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Interacting with Authors Online Poll

[poll id="144"]

I’ve seen more and more advertisements for “blog talk” radio and other internet based methods for readers and authors to interact, timed usually around the release of a book.   I’ve even heard of authors holding virtual readings in “Second Life.”   There are still other ways to harness the internet to recreate the intimacy of an in-person signing or tour event such as using free software like SKYPE and a webcam.   What are your thoughts/preferences about these promotional events?   Publishers and authors are interested in hearing your opinion.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

22 Comments

  1. Jane O
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 12:24:32

    I may be weird (I’ve been told it’s so), but I do not particularly want to interact with authors. I know several people who have written (and published) novels. When I don’t much like the novel, but do like the author, I feel awkward. When I dislike the author, the dislike interferes with any pleasure I can take the novel. I prefer to keep my distance.

  2. joanne
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 12:42:12

    I cringe remembering some of the author chats I’ve been on…. the questions from other readers are often border-line strange but generally just repetitive and often just plain silly.
    Reader question: where did such and such character come from?
    What the Author should Answer: oh, I stole him from another author… oh, I met the sheikh one day for coffee and he told me his story… oh, I was giving birth to my first child and had a vision of dancing tycoons…

    Okay, the authors have always been very nice but what can you really say to questions like that?

    The message boards can be a good thing but usually they are taken over by things other then the question and answers. They can also lead readers to think they’re ‘friends’ with an author and that the fan can talk about the way books should go or stories should develope. I think there is a very fine line there for the author to walk and I don’t understand why they (the author) would want to do it.

    The radio/video (is there interactive video? why don’t I know these things?) thing: again, I’ve found myself bored by the kind of things asked of and said to an author and wonder why a writer would want to submit to that.

    **If the author wants to do it, even enjoys it — the whatever it is that gets them book sales — then go for it. Does it work as a promotional? I have no idea. I buy books almost always on word of mouth recommendation or because it is an author I like and never because of a chat.

    So I voted for message boards. Your mileage may vary.

  3. rebyj
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 13:08:14

    Message boards is what I chose too.
    You can broach a variety of subjects at the same time but they’re seperated by topic and can be replied to at leisure.

    Live chat is fun but hectic if everyone’s trying to ask one person questions then you have the side conversations to try to keep up with too.

  4. Laura Vivanco
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 13:13:24

    I voted “other” because I like author blogs. They give you information and can be interesting to read even if no-one leaves comments, so they don’t depend on interactivity, although they can be interactive.

    An author who sets up her own message board, on the other hand, really needs readers to turn up in quite large (or very loyal) numbers and start adding something or it’ll look very empty. That may work for authors with a very large, very devoted readership, but I’m not sure how well it would work for most authors. It’s different if it’s a general message board and every so often an author turns up, as happens at AAR.

    The trouble with most of the real-time interactions with authors listed in this poll is that (a) there’s a pressure on readers to contribute (so that the whole thing doesn’t come across as a flop) (b) the authors are under pressure to respond quickly (c) not all readers are in the same time zone or have free time at exactly the same time, so the time chosen may not suit everyone.

  5. Avid Reader
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 14:02:30

    The “other” I voted for was for the Blog. I really only need an author to keep me informed (what are they working on, when is the next release date, what they’re reading at the moment, etc.) I don’t need an author to talk back with me.

  6. El
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 14:10:33

    Mostly, I like it when an author is *comfortably* doing whatever (s)he wants to do. Authors who blog and enjoy it–great. Authors who interact on forums–great. Authors who do live chats and don’t get confused by ‘em (I get headaches just reading the transcripts after), terrific. Radio shows, video interviews–when the author is enjoying it, fabulous. Twitter’s getting to be big, too. Panels at conventions–love ‘em (been going to SF cons since 1976). I love getting an author’s perspective and getting a feel for where the author’s coming from.

