Thursday, January 1, 2009

Book Promotion - Twitter Style

I'm totally fascinated by what authors do to promote themselves and their books -- What works? What doesn't? What's worth the time investment? Or the money investment?

My friend Linda Gerber has an incredible blog where she draws traffic not just by discussing her books and the writing process, and by calling attention to the writing of other excellent authors, but by running weekly contests and give-aways that generate a lot of traffic and loyalty for her blog.

As part of her New Year celebration, Linda has come up with an incredible idea (I think) that makes use of the latest and greatest of social networking. She's "publishing" a short story based on her popular YA "Death By" series in short installments on Twitter. If you'd like to follow along, here's the link for Aphra Connelly and Death by Deception.

So far, in her first day on Twitter, Aphra has 20 followers! The series is scheduled to run until April. Linda's next book, Death by Denim, will make its debut in May.

If you're not familiar with Twitter, it's a social networking site where all you see are status updates. Users are allowed 140 characters (that's characters - letters, spaces and punctuation - not words!) to provide an update. Your followers can comment on your updates, which will then appear on both your "page" and the friends "page". If what the friend has to say is interesting, theoretically their friends will come to your page to see the earlier parts of the conversation and, if they find your other posts interesting, will then follow YOU as well!

I think Linda's idea is an excellent one with huge potential, and harks back to the old days when Mark Twain published his books as serials in the newspapers. Free samples are a tried-and-true form of marketing that many companies use even today (ever been to the grocery store on Saturday morning?).

Many authors provide excerpts or shorts on their blog and/or website. But what's better for generating buzz than passing out slow samples that generate a desire for more? And since Twitter "pushes" information out to those who visit regularly, what better way to deliver the small tastes of the story, versus a blog that requires people to come visit (or at least check their blog readers). And not only will Aphra's followers receive updates, but if people comment on Aphra's exploits, those comments will appear on their own feeds, hopefully luring in a wider and wider net of Aphra fans and followers.

I know I'll be following along, both to see what Aphra gets up to in her newest adventure, and to see how many followers she develops over the next few months. And I'd love to hear what you think of Linda's idea.

If you've seen any innovative new book promotion ideas (yours or someone else's), share those here as well. As I said, I'm fascinated by the topic!