Contemporary and epic fantasy with unforgettable characters, complicated families, and music in the sentences.

What I Think I've Figured Out About Author Chats, Twitter, And Genre Communities

Fantasy-reader culture and romance-reader culture are really different. Romance-reader culture, at least online, seems to be driven by giveaways of cash and stuff to a much greater extent, and less driven by, well, conversation. Am I missing something, O friends who read and write romance? It wouldn’t be the first time I’d misunderstood romance readers and their world.

The interview/chat (which you can find here) did have many lovely moments of real conversation, and goodness knows I enjoy holding forth. The weird thing was that many of the people who piped up seemed to be asking questions that had nothing to do with books, the sorts of things my book is about, writing, or any of the things the community at Bitten by Books usually talks about. But then, commenting in the chat was a way of entering a drawing for a giveaway. One of the participants came out and said one of her main motivations was the giveaway of an Amazon gift card. That almost certainly explains the people who chimed in with questions before midnight Pacific Time, long after I’d said my goodnights at 1am East Coast Time. People were still retweeting the invitation to the chat the day after it ended, though the tweet they were retweeting had the date and time in it.

And checking out those Twitter feeds was the most culture-shocky part, for me. I think the romance community uses Twitter very differently from the way the fantasy and science fiction community does. I was grateful for the signal boost — that’s something you can never take for granted — but I wondered how effective that promotional technique was for Twitter feeds that consist entirely of giveaway announcements. The folks I hear mentioned most often as exemplars of effective use of Twitter are people like John Scalzi, whose comments are packed haiku-dense with opinion, information, and humor. The model that’s admired in SF/F is promotion as a sort of opposite of advertising.

Honestly, I have no way of knowing whether either model gets results. I just know I have to fight so hard to protect my writing time at this point in my family’s life cycle, I don’t have a lot of writing time to spare for Twitter.

Anyhow, when I was deciding how big a gift card to offer for the giveaway, I did this calculation: If I get about $2 per copy sold, how big a gift card should I offer if I’m hoping to attract enough people to buy the book for me to break even? Can I hope, based on this book blog site’s traffic numbers, to sell 20 copies as a result of the chat? It’ll be another week before Amazon crunches last week’s sales numbers, but I’m guessing the figures will be lower than that. If the audience shows up primarily in hope of being given free money, how many of them will seriously consider purchasing a book?

Does anyone out there have experience that speaks to this question?
Source: Dr Pretentious

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