    But most authors are INTROVERTS, and while some like doing this sort of interactive activity (John Scalzi can start with Hello and not need a prompt for the next six hours) (okay, he doesn’t get to go that long but I’ll betcha he could), most of them are going to be a LOT more comfortable with time to think through their replies first, to WRITE. And I’d rather not have authors sitting there doing what they think they “should” be doing and hating every minute of it.

    Love having the different venues; don’t think any should be demanded of an author.

  7. Susan G
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 14:27:17

    I get the most from a well maintained website and a frequently updated blog. I am not too interested in meeting an author – in real life or virtually. As someone stated earlier I have been put off by some of the odd questions/behavior of fans much more rabid than I.

    And if I have really enjoyed a book I try to leave a quick email for the author. I know this can be a tough job and I like to offer my thanks for great entertainment. Nearly always my email is returned with a “thank you!” and that’s enough of a brush with celebrity for me!

  8. Shreela
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 14:40:13

    YouTube channels could be great fun, especially if they did short plays about their characters using 3d rendering software, are there any that do that yet? I’ve seen a few promo movies that used slideshow effects, but plays would be MUCH better.

    As far as author having a site or blog, I’d be happy with just an author site with a list of books with a description and book cover, and broken up by series if applicable, which clearly show what order to read the books in. Links to where the books can be ordered would be nice too. I avoid author blogs now, because it seems most just promote their books. I sub to reader blogs like this one though.

  9. Willow
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 14:43:00

    I love having the opportunity to interact with authors. As an aspiring author myself, being able to ask questions of those who are a part of the industry and have been published is a veritable gold mine of information. Hearing personal stories of the highs and lows of trying to get published makes the author more “real” to me and inspires me to keep trying to live my dream.

  10. Susan Helene Gottfried
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 14:53:01

    I’m all for blogs, but of the options offered, I prefer the message board. There’s no rule that says an author can’t share boards the way many share blogs…

    The audio/video stuff doesn’t entice me. I’m not a big fan of the live call-in radio show because then you have to schedule yourself so you’re free. And it involves *listening*, which I’m pretty lousy at. I’d rather interact via written words.

  11. roslynholcomb
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 15:07:11

    I like the blogs, probably because I like blogging. I’m not interested enough to navigate through a message board, and I’m sure I don’t have enough fans to maintain one.

  12. MaryK
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 15:14:17

    @Susan Helene Gottfried:

    I'd rather interact via written words.

    Yeah.

    I voted message boards, but I was thinking blogs.

  13. theo
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 15:33:56

    I voted “other” as well. I frequent a few (very few) author blogs where the author interacts if he/she so chooses, but posts frequently enough about a variety of subjects that it keeps the blog interesting, even if they never comment back. It makes them more human though, more like ‘real’ people rather than some untouchable entity. And quite often, it gives me better insight into the way they work, which helps me.

    I tried a couple message boards but soured on them as a whole when one in particular had an admin staff that deleted comments right and left unless they were all “happy lurve” comments. No opinions/posts/comments allowed unless they were glowing, rabid fangurl comments. So I avoid those for the most part.

    I think the interactive chats move too fast and get frustrating. As far as things like SKYPE, I don’t have that so can’t comment on it.

  14. rebyj
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 16:08:08

    I tried a couple message boards but soured on them as a whole when one in particular had an admin staff that deleted comments right and left unless they were all “happy lurve” comments. No opinions/posts/comments allowed unless they were glowing, rabid fangurl comments

    Theo you have a good point. I think message boards work better as reader message boards not author message boards.

    Having a monthly open thread here has been great. ( I haven’t seen one for Jan yet!)

    Ok I change my vote to blogs. The collaborative blogs that are around are great. Titlewave, The Goddess Blog, The good bad and unread etc.

  15. Kat
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 16:10:31

    With the time difference and my slow broadband, I vote blogs, too. I also like guest posts on other blogs, particularly if the host poses interesting questions to the author.

