Tuesday, March 9, 2010

An interview with Fiona Robyn, an author with a new novel offered to read for free online!

Fiona Robin is not only a supporter of Eco-Libris, but also a gifted author who has released lately her latest novel, 'Thaw' with an offer you can't refuse: you can read it online for free!

This is definitely a bold move (although there's a growing evidence that such steps actually help to boost sales of printed titles), and we thought it's an opportunity to speak with Fiona about her books and her innovative marketing strategies. We also have a signed copy of the book we're giving away, so check the details at the end of the post.

Hello Fiona and congrats on your new novel. Can you tell us what it is about?

Thank you. ‘Thaw’ follows 32 year old microbiologist, Ruth, as she thinks about whether or not to carry on living. She gives herself three months to decide, and the novel is her journal over these three months.

What was your inspiration for this novel? for the characters?
My characters always appear ‘out of nowhere’, and it was the same with Ruth. As I got to know her, the story emerged. I knew she was a troubled character, and that she used photographs as a way of staying sane, and then I realised she would want to have her portrait painted, and so the Russian painter Red came into being…

This is the fifth novel you publish within only 3 years. How do you it?
I had a head start! I’d been writing for six years when I found my publisher, Snowbooks, and they wanted to publish all three of my novels. There will be more of a gap before the next!

\You decided to do something quite radical and enable readers to read it online for free - why?
It is radical. It’s an experiment, really – my hope is that some people will read it online and then want to buy my previous novels, or that some people will want to read to the end before waiting for it all to appear online. We’ll see if it helps or hinders my sales in the long run!

You're not just a fruitful and talented writer, but also an innovative marketer - can you share with us couple of the strategies you used so far to market your books? what do you find the most effective?

Thank you. I’ve always tried to find marketing strategies that will feel like fun, whether or not they help me to sell more books. I’ve always enjoyed writing my blogs, and I’ve had great fun on my virtual book tour and with the Thaw project. It’s difficult to know what is most effective, but it does seem to be a cumulative thing, and patience is essential. There is a very fine line between asking people to help and becoming annoying, and maybe it’s inevitable that you cross it with some people, so a thick skin is also helpful!

What do you find more challenging - writing a book or marketing it later on?
Both are very challenging, and both are great fun. It takes a very different kind of energy to write a book – a reflective, introspective kind of energy – whereas marketing is all about putting my energy out there. Both activities can be very tiring in different ways, and I need to have a recharge after finishing a book and after a marketing campaign.

Do you think social media is really working? Is it just a better way to communicate with your readers or also a marketing tool?
I do find new readers for my books on Facebook and Twitter, and so I think it does work as a marketing tool, but you have to be even more careful about putting people off – nobody wants adverts for books on their Facebook page all the time. I try to use these tools more as building a profile for myself, by writing