November 11 – 17: “What are the advantages of using new media to bridge readers with authors?”

thriller-roundtable-logo5We have a full house this week with ITW members Cat Connor, Tori Eldridge, David Simms, Nick Kolakowski, Avanti Centrae, Randall Krzak, Erica Wright, Lisa de Nikolits, T. G. Wolff and Lee Gimenez discussing new media: What are the advantages of using new media to bridge readers with authors? Keep your notebooks handy and scroll down to the “comments” section to follow along!

 

Cat Connor is a multi-published crime thriller author. She’s best known for her bestselling Byte Series novels, which follow the antics and life of SA Ellie Conway. Why crime? Why not? She’s the first to toss out the warning: be careful or you’ll end up in my novel (gutted by my pen). The DIY kiwi attitude gives Cat’s work a distinct flavor and is in fact why she started writing—if you can’t find what you want, create it. She’s also co-director and co-founder of Writers Plot bookshop: The only bookshop in the world that only stocks Kiwi authors.

 

Tori Eldridge is a Honolulu-born thriller writer who challenges perspective and empowers the spirit. Her debut novel, THE NINJA DAUGHTER, is the first book in the Lily Wong Ninja Mystery Series and was inspired by her debut short story featured in Suspense Magazine’s Best of 2014. Other short stories have been published in several anthologies. Tori’s screenplay The Gift earned a semi-finalist place for the prestigious Academy Award Nicholl Fellowship. Tori holds a fifth-degree black belt in To-Shin Do ninjutsu and has traveled the USA teaching seminars on the ninja arts, weapons, and women’s self-protection.

 

Randall Krzak is a US Army veteran and retired senior civil servant, spending almost 30 years in Europe, Africa, Central America, and the Middle East. His residency abroad qualifies him to build rich worlds in his action-adventure novels and short stories. Familiar with customs, laws, and social norms, he promotes these to create authentic characters and scenery.

 

Erica Wright’s latest crime novel is Famous in Cedarville. Her debut The Red Chameleon was one of O: The Oprah Magazine’s Best Books of Summer 2014. She is also the author of the poetry collections Instructions for Killing the Jackal and All the Bayou Stories End with Drowned. She is the poetry editor at Guernica Magazine as well as a former editorial board member for Alice James Books. Her interest in crime writing began while teaching English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She grew up in Wartrace, TN, and now lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and their dog Penny.

 

Lee Gimenez is the award-winning author of 15 books, including his highly-acclaimed J. T. Ryan series. His latest mystery is CROSSFIRE, a J. T. Ryan Thriller. Lee is a nominee for the 2019 Author Academy Award and was a multi-year nominee for the Georgia Author of the Year Award. He was also a Finalist in the prestigious Terry Kay Prize for Fiction. All of his books are available in paperback and e-book versions in the US and Internationally. Lee served as an officer in the US Army and during his business management career worked for several Fortune 500 companies. He is a graduate of Georgia Tech University and later received his MBA. Please join him on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and LinkedIn.

 

Lisa de Nikolits is the international award-winning author of nine novels (Inanna Publications). No Fury Like That was published in Italian as Una furia dell’altro mondo. Her short fiction and poetry have also been published in various international anthologies and journals. She is a member of the Mesdames of Mayhem, the Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, The Australian Crime Writers, SMFS and the International Thriller Writers. Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits lives and writes in Toronto.

 

Avanti Centrae is the author of the international award-winning VanOps thriller series. The Lost Power took home a genre grand prize ribbon at the Chanticleer International Book Awards, and an Honorable Mention at the 2018 Hollywood Book Festival. Her work has been compared to that of James Rollins, Steve Berry, Dan Brown, and Clive Cussler. She resides in Northern California with her family and German Shepherds.

 

David Simms lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, working as a special education teacher, college English instructor, counselor, music therapist, ghost tour guide, book reviewer, and co-foundeder the Killer Thriller/Slushpile Band. He has sold several horror, mystery, and weird short stories to various anthologies. DARK MUSE is his MG/YA crossover that ventures into musical dark fantasy and celebrates the many students who’ve changed his life. FEAR THE REAPER is a thriller about horrors of the eugenics movement in America in 1933.

