Readers and Authors Being Heard

Two weeks ago, Jane over at DearAuthor got a lively discussion going by expressing her opinions of what every author’s website should contain. She also shared some pretty impressive numbers — I pored over that same survey by Pew Internet Life for work purposes, so what she has pointed out are trends that authors who wish to cultivate new markets should take note too. (ooh, and the great Nora Roberts visited too!)

Yesterday, she questioned the blogger bias and touched on a topic that I’ve elaborated following Angie’s post on the credibility of review sites … but more on that later. Let’s get to the importance of authors having a web presence.

I’m a strong proponent of online marketing (heck, I even do this for a living), and IMO, the modern day author without an online presence (be it through own/ branded website, blog, forum or message board participation) risks alienating themselves from new and younger readers.

While traditional tried and tested marketing methods should still be part of the promotional arsenal any publisher worth its salt should adopt, they should not dismiss the power of the new interactive media. This is after all, the consumer generation, and consumer generated media is on the rise has exploded.  After all, blogging has gone mainstream since 2005 when a great number of Fortune 500 companies jumped onto the blogwagon in an attempt to reach their customers, to speak to them directly and hear from them.

Why did they do that? Because the web is one of the best medium to market/ promote to a niche audience, and authors should think of themselves as a brand/ entity, not just a writer. There is a niche for each genre, and the opportunities for nurturing a strong fanbase are only limited by their imagination. The web is also the most cost effective word-of-mouth marketing machine authors should own. It is always on, always dynamic, and quickly gratifies unmet needs. That’s effective marketing for you.

If you’ve witnessed the crucial role blogs played during the 2004 Tsunami, how bloggers brought relevance, voice, immediacy and urgency to the tragedy but at the same time stirred up a phenomenal passionate outpouring of support, then you would already have an inkling of the power of citizen media. Still skeptical? Just count the number of fan sites and Harry shrines that’s sprouted ever since Rowling launched him into the reading world, and you can already imagine what the web can be. And guess what? These are all created by the readers — ordinary citizens like you and I!!

That’s why I’m always happy when I hear of new, and younger readers discovering the wonders of books. But I’m even happier when I see authors engaging readers through the clever use of the interactive nature of the web.

Now, let’s talk about blogger bias and trust. When it comes to book reviews, I tend to trust reader blogs because I’m more interested in hearing how another reader finds the book. I tend to mistrust review sites, because like travel review sites, these can be planted by fans or rivals of the authors. So the credibility is somewhat questionable.

While a number of readers balk at the Squawkers’ raving over a book written by their friends, I say don’t let that turn you off author blogs. There are interesting posts every now and then, that are worth a read, like the Fog City Diva Kate’s question of the day (spouse vs dog, any takers?), Lori’s post on hooking a series together and Warner Woman Shari Anton’s gushing over hero shots (which got my attention since she was swooning over virile Viggo). These are posts that give you a glimpse into what they’re into … not plugs on books by friends (eh, I usually skip those if I can help it). 

So, don’t write author blogs off yet. Variety is the spice of life, although I tend to read more blogs by readers.

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6 thoughts on “Readers and Authors Being Heard

  1. ag says:

    Jane,you’re not alone. I {heart} Nora Roberts too, but I’ve not picked up any of her works since Montanna Sky.

    bev, as you can tell from my blogroll, I visit more readers’ than authors’ blogs. And I’m always on the look-out for more readers who share similar tastes in books. I mean, I do pop by authors blogs now and then, but will linger when some posts interest me.

    Kate, thanks picking up the conversation thread.

  2. You know, if more author’s blogs did talk about their hobbies and related activities and how they impact on their storytelling, I’d probably be a lot more interested in reading them. ;p

    I do read some of them. It’s just that the entries that seem to catch my attention are few and far between. Not so with most reader blogs.

  3. I do like author blogs for certain material but mostly about what is happening next in their series. I also like to hear what influences their writing. I am less interested in their hobbies, their children, etc. I *heart* Ms. Roberts but I haven’t read her travelogues.

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