Writer’s Corner: Accessibility = More Readers

Caracature of a woman typing on a computer at a messy desk.
Text: Writer's Corner with Kaye Lynne Booth

Did you know that there is a large audience of readers, which many authors are overlooking with their books? It’s true. Visually impaired and those with other disabilities are limited in the availability of reading materials which they can access, and authors are limiting themselves if they exclude this vast potential audience.

As a publisher, I have worked with several print disabled authors, who have helped to educate me on the why making my content accessible is important and how to better reach the members of this very large community of potential readers. Patty Fletcher is a visually impaired author who works hard to make her blog content and books accessible to the visually impaired community of readers, and she advocates to educate her fellow authors on this important subject. She points out that the size of this potential audience is immense, “with millions of impaired or disabled readers, who would read if they could access the content.” (Patty Fletcher, email March 24, 2023).

As an author, I want to get my books in front of as many potential readers as possible. That’s why I publish wide and offer my works in as many different formats that I can. But here, right under my nose, is this huge group of potential readers that I was overlooking. And I know that many of my fellow authors do, too. As authors, it makes good sense to be concious of this large group of potential readers, and do what we can to make our own online content and books accessible to them. What a great way to extend your author reach and grow your reader platform.

In order to reach out to this audience of potential readers, we must have some understanding of what visual impairment and other types of print disabilities are like and how they affect the lives of those who must deal with these issues every day. Ann Chiapetta is visually impaired due to retinal disease, which she acquired later in life. In her article, “The Print Barrier“, she talks about how she has adapted to her visual impairment, and how it has changed the way others percieve her, and the frustration of trying to work with people who just don’t get it. Being visually impaired doesn’t mean no longer “doing”, but it does mean adapting so that “doing” is possible.

My grandmother was blind from diabetes, so her disability also came to her later in life. I’m told that when I was born, she could see me as a shadow, but whether she could see me or not, she helped to raise me. She took care of me during the day when I was little, while my mother, who was a single parent, was at work. When I started school, she was who got me off each day. I wore a side-ponytail long before it came into fashion because my grandmother was who fixed my hair. Some of the kids teased me about it, but I always thought it made me special and unique. I’ve never been one to do what everyone else is doing. My grandfather was a doctor, so my grandmother ran the household. She could move through the house alone, with the aide of a cane; she cooked by feel, and she got her entertainment from television, radio, and talking books. I often wonder what she would think of the internet and modern adaptive technology.

Patty Fletcher uses a screen reader, as do many visually impaired and print disabled individuals, as a means to access online content. Technology that wasn’t thought of or needed in my grandmother’s day. Patty recommends “The Importance of Alt Text for Screen Reader Users: A Guide to Best Practices and Accessibility by Virtual Tech Advisor and Research Assistant Casey Mathews” for a good place to go for understanding what the technology is and what it does, and how you can make your content more accessible for people using screen readers by adding alternative text to your images.

This is not a difficult thing to do, but it does take time. This is a work in progress for me here on Writing to be Read, because the site is very image heavy, but the recent release of Poetry Treasures 3: Passions had alternate text added to all of the images in that book. It was the first WordCrafter Press book to have alt text, and I was pleased to accomplish the feat. I feel strongly that it was worth the time it took, to not exclude those who access content differently from the way that I access it, visually.

While your book and your site should be accessible to all, including those with disabilities, it can’t stop there. We live in a world where much of our communications with the world, including advertising and promoting your brand and your book, is done through social media. If a potential reader can’t access the promotion to receive your message, they won’t be a potential reader for long. Patty Fletcher’s “Life of a Blind Girl: Your A-Z Guide to socail media accessibility“, touches all the important points on accessiblity. This article lays out ways to make content accesible that every author should be thinking about, and areas where we can do this that might be overlooked if you are not aware of readers or potential readers with disabilities. I’ve been focused on creating proper headings and adding alt text to my images. After reading Patty’s article, it seems my next step will be learning how to add captions to videos, so that I can reach hearing impared individuals.

It’s a lot to learn and can’t all be done overnight. My site is a work in progress on this front, but I’ll keep at it, because I believe it is important to make muy content accessible to all. I will also continue to work on making my books and social media content more accessible as I go. If you would like to learn more about making online content accessible to visually impaired and print disabled individuals, beyond the aboove articles, Content for Everyone, by Jeff Adams and Michele Lucchini, is a good book of reference. They discuss not only why accessible content is necessary, but ways that you can make your content more accessible for many types of visual disabilities. You can read my “Review in Practice” for this book here.