 

Nick Kolakowski is the author of Boise Longpig Hunting Club, the Love & Bullets series of crime novellas, and the short story collection Somebody’s Trying to Kill Me. His short crime fiction has appeared in Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, Plots with Guns, and various anthologies. He lives and writes in New York City.

 

T. G. Wolff writes thrillers and mysteries that play within the gray area between good and bad, right and wrong. Cause and effect drive the stories, drawing from twenty-plus years’ experience in civil engineering, where “cause” is more often a symptom of a bigger, more challenging problem. Diverse characters mirror the complexities of real life and real people, balanced with a healthy dose of entertainment. T. G. Wolff holds a Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering and is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

 

ITW

International Thriller Writers Inc represents professional authors from around the world. Learn more about them, their work, and the sources from which they draw their inspiration at the Official ITW Organization Website.

Interested in becoming a member of the International Thriller Writers? ITW offers Active and Associate memberships.
29 Comments
  1. From my perspective as an author, I think the advantages of new media are extensive. Before we had social media, writers had only a few ways to connect with readers. It was through paid advertising, doing book signings, and sending out press releases, which hopefully got picked up by TV or radio networks in order to be interviewed on-air. But now that we have social media available, authors can reach a worldwide audience, usually at little or no cost. Through platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, writers can converse with readers of their books very easily.
    Unfortunately, social media can have a dark side, a topic that I explore in my latest mystery thriller, CROSSFIRE. In CROSSFIRE, criminal elements exploit social media for illegal purposes.
    But from the perspective of an author, I think the overall benefit of social media is positive and helpful in driving book sales. I use social media quite a bit, particularly Facebook and also Twitter (where I have over 80,000 followers). I find social media to be a great tool for communicating directly with readers of my novels.

  2. I agree with Lee! I have no idea how I’d promote my books without social media. But more than the promoting, there’s the camaraderie and the friends you make. And you get to learn about other writers and their books in ways you previously wouldn’t have. There’s a real sense of community – but it can also feel highly competitive and negative. I don’t enjoy Facebook nearly as much as Instagram but the beauty of social media is that there’s a forum for everyone, you can pick whatever best suits you.

    Social media is constantly evolving and it’s fun to try the various options. I tried Wattpad for a while but I couldn’t feel connected. I was also connected to Scriggler but it seems to have vanished.

    This year, I created a vlog series on YouTube, Writer for a Year, to track the path of a book during the course of a year and to document all the ways in which authors create and promote their work, from real life events to all the online forums.

    I began the series because I’ve been active on Facebook, I have an Facebook author page, I’m on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and various other forums for many years and I was looking for something new and a vlog seemed ideal.

    That’s the thing with social media, one has to be open to new ideas and new platforms – for example, for a long time I dedicated a lot of time to Goodreads by posting blogs there but then, because I was doing so many blog tours (with Partners In Crime who are fantastic), that my own blog postings on Goodreads seemed redundant.

    Also, Goodreads started charging a fee for giveaways and, as a small author with a limited budget, I didn’t feel that was good return on investment.

    Then there are websites which have also changed over the years. Initially, I collated every review and positive mention about the books and kept the site updated but it was too much work. I guess it was a good thing that I had so much to add!
    So now I have much more simple website, with links to purchase and about the book and that’s it although the older one, with eight books, is still out there. As I say, things evolve.

    I find some old fashioned ways of communicating are still more effective than social media – I email individual invites to my events and launches instead of Facebook invites. But Facebook is a very handy Rolodex – in fact, Facebook is my Rolodex!

    I often worry I am spamming people with too much book news but they can always unfollow me.

    I also love social media for all the industry updates and forums for publishing.

    Most recently, I’m on YouTube as part of a documentary, The Mesdames of Mayhem, and I hope, if you have a moment, that you’ll check it out!

    So social media is a vast ocean, you just have to find your slipstream!

