The Keynote by Scott Westerfeld.
And now, Saturday, which began with such a spectacular keynote from Scott Westerfeld that all I can say is “whoa.” It was, in itself, wonderful. Beyond that, it was a perfect illustration of how to promote a book (Goliath) and oneself without being, well, — how to put it? Without being “me me me” aggressive/pushy.
Westerfeld did this by stepping back and not talking about his Leviathan Series. Instead he spoke about topics within the series from a more universal approach. It was, in a world, brilliant. At this point I’ll also add how much I admired how Westerfeld interacted with the attendees, which included staying for most of the con. (I, of course, was ridiculously awkward in my saying “hi” to him. Oh well!)
Point: I don’t want to rehash Westerfeld’s keynote, because, well, sad to say but truly — you had to be there. So if you have a chance to hear him? Go. Go because Westerfeld is smart, engaging, funny, and thoughtful. Go because he talks about creating stories. If for no other reason, go to see how one terrific way of how to promote a book.
I will say a few things: Westerfeld spoke about the interaction between text and image and story, something I find personally fascinating while professionally frustrating (working for a library for the blind and physically handicapped, where books are either in Braille or audiobook, it can be a bit “argh” to realize the Braille reader or audio listener may get a different reading experience due to this interaction). He called the Sears, Roebuck catalog the Internet of its time. (Remind me sometime to explain why I sometimes call Moby Dick like reading on the Internet.) Talking about the history of illustrated novels led to talk about why they fell out of favor led to talk about Westerfeld’s own illustrated novels, including working with the illustrator, Keith Thompson. His keynote was beautifully crafted.
Teaming Up: How Authors and Bloggers Can Work Together for Successful Promotion by Suzanne Young and Sara Gundell. Young, the author of several books including this year’s A Need So Beautiful, spoke from an author perspective and Gundell, of Novel Novice, represented bloggers. Young and Gundell spoke both globally, to all authors and bloggers, but also specifically, mentioning the ways they have worked together to promote both Young’s books and Gundell’s blog. This last part is what I cannot emphasize enough: this is not about “how to promote authors” or “how to promote blogs”; it is about doing both.
Let’s back up first: the key question for both is how to meet? How to start teaming up? I love when answers are so simple that I think “of course.” The “of course” here is start by going to local book signings and book events. Authors will be, including authors who may not be signing at that event; book bloggers will be there, because, well, books. If you’re not going to such events because it’s not “your” book or you’re too busy etc., you’re missing a chance to connect in real time. For those who don’t have such opportunities (and just check out your local bookstores, especially independents, before saying you don’t), there is always Facebook, Twitter and blogs, and commenting and talking there. (Seriously, there are people I interact with on these sites that I don’t realize at first are authors because we’re engaged in real conversations, because the content we both put up is beyond “buy my book” or “read my blog”.)
Young and Gundell shared some of the things they did such as a videos for Young’s book, So Many Boys, that then appeared on Gundell’s blog. This creation of truly unique content served to cross-promote both book and blog. Of, as with their Team Get Some series, the promotion is YA in general but also, of course, promotes the two people running the series. Their point wasn’t “do this” for your book or blog; their point was “connect” and then brainstorm to create something new, something different, something unique. What I also took away was treat each other as equals, as partners, as a “team”, not as an author who can do something for your blog or a blog that can do something for an author. Another sensible suggestion for both: that blogs look at newer authors, and authors look at newer blogs, when looking for someone to “team up” with.