With almost 1,000 attendees, this year's ThrillerFest was the biggest yet. And while much of the discussion during the four-day conference surrounded ways for published and aspiring authors to improve their thriller, mystery and suspense writing, there were also plenty of opportunities to debate the changes in publishing. And one of the biggest shifts in the past few years is the way that works and authors are promoted. As the world continues to 'go digital' there are more opportunities to get found online by new readers and also engage existing fans. But with the widespread use of Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and other social networks, comes recommendations (and warnings) on the correct way to communicate with audiences. The ThrillerFest panel addressing these issues, “What Are the New Rules for Working With the Media?”, featured experts in the field including book reviewer Jeff Ayers, publicist Dana Kaye, former television producer and media specialist Kathleen Murphy, publicist Meryl Moss and Senior Director of Publicity at HarperCollins, Pamela Spengler-Jaffee. Moderated by Connecticut Post entertainment writer Joe Meyers, the panel members discussed the importance of working with print and digital mediums as well as ways to successfully navigate the social media waters.
Moderator Joe Meyers with panelists Jeff Ayers, Dana Kaye, Meryl Moss, Kathleen Murphy and Pamela Spengler-Jaffee
Joe Meyers started the session by posing the question, How has publicity changed with e-books and websites?. Pamela Spengler-Jaffee said that while marketing and publicity has indeed changed, publishers and authors still have to “find the right hooks and angles," and stressed the importance of continuing to work with print contacts and mediums, resulting in a transmedia approach. Kathleen Murphy echoed similar opinions and said it’s important to look at all the opportunities available. She suggested authors and publishers “find 10 different things a book is about” and “pull things apart” to find as many angles as possible.
Furthering the discussion, Meryl Moss and Dana Kaye emphasized the impact and importance of using local and regional approaches. Moss said “regional excitement is still good” and that it’s important to build buzz from the inside, while Kaye suggested authors approach their local media like they approach an agent — they should “consider what media is looking for” and not to “dismiss local connections."
Meyers then asked the panel for their views on how authors use Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media. All the members agreed that platforms like Twitter are great for getting news and updates to readers quickly, but authors should be conscientious of what they post. Jeff Ayers, who is an RT reviewer, commented, “I don’t want to know what you had for breakfast." Spengler-Jaffee dissected the various social media forms succinctly by saying, “Your blog is your area to be an expert. Twitter is your news feed and Facebook is where the real engagement [of readers] happens.” Both her and Moss agreed it’s important not to sell to readers — authors should engage them and forge authentic connections.
The last topic of the session was proposed by an author in the audience who asked about the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of book trailers. Kathleen Murphy suggested trailers are becoming obsolete, but an author should figure out “what works for you organically and work with [good] content and with who you are." Moss added similar thoughts and said, “Video trailers are a thing of the past. Don’t spend a lot of money on them.” On the other hand, however, Moss believes a short, informational video that shows off the author can be useful to show television producers the author is comfortable talking on camera.
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