  16. Keishon
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 18:45:25

    None of those – I like to keep my contacts with authors as limited as possible online. The best interaction for me would be at a book-signing and typically, as a reader, I’m curious about their next project and that’s about it. Not to be funny or mean but I just care about the books, ma’am and. . .nothing else.

  17. DS
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 19:41:53

    I don’t mind running into an author here and there, but I don’t seek out interaction. While I’ve been lucky with those whose writing I admire that I do run into online, I would choose not push my luck. I don’t have that many autobuy authors anymore that I can risk losing one by finding out he or she is an asshat.

  18. KristieJ
    Jan 23, 2009 @ 22:35:33

    I voted for not interested in any of them because as a rule I don’t want to interact a whole lot with authors either. Of course there are some exceptions and the exceptions I’ve experienced have been wonderful. But generally I’d rather ‘hang’ with other readers.

  19. Throwmearope
    Jan 24, 2009 @ 16:41:10

    I have always had this odd feeling that people are just. . . people.

    I worked in the hotel industry in D.C. near the Kennedy Center in college. I’ve met elder statesmen, movie stars, actors, musicians (ok, most of that bunch are pretty different), and even one world-renowned writer. (After meeting Tennessee Williams up close and in person, it’s a wonder I’m still a reader.–Just sayin’.)

    Some famous people are, well I’ll be nice and say, odd. Some were absolutely delightful. Fred Gwynne was a total mensch. And I adored Lillian Gish. The crowd that played Broadway a lot were by and large very personable. Russian ballet guys, to die for and most were even straight. Some famous people were complete inebriates. A couple of stars I met were total knee-biters.

    I haven’t met many authors, but I get the impression that they’re mostly just people like everybody else.

  20. Patricia Briggs
    Jan 25, 2009 @ 02:21:43

    Yep. Just people.

    Lois Bujold said it best in one of her Vorkosigan novels. Not a direct quote here: Someone asks Miles what it was like seeing his Dad on the Vid Screens, did it give him a different view of his father? Miles says, “No, it gave me a different view of Vid Screens.”

    I’ve met some extraordinary people who are writers. C J Cherryh is incredibly smart and well-spoken. Poul Anderson was the kindest man. Jim Butcher is as quick- witted in person as he is on paper. Tim Powers is very funny. And you should hear the act Tamora Pierce and Esther Friesner put on. It’s like watching Improv done right. But “ordinary” people are pretty extraordinary, too.

  21. K. Z. Snow
    Jan 25, 2009 @ 18:12:11

    Blogs seem to afford the most fruitful interaction, as long as the crazies stay away. I’ve seen some truly fascinating and informative exhanges take place on author as well as reader/reviewer blogs. I’m surprised this wasn’t one of the survey choices!

    Live online chats, based on my experience, are utterly chaotic and worthless. Yahoo-group events always draw more actively participating authors than readers, and they tend to deteriorate into a lot of air-kissing and socializing among those authors. (Loop chats set up for one writer or a small group are better . . . if uninvited promo maniacs don’t intrude.) Interactive videos and call-in radio? Ugh! No, thanks. That’s getting too personal and could easily involve too much waiting.

    Yeah, I’m fussy. Time is too precious to be wasted.

  22. Mireya
    Jan 26, 2009 @ 08:46:22

    Once upon a time, when the novelty of chat groups hadn’t worn yet for me, I was the sort that would belong to a bazillion yahoo groups, go to forums, and attend chats with authors I loved. Back then blogs were not even remotely close to being the IN thing in online interaction that they are now. I stopped after about one year to one year and a half of hanging out in groups.

    I only came back about a year ago, and only read a few blogs now, none of which is an author and/or publisher blog. I can’t see myself hanging out again in groups, chats and/or boards. Main reason is that whenever I take a peek, nothing seems to have changed that much, which can be good, but can also be bad.

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