It’s a large potential audience, which could turn into readers of your work. How far will you go to make sure they can all access your content?


About Kaye Lynne Booth

Head shot of author Kaye Lynne Booth

For Kaye Lynne Booth, writing is a passion. Kaye Lynne is an author with published short fiction and poetry, both online and in print, including her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction; and her paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets. Kaye holds a dual M.F.A. degree in Creative Writing with emphasis in genre fiction and screenwriting, and an M.A. in publishing. Kaye Lynne is the founder of WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services and WordCrafter Press. She also maintains an authors’ blog and website, Writing to be Read, where she publishes content of interest in the literary world.


Want exclusive content? Join Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Readers’ Group for WordCrafter Press book & event news, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. She won’t flood your inbox, she NEVER sells her list, and you might get a freebie occasionally. Get a free digital copy of her short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, just for joining.

Wow! You Must Really “Like” Me

As authors and bloggers, we hear that we need to grow a following, or an author platform, and this is the digital measure of success. So, we write blog posts and posts promos in the hopes that readers will be drawn to our blogs and fall in love with them, and subscribe to them. Then we start counting “like” or other reactions on all of our social media sites, and when they start accruing, we tell ourselves, “Look! It’s working! Lots of people “like” my promos. My following is growing!”

But, I would argue that the number of “likes” we get on social is not a true and accurate measure of success, or even popularity, and it certainly isn’t any indication that we are moving any closer to increasing book sales, or blog visits. Think about it. Just because several people “liked” a promo on social media, doesn’t mean that any of those people clicked through to actually read the blog post or buy the book. In fact, I’d venture that the majority of “likes” on social media do not click through. They may be “liking” the promo, but they aren’t reading your work. They are probably a more accurate measure of promotional success, than they are the size of the reader following.

Of course, this isn’t the case with “likes” that appear on the blog site itself. Watching those numbers increase is a big deal, because they are an indication that people are reading your work. When the number of subscribers increase, that’s when you know that those folks who “liked” your posts, are truly finding your content of interest enough to come back and visit again. This is what bloggers strive for when trying to grow a following. (But alas, many of those followers may have subscribed may become inactive over time, letting email notifications go unopened.) Even with a large following, we are still challenged to keep readers engaged and entertained or informed. Growing a reader following is an unending process and you have to keep at it over time with quality content to maintain it.

So, why do we even bother with “likes” on social media? They may make us feel good, but do they have some other value? Are we all just striving to go viral because that’s the current measure of success on social media? The answer is that they do, indeed, have value, because they are a form of engagement with existing and potential readers. And engagement is the key to growing a solid following, with members who enjoy reading your writing and want to hear what you have to say, or the story that you have to tell.

Engagement is one of the major objectives that social media marketing is aimed at. Readers whom you engage with in some manner are more likely to subscribe to your blog or buy a book. Readers who do have engagement of some sort with a book’s author are also more likely to leave a review for that book. Favorable reviews increase the chances that someone else, previously unfamiliar with you or your work, will also buy your book.

So, as an author, don’t totally dismiss all those “likes” as unimportant, thinking that they don’t mean the ‘liker’ really likes you or your work, but instead make use of them as a chance to engage with the ‘liker’, even it is just to say thanks for “liking” my promo post. Encourage readers to click through and actually read the blog post, or buy the book in the promos, and be thankful for any engagement received.

And for heaven’s sake, be sure to reply back. Even giving a quick emoji is a form of response, and considered engagement, so take the time to reply or reach out to those people who “like” promos, engage with them, even if it’s obvious they haven’t clicked through. They will remember the next time they see one of your promos, so you’ve increased recognition and awareness, and maybe, just maybe they’ll subscribe to your blog or even buy a book.

And as readers and social media hounds, please click through and read the actual blog posts and leave a comment to clue the author in to the fact that you did. If you do buy a book, please take the time to leave a brief review to show support for the author. Being an author and getting our work out there is not easy, especially in the trying times we live in, so let’s lift each other up and support one another. Every author can’t be your favorite, but engagement and reviews are easy ways to support the ones who are.


