By Erin L. Cox
Monday at Author (R)Evolution Day — presented by Tools of Change and Publishers Weekly — authors and speakers worked to answer the question, “how will a reader discover my book?”
Mark Lefebvre, Director of Self-Publishing and Author Relations at Kobo, retorted, “Ask not what discovery can do for you, ask what are you going to do that is worth discovering?” As with any discussion on discovery, the panel reminded the authors that they must first write a book that will attract and engage readers then they can create a marketing campaign that is tailored for their audience.
“The same kind of alchemy does not work for all writers and books,” said Elizabeth Keenan, Director of Publicity for Hudson Street Press and Plume. For authors like Anne Rice, who already reaches out to her followers several times a day, reaching out to them via Twitter and Facebook to promote her book was successful. That may not be true for everyone.
Lefebvre added that a million Twitter followers doesn’t necessarily translate into sales. Like with any curation or recommendation, there needs to be a level of personal trust in order to reach out to that audience.
As someone who both created and maintains a transmedia franchise, Amanda Havard, author of the Survivor series, gave a lot of great advice to authors. “Be married to a lot of ideas and married to none. You have to be agile and adapt to what and how people are reacting.” For her series, she created an entire storyworld in which her characters had timelines beyond the book that they were living out on Twitter. And, like real people, her fans can interact with these characters and possibly discover hints to how the story would unfold or backstory they might not have known previously.
Havard didn’t just create an audience, she created a community of readers. Tarah Theoret, the Reader Concierge at NetGalley, expressed the importance of creating a loyal community that will talk back and for the writer to be willing to listen. That level of engagement turns readers into fans and fans into advocates.
Of course, one cannot discount the established ways that readers discover books. Cevin Bryerman, Publisher of Publishers Weekly, reminded the audience how important reviews are, “Whether in PW or on GoodReads, having an outside party review the book provides a sense of legitimacy.”
Havard seconded that by saying, “Respect the parts of the establishment that do work and be willing to try soemthing that may work better.”