Getting to Know the Author: S&S Paves the Way…

Here’s an interesting concept that The Wall Street Journal’s Jeffrey Trachtenberg wrote about on Monday. Publisher Simon & Schuster (S&S) is using video interviews to promote its authors.

It isn’t what you think. There’s an element of interactivity involved. The authors are answering reader questions sent by email. But the conversations don’t take place in real time. Rather, writers use their personal webcams to create videos that their fans can access on the Web.

“When readers are attracted to a book, they often become passionate about the authors,” says Ellie Hirschhorn, chief digital officer of CBS Corp.’s Simon & Schuster Inc. “This allows them to see what the author looks like in their home. It’s a window into their world.”

The videos appear on the S&S channel at the website (a creation of Virtual Labs Inc.).

The “Ask the Author” feature appears on the Simon & Schuster website in prime position. The hope is that bloggers and Facebook users will spread the news via social networking.

Here’s an example from author Chris Cleave.

The VYou video player can be embedded elsewhere by anybody who wants to grab it and put it on Facebook, other Web pages or blogs.

Author Lisa McMann was interviewed for the WSJ article. One point she brought up was how the video questions don’t require much time.

“You can take 10 minutes and answer five questions on the day you have your hair looking nice,” she says.

Sure bookstore “Meet the author” events are nice.  But this approach is farther reaching and less disruptive all around.


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