  3. New media … social media. I started writing when My Space was still a thing we did so in that regard social media has always been apart of my writing life and a fantastic way to meet readers and other authors. For me especially, I live in New Zealand. Yeah, that’s right, at the bottom of the world.
    There was/is little opportunity for a thriller writer from New Zealand to attend conferences and whatnot overseas because of the expense – and we didn’t have our own Crime Conference until this year.
    So for me, social media has always been my thing. In fact, the first book in the Byte Series started because of social media. That’s right. A series of death threats made to me in a poetry chat room I ran back in MSN days (showing my age now) sparked KILLERBYTE. Now, I’ve just released the 11th novel in the series, CRYPTOBYTE, and social media is still a big part of my life and is generally mentioned in my novels because so many people use it, it’s something familiar that they relate well to it. I’ve met some wonderful people in person that I originally met online. It’s fantastic for readers – they can contact me and share their views on my books or just pop up on my fee somewhere and say hi.
    I’m everywhere on social media … just type my name into Google and you’ll find me, you’ll even find me on Minds, and YouTube.
    Probably the most fun I have with readers is on my author page on FaceBook (and also Twitter). I do have a few Admins who help out on Facebook, and that makes Twitter fun – I don’t always know where the conversation started on Twitter … because sometimes I didn’t write the post that sparked the thread. My author page feeds to Twitter. It can get quite amusing!

    There are downsides to social media. I don’t use my kid’s names in public. They have code names. I don’t usually say where we are until we’ve left if I’m posting from other locations. The exception being our bookshop. Go look up, Writers Plot Bookshop (www.writersplot.org.nz) it is the only bookshop in the world that stocks kiwi authors from small presses and indie authors. In fact if you’re not a kiwi you cannot have your books on our shelves. How cool is that? And of course, there’s more social media involved. So I’m dealing with more than just my own accounts and that can lead to social media taking over your life and very little writing time!

    The biggest problem with social media is the immediacy – people expect a message response within minutes and sometimes that’s not possible – a lot of times it’s due to time zone difference!
    I don’t turn the wifi off when I’m writing because I research as I go, so, it does occasionally look like I’m online (in various places) but I’m actually not, I’m working and possibly talking to someone regarding research. I’m not being rude and ignoring anyone. Mostly.

    All in all, though, I enjoy social media. I love being able to talk to fans and interact with other authors. It’s made the process of writing and being published a lot less lonely.

    Drop by my Facebook page and say hi! (@cat.connor)

  4. With technological advances occurring on a regular basis, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that new media provides plenty of opportunities for readers to reach out to authors and vice versa. I can recall my first computer and how delighted I was when a journalist friend and I installed modem cards in our XTs and were able to communicate with each other without meeting in person, writing a letter, or making a telephone call.

    As an author, still relatively, unknown, new media provides various avenues to connect with readers. We can share opinions, swap stories, and provide updates on what is happening in our own worlds in a blink of an eye. Over the weekend, I was on a social media site and someone had asked how many bookcases did people have in their homes and how many bookshelves? I can remember the days when all available space was crammed with tall bookcases, filled with myriad books. Today, we have two bookcases, with a total of seven shelves. Both are part of the built-in furniture, which came with the home office when we bought the property. For me, I rely on my Kindle to take all my favorite novels with me wherever I go. There are only 410 books on it right now, but imagine how many bookcases I’d need to hold the same amount?

    Author websites, social media outlets, newsletters, etc., are just a few ways authors interact with readers. Nostalgia might come into play when considering old media forms, such as television, radio, and print media, but with changes, I hope some of these stay around for some time.

  5. I’m writing this post from the middle of a thirteen-stop book tour and want to bring my friends and readers along with me on a real-time journey. My biggest new media tools have been impromptu come-with-me type videos on Facebook Live and posting and (re-posting!) Instagram stories. I’m touching base with Twitter more to discover new reviews and articles on The Ninja Daughter as people post about it, post about new events on the tour, and to promote fellow authors. (Twitter is a powerful platform to promote others.)

