Sharing information with your audience is a good idea, but you also want to get feedback. Feedback helps you meet the needs and expectations of your audience. It helps you understand if you have been successful at communicating your ideas. Your audience's responses will allow you to determine if you've garnered credibility and a following. To help you with this sites like Amazon and Goodreads encourage readers to offer feedback about books by rating them on a sliding scale. These ratings can help you gauge the reception to your books.
Here's food for thought. If it's easy for your readers to offer feedback, they will. There are multiple ways to facilitate feedback. A simple way is to have a response form on your website or blog. You can add a response form by adding a widget to your website/blog interface. You will find the plug-in response widgets at Flite.
A widget is an easy way to add engagement to your site, but there are other ways. Check out Survey Monkey to build interactive forms and surveys to engage your readers. This service is a great way to get targeted feedback from your audience through polls, questionnaires and direct reader feedback. The more feedback you receive the more likely you are to improve your connection with readers.
Another popular way to get feedback from your audiences is to create an interactive forum. Simple Machines is a site that offers effective, powerful and free forum software for your website. This type of software will help you create your own exclusive online community. Authors like Verla Kay have built vast online communities through interactive forums. Check out Kay's popular Children's Writer and Illustrator Chat Board for an example. Create a place to facilitate feedback. Listen to it and revise accordingly.
General feedback isn't very useful. When creating interactive environments, always request specific feedback. Once you receive feedback, don't be afraid to ask questions if you don't understand the feedback given. Ask your readers for examples if you are unsure what they are trying to say. Never go on the defensive in the face of feedback. Don't respond to negative feedback with anger or arguing. Try to respond to anyone who offers you direct feedback. Show appreciation. A thank you email is appropriate.
Finally, remember that feedback is an opinion. Listen to feedback, but if it upsets you, step back, take a deep breath, and go back to it later. Evaluate if it is useful and relevant. If it is, decide if and how you’ll leverage the feedback. If it isn't useful, it’s okay to move past it. Feedback is about gauging and improving your performance and it can be a great tool in helping you meet audience expectations.
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