Monday, March 23, 2009

A Unique Blog

I'm very excited to have Lisa Richardson as my guest today. She has a really unique new blog so I invited her to come over and tell you about it.

WCC:Tell us a bit about your "Inspired Adventures blog".

LR: Inspired Adventures is an interactive blog. Each week I post a chapter of a story. Reader choose what happens next. The concept is much like the old Choose Your Own Adventure stories that were around in the late 80's. Readers can choose one of two options I include in a poll each week. OR if they have a brainwave about a great twist, they can add it to the comments section. I can then add those to the poll as choices.

WCC: That is such a clever idea, how did you come up with it?

LR:The idea was prompted by a couple things that I read around the same time. One newly published author was talking about his difficulty getting published. Eventually he chose to post his stories to his blog. He developed a fan base and following that eventually opened the doors to traditional publishing.

I also read a comment from an editor about author websites. She questioned why new authors put up a blog that does nothing but promote established authors, by either book reviews or giving them a forum to reach new readers. Now there is nothing wrong with that idea, (I was doing book reviews on my blog at the time), but why not put my own work out there, start building my own readership. So I began to consider putting up chapters of a story I had been assured there was no market for due to the setting (1920's). The last thread came together when I began to think of ways to build reader involvement. To give them a part in the story.

WCC:What kind of writing do you do? Where have you been published before?

LR:I write historical fiction, usually with a strong mystery element. This has worked well with the story on my blog because it naturally lends itself to a number of important decisions. With this kind of format you really have to give readers options that can change the course of the story. they will see through it pretty quickly if the questions you pose aren't going to really affect the story, and then why bother to vote?

I am currently unpubbed, but have placed in some contests and have a manuscript under consideration. I'm hopeful!

WCC: What do you most like to read? Any favorite authors?

LR: I love to read the same sorts of stories I write. Historicals with lots of intrigue and adventure. A good old-fashioned mystery is also great. I love The Scarlet Pimpernel and tales of that sort. Spies, daring-do and pompadours--What's not to love!

WCC: What are a couple of clever marketing ideas you've seen that you'd like to share?

LR: I wish I knew more about marketing than I do. Every marketing guru knows that the best thing a book can garner is word of mouth. From my own observation the personal touch can go far in turning a potential reader into a fan, well before they've even read your book.

For myself in the future, when I have a hot-off-the-presses book in my grubby little hands, I intend to contact the churches in my area which have libraries and donate a copy to each of them. Many church libraries do not have big budgets and rely on donations to stock their shelves, so a new release tends to get some attention. And hopefully I'll have made a friend in that librarian (usually a book lover) who will remember how pleasant I was. It is also an opportunity to get out information about my any upcoming book signings, speaking engagements and so on.

WCC: What advice would you give to someone interested in doing something similar?

LR: This has been a learning process for me as I've experimented to see what works and what doesn't. Here's the 'formula' I've come up with so far:
1. Keep the entries shorter than a normal book length chapter. Blog entries are typically 500-600 words, much longer and you start to lose people.
2. Every chapter has to end with a hook. With this format it has to be a story question. What should the hero or heroine do next?
3. Give viable options that really are different and could take the story in different ways
4. Keep to one POV. Since each chapter ends with a vote on action for a specific character it would be very difficult to the bounce over to another character. It could be done I suppose, but it would be difficult for readers who may be coming in at a later stage to understand what is going on. Thus making t more difficult to build a readership.
5. The format lends itself to the temptation to write in an episodic fashion. To curb the temptation and keep the story moving forward, it has helped me to have a loose outline. The story up now, Girl Sleuth, has veered completely away from my original outline, but I have modified it as I've gone along so that I don't lose sight of the overarching story I am trying to tell.
6. Be flexible. Just when I think I have pegged the way readers will vote, they do the opposite and I have to plot my way out of a hole! Don't worry, it is good mental exercise for a writer. If you really don't want something to happen, don't include it as an option.

WCC: Has this effected your traffic?

LR: The first week I began with the new format my numbers jumped by about 60% I even garnered my first follower! Some of that dropped off the next week. But I am working to keep building my numbers and to appeal to as many as possible. I have noticed that even with the interactive format, the vast majority of readers do not comment or even vote. But they keep coming back the following week to see what is happening in the story, so I'm okay with that.

WCC: Anything you would like to add?

LR: A study was done that showed blogs with posts everyday were the most popular. I have only been updating once a week. I did this to give people time to vote, and myself time to write the next chapter. But I am toying around with trying to post at least three times a week. Or else to finding something else to post in the interim. Any ideas? Anyone?

Lisa is a missionary with the United Pentecostal Church International and has been writing Christian fiction for about four years. She has been blessed with a wonderful husband, Joel, and two beautiful children, Ethan and Olivia. She writes Inspired Adventures because she loves historicals, but "sweet" stories bore her . She needs a little spice to cut the sweetness. Danger, intrigue, action--in short, Adventure. She'd love to be your friend on Facebook. You can also visit her blog at lisakaronrichardson.blogspot.com to read Girl Sleuth and decide what happens next.

Thanks Tiff, for the opportunity to share about my blog! Hope your readers find it interesting and that it inspires someone.

WCC: My pleasure. Thanks for coming.

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Common-sense money management is free at The Balanced Life website.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.
She writes a blog for the Christian writer Tuesdays at Writer's Rest.

2 comments:

Stina Rose said...

I just dropped by to let you know that I have enjoyed following your blog, and have given you a blog award! :)

http://riikartsrose.blogspot.com/2009/03/premio-dardos-award.html

Jennifer Roland said...

Thanks for sharing Lisa's site. I've been thinking about doing something like this as I get closer to publication to showcase my fiction work.