    Of the three, my greatest helper has been Instagram stories and highlights.

    I’ve been fortunate to have enthusiastic readers in every stop who have been posting stories and mentioning me so those stories appear in my notices. From there, I can hit “add to my stories,” and add any hashtags and mentions (usually bookstores or publishers) I think would be helpful. The mentions pass the stories and provide an opportunity for new entities to add the post to their own stories. Reposting stories shows appreciation to my readers and helps me stay in the excitement of the moment without eating up time. I can also share these stories directly to my Facebook author page. Since I have a bigger reach (and therefore spend more time posting) through my Facebook profile, this keeps action on my professional page.

    Instagram highlights are super neat in that I can create story bubbles that live on the top of my profile and tell a grander story—like my book tour. After each stop, I spend travel time, reposting and adding stories, then creating a highlight for that city. At the moment, I have highlights for Honolulu, Dallas, West Hollywood, San Diego, Westlake, and will create highlights for Chapel Hill and Center Valley today.

    That’s all for now. I’m off to Philadelphia this morning for the next bookstore event!

  6. On the last day of Bouchercon, I wandered up to a table and met two book bloggers. We chatted about Dallas and our favorite panels. They mentioned novels they were reading, and I did the same. It was one of those natural conversations that can happen at a conference devoted to the love of crime fiction. But how do we keep these sort of interactions happening when we return to our own spaces? The answer—perhaps obviously given our topic—is social media.

    I’ll admit to being something of a Luddite. I handwrite my drafts and don’t understand the cloud. Scrivener, beloved by so many authors I admire, gives me the heebie-jeebies. And social media didn’t come naturally to me either. I joined Twitter with the idea that I would live-tweet the 2013 Rattlesnake & Wildlife Festival in Claxton, Georgia. It seemed like it might be fun to post about diamondbacks and fried pickles, and I’m sure that it would have been if my cell phone had gotten any reception in Claxton, Georgia. I’ve since had more luck on various platforms, not live-tweeting festivals, but in forming connections.

    I like to think that each platform has its own personality. Twitter is fast-paced and occasionally combative. It’s also great for sharing information, though. A well-written article about mystery plots (I’m thinking of Charles Finch’s recent piece for Vulture “One Neat Trick to Writing Great Mystery Plots”) can reach a wider readership than it would without signal boosts. And Facebook feels a bit like a family reunion where you can sit down next to a beloved aunt and reminiscence about childhood summers or you can get stuck next to the runny potato salad, looking at your watch. Instagram is perhaps my favorite because you get a glimpse of people’s lives, however curated. And a quick look at the #bookstagram hashtag will restore your faith in the future of books.

    All of which is to say, not only can social media bridge the gap between readers and writers, but there are choices available. I haven’t even mentioned Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, Houseparty, and Wandersing. (One of those is fake.) You don’t have to be online everywhere to make meaningful connections. And you can find the platform that feels most natural to you.

  7. Social media is key, especially for new authors or those trying to build a bigger audience. Simply put, if you don’t have all those channels up and operating, you’re at a disadvantage. I’ve fostered a Twitter and Facebook following for years, and I’m just beginning to figure out Instagram. A good post can get the word out to hundreds, maybe even thousands of readers within a few hours, especially if you’re posting the link to a book blogger’s review of your latest effort (for example).  
     
    These channels give you really good exposure, but the next-level task is to translate all those clicks and likes and impressions into actual, real sales. How do you accomplish that? Some writers use social to direct readers to newsletter signups, because newsletters have a really high level of engagement. Others try to get readers to buy directly via social, which is a bit harder—you can get 100,000 impressions on a Tweet but sell relatively few copies. 
     
    Paying for social media definitely works for some writers—just look at all the self-published folks who have crafted a solid business model out of it—but for many others, it’s setting your money on fire. It takes time to build a significant, engaged audience in new media, but it’s intensely important, especially as many books don’t get the sort of publisher marketing they really need to succeed.  

