Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Author in PJs Series

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?

14 comments:

  1. Hello! First, I'll get this out of the way: Ghost Planet is one of my favourite stories! I just finished it for the 4th time a few days ago -- this was my second time with it on audio! Now, on to your question about promotion! As a reader not a writer, I can only say what interests me. It seems that a huge number of the SFR I read comes through word of mouth on sites like the Science Fiction Romanace Brigade Fan Page on Facebook. It difficult to find the time to go to the websites and blog pages of a lot of different authors very often, so, while I do that on occasion, I really appreciate how Facebook groups and pages sort of condenses the various info and links into a convenient place. I also find that direct interaction with an author often makes me willing to take a chance on an unknown to me author. For instance, the 'live events' like release day or open house events on Facebook where several authors each come online at specific times to talk to readers -- I've found two must-read authors this way over the past year. And I really like when authors do contests, either in live events or through their own newsletters, sites, etc. Promotions like virtual signings of hard copy or paperbacks is cool, but leaves those of us that prefer ebook and audiobook formats out. Of course, the absolute best is 'real life' interaction, like signings, but I know it's difficult for authors to travel much outside of their 'homebase' areas for such, and certainly very few that I read actually come to my area!

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  2. Wow, Kim - first of all, coming from an SFR fan, these comments about promo are G-O-L-D. Thank you SO much for sharing! (If you care to continue on that thread, are there any promo practices you find a turn-off, or any you haven't seen but would like to?)

    Second, gosh, four times! I'm so pleased! As you can imagine it's a HUGE thrill when a reader connects with a book. And I know that for myself, re-reads are a rare thing due to lack of free time, so I feel tremendously honored. Thanks so much for dropping by and commenting, Kim!

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  3. Thank you! I admit, I do reread a lot when I like a book, and, as you'll guess, when I like something I tend to get it on audiobook, too. I work from home, so audiobooks are a big deal for me! More SFR needs to be on audiobook! As to your question: hard to say that there are any turnoffs, because so many things work for some and not others. Some swag is cool, and when I can get multiple items to share with friends that's even better. I like video trailers for books. Contests for ARCs are cool. One author I've read (not SFR) likes to post two or three cover and/or title ideas and let fans vote on the winning versions, paired with a random giveaway of the book when it's published, or an ARC. I've seen authors use fan names (first, last, or both) as minor book characters as a contest prize. A digital scavenger hunt for images of elements related to an upcoming story would be fun.

    As for swag, I personally am not so interested in the free stuff like bookmarks (I use ebooks mostly) -- posters and cards end up tossed unless signed, in which case they go in a file in a drawer. I simply do not have room to display or store a lot of that sort of thing. I do like swag that is also practical -- some examples from other authors have included hand sanitizer in specially labeled bottles (related to a contagion story), a compact mirror, pens, mints in custom containers (ok, I'm addicted to mints, especially altoids!) I do like bags of all sizes -- my husband calls me the 'bag lady'. Lanyards and key chains are cool, too, but again, can only use so many and the rest get stored away. Phone charms and stickers are cute, and temp tattoos can be fun. I like bracelets of all types, including the thick rubber ones that can be imprinted with a phrase.

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    1. Thanks so much, Kim! Terrific contest suggestions. And I've always wondered how interesting swag is to readers. I know I've often accumulated so much at conferences that I don't really attend to much of it. (Though if it's a useful item, like a refrigerator magnet, it does tend to stick around. Ha ha, I made a pun! :)

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  4. Kim, wow! You are a goldmine of information. Thanks so much for sharing all this great info about your likes.

    And as another one of Sharon's big fans, let me just say wait'll you read Echo 8! (Not that The Ophelia Prophecy isn't amazing, too, but Echo 8 is just all shades of awesome.)

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad to share my opinions, LOL! :-) I've been an avid reader all of my life and social media has been so awesome because it's let me interact with authors that just makes the experience more special!

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  5. Lots of good suggestions here, in the article and the comments. I'm glad to hear from Reader Kim that she wishes there were more SFR audiobooks! I've got two out there, hoping to do the third this year but sometimes it feels like my actor is reading to himself, as far as discoverability LOL. So it's reassuring to know there ARE SFR audiobook lovers out there. Off to examine my collection of PJ's now!

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    1. There was a recent NPR article about the rise in popularity of audiobooks!

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    2. Thank you! I actually have both of your audiobooks, Veronica Scott! (and the ebooks for both of those, too.) Wreck of the Nebula Dream is another of my favourites that I've listened to twice already! I'll be watching for your third!

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  6. Sharon, , such a fun idea! And Kim, WOW! Lots of fun ideas! I'm doing lip balms from AnaBanana for RT and hoping they are liked by the fans. I also have my books out in audio. Thank you again for sharing such great ideas!

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    1. Lip balms - GREAT idea! Hope to see you in your PJs soon, PJ! ;)

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    2. Oh yes, lip balm sounds like a great idea! I've got The Key on audiobook to listen to! I asked my daughter (teenager) about swag and promotion, she suggested the phone charms and also charms that could be put on a necklace or bracelet. She didn't have any promotion suggestions, but then she mostly reads whatever manga she can find for free online that has been translated into English.

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  7. Great ideas for swag, y'all. And I love the Author in PJs idea, Sharon. I've been thinking of doing YouTube for a while. Just need to find a minute in my copious spare time to set it up!

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