Blogs by L.T. Suzuki
The Author Effect
6/22/2010 6:32:34 AM
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Bestselling author of the novel 'Spin', Catherine McKenzie discusses her latest project to bring attention to little known authors!
LTS: I’d like to welcome back the lovely and talented Catherine McKenzie. Regular visitors to my website will recognize this author of ‘Spin’ from an earlier guest blog she did back in February of this year.
It’s good to have you back again, Catherine. How are things going with your bestselling novel, ‘Spin’, and is it exceeding your expectations in terms of sales and reviews so far?
CM: Things are going great. Spin is in its third printing and is selling well and the reviews have been mostly really positive. I’m very happy.
LTS: It’s good to catch up with you, but the purpose of this interview is to acquaint new and regular readers to this blog page with your latest project that has nothing to do with your own novel. Can you tell the readers exactly what the ‘Author Effect’ is?
CM: The Author Effect (and it should include readers too) is an idea I came up with when I saw the Betty White Campaign to get her to host Saturday Night Live. I wanted to see if social media really can be used to sell books but didn’t want to use my own book as an experiment. So I picked two books by a favourite author of mine, Shawn Klomparens, that haven’t gotten the attention they deserve and started a group on Facebook called ‘I bet we can make these books bestsellers’.
LTS: Ultimately, what is your goal?
CM: To make the books bestsellers. Seriously. Of course, I know that’s a long shot, so my secondary goal is just to bring more attention to a great writer and his work. And if that works, to hopefully do the same for others.
LTS: What inspired you to take this project on?
CM: I had a bit of time on my hands and when I get a good idea (or what I think is a good idea), I like to run with it.
LTS: In the case of Tom Clancy’s ‘Hunt for Red October’, it was a newspaper photo of President Ronald Reagan stepping off the presidential helicopter with a copy of this novel in his hand that propelled this title onto the bestseller list. With Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, being chosen for Oprah Winfrey’s book club, not to mention appearances on her talk show, jettisoned Gilbert’s book into the stratosphere and was the catalyst in having the book be made into a movie featuring Julia Roberts.
Sometimes, it is being at the right place at the right time (and being seen in the hands of someone with celebrity status) to see a title climb in sales and popularity. Can you tell the readers how you plan to undertake this project?
CM: Well, obviously, getting the books into the hands of someone famous would be great and I have a few irons in the fire in this respect. More realistically, I am trying to combine the various elements of social and regular media to create a word-of-mouth campaign that will generate sales. This includes the Facebook page (650 members so far), Goodreads, Twitter and getting as many bloggers as possible writing about the project and reviewing the books. Part of the experiment is seeing if a book can go viral without the support of someone like Oprah.
LTS Many authors are forced to take on the role of marketer if they want to encourage sales. I think it’s refreshing and wonderful that you are using this project to bring attention to another author’s work. Can you tell our readers why you are not using this opportunity to promote your own novel?
CM: Frankly I think the whole spirit of the project is not to talk about my book. And to be honest, it is hard to talk about myself all the time and promote my own books. But I’ve never had a problem with encouraging people to read other people’s books that I love – I’m just amplifying the volume.
LTS: What is the name of the book you chose to feature for the launch of this project and how did you make this selection?
CM: I actually chose two titles by the same author, Jessica Z. and Two Years, No Rain by Shawn Klomparens. I chose these books because they were the best books I’d read in the last six months that no one I knew had heard of.
LTS: For future titles, is the selection limited to traditionally published books? Or are you willing to consider indie authors as well?
CM: I’m willing to consider any book that I love and think deserves to have a wide audience. That being said, I do think traditionally published books are ones that I am much more likely to pick up simply because they are more accessible and I know they’ve gone through the rigorous editing process that my own book went through.
LTS: I understand traditionally published authors must deal with the fact their books have less time on the shelves of the bookstores than 5 or 10 years ago to prove sales before they become back-listed. In the future, would you consider taking one of these titles on for the AE?
CM: That is essentially what I am doing with Shawn’s books – Jessica Z. was published in 2008 and Two Years, No Rain in 2009 – and already it’s hard to find these books in stores. That are readily available online though and I would encourage people to get their local bookstores to order in the books.
LTS: I think this is an excellent idea! As the author of an epic adult fantasy series, even with a film production company interested in negotiating option rights for a movie trilogy, it is still so difficult to get the word out when there are literally thousands of titles coming out each year, all competing for readership. Is part of your reasoning for this project to bring attention to some great books at a time when authors, even those traditionally published are faced with little or no budget from the publishing company to help publicize the title?
CM: Absolutely. The reality today is that most authors do not have access to a marketing budget. That being said, I was very lucky with my own publisher – they made sure my book was widely distributed and well placed in stores and I think that is a big reason why it was successful.
LTS: It’s a ‘no-brainer’ for an author to want to be selected for the ‘Author Effect’. Exactly what are the criteria to be considered (i.e. fiction or non-fiction, genre, year published, Canadian or international author, etc.) and how does an author let you know if they would like to be considered for the next AE you launch?
CM: There are no specific criteria other than the fact that the book has to grab me. I read a wide range of books. I do have one rule though – any author that wants to be considered has to buy at least one of the current selections. Since the whole purpose of the group is to increase sales, I want to see real commitment from the author before I consider taking them on. They can contact me at cemckenzie.hotmail.com.
LTS: What can the readers do to help you make the Author Effect a great success?
CM: Well, first of all buy the books! Secondly, join the Facebook group & encourage all your friends to do so. Finally, spread the word. If you read & love the books, let people know about it!
LTS: When will this present project come to an end and the new one begins?
CM: We are doing a Kindle giveaway on August 15th – the details are in the discussion section of the Facebook page. At that point I will assess where I am in the project. I may pick a new title then or if I feel like momentum is really picking up with these books I may stay with them a little longer. I’m feeling my way with the project – there are no rules!
LTS: Not every writer can afford to hire someone to tackle PR/marketing issues. Do you have any advice in the way of practical, cost efficient methods for authors to help generate interest in their books?
CM: I think Goodreads is a good forum as well as trying to get bloggers to review their books.
LTS: Where can our readers go to find out more about the Author Effect?
CM: This is the link to the group: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=113149048727107
LTS: Thank you so much for taking the time to explain what the ‘Author Effect’ is about, Catherine! Let’s catch up again when you can share the results of this project with us!
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