  8. Great points, everyone. Social media is a very useful tool for writers in order to better connect with readers. I think of social media as a conversation. If you can connect with people on a conversational basis,new media is very effective. But there’s one important thing to keep in mind – don’t just post endless streams of “buy my book” posts. That will turn off readers fast. It’s best to mix your social media posts with interesting articles or photos that will keep readers coming back. An example of this is what I posted on Twitter a few days ago – a picture of the American flag with a caption thanking veterans for their service. That photo was retweeted over 130 times in just a few days. When I post a promo tweet about one of my books, the retweets are much less. You can find my Twitter page at: @LeeGimenez

  9. Well done! You all have spoken to every point I planned to make on both advantages and some disadvantages.

    In general, we all benefit from a society that has more access to information. Informed people make informed decisions. All of current social media platforms provide a way to people to connect, exchange, and learn. Of course, it does go beyond social media to websites and blogs such as this one. The Big Thrill makes it a point to bring different voices together on topics relevant to today. We are in a place and time where access to information and disinformation is instant. Those platforms that welcome engagement across different points of view deserve recognition for their best practice.

    1. Great point about instant access to information (as well as disinformation)! We talk a lot about reliable sources in the courses I teach as well as how popularity does not equal credibility. I try to use good sources when researching my novels, as well, if only not to be a hypocrite! 🙂

  10. I confess. I killed Colonel Mustard in the library with a candlestick. And I had to look up “new media.”

    Turns out it isn’t social media, like I initially thought, but it looks to me like the term refers usually to streaming media, such as audiobooks, or e-books, that can be purchased on demand.

    In terms of advantages to bridging readers with authors, my experience has been five-star positive. My publisher focuses on digital sales, and THE LOST POWER launched this past weekend as an international bestseller. (Yes, I’m still in shock.) Those sales are probably 98% audio and e-books. What a bridge! None of those readers would have discovered my work without “new media.”

  11. Oh gosh, I totally misunderstood – I took new media to be social media! Apologies, All! And congratulations, Avanti!
    Yes, eBooks do pretty well for me too – I had one audiobook and it did very well too – The Nearly Girl.
    So yes, let’s embrace new media for sure!

  12. I agree with the previous posts. All are good points. New media such as eBooks and audio-books are a great way to reach a broader audience of readers. Most of my book sales are from eBooks as opposed to paperback. My latest thriller CROSSFIRE is a good example. I sell eBooks at a rate of 5 to 1 compared to paperbacks.

  13. My first publisher was Avalon who produced hardcovers for the US library market. They did limited print runs because they knew exactly what their market was so hopes of royalties were almost nonexistent. A few titles did go into Large Print. I had 8 sweet romances with them between 2007 and 2012 and then they were bought out by Amazon’s Montlake publishing arm. It was disappointing at the time but Montlake rereleased all my books in paperback and ebook thus giving them new life. The ebooks still sell–3 titles in particular, the paperbacks hardly ever.

    I now write romantic suspense for an e first imprint of Harlequin Australia. If sales are good enough they may go into print so for me at the moment it’s the reverse situation. I’d love to go back into print.

    1. I forgot to say that the Montlake books are now available worldwide whereas as hardcovers they sold only in the US and a few to Canadian libraries. Most of those ebook sales are in the US.

      My Aus publisher does occasional promos on US Amazon to try to get some traction there but my sales are predominantly in Aus for my later books.

