Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Interactive Author

The reading experience is no longer a one-way communication.
Blogs like Scalzi's 'Whatever' (a pioneer of this concept) and various iterations of an approachable online presence (via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) have become standard fare. And video-conferencing between authors and their readers will likewise soon become commonplace.

Authors meeting with their fans isn't new, but this level of access to the creators of books is. Past authors like Asimov who wanted to talk to their fan base on a large scale did it through the one-way intermediary of a TV or radio talk show. Occasionally an author would make a public appearance, and there might be a 15-minute Q&A where fans could actually interact directly, but what J.K. Rowling is doing (in the link above) sets the bar of interaction much higher.

What's interesting to me is why she would find this necessary - she is done with Harry and has more money than God, after all. I suspect she actually enjoys the encounters. And it appears she is showing the way in terms of revenue-making, as well. Her second go-round with the Potter books in the e-book realm will net her at least as much as, if not more than, the first time the books were published! That's groundbreaking, since most books realize most of their revenue upon their initial release (or after being linked to a movie), and then long-tail it on backlists. Also, her Potter theme parks are expanding, and she is writing a new, non-Potter book. So Rowling's virtual appearances support all that.

There is also one more great, untapped revenue opportunity awaiting Rowling, and these appearances set the stage for it. In an age of dying 'traditional' publishing, Rowling is uniquely positioned to lend her name to a new publishing house. Anything she endorsed, like Oprah or Martha Stewart before her, would sell immediately.

More thoughts, from Laurence O'Bryan.

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