How do you make connections with your readers?
Online, I think there are a few places that are "must-haves" for any writer or artist who actively wants to connect with his or her fans.
1. Facebook -- Yes, Facebook. It's easy and in spite of all its privacy drawbacks, it's still the best way to connect with fans.
2. A professional website -- Not a personal page in the sense of pics of your kids and that kind of thing, but more a site to highlight your work as a professional creator. It is okay to put some personal info there as well though since that's the stuff that helps your readers feel like they know you.
3. A blog -- And one that allows people to join or follow and allows them to get updates via email.
4. Twitter -- (Thanks to Erik Burnham for reminding me.)
In person, I think book signings and conventions are the two outlets I enjoy the most. While I'm doing them, I love to ask the folks who drop by the table a few questions that help me and show an interest in them.
1. What's your favorite story or book of mine you've read?
2. What other authors do you like to read?
3. How far did you travel to the con?
That sort of thing...
The point is to be genuine. If you are sincerely interested in getting to know your readers, I think that can translate well whether online or in person and people will respond to it. If you fake it, people will see right through you.