With the decline of bookstores, authors, publishers and publicists are struggling to find venues where authors and readers can connect. HarperCollins Publishing events coordinator, Sam Missingham had a novel idea (pun intended), a Virtual Book Festival. Sam created a two-day, first-ever “virtual romance festival” event for HarperCollins U.K.
Missingham explained the the romance genre was perfect for such an event; “But my remit was to develop ideas to engage readers with authors and if you are genuinely going to be fan-facing then it has to be like this. So I met with different departments and it was clear that genres like romance, teens, and crime were the keenest as they had the most digitally engaged readers. [romance] was one of the earliest genres to adopt e-books; six out of ten books in that genre are now read in that format. The authors are very connected on social media with their audience. What’s more, the real festivals in these genres were tired and expensive, and not fan-focused.”
Using social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads’ Ask the Author and video chats, these ‘festivals’ can go global instantly. This opens the world to authors and readers. Missingham had a difficult ‘sell’ to her publishers; “few fans have any idea as to who publishes their favorite author. [In this event] huge, small and unknown’ authors all together in one event. Indie authors were embraced in ‘a way that was genuinely fair and respectful.”
As with real world festivals, the virtual one experienced some problems – Internet hiccups, the use of multiple platforms that didn’t always communicate with one another and the use of all the personnel in HarperCollins U.K. marketing department to bring it together.
Was it a success? Here are the stats —
“120 participating authors’ potential global reach, some 17.9 million timelines on Twitter and 75,000 people on Facebook. Eighty-five percent of those readers who replied to a questionnaire said they found out about new authors and new books as a result of the festival.”
Festivals including other genres are being planned for next year. For more information; http://www.romance-festival.com/