  14. Last to the table today as I’m at a conference, not for writers, but for educators, as most of us still have day jobs.
    What was the workshop I had to give? Winning over reluctant readers. How to entice the person who doesn’t feel like picking up a book – not especially yours – just one in general.
    We discussed the allure of social media and its double-edged sword mentality that’s grabbed society by the throat. While I work with teens (and adults) who’d rather scroll for hours on a brightly lit screen than dive into the pages of the fine thrillers written by the folks on this page, I know there’s a hook in there somewhere.
    When my first novel arrived, I had zero clue as to how to promote it. My publisher – even less. Their enthusiasm would’ve kept America in the age of candlelight if left to their own devices. Unfortunately, most publishers don’t bust their behinds to promote us. Therefore, social media is the beacon to steer new readers our way.
    Everyone here has great points.
    Ads of all kinds help. Facebook ads work wonders for me – because I’ve learned from amazing people who have taught me to avoid the pitfalls of others.
    Contests I’ve run (well, am still running) – one to win a night’s stay in the former asylum, now boutique hotel, and a guitar played in our all writers’ band – have garnered a ton of interest, all thanks to pushes on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
    But that’s one side.
    The other side is my life as a reviewer. Working for four established venues, I’ve been lucky enough to help promote some amazing new writers. I’m honest with my reviews and have been told that I’ve acquired a reputation. I’m not sure how that helps me as a writer, but my words hitting several websites which promote amazing new works grow exponentially. It’s a great feeling, helping someone who needs it – and more importantly, deserves it.
    While it would be amazing to have the same attention drawn my way, I’m good with doing what I do.
    There’s enough room in the sandbox for all of us and with social media tools the way they are, we can all help each other. That’s why this field is special.
    Thanks to all who support each other on here.
    A repost, retweet, and tag here or there is all it takes to change a life for an author.

  15. Good points about promotion, David. My experience has been similar to yours. I’ve had success promoting my books on Facebook and Twitter (by posting on Facebook, which is free) and by posting and retweeting on Twitter (which is free). I also created Facebook pages for each of my novels (SKYFLASH, FIREBALL, The MEDIA MURDERS, for example). Creating Facebook pages for your books is free. I’ve also used paid ads (they are low in cost) on Facebook with some success. I’ve also run ads on Amazon AMS (where you set the budget, and the ads are low in cost) with success also. I have not tried Google ads, so I’d be interested in learning if anyone here has done that. Some of the best advertising/promotion is by word of mouth, so I do public speaking to groups and talk at book clubs. I’ve found book clubs are a great source for promoting novels. Another great way to promote is by sending out newsletters once a month to readers of my novels.

  16. By the way, I wanted to address a point made earlier this week about the definition of ‘new media’. I did research on this term and the definition I found of it was: “New media is a means of mass communication using digital technologies such as the Internet.” From this I believe we can infer that new media includes social media along with ebooks and audiobooks.

  17. As with Lee, when I looked up New Media, I also found social media included with various forms of mass communication.

    In regards to new media ways to consume books: There is a new boom with INTERACTIVE STORIES consumed through phone apps.

    These companies take the book and adapt it into interactive stories where the characters from your book can make choices take them in a circuitous route through your story line. It’s especially popular with romance, fantasy, and young adult–not surprising given the age group of the readers, which tend to be a younger more digit-centric audience. If you’d like to check it out, there’s a company called Chapters: Interactive Stories. It’s available as an app for your phone. To have your novel considered, you submit as you would to any publisher.

    This is very new media but geared to specific genre. They’ll likely branch out into other genre if their audience moves them in that direction.

    I had an opportunity to visit Chapters: Interactive Stories in their office to see how it works and their huge team of creators, artists, writers, and tech. If you’re interested, check them out. They’re legit.

    1. Oh wow, this sounds really neat! Thanks, Tori. I loved Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid. I’m glad that there’s an updated version for younger generations.

  18. That’s a great idea, Tori. Thanks for sharing that with us. Up until now I wasn’t aware of INTERACTIVE STORIES consumed through phone apps. It sounds like an interesting concept. I’ll be sure to check it out. I’m always looking for new ways to interact with readers. Another idea you and the rest of the group here may want to look into is using Facebook pages for each of your novels. Doing this is free, and with a Facebook page you can run promos and giveaways as a way to generate more interest for your books. For example, I’ll do a random drawing for a free autographed book and the readers just have to provide their email address. This way I can communicate directly with them about my upcoming novels. Also, I can add them to my monthly newsletter list. I’ve found that a newsletter, which many people think of as ‘old school’, is still an effective was to promote. It’s also free. I’ve sold many copies of my most recent novel (CROSSFIRE)using my newsletter.

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