The beginning of the year is an exciting time for everyone—including authors. Along with your other resolutions, it’s important to remember that a new year represents a fabulous opportunity to establish, enhance, or even reinvent your author image. Marketing yourself is huge part of making any writer’s book a success. The Internet—and social media, more specifically—has increasingly become the most important aspect of a publicity campaign. If you have not already ventured onto online reading communities and other sites that can help authors spread their work, there is no better time than now! Here are a few to get you started:
- Red Room: A site dedicated to connecting authors and readers. As a Red Room author, you can create a very professional customized page that allows you to upload published works, reviews, interview transcripts, videos, podcasts, as well as blog entries.
- Goodreads: A book-sharing and reviewing site that allows you to sign up as a published author and get your own page, which will include a short biography and background information, separate pages for your books, a place to add links to reviews and interviews, friends and followers, a comments space, and other common features of a social networking site.
- Shelfari: An interactive bookshelf and community for readers, Shelfari allows to create your own profile with a list of favorite books, which you can then review, rate, and tag. A page is created for each author and book, which can be edited by you (or the public at large).
- Scribd: A document-sharing site—it's been called the "YouTube for documents"—where authors can create their own pages and profiles, and easily share a variety of documents—including book excerpts, reviews, interviews, or other book-related paraphernalia for people to view.
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2007 was fun, wasn't it? Between Judith Regan, O.J. Simpson, Amazon's Kindle, the AMS bankruptcy, and James Frey vs. Oprah redux, there was plenty of shock, titillation, and Schadenfreude to go around. (We're pointedly excluding a certain boy wizard. Months later, we're still fatigued.) But bigger than any one of these stories was the industry's continued march into the brave new world of technology.
And yeah, yeah, years in review are so rampant come January, but 2007 wasn't just any year. It saw the digital world and the book world become slightly less uncomfortable bedfellows. Shelfari, LibraryThing, and GoodReads brought social networking to book lovers, e-books continued their long and arduous journey to popular consumption, and publishing in general proved itself more savvy online. That's not to say the more disturbing trends didn't continue---independent bookstores dropped like flies (although MySpace came to the rescue in a few instances) and the battle to keep book review sections in newspapers raged on as literary bloggers multiplied. Before moving into exciting, uncharted 2008 (ready for 979 ISBN prefixes?), the Big Bad Book Blog presents a brief overview of some of the more interesting developments of 2007.
- Wowio.com, an ad-supported site that offers free e-books, officially launches when it strikes a deal for one hundred of Oxford University Press's titles.
- The Last Messages, an epistolary novel for the 21st century, is published in Helsinki. It consists entirely of text messages.
- Amazon invests in Shelfari, giving the online bookshelf social site a huge boost.
- HarperCollins and Random House launch competing widgets, allowing readers to browse inside their titles from blogs and other sites. Random House now has over 600,000 widgets on 2,000 sites, according to Publishing Trends.
- Microsoft differentiates Live Book Search, its online book search program, from Google Book Search. What's the difference? We respect copyrights, Microsoft says.
- Random House starts a book club in the Second Life "metaverse."
- Mignon Fogarty, a.k.a. Grammar Girl, compiles an audiobook from her popular podcast, which she proceeds to sell on iTunes. She also appears on Oprah, so this must've been important.
- Macmillian sees huge viral marketing success for Quirkology. A video clip supporting the book reached 800,000 viewers, according to Publishing News.
- The Espresso Book Machine, which prints books on-demand in a matter of minutes, is unveiled and later installed in the New York Public Library.
- Roberto Bernocco releases Compagni di Viaggo, a 384-page novel the Italian author wrote on his cell phone.
- First annual O'Reilly Tools of Change conference is held in San Jose, California.
- Simon & Schuster launch bookvideos.tv, which features interviews of over 40 authors.
- Richard Charkin, head of Macmillan in the UK, steals laptops from Google’s BEA booth, saying he’s just playing the same “trick” on them they play on authors with copyrighted work.
- Microsoft adds copyrighted material to its Live Book Search; Google offers co-branded book search to member publishers of Google Book Search.
- Penguin joins the e4book initiative, announcing plans to ask all business partners transact business completely electronically in 2008.
- Pioneering a new university publishing model, Rice University releases Images of Memorable Cases, one of the first titles in its return to publishing after a ten-year hiatus. The book is formatted digitally by Connexions, and available in a hard copy from print-on-demand company QOOP.
- Amazon finally releases the much buzzed-about Kindle, hoping to jump start the e-book market. EV-DO capable and reportedly quite functional, the device sells out in a matter of hours, although it received mixed reviews from some sources---primarily for its hefty $399 price tag. Many find it "ugly."
- Conrad Black's myriad fans are delighted when he begins using the Margaret Atwood's LongPen, a device that allows him to sign books remotely by way of a touchpad connected to an "autopen" in the store. Black was unable to promote his Nixon biography as he was confined to his Chicago home before being sentenced to six and a half years in prison for fraud and obstruction of justice.
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Have you started Facebooking yet? If not, now might be a good time to start. This week Facebook announced the launch of a groundbreaking new social advertising system.
A key feature of the system is that it allows Facebook users to notify their network of friends whenever they make purchases and recommendations on other participating websites. According to Advertising Age, users will be able to let their network know when they post an item on eBay, rent a movie on Blockbuster.com, or, most importantly, rate a book on Amazon.com.
Another new feature lets businesses and artists build pages on Facebook to connect with their audiences. As I've mentioned before, social networks are great for spreading word of mouth and creating online buzz for your book. Go here to set up a book or author page and start networking with fans and friends. Then you can encourage your network to post an Amazon review of your book and broadcast it to their own Facebook friends with the Amazon Book Reviews application.
With this revolutionary social advertising system and its existing partnership with Shelfari (the largest social media site for book lovers), Facebook may soon become the social network of choice for authors.