Like this post? Let me know in the comments. You can be sure not to miss any of Writing to be Read’s content by subscribing to e-mail or following on WordPress. If you found this content helpful or entertaining, please share.

So, How Do You Build a Reader Platform?


I’ve heard it asked if a reader platform is even necessary. So, let me ask you, as writers and authors, without readers what are we? Of course, we need to have a reader platform. All it is is a fan base equivilent, but it can make the difference between the success and the failure of our books. Without my readers, there would be no one to buy my books, read my books, recommend my books or review my books. So, how does one build a reader platform?

It’s a good question. And I’ve heard of many different methods of doing just that, and none of them require construction tools. Not even a screwdriver. All it takes is what we writers and authors do best: words, communication, contact.

Hidden Secrets - smallI started out with this blog, Writing to be Read, and the number of subscribers is climbing as I work to improve the content. The thing is, there was no way for me to capture those subscriber emails or reach out to them. So, I created a monthly newsletter, and added a sign-up pop-up, offering a free e-book as a thank you for subscribing. If you sign up for the newsletter, you get a free e-copy of my paranormal mystery novelette, Hidden Secrets, which isn’t available anywhere else.

The trick is to get people to read your work in the first place. You can’t have a fan or a reader unless they have read something you’ve written and liked it. Nobody will follow you, or write a review, or join your reader group, if they haven’t first, read your book. One way to do that is to identify your target audience and promote to them, offering them all the reasons why they will like your work.

reading is Fun

Another, and probably the most important, is to be sure your writing is fun and entertaining, if you’re writing fiction. With non-fiction, you need to make the subject matter interesting and present it well. And humor never hurts, no matter what you write. Even dark works can have dark humor. In short, whatever you are writing, make sure that it is quality writing. This should go without saying, but they won’t become your loyal readers if they can’t make it through the book due to the poor quality writing.

After all, a reader platform is really just a fan base of those who are interested in your work, and by finding them and adding them to your mailing list, you are effectively building a reader platform. With this method, I had a big initial burst of subscribers following the launch of a marketing campaign, then it tapered off to a slower rate of growth. My list is growing slowly, but I’m gaining a few new subscribers every month.

Other authors I know start Facebook reader groups or ask fans to join their street teams. I don’t know how well they work, but it seems there’s always activity happening in these groups and they seem to have lots of members. I would think you would have to have a solid fan base to pull ‘groupies’ from, so perhaps this is just an additional step, rather than an alternative method. Most of the authors I know who have street teams or Facebook reader groups, swear they don’t know what they’d do without them, relying on them to spread the word on new releases, post reviews on release day, find reviewers for their books, and/or show up for support at book events. These authors are harnessing the power of their readers and directing it to where it is needed most. And I’m thinking they might be on to something.

Part of the problem may be that I’m a multi-genre author. To date, I’ve published a western novel, Delilah; a paranormal mystery novelette, Hidden Secrets; and a science fiction time travel short story, Last Call. I’ve also had a dystopian short story and a crime romance short story published in anthologies, as well as shorts and poetry online. Western readers, science fiction readers and paranormal readers are not all included in the same crowd. I’m also eclectic in my reading habits, but most folks want to read only their preferred genres. Now how do I find readers that are so hard core they want to read everything I’ve published?

My answer is, I don’t. I’m finding that I must seek out readers for each one seperately and build a seperate reader platform for each one. The western readers who liked Delilah will be interested in the sequel, The Homecoming, when it’s finished, but they may not be interested in the books for my science fantasy Playground for the Gods series, when the first book is released. And many of my readers are authors themselves and they may be interested in the content on Writing to be Read, rather than any of my fiction works. When I look at it in this way, the task at hand seems to be enormous, the goal so far away. I’m not sure where to start, but I’m determined to find out.

I think a good start would be to find out which of my works the readers I already have are interested in, so I’ve added a genre question to the pop-up for the newsletter sign-up, so that I can place readers on different lists and then new subscribers can receive notifications concerning those works that they are interested in.

All of this marketing stuff is new to me and I’m learning as I go, so if you do sign-up for my monthly newsletter, I’d love it if you’d drop me an email and let me know how the whole sign-up process went, and what worked for you and what didn’t. After all, I’m smart enough to know that without you, my readers, I wouldn’t sell any books. I appreciate the fact that you stand by me. Let me hear form you at: kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.

Thank you

Like this post? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress.