Ask Daphne! About online promotion

March 11th, 2009 • Kate

A fun spring shoe you can pick up online at Piperlime for Jamie, who writes:

I don’t just want to write my story — I want the story to be like an online phenomenon. Women everywhere read this stuff, and if they can fall in love with the author who is out there on the internet, then I think it would help sell the book. I want my character to have podcasts and a twitter account, I want her to have a blog where she writes about stuff. Is that silly? Is that too much? Is that something people are even doing these days? I see it all the time with television shows, but not so much with books, so I am wondering if people aren’t doing it because it doesn’t work. What is your opinion on this? Is this a good way to even sell a book or am I just barking up the wrong tree here?

Silly? Not at all. It’s a brilliant way to build a community around your book and your characters. More and more as we fully embrace a truly digital age, you will find enterprising authors — like John Green with Brotherhood 2.0 and the Nerdfighters — who have made excellent use of the internet to expand their readership by creating an online community.
It helps to already be online, of course. I’ve seen publishers who try to build up this kind of community around a character or a book, and I’ve seen it fail. It can’t just be a marketing tool. It can’t just be someone sitting in an office saying, “Well, we’ve seen this work elsewhere, so let’s do it ourselves.” It has to be YOU, and it has to be a huge part of your job as an author. Otherwise, I don’t think it feels authentic.
The trick is making sure that the online community doesn’t take away from your work actually writing the book that helps to grow that same community. It’s got to be a symbiotic relationship.
Now, there is some debate as to the timing of such things. Some would say wait until you get the book deal to start building your character’s online world, because otherwise, how will anyone know about her? Others will think it may only be by building that world online that you will get a book deal — look at the Lolcats book, for example.
It’s up to you to decide how to best make it work, but no, I don’t think it’s a silly idea at all. I think it’s kinda brilliant. Good luck with it!

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6 Responses to “Ask Daphne! About online promotion”

  1. jeanoram Says:

    I don't think it is silly, I think it is fun!
    Then again, I started a Twitter account for one of my main characters just the other day (/AllieAlexander). I did it for kicks. It's a fun way to get to know a kooky character better and maybe even bring in some interested readers. Since this book is not represented, I've been sticking to covering back story aspects of her life and building on who she is. Maybe people will follow, maybe not. πŸ™‚

  2. Audry T Says:

    I had an amazing experience running a novel online and entirely in real-time. I did it with the full support of the publishing company I work for; they don't publish YA novels, but they wanted to support my foray into experimental online storytelling, so they promoted the novel to their existing audience and gave it a presence on their fairly active online community.
    Based on this experience, I have to say that building an online community around a novel is hugely beneficial to the work itself. All sorts of readers — especially young ones — find you online who might not have found you just browsing the bookstore. They *love* having the opportunity to interact with the creator or, when possible, with the work itself.
    In the case of my novel, we set it up so that readers could influence the actual outcome of the story. As a result, we developed intense reader loyalty that kept them coming back over and over again because they loved posting comments within the flow of the story itself. Since the novel took the form of a shared blog narrated by two teenage girls, the comments made by readers were in context and felt like a natural extension of the existing content. The readers were hooked on this experience right up to the end, which thrilled me. I'd say the experiment was a grand success and would highly recommend it to other writers.

  3. Kate Says:

    Audry – Very cool! Do you have a link you can share?

  4. suzanne72 Says:

    Daphne, those shoes should belong to a super hero. I want buy them for Carrie Harris.
    I too, would love to see the online community Audry created. Sounds addictive and fun!

  5. Jamie Harrington Says:

    Did Daphne Unfeasable just call Jamie McChicken Pants brilliant?
    (Okay, so maybe she called my IDEA brilliant, and apparently others are already doing it. But, you gotta take it where you can get it, right?)
    Thanks! That makes my whole day.
    So, you have the lolcats book, and yeah they got a whole deal out of it, but what about fiction? You know, like the whole TV characters from the office that have blogs?
    Is that something we should be working towards? Does our MC need a blog with a following?
    I am reminded of the Blair Witch Project. Remember, with the whole fake documentary and all the internet newsgroups and all that? That movie wouldn't have been HALF as interesting without all the scary other stuff to back it up.
    So, as new authors just starting out with little or no following, the real question is: How do we get the internet working for us and with us?
    Thanks for answering my question!

  6. Carrie Harris Says:

    Aww, Suzanne. You called me a superhero.
    I wear a size five-and-a-half. πŸ˜‰