Lessons Learned In August – on author interviews

It seems that every month there is a lesson to be learnt somewhere on the authors journey and August has been no exception. As regular visitors will know, every Thursday I hold the Thursday Throng, which is an author interview, with possibly a giveaway of a book or two and a review of the book the author in question has just finished writing or is trying to promote. This month I realised that there is a huge variability in the way in which authors use this opportunity and I wondered if I now need to pick my authors with more care.

When the interview has been completed and added to the blog it is broadcast out on to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. If there is a giveaway then I also tweet it out during the week too. My aim with the Thursday Throng is two fold:

  1. Promote the author and not just their book
  2. Introduce my blog to a wider audience who, hopefully, will come back for more later on

However, the success of this depends on two things:

  1. That the authors participate in the promotion of the interview and engage with readers
  2. That I make mention it enough in the right places to make it interesting to the readers who are already engaged with me.

When either of these fails, then the interview fails to achieve the objective. It seems that there are two types of author:

  1. The author who is interested in promoting themselves and their work
  2. The author who is expecting it all to be done for them.

I’ve seen the same thing before in many different guises, but perhaps the closest example I can share is of women undergoing hysterectomy (as the Founder of The Hysterectomy Association, I do have a bit of experience in this area :-). There are two types of patient, those who know that their body is their responsiblity and those who hand it over to the doctors and say ‘give it back when it’s better – it doesn’t take a genius to work out which type finds their way to the website.

Some of the difference could be explained by a lack of understanding about how social marketing works; some of it could be explained by a lack of awareness about how blogging works; but to be honest I’d have thought that if an author were genuinely interested in getting their name in front of an audience that doesn’t yet know them, that they would be keen to make the most of the opportunity to be tweeting and commenting away.

I know from my email inbox that those authors who make even a small effort get sales. The people they talk to here on their interview appreciate the fact that they have got involved in the conversation, answering questions and genuinely being helpful. Those that don’t participate are lucky to get anything at all, despite my best efforts.

So, if you are a book blogger or another author perhaps you could answer the question I have, how do I identify the authors who are happy to be helped by helping me?

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  1. That sort of thing happens far more frequently than we imagine. I get the impression reading writers magazines that surely everyone knows by now, the importance of these things. Yet, even though everyone in the room subscribes to the magazines, most still didn’t know what a blog was …. bizarre – do they read them do you think?

  2. I totally get that. We went to a Writers’ Circle on Monday. Granted not many of them were looking for publication, but Ron and I did feel a bit ‘out there’ when we mentioned blogging, newsletters, POD and blurbs for Kindle. It was like entering a different world!

  3. I’m looking forward to it as well Joanna and the more I think about it and the more I talk to people about it the less I think it’s deliberate but rather a lack of understanding about how it could be used to help themselves. At the literary festival last Saturday I ran a workshop on blogging for authors and I was shocked that the number of people in the room who had a blog, or even knew what one was was so small.

  4. I feel it’s a shame when you’ve worked hard to get an author’s interview prepared and published, yet have no ‘help’ in spreading the word about the post. It also seems a tad impolite (and we’ve discussed that side of things before!)

    Perhaps, to a certain extent, it’s best to see the whole experience as a learning process for both parties? Having said that, I’m not sure how the ‘I won’t be doing anything’ authors will ever find out what they missed out on – they’ve neglected a great sharing opportunity, which is definitely their loss!

    We look forward to our time with you this Autumn, and we’ll be sharing the link, of course! 😉

  5. The fact that you are commenting here Annie is evidence that you do get the benefits of it and yes, you did help out enormously too. I do know you got extra book sales because people told me they’d bought the book, and I know one reader who actually asked for a kindle for her birthday just so she could go out and get your book 🙂 As for what to promote, I’ve noticed a shift away from physical to eBook copies and maybe that’s no bad thing, after all it saves the trees and perhaps the planet. One trick is to check whether your books are listed as ‘normal’ books on the likes of Waterstones systems, this is because if they aren’t they won’t stock them. I had one snooty bookshop owner who informed me that because I was self published that I wouldn’t be listed on their supplier’s database, he got quite a shock when he realised that they were, and that they were selling well! I know from my own actions, that I’m buying far more eBooks than physical and that the physical ones I buy are because they are my most favourite authors. But, having said that, I’m reading far more eBooks now than I was reading physical books too. 🙂

  6. What a lovely comment and thanks Destiny, I do appreciate the involvement of authors, but I suppose in reading the comments that have come it, do I really need to worry on their behalf. I suppose the answer is ‘no’, because as you beautifully point out, they are a diverse and interesting bunch and there is a joy for me in meeting them, ragardless of what they choose to make of the experience. Thanks for helping me to reframe my concern 🙂

  7. I know at least one person who bought your book because we were chatting about it last week TD 🙂 And yes, you were really helpful, I suppose what interests me is those who don’t do anything; they don’t respond to the post, they don’t mention the interview; it almost seems as if they don’t know anything about it despite the emails that ping back and forth. Having said that, they are few and far between which I guess is why they stand out so much to me. Perhaps that doesn’t matter though, at the end of the day it’s the readers that matter and if they come on board is there anything to worry about? Perhaps I’m just being too philosophical 🙂

  8. Hello again Linda,
    I’m also one of the authors you promoted. I really do try to be involved and active in promoting myself and others who are involved but I know I have a lot to learn about social networking. I believe you do a great job and I hope I helped at least in some small way; I know that every little helps and I believe you helped to lift my profile. In actual book sales I don’t know yet but from the initial, encouraging response I know that at least a couple books were read and the feedback is all good.

  9. Hi Linda,

    I want to thank you for having me on your blog and I too am at a loss. It is difficult to know what works and what doesn’t. I loved the interview and review with you and promoted them heavily on both twitter and facebook. I’ve also featured one of your comments on Amazon (though I’m not sure its come up yet on the paperback ,

    On the Throng, you are inviting diverse and interesting people. I hope you continue to do this and if you have suggestions about how to help authors promote themselves more effectively you might suggest them prior to their publication on the blog. All the best and thank you again for the wonderful opportunity.

  10. Hi Linda,
    I’m one of the lucky authors you promoted, and I’m not sure whether I helped or not. I didn’t get any extra book sales, so maybe I should have done something other than retweeted and “Liked” and commented on your site. I always thank people who take the trouble to review my books. The most effective way of promoting Kindle books I’ve found is to do a free promotion for one or two days, so that the book rises in the Amazon charts, which leads to attention, which leads to sales. Hard copies just aren’t shifting, and I suspect I have to put a whole lot more energy into promoting within the independent book shops. What do you think? And by the way, thank you for being so active and passionate about giving writers a profile.
    warm wishes