In this changing world of book marketing and the rise of social media I think author interaction is so important to the selling of books. Not all authors realize this (yet), but for those who do it can make an important difference. Let’s take a look at some of my author interactions and consider the effect they’ve had.
1. Peter James. James is a writer of crime thrillers. Not my usual cup of tea. However, back in 2011 I was working at his Canadian publisher and had the opportunity to meet him. He was such an engaging man and brilliant storyteller that I immediately went out and read all the books in his Roy Grace series. It was that simple. He converted me. It was also in working on some Twitter chats with him that I saw first hand how important Twitter is to authors as a marketing tool. (Find him @PeterJamesUK)
2. That brings me to Twitter and great author interactions. We all have our favorites. Canadian satirical writer Terry Fallis (@TerryFallis) is a hoot on Twitter. Eve Harris (@ChaniKaufman), author of The Marrying of Chani Kaufman, was instrumental in spreading the word about my review of her book. But my favorite author interaction on Twitter has to be with Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project. Actually, the interactions aren’t with him at all, but with the protagonist of his book @ProfDonTillman. And yes, they are just as entertaining as his book.
3. Emailing an author directly is something I find to be quite daunting. I don’t know why. They’re just people like us. Anyways, after reading The Ever After of Ashwin Rao by Padma Viswanathan I emailed the author. I had a personal connection to the story and felt her telling of it to be very brave. I wanted her to know that I knew it was a difficult book to write. What resulted was a great conversation that went on over several emails and I encouraged my friends in Canada to go see her talk. And yes, they bought her book.
4. Cathy Marie Buchanan is the best selling author of The Painted Girls. It is a great book and deserves to be a best selling, but she works hard to make it one. She is a publisher’s dream. She is out there engaging with her reading public in every way possible – on Twitter (@CathyMBuchanan), FaceBook, visiting high school English classes, going to book clubs in person and on Skype. She works hard to market her books and it is working.
These are just a few examples of how important author interaction can be to selling books. Don’t even get me started on great events like Book festivals and book store readings.
I tweeted about The Rosie Project and got a reply or a retweet from @ProfDonTillman. It really is fun to interact with authors that way!
Especially since Don is such a great character!
Your #4 is very lovely. I love it when we enjoy a book and try to contact the author, and the author even responds back! I have had a couple of those, but I should do it more often. Thanks for this great post!
This is so great. I think it would be so much fun to have more interaction with the authors of the books I read. And, although it does seem daunting, most of them probably appreciate contact from their readers. I am going to try to keep this in mind for the future when I might have more free time.
I really like what Carolyn does over at Rosemary and Reading Glasses. She often has an interview with the author of the book that she reviewed the previous day. It helps to give little insights into where the author is coming from when they write their book(s).
I do love how Carolyn does that! -Tania
I will have to check out Carolyn!
This is so fun! Twitter author interactions really stand out for me because they’re SO EASY! And surprising sometimes. Chris Bohjalian is a bit of a Twitter creeper.
It’s so easy for authors to jump on Twitter and I really do believe it makes a difference to how we relate to them. When one comments on a review or something it is thrilling.
I do love the authors that interact with readers. I’m finding Fallis on twitter to be awesome as well! Nice to hear about so many positive interactions.
I’ve had some great author interaction in my day, including an email from Neil Gaiman about a very old paper I wrote about Marxism in Neverwhere and Peter Pan – does that guy ever leave the social media universe? 🙂 Interaction doesn’t make anyone a better writer, but it does enhances our reading experience.
Exactly. If an author is a brand, interacting with your public in a positive way is just good brand management. But like you, I’ve worked in a bookstore and I have seen how author interactions can take a turn for the worse.
CRAP, I cannot BELIEVE I left Cathy Marie Buchanan off my list! She visited my blog once and left the best comment on my review of The Painted Girls. I knew I would leave someone awesome out. Curses! I completely agree with you, though. If an author is cool and takes a minute to check their twitter or stop by a blog, my esteem of them goes up dramatically. I mean, if I’ve already read and liked their work, their niceness only motivates me to promote them more.
I totally agree. Being on Twitter won’t make me like an author unless they are also a great writer. I follow Matt Haig on twitter because he is really funny, but his books still aren’t my cup of tea.
I didn’t know Prof Don had his own Twitter! That is too funny. I must check it out.
I agree – Terry Fallis is a hoot on twitter! Heather O’Neill (lethal_heroine) is really funny as well. I love it when authors take the time to interact with readers! It almost always makes me love them so much more.
And Heather O’Neill is brand new to twitter too.
I am SO tweeting Prof Don when I get home.
As an author-interaction virgin I found this really interesting to read and some of it intrigues me enough to try it! On a loosely connected point have you any similar experiences I could learn from about monosyllabic-teenager-living-in-the-same-house-as-me interaction?!!!!!
Don’t worry s/he will move onto polysyllabic moaning and groaning at some point.
Dang, I’ve been planning a post like this for months. Better get on it, I guess!
Lots of Edmonton authors are very generous and funny on social media. I wrote about Todd Babiak recently.
Jennifer Wiener was talking about this on Twitter just the other day. There’s a dark side too, especially when it comes to less than glowing reviews.
I know exactly what you mean. I am always terrified of emailing authors, and I have yet to do so except in reply to their request for a review. I love this post, and I think Twitter and getting themselves out there really does help authors sell their books. I agree completely. It definitely influences me buying their books.
This is such a great post. That interaction is key, especially for new authors. I was just discussing this topic with an Indie author. I was telling her what a difference I have seen it make. There is one author in particular that writes good YA. It is not extraordinary, but good. Her books are so well received though and readers fangirl her like crazy. I am sure this author had to put in a lot of hours initially, but now when she publishes a book, the work is minimal. The readers are advertising for her all over the internet. Fans just like her and they feel connected to her through all of that great interaction that they have had.
Not to brag…actually, I’m gonna brag but try to see Graeme Simsion in a live event, he is a lot of fun and you’ll spend the whole time laughing; even if the book wasn’t good 😛
He was in Edinburgh recently and I missed it! Can you believe it?
I agree with you about Graeme Simsion/Prof Don Tillman on twitter – he’s funny and I get a thrill every time he RT me!
Sometimes the self promo/social media side of being an author can feel a little soul sucking, so it’s nice to see how much readers appreciate the interaction.
Cathy, what you are doing really does make a difference. I have heard it from so many different sectors of the book reading public. From friends in the industry, to certain high school English teachers in NF, to others who have seen you at readings etc. You’ve got yourself a reputation, and a very good one at that!
I’ve definitely been to author talks which have made me want to run out and read everything by that author! I also think I’m more likely to go on to read more by an author if they respond to a review I’ve written or if I have a positive interaction with them on twitter. Just like for bloggers, it’s definitely important for an author to engage with people online. Great post! 🙂
It does seem to be a positive when authors are able to apply social media. For many, though, they grapple with the technology and/or they struggle with the time problem. For some, it’s hard enough to get their books done. I can sympathize with the idea of it becoming a “soul suck,” too. Today authors are having to add one more pin to the many they already juggle, so it is probably daunting to them. I know it is for many of my friends who write. Some are able to embrace this aspect more easily and more quickly than others, but most are trying in some way or other. Great post.
I’m eager to read The Rose Project, it sounds like such an interesting book, and I think it would be fun to interact with the MC of the book! I haven’t heard of the other books, but you’ve definitely piqued my interest with your post, in the books and the authors! Thanks for such a great post!