I took notice when cozy-mystery writer Mollie Cox Bryan sent me a Facebook event invitation to the online launch of her new book, SCRAPPED: A CUMBERLAND CREEK MYSTERY. It was clear that it would be a different type of event — and it was. I asked Mollie to share her behind-the-scenes experience with us here in a guest post.
Mollie is an Agatha-Award nominee for Best First Novel for SCRAPBOOK OF SECRETS: A CUMBERLAND CREEK MYSTERY. Her second book in the series, SCRAPPED (Cumberland Creek Mystery #2), was released in January 2012. Please visit her online and follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
Using new Shindig for online book launch event
By Mollie Cox Bryan
With publishers doing less and less for their authors in terms of publicity, we are often approached by well-meaning businesses hoping to help promote us—for a fee, of course.
Being a relatively new fiction writer, I have next-to-no money to sink in to promotion. When an outfit called Shindig contacted me to help promote my newest mystery, SCRAPPED: A CUMBERLAND CREEK MYSTERY, I was suspicious and kept waiting for the “other shoe to drop” so to speak. But they proved me wrong.
It was absolutely free to participate in a Shindig event because they are currently in beta, which means they are just trying out the system, getting rid of the kinks, before they start to charge for their service. They offer a video conference system where a writer can interact with readers as if at a reading or a signing.
Okay, so you can do this kind of thing in chat rooms and with Skype and Google+, now. I’ve never had any luck with chat rooms. I always get kicked out in the middle of any “chat” party I’ve attended. I’ve not tried the Skype conference because there just doesn’t seem to be that much interest from my readers. I’ll get back to this lack of interest in a moment.
Virtual video chat room
Shindig provides writers with a virtual room to video chat with readers. The on-screen room looks like a huge library or bookstore.
From the start, the people at Shindig were helpful. They ran a test before the big day, which turned out to be a good thing. Our first scheduled test did not work. And it was purely my fault—or my old computer’s fault. I had a new one on order so we rescheduled. Through all that, the young man I worked with was polite and friendly—and yes, even patient. At no time did I ever feel that he was patronizing with me, even as I tried to find my way around the technology.
Shindig sends explicit directions and gets back to you if you have questions. They definitely get an A+ from me on customer service and tech know-how.
One of the coolest functions of their chat room is that while the main guest is chatting, others in the room can connect and chat amongst themselves. I really felt like I was in the middle of a Star Trek episode as I watched people float across the screen to each other.
It’s not for every audience
The only thing that could have gone better is the number of people that actually attended. Shindig doesn’t really help with promotion outside of their own network. They are upfront about that. I promoted the heck out of the event.
But here’s where there is a glitch: Many of my readers just did not have the required equipment, computer memory, or comfort level with the technology. Nor did they have the interest in pursuing it.
But I believe that will change over the next few years.
Even though nothing will really take the place of meeting and chatting with readers in person, this is the closest thing writers can get to it. And publishers just don’t send most of us on book tours. When I think about Shindig and the potential opportunities to writers, publishers, and any entrepreneur that wants to connect more with their clients, I get a little tingle. It’s so exciting to imagine the possibilities.
Have you hosted an online book launch event? What did you do?
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