Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Threat and Opportunity

Candy Gourlay talks about engaging your reader through the Internet.

The kite was flown by Hans Christian Anderson to say he wanted to tell a story. People would see it and travel for miles to hear his story.

Nowadays we do not need a kite. We can use the World Wide Web. The Internet is a way of publishing yourself. It is the new reality of children’s publishing. This is the world we live in today. The web is a given. It has to supplement and enhance the book – it is a requirement. We have to be out there. We have no choice.

Publishers can only publish so many books and how is one person going to be heard. Each author is a brand on their own. The young are abandoning television and radio in favour of the Internet. The ‘networked generation’ are reportedly between the ages of 16-24 and they are increasingly turning to the Internet for entertainment and information. More than half of bloggers are under the age of 30.

The attraction of the celebrity book is that it allows the publisher to launch new talent on the back of others who are established. Publishers want big brand names like Katie Price or Madonna. They make money from stars so they can publish new authors. The latest requirements of being a story-teller is you have to be a stand-up comic. You can upload a video to u-tube and then use the code generated on the site to embed the video on your own site or blog.

Yet, many authors are not sure why they have a website and what they are going to do with it.

Need to Know

Candy explained it’s not about you it’s about them. Consider what your readers want to know. They want a way to engage with the author. When designing a website you need to think about who your target audience is going to be. It is important to do your market research. Who do you want to attract?

  • The readers
  • The librarians
  • The booksellers
  • The publishers

Readers will send fan-mail to authors through their websites and blogs. In this way, the readers do not just read - they engage.

Know Thyself

Use your website or blog to create your own brand for yourself. How can you create your own image?

Candy suggested we should all look at what is already out there.

  • Mo Willems uses the pigeon motif as a trademark
  • Neil Gamon’s website does not really reflect the books he writes
  • Meg Cabot aspirational and glamorous look gives a feel for her teen novels
  • Eoin Colfer’s video blog tells us more about him
  • Quentin Blake’s website reflects his personality although it does take a rather long time to load
  • Meg Rosoff gives a lengthy explanation of why she is the world’s most useless blogger
  • Daren King’s website is very simple. The content is hilarious and worth reading. He starts with, “My plan for World domination is almost complete.”

I wrote the web addresses out in full, as I thought it was an interesting point to see the types of domainn names authors were choosing for their sites. Notice they are all .com or addresses. My own site is I am sure I could do more this my site. Please leave me feedback if you have any suggestions.

Initiatives like MySpace TV means you can have your own channel for free. It is yet another way to share and comment. Readers expect multi-media. Remember it is web 2.0, not web too.

It’s just a tool

The Internet can be the main way of procrastination. To prevent yourself from wasting time on the net target what you want to do so you are using the World Wide Web to your advantage. There are many ways to get your self noticed on the Internet.

Blogs are the easiest way to get instant recognition. It is a free tool and you can set up a site in minutes. is one of the easiest and gets a good rating on Google. has the additional function of being able to create more than one page for your blog. Just like a good article, a blog needs an angle. It’s a rollercoaster.

Once your blog is established join the children’s book blog tours. Contact bloggers and offer them an interview for their blog. You can tour the world through blogs and start a craze. Take a look at Anastacia Suen’s site and join her in blogging about a non-fiction book every Monday for Non-Fiction Monday.

The Cybils is a bloggers prize for children’s book writers.

It is possible to see how many people visit your blog by adding a stats counter. There are many free stats counters available, such as Google Analytics. I have used, and on this blog.

However, no matter what you do, the web will not make a bad book better.

Please feel free to add anything I missed on any of my posts, or correct me if I got something wrong. I leave for Ireland in an hour so best go finish the packing now. See you all in a week.


Anonymous said...

and don't forget the best bookseller picture ever

Sue Eves said...

Thanks Anita,
Neil Gaiman's website is well worth a visit. Thanks for all the links!
Have a good holiday.


Jude said...

Great stuff Anita as always!

Anonymous said...

And now, you've been tagged!