Writers have always been faced with the question of how to reach readers with their work.
21st Century writers who want to be successful must also find ways to involve readers in what they do. Make them a part of the process of writing or promoting your book, and they’ll be invested in you and your work.
One writer who’s particularly good at this is Robin Sloan, a scifi fiction writer who’s particularly adept at 21st Century marketing. He’s come up with some of the most creative ideas I’ve ever seen, where marketing, writing, and social media interaction with his fans is all part of a single process. (Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he’s a brilliantly inventive, creative genius of a writer.)
One of Sloan’s most successful ideas was to write and publish a novella after raising a certain amount of money using a fundraising website called Kickstarter. He promised to give the novella away to everyone as a free PDF if his goal was met. His goal was to raise $3,500, and he used various “pledge levels” to give people lots of options. These levels of support would give you varying degrees of access to the finished product (e-copies, printed copies), as well as early looks at the book in progress. He far exceeded his goal by achieving almost $14,000. And as promised, the novella Annabel Scheme is now available to download for free.
Sloan often uses the barter system for making his stories available. He once put up a short story called “The Writer & The Witch” for sale for $.99 on Kindle and then promised that after one hundred purchases, he would make it free for everyone. It happened in record time. Perhaps his most radical idea was to write a short story called “Last Beautiful” and then hand it over to his Twitter followers to edit.
Sloan’s use of social media reminds me of another recent ebook I heard about with a unique marketing campaign. The writers decided to give their book away for free, but with a twist: you have to “pay” for the book by tweeting (or posting) about it on Twitter. They found that this idea was so ingenious that they opened paywithatweet.com up to the general public, where now anyone can use it to give something away (like an ebook) for a little positive word-of-mouth on Twitter. Oh, and the book they were promoting? It’s about Internet marketing, of course.
This barely scratches the surface. There are countless tales like these of writers who are bypassing traditional publishing models by mixing new media, social networking, and self-marketing in wild and wonderful ways. Do you have a favorite writer who’s done anything similar? Please share it with us!