I was a guest on Interviewing Authors, a new podcast hosted by Tim Knox. We had an interesting discussion about author discovery by location and how authors use place in fiction.
The Challenge: Bestselling author Terri Giuliano Long sought to combine the freedom of self-publishing while leveraging the necessary marketing resources to get her work in front of new readers.
The Solution: Long created a virtual literary road trip with Placing Literature, a crowd-sourced website that maps literary scenes that take place in real locations. She tweeted new locations to her fans and followers several times a day throughout December 2013.
The Results: The author’s blog saw a 25 percent increase in traffic, and her last 50 #LittripUSA tweets had 100,000 impressions—all while achieving a month-long engagement with readers around the world.
Terri Giuliano Long’s self-published debut novel, In Leah’s Wake, won several awards and has sold more than 125,000 copies worldwide, reaching # 50 (overall) on Amazon and #6 on the Barnes & Noble bestseller list—an amazing and well-deserved achievement for an independently-published author. Despite this commercial success Long has decided to remain independent, relishing the freedom that self-publishing provides her.
For her next novel, Until I Come Home, Long needed to build upon the success of In Leah’s Wake. While Long has a built-in advantage due to her large existing fan base, the success of her new novel relies on both the ability of her work to connect with readers and all the promotional sweat she can muster to get her novel in front of new readers. However, as an indie author, Long doesn’t have the luxury of large advance orders from retail booksellers or the marketing muscle of Madison Avenue. In Long’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 schedule.
“I needed to find a way where I could maintain the independence that self-publishing provides me while leveraging the necessary marketing resources to get my work in front of new readers,” Long said.
Virtual Literary RoadTrip
Strapped for time and resources, Long and her agency used Placing Literature, a crowd-sourced website that maps literary scenes that take place in real locations, to build a literary road trip across the U.S. First, Long mapped the scenes that took place in her novels on Placing Literature and, over the course of December 2013, showcased a literary place that meant something to her as a reader and as an author. In addition to talking about the places on her blog, Long tweeted each post to her followers and invited them to submit their own favorite literary places—effectively engaging each potential new fan in 140-character increments.
Month-Long Engagement with Readers
By leveraging place through Placing Literature, Long was able to approach readers who live near a particular location and may be inspired to explore literature that takes place in their neighborhood. She was also able to reach fans of other established authors who may already have a connection to a particular book or place. And everything was being communicated over social media, allowing her to connect with readers on a local level.
By the end of the month, Long’s blog traffic was up 25 percent and her last 50 #LittripUSA tweets reached 100,000 impressions. Most importantly, however, Long was able to use Placing Literature to achieve a month-long engagement with her fans while giving them a reason to spread her messages to their friends and followers. The Twitter campaign was such a success that Long extended the trip indefinitely, expanding across the U.S. and the world.
“This sort of interaction and reader engagement is, in my view, the best sort of promotional opportunity,” Long said. “Personally, my involvement with Placing Literature—thinking about and plotting books on the map—gave me an even greater appreciation of the importance of place in literature, not only for atmosphere but in terms of character and plot. Interacting with Placing Literature drove the point home in a much more personal, intuitive way, influencing the way I think about story.”
Follow Terri Giuliano Long’s literary road trip on her blog.