Books make great conversation starters, especially online. At the Digital Book World Conference 2012 in New York, industry veterans encouraged publishers to let their hair down and have some fun with social media to engage their readers.
The best ideas came out of a panel called “Talking to the Genre Fiction Reader: Publisher-Driven Genre Communities,” moderated by Sarah Weinman of Publishers Lunch. Panelists included Macmillan’s Liz Edelstein, Orbit’s Tim Holman; F+W Media’s Ben LeRoy; and Matt Schwartz of Random House. They proved that it doesn’t take a lot of money to have a robust online community, just a little creativity.
1. Find a Niche
Liz Edelstein said her marketing team at Macmillan is full of “geeks who can write.” They fill up their Heroes and Heartbreakers site, email newsletter and Facebook page with all things related to their favorite genres, not just the books the company is selling. Edelstein said she loves period dramas, but she had to admit that for romance fans, it never hurts to “post a pic of a beefcake.”
2. Make a YouTube Video
The Orbit team was especially proud of the cover art for Blameless, a steampunk Victorian novel by Gail Carriger. They put together a YouTube video entitled, “The Making of a Book Cover: BLAMELESS, by Gail Carriger,” which showed the process behind the art work in about two minutes. According to Tim Holman, the video got over 100,000 views.
3. Let the Readers Contribute
In another panel called “Using Content to Build Community: Specialist Publishers and Topic-Based Vertical Development,” Jim Bashour of Cool Springs Press talked about ways to engage different gardening communities. “We use Facebook a lot to generate that excitement about that community,” he said. In one popular post, the team asked readers to post a picture of a favorite vegetable they grew.
These ideas could easily translate to other networks, like Tumblr, so long as fans can find the content in the places they like to hang out.
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