As the last post on the Book Bloggers and Publishers Online Conference ran long, I'm carrying it over.
Long before the conference, I'd begun to enhance my blog with extra functionality and content. I hope you like it. :) Note the new search box at right, which allows you to search through all previous posts for a topic. And the Stat Counter, which provides a quick and easy read of visitors. (I'd been using Google Analytics, but it crapped out when I created a second blog, The Susquehanna Writers. Boo hiss on Analytics.) I took advantage of Blogger's new Pages gadget, and much of the content on my web site is now in those pages. Pretty cool stuff. Some additions are just for fun, like the labels gadget. Oh, and now my blog matches my web site in design - not quite a brand, but at least some recognizable variation thereof.
Anyway, back to BBPCon.
Teresa D’Amario had a cool session about how she planned a six-week book tour, three dates per week. Rather than posting the usual excerpts etc., she started the tour with a 1,000-word story. At each blog stop, she encouraged readers to provide ideas about where the story should go from there. Readers were introduced to the hero's sister in the police station, where she went for aid in finding her lost brother. Ms. D'Amario then asked readers to contribute story elements: is he human, or not human, what type of hero is he? Readers decided he was a Fae prince, and they actually named him, and it ended up as 13,000-word story. After the tour, she posted it as a free read on her web site: www.teresadamario.com.
Another interesting point: She chose blogs who were typically paranormal-themed, but stayed with more reader blogs than author blogs, and found that while author blogs had great participation, reader blogs brought in a totally different audience. Some readers followed the author from blog to blog, which benefited the host blog as well. She got to know what readers were interested in reading.
If following her format, she advised authors to be prepared to do a quick turnaround with your next story installment after the blog. Another blog date might follow the next day, and you need to give visitors until evening to provide comments. Some blogs restrict dates for guests, so be flexible with dates too.
The Blog Tours Panel echoed some of Ms. D'Amario's key points: Don't make post content one big advertisement. Make the post value-added, not the same post continued from blog to blog. Hold a giveaway if possible. Stick around and respond to comments.
On her blog tour, author Leanna Renee Hieber told haunted London ghost stories, which were actual ghost stories of London. She posted links to this tour on her web site: http://www.leannareneehieber.com/haunted-london-blog-tour/.
Another author advised other authors to include information about the origin of story, how it came about, inspiration for title... any insight into the creative process to better engage readers.
I drifted in and out of the Reaching Out to Readers beyond the Internet session. It began on topic, which was how to bring in new readers who are not aware of online resources. One of the organizers of RomCon spoke of the benefits of actual conferences -- bringing together readers, authors and industry professionals for a weekend. RomCon will take place July 9-11 in Denver.
Then discussion veered back to the Internet, to the upstart SavvyAuthors site, which brings writers together to cross promote each other. Bloggers can create account for free. So they lost me for a bit here. One of the downsides of an online conference, I suppose.
Eventually it came back to the topic, and suggested authors contact schools to schedule a program with students. Contact local authors groups to see if they'd be interested in having you join their group for an evening, and possibly end with a booksignings. If your local library has reading groups, approach them with the same question.
While "attending" this conference, I tended to web-surf, answer emails, do laundry and make dinner. After awhile, it became difficult to sit and listen for such long periods.
My take overall? Definitely worth the twenty dollar registration. I'm guessing we'll see more of these types of conferences, and the fact that big-name houses participated was encouraging. They understand the critical shift toward digital, and understand they need to stay relevant in the game.