Today, Coffee Talk takes us a little different direction – into the minds of fictional characters and the writers who create them.
There are many ways to promote fictional work. I’ve heard many publicists say “Nonfiction is easier to promote than fiction.” While nonfiction maybe more straight forward, I don’t know that either is easier or harder. The real issue, as with all publicity, is whether a product (in this case a book) connects with those it serves.
I’ve read plenty of different ways to promote fictional work and connect with readers. One way is to publish short stories in literary magazines. While I think this works well if you’re writing literary fiction, I’m not sure how successful this is for genre writers to connect with readers (though I’ve heard it’s a great avenue for finding agents and publishers.).
Another way to gain visibility is for authors to hang out where their readers hang out, especially online. Forums and groups on different social media sites are a good idea if you’re going to the right social media for your book’s demographics. Studies by various organizations show that each social media outlet holds appeal with different groups (and different demographics use the sites differently). For example, Twitter is very GenX while Instagram trends with millenials. Everyone has a Facebook account, but younger generations tend to use it for the group function.
Then there’s blogging. Blogging can take any form, video through text, but it works best when the site speaks to the same people who would enjoy a writer’s fiction and it’s done consistently. Also, it may work better as a way to maintain readership as opposed to encouraging new readers (Though it depends on how it’s done and many people have many thoughts around this.).
Unfortunately blogging and social media don’t inherently showcase fiction. Publishing short stories in literary magazines necessarily gets fiction in front of some readers, but how can a writer use these other outlets to introduce readers to their works?
Enter the character post.
I’m not exactly sure when character point-of-view (POV) posts first developed, though I suspect the roots are in fan fiction and those communities as a way to explore beloved characters. Still, character posts feels like a natural development for authors in the information age. It makes sense to create profiles and articles maintained and written by characters themselves as a way to not only introduce characters to potential readers, but also to explore and develop backstory.
I’ve seen this type of posting suggested by independent publicists and touted by some leading indie publishing sites, though when I trawled my social media feeds, I was surprised at how few writers responded with examples of this practice. It seems it’s still quite niche.
That said, I was able to connect with three other fantastic writers who had different examples of character posting.
Instagram works well for visual interpretations. Hahn uses it to explore and give greater insight into her character. She asks what her character would photograph in this blog post explaining a bit around her thought process for maintaining her character’s feed.
B A Chepaitis, science-fiction author of The Fear Series, posts to the series’ Facebook page with opinions of the main character Jaguar Addams. Chepaitis explains why she chose to include Jaguar’s thoughts:
When you check out the [page], you’ll see that it often says ‘Jaguar approves’ or ‘Jaguar applauds.’ I started doing this because Jaguar is her own person. I’ve been asked many times if she isn’t some version of me and I always respond “Oh no. She’s much taller. But we like the same kind of shoes.” This, I think, is my way of both separating from her, and being connected to her at the same time.
Debbie Manber Kupfer is the author of the young adult P.A.W.S. novels and took a slightly different approach to the character post. Click here for an interview conducted with Joey, a kangaroo animagus, as part of a blog hop (a group of bloggers writing connected posts on the same topic in a given time frame).
Debbie chose to interview this character because “Joey appears in both P.A.W.S. and Argentum, and is particularly dear to me because I created the character for my son, Joey, who shares a lot of his personality traits: Bouncy, curious and very precocious.”
If you follow my blog, you know that as part of my blogging practice beginning last August, I decided to create “Fiction Fridays.” I consistently have “guest posts” from different characters on any number of topics. This means any of my characters could write about anything going on in the world or in their universe. I’ve had posts about reproductive rights and climate change, but also on things like unrequited love and even family holiday letters.
I started writing character posts because publicists suggested it as a way to get fiction in front of readers, but honestly, I’ve found it to be a boon to my writing practice. No matter what, I write a piece of flash fiction every week. I’m forced to dive into a character’s heart and mind in a way that I might not have if I was just writing a novel. This way, I explore stories of supporting characters and enrich that fictional universe. It also gives me the opportunity to play with voice and explore opinions I may or may not hold.
This also gave me a way to comfortably and consistently post to Wattpad (Ha! Social media platform specifically for writers and readers!). This helps me connect to readers I wouldn’t otherwise find (Though frankly, it’s still an experiment for me!).
These are just four of hundreds of ways for authors to write character posts. If you’re an author, experiment with your own and leave a comment! I’d love to check out your work and hear what character posts work well for you.
If you’re a reader, what kinds of character posts do you prefer and why? Leave a comment and let us authors know so we can give you more of what you want!
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