Back in January I attended Digital Book World in New York with my SilkWords partner, Keri. The most valuable thing that came out of it was an understanding of what is and isn't working in book marketing. The emphasis has shifted from pimping your books via blogs, social media, etc., to connecting with readers.
Here's a memorable quote I tweeted from a panel I attended: "One of the biggest challenges in book marketing today is how to sell books without saying the word 'book'" (Entangled Publishing founder Liz Pelletier). Readers are burned out on promo. And hey, it's no news that authors never liked doing it in the first place.
This was supported by an article I read in a business magazine when I got home (Forbes, I think it was). The piece talked about the new reality for authors, and while it did focus a lot on promotion, they emphasized in particular the need for authors to interface with readers. They talked about how this can be challenging for authors because we tend to be most comfortable sitting alone at our desks.
A stereotype, but for good reason. Out of this the idea for Author in PJ's was born. Yeah, we do like sitting at our desks! And many of us do it in PJs, because ... "I love working at home dressed business casual!" said no one ever. Authors joke about this all the time, and I thought it was a fun, insider fact to leverage for the series.
I chose YouTube because it's more personal and visual than a blog post. Also, my hair dresser had recently made the suggestion I do some readings on YouTube. Uh, brilliant! Publishers don't pay for book tours anymore if you're midlist. Book stores don't really like doing readings unless you're a big name. We do our book tours online now, why not readings?
YouTube's also a great way for readers to get a glimpse of you in your environment. A few years ago I would have thought no one on earth could possibly take an interest in what my office looks like. Then I did three blog tours and discovered people do, inexplicably, care. What books do you have on your shelves? Where do you work? For one post they even wanted a photo of my desk.
So that's where I started. I posted one video of me reading from my new sci-fi romance from Tor (Echo 8), and for the second I did an office tour (below).
Then I had the thought, "Wouldn't this be more fun with friends?" So I issued invitations for other authors to do the same. Author Margaret Dilloway, who is represented by my literary agency, has also posted an Author in PJs office tour, which I link to from my channel. (Any SFR authors interested in doing the same please let me know in the comments! All I ask is that you put Author in PJs in the title and tags, and mention where you got the idea. I'll link to your video, or if you don't have a channel I can upload it to mine.)
I've added links to both videos on appropriate pages on my web site. It's early days yet to know whether something like this can help to expand my readership, but at the very least it's a fun experiment and a nice little bonus for superfans. And I'm not going to toss out Twitter or Facebook completely, though I have really cut back. I now use those primarily for supporting bloggers (sharing their posts about my work), and sharing content from other sources that I think my readers might enjoy.
As an author and/or reader, what's your current position on promotion? Any fun ideas you'd care to share?
About Spacefreighters Lounge
Hosted by 5 Science Fiction Romance authors with 8 RWA Golden Heart finals and a RITA final between them. We aim to entertain with spirited commentary on the past, present, and future of SFR, hot topics, and our take on Science Fiction and SFR books, television, movies and culture.