When we launched Placing Literature, the co-founders got together and brainstormed all the ways readers, researchers, academics, authors and publishers could use the data that we were collecting. We quickly realized it was a fruitless exercise. No matter how long or hard we thought, or how many thinking caps we put on, we realized that we’d never be able to conceive of all the ways people would be using our data. The possibilities were endless.
Instead of controlling how our product would be used, we decided to simply create a platform for location-based literary information and let the crowd develop their own applications. So far, so good. Libraries around the world have started to map scenes that take place locally and have been sharing that information with their members. Cultural organizations have done likewise, plotting literary places on the map in an effort to reach our global audience. Academics are using the site to collect their research data in a central database for further analysis.
Last week, however, I was completely blown away with how one user is using Placing Literature to help build momentum for an upcoming book launch. Terri Guiliano Long is our IndieReader Author Spotlight for December. Terri–whose debut novel In Leah’s Wake reached the New York Times Bestsellers list–is launching her second novel, Until I Come Home, in January.
As an indie author, Terri doesn’t have the luxury of large advance orders from retail booksellers or the marketing muscle of the Madison Avenue publishing cabal. Her success relies on both the quality of her work and all the promotional sweat and tears she can muster. In Terri’s case, this includes paying a publicity agency out of her own pocket and doing a lot of the work herself–in addition to a busy writing and teaching schedule.
Strapped for time and resources, Terri and her agency are using Placing Literature to build a literary road trip across the U.S. for her fans in anticipation of her upcoming launch. Several times a day, Terri is showcasing a literary place on our map that means something to her as a reader and as an author. She’s also plotting some places from her upcoming novel–as a way to tease her fans and build momentum leading up to the launch. In addition to talking about the places on her blog, Terri is Tweeting each post to her followers and inviting them to submit their favorite literary places–effectively engaging each potential new fan in 140-character increments.
Terri and her team are doing a brilliant job. By using place, Terri is approaching readers who live near a particular location and may be inspired to explore literature that takes place in their neighborhood. She’s also reaching fans of other established authors who may already have a connection to a particular book or place. And everything is being communicated over social media–connecting with readers on a local level.
Katie, Steve and I continue to be blown away by the interesting way people are using our data–which only fuels our desire to create an open platform for this type of location-specific literary information. So, authors, book club members, researchers, teachers and business owners, let us know how you are using Placing Literature, and we’d love to promote it on the homepage.