Today I gave my panel on online marketing and as usual I learned a ton from the audience so that the next time I give this talk it will be 230% better.
First, I learned last night in the librarian meet and greet how much librarians rely on author web sites and how valuable they find book lists that link series and related books together. It seems there is a romance reader type they see very often who will come in and want to try a new author who has a few books published already, and they want to read them in the right order. And they want to check out and bring home the entire. Freaking. Backlist.
The same librarian who told me about all the different ways she uses author websites, Monique from the Glenview Library, was also at my presentation today. She told me about signing up for Facebook updates from an author and finding little information about books, and a LOT of political ranting – which is what she did not want.
All of her stories and comments underscored the fact that the reader is a customer, and it is very important to know what the customer wants, and whether the author wants to give that to them.
Barbara Vey and I were looking at another author website after the panel, and she told me about one site she had visited and linked to from her site where the author was nude in her bio picture. Oh, my. If there’s a what-not-to-do, that might be number one in the Guide to Online Marketing: first, don’t be naked.
Second would be the site that several attendees talked about at the end where a frustrated author wished death, fire and rage and dismemberment upon many agents. Holy what-not-to-do.
Julia Quinn’s lunch keynote was very good – a collection of top 4 lists from the perspective of before and after publication, from the practical to the inspirational.
Having a to do list gives you the illusion that you have some control over your life.
The only way to finish a book is to finish it. The world is full of first chapters.
You will never hurt your career by helping another author.
The only person who can stop a reader from reading your book is you.
Don’t forget to be proud of what you do.
The conference programs were mostly excellent. The Spring Fling has a very good balance between practical writing sessions and discussion of marketing, sales, inspirational advice, and author branding, which are equally important and I think necessary to develop concurrently.
The best panels like Courtney Milan’s session on editing for voice involved audience exercise and very strong examples. Some speakers were prepared but dry, reading off a long series of notes. Others, like Elizabeth Hoyt, talked informally and engaged the audience in a conversation on the topic, which, since her topic was sex scenes, was a bucket of entertainment.
The book signing was very cool as well – there are pictures on twitter of the long lines for Julia Quinn, Cherry Adair, and Simone Elkeles. A lot of young people turned out to meet Simone, which is very cool. And people brought me Bosoms to sign, which is always fun.
Robyn Bachar was among those who asked me to sign her copy of the Bosoms, and she told me that her first book is coming out 11 May from Samhain. She’d learned about Samhain reading Smart Bitches, and is so excited to be a debut author. Another person I spoke with today told me an agent had just signed her, and she was being shopped to a few houses right now. Then I met someone who had just finished their manuscript and come up with a great idea for her next book. I don’t know what’s in the air at writing conferences but it’s so cool to see people enthusiastic and inspired and excited – and buying piles and piles of romance novels, too.
If you are looking for good conferences to attend, the Spring Fling is definitely among the best I’ve attended – heck, come for the food alone. It’s been amazing.
IPad substitution of the day: onion marketing! Yes! Every author needs to market their onions! Especially since the original name of Chicago, as I learned on Twitter last night, meant smelly onions. Also: Practical writing = practical erupting. Who knew?
Aaand one more thing: I have four signed books to give away: Blythe Gifford’s His Border Bride, Julie James’ Something About You, Elizabeth Hoyt’s To Seduce a Sinner, and Carrie Lofty’s Scoundrel’s Kiss. Leave a comment about your writing or reading this weekend and you’re entered to win.