Let’s Have Fun (with Caroline Warfield)

Can we talk? I suspect readers hate facing promotion as much as authors hate doing it. Yet some promotion is unavoidable if authors hope to find readers in the sea of books and authors competing for readers’ attention.

Readers get buried in “Best book ever,” “Free This Week,” “Great Review,” and dare I mention, “Buy my book!” Authors get it from two directions. As if the social media noise weren’t enough, we also face people who bombard us with advice, tools, classes, and services. It is no fun.

No—wait! Fun? That’s an interesting concept. I am no marketing guru, but one piece of advice has resonated with me: Your goal isn’t to sell books; it is to make friends.

What do I mean by that? A publisher would call it, “building readership.” Marketing is not identical to selling. It is about looking long term, establishing relationships, and building a loyal following. You have to do it while writing the next book—always writing the next book. That leads me the next piece of advice that has resonated with me:  the best way to make friends is to have fun.

You all know the obvious first level of keeping it light. Authors might:
·      Post cartoons/amusing memes. Readers need a laughhhh-meme

·      Post cartoons/amusing memes regularly on a single theme. Some post puns, grammar jokes, book jokes, coffee jokes, and, of course, cat jokes.

·      Post self-deprecating comments about their writing.

·      Post throw back pictures with funny stories attached.

I confess that I am not very good at that sort of humor.

There is a level of fun that involves readers more actively in some sort of inside joke or obsession. It amuses readers and social media contacts and yes they find it fun. Authors use it in social media, in blog posts, in their newsletters, and in person at signings. When I see corsets or peacocks, I think of Donna MacMeans. When I see peacock blue anything, I think of Collette Cameron.  When I see Michigan Wolverines I think—well, never mind. Even authors are entitled to back the wrong horse.

ttcompaniontohhhInterviewing a hero or heroine can be fun. It enables authors to make them (as they choose) more intriguing, well rounded, or attractive. Even more fun is having them interview each other. If a secondary character conducts the interview the author can get at more amusing or gripping aspects of a character.

Free fiction—original tidbits of backstory, stories that extend or explain a subplot, or give a minor character a moment in the sun—make great giveaways, game prizes, or rewards for street team members. Jude Knight is brilliant at creating made-to-order stories as prizes and then using them as giveaways. Another fun approach is to involve readers by posting paintings or story starters and egg them out to write outrageous prose.

Lately, however, I’ve become more interested in role-playing ideas. As a member of the Bluestocking Belles I help create The Teatime Tattler some time ago. We decided that the world had enough blogs about writing, author interviews, or research. The Tattler is an entirely fictional gossip rag, the National Inquirer of historical romance. We take posts from guest authors from any historical period as long as the gossip is juicy and the tone is smarmy, horrified, or avidly fascinated. Generally we use secondary characters or strangers to report on the doings of our hero/heroines and then add blurb, cover, and buy information to the post.

Expanding on that concept, we added an advice columnist, Aunt Augusta. Book characters ask her for advice and she replies, with a shout out to the book title. Our latest venture is to give the Tattler its own Facebook page, as edited by Mr. S. Clemens the editor. samclemens1Anyone can post, but only fictional gossip is allowed. We’re still feeling our way, but the Belles try to write all their posts in Mr. Clemens voice. This should enable us to throw out small bits from our books that aren’t big enough for a full blog post. It also enables Mr. Clemens and Aunt Augusta to pop up at Facebook events to spy on the doings of the upper classes, make comments, and threaten scandal.

We aren’t alone. One author, who remains nameless, created a George Wickham page. At last count he had almost 500 followers. Some authors set up a page for each book. They would be well advised to post to those in a characters’ voice rather than their own. Character pages enable posting across Facebook as the character.

A page like that can take on a “fiction on the fly” sort of feel. Where comments on post take on the feel of dialog and story telling.

aunta11Don’t like social media? Character role-playing would work as well on websites and in newsletters. Have fun; make friends. Simple. What do you think? What is the most fun promotional activity you’ve ever seen or been a part of? What sorts of contests and games draw your interest?

I’ll give an ebook of Holly and Hopeful Hearts, the Bluestocking Belles 2016 holiday anthology, and an ebook copy of The Teatime Tattler Companion to the anthology to one randomly selected person who comments by noon on Wednesday.
The Bluestocking Belles (the “Belles In Blue”) are seven very different writers united by a love of history and a history of writing about love. From sweet to steamy, from light-hearted fun to dark tortured tales full of angst, from London ballrooms to country cottages to the sultan’s seraglio, one or more of us will have a tale to suit your tastes and mood.

Click here to read the Teatime Tattler. <http://bluestockingbelles.net/category/teatime-tattler/>  http://bluestockingbelles.net/category/teatime-tattler/
Click here to contribute to it. <http://bluestockingbelles.net/mr-s-clemens-welcomes-guest-contributors-to-the-teatime-tattler/>  http://bluestockingbelles.net/mr-s-clemens-welcomes-guest-contributors-to-the-teatime-tattler/
Click here to Ask Aunt Augusta about your heartaches and woes <http://bluestockingbelles.net/ask-aunt-augusta/>  http://bluestockingbelles.net/ask-aunt-augusta/
Follow Mr. Clemens on Facebook <https://www.facebook.com/TeatimeTattler/> . https://www.facebook.com/TeatimeTattler/



  • Colleen C. says:

    I am a fan of character interviews… always brings them to life… seeing how they answer is very entertaining!

  • Thanks so much for having me today!

  • Helen says:

    Hi Caroline

    Yes there is a lot of work goes into getting a book out to the public and then encouraging them to buy and read it with so many books out there and this is such a fun way to do so I am sure it catches the eye of potential readers off to check the facebook page out 🙂

    Have Fun

  • I love the idea of Mr. Clemens and Aunt Augusta! They certainly had character 🙂 . Sounds like a great way to promote a group of great authors.

  • Caroline, welcome. I love the idea of Aunt Augusta. One of the most fun promos I’ve ever been involved with was here in the Lair when our mascot, the lecherous Golden Rooster, held a family reunion on the blog. Susan Sey wrote his dialogue–in character, as you recommend–and it was hilarious.

  • Hi, Caroline,
    I love that you involve your readers in fun activities! Readers and writers are both creative types, and it’s fun to share the ideas and stories that excite us.
    Being part of a community of people who love the same things is one of the best parts of life. Whether we’re in the same room or separated by oceans, we are linked in friendship.

  • Random.org selected Saralee Etter as the winner. I’ll get the prize off to her in a bit.