I was recently lucky enough to have the opportunity to interview Lynette Chandler of Blog Energizer as part of a contest she's running to promote her site. Blog Energizer scours the Internet for ideas for bloggers to write about, but Lynette is also involved in the technical side of blogging with plugins and membership site integration.
Please pop over to Lynette's blog and vote for me! Thanks. (Link opens in a new window.)
Elle: What is your best advice for fiction writers who are thinking of using a blog to build a platform, particularly if they don't yet have a tangible book to promote?
Lynette: Now's a good time to start. A blog can be used to generate interest, stir up curiosity and anticipation for the upcoming book. If you can talk about the book, it's a good place to give people an idea what it's about, who you are, where the book is at this point in time. It can help you gather a following and pre-sell to them before hand so when the book is published, you don't have to work so hard or scramble because you already have a base of eager and interested buyers. Just take a look at movie trailers or movie sites. Many of the bigger movies have sites that are launched way ahead of its release to get people excited.
Also, it can be a sort of accountability partner. If you put it out there, you build people's interest up, there's no turning back. You must deliver and finish that book.
Elle: What is the easiest way for a writer who is not tech-savvy to promote her/himself online?
Lynette: I think before you actively promote you should at least have a site. You can get people to build one based on blogging system like WordPress that way you can manage everything and add a blog super easy. It's probably better to save up and have someone do the initial setup to eliminate the more technical part but once that is done and the site is ready then you can start promoting.
Write a guest article/post for someone else's site or blog. Try to target it too where the people who read your article/post are the ones you really want to get in front of. These are the people who are likely to buy your book or writing services.
Accept interviews - no technical knowledge involved. Be a guest on podcasts, Internet Radio Shows, Internet Video Shows and blogs.
If possible, give chapter samples or create a PDF of the first couple of chapters of the book that people can freely pass on without strings attached.
Joint venture with a blogger or a group of bloggers (hint: like BlogEnergizer) where you offer digital versions of the book for free download for say 24 hours. The more exclusive it is the better. In other words, pick a group or one blog and work with them. People are more likely to promote on your behalf it is exclusive.
Elle: What do you think of the idea of publishing fiction on a blog?
Lynette: I personally love it and have seen a lot of writers do it. It is always intriguing to me especially when chapters are released one by one on a schedule I'd definitely return to the blog to read and it keeps me hooked, in deep anticipation for the next chapter. Also, the ability to comment and discuss the chapters and perhaps shape the book if it is still in progress is very appealing.
Elle: What other platforms, media, outlets, or concepts do you think are underutilized by writers?
Lynette: It is unfortunate for me I don't get to mingle too much with fiction writers. As a result, I may not necessarily be as clear on what authors are or aren't doing as well as someone like you does. However, I can tell you at BlogEnergizer what we are always looking out for but don't seem to get much of.
That is for authors to create joint promotions like what was mentioned before and make themselves available for interviews to bloggers. Big traditional media I am sure is the big prize for many authors but new media can work just as well. And so often the traditional media gets their contacts from new media as well.
It also doesn't have to be a big time suck or something that you have to work your schedule around. Especially when you do written interviews like this, or a recorded Internet radio show.
Elle: What is the biggest mistake you've seen an author make online - and how do we avoid it?
Lynette: Again, since we have limited interaction with authors themselves and not knowing how the traditional publishing industry works. It is hard for me to say. One thing though, and this probably stems from my ignorance of the traditional publishing industry. I'm always seeking authors who would like to work with us BlogEnergizer to create a promotion for our members, work with our members individually or both. But to contact an author is like trying to enter the Forbidden City, the information flowing through the publisher first. I'd really like to work as directly as possible.
If you are self published then surely none of that applies so do seek us out or seek out bloggers who have a good readership base and demographic that would match the readers of your work. Brainstorm some exclusive promotional ideas and work with them.
Elle: Thank you Lynette. I really appreciate the time you've spent on this interview.
Remember the contest I mentioned? If you enjoyed this interview please vote for me at Lynette's Blog. Voting opens on 25 August 2010. Thanks!