Ask Daphne! About online promotion

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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