a print book – i.e. the content that helps a reader make the decision of whether to buy the book – really belonged on the product page for the book. The decision is made by the reader while he or she is looking at the portal’s website, so all that material needs to be there. In the actual digital book, then, there’s no real need for front matter or certainly not as much of it. The reader has already bought the book, and wants to start reading as soon as possible. I thought this was a pretty interesting observation, and have been thinking of ways to put it to work.
One way is with reader letters. Recently, I began to upload those reader letters to Amazon for each book, putting them in the “From the Author” field for the book in question. As is usually the case with such initiatives, it’s been done for the newer ones, but I still have to go back and do it for the older titles. The issue is that other portals don’t have the same range of fields available on the product page – or they’re not accessible by me. So, another way to make that content available to readers who haven’t bought the book yet is to have it on my site here. Starting today, I’ll be adding reader letters to the blog in individual blog posts, then linking the pages here on the blog for each book to its reader letter post (and vice versa). That will all make sense once you see the first one, coming up this morning.
I’ll do FALLEN and GUARDIAN this morning, then new titles as they come out. I’ll gradually work my way through the backlist and get their reader letters posted here, too. It’ll be good content for those days when there’s no news for the blog. I enjoy writing these letters, and hope that you’ll enjoy reading them, too.
Away we go!