Perhaps one of the most exciting and effective digital technologies available to authors and their marketing people will soon be widespread, here’s hoping because it is really fantastic. A company called Idolvine has created an application where authors can meet their fans and sign their e-books, all without ever having to leave their respective homes. These signings can be organized as an online real-time event, which is very effective in reducing costs and time constraints associated with a physical book tour, while still offering a personal and intimate experience for the fans. Idolvine was on hand at this year’s Book Expo America, along with some well-known authors that included Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaimen, to demonstrate the new technology. This is a revolutionary tool; one that can emulate a highlight for the fans attending a reading with an author, the meet and greet that ends with a signed copy of the author’s latest book. It is very advantageous and easy to use for authors as well, it is virtually cost-free and the convenience factor is very high. “The ability to reach out to more readers personally while expanding the traditional tour is very appealing to most of the authors I know,” said Atwood, giving this technology the stamp of approval from an author’s perspective.

This is the kind of technological innovation that gets me really excited, and gives me hope that all these new digital applications will actually prove to be more beneficial than they are harmful to the publishing world. This is something I see that can be readily embraced by fans, authors, and publishers because it doesn’t change much about the experience of a reading, except the high costs that are associated with them. One of the biggest complaints from authors (in my opinion) surrounding these new digital platforms for promoting themselves and their books, is the learning curve associated with them.  This is actually a tool that has the opposite effect, it is much less time consuming and work heavy than it’s old-fashioned predecessor. This certainly has the potential to do marvelous things for the publishing industry, and I was happy to see the names of some Canadian houses on the list of participants at BEA, including Radom House Canada and Harlequin. Perhaps this fall we will see Idolvine’s technology being implemented into author’s promotiona strategies. I for one, will most definitely be on the lookout for an opportunity to receive my first e-autograph.

In this article, Boog discusses writer Paul Malmont’s appearance on the Morning Media Menu podcast, where the author was promoting his new book and discussing an upcoming writing contest he is hosting for his fans. The winner will have the opportunity to be published in the paperback takeover of his novel The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown. The contest is relatively simple, the readers are presented with the first and last partial sentences and must fill in the middle with up to 2000 words. The winner’s work will be selected to appear in the upcoming book. One of the most interesting aspects to this contest is that Malmont used an application originally designed for Facebook to easily put it all together. Malmont is clearly an author who is onboard with using social media and other online digital technologies to help promote his work, “You’ve got to look around at the other tools that are out there,” he says. This application is automatically broadcast to a participant’s social network every time they vote, write or submit, and this “will hopefully bring in people that hadn’t heard of the novel before.”

Malmont cites the cutting back of publisher’s marketing tools, particularly those that put writers in the most direct contact with readers, as the catalyst for his online self-promotion strategies; “(Publishers) aren’t sending people on tours, they found that people don’t really go to readings anymore … the cost/benefits of a tour don’t pay off the way they used to.” Malmont also contacts booksellers directly to set up digital events like streaming videos and live chats to make up for the lack of author/reader interaction. It is a very smart decision on Malmont’s part to recognize these new marketing patterns, and actively seek out alternate ways to get his novel and his profile noticed.

Social media and other online technologies are used by so many- myself included- because they are a convenient “one stop shop” source of information. It is easy, it is current and it is fast. Rather than mourn the good old days (and they do still carry a romantic appeal) of book launch parties and elbow-rubbing with famous authors over glasses of free red wine; it is imperative for authors let go and get with the times, so to speak. Malmont is correct to point out that the cost/benefit of this kind of promotion simply doesn’t add up anymore; it is almost unfair of authors to expect their publishing houses to adhere to these old traditions, especially the smaller ones who just don’t have the budget. Digital forms of promotion not only save money, they can reach more people at one time, and if done correctly can garner positive results for authors and their work. With so many tools and platforms available, there is something to suit the comfort level of most any author who is open to changing their views on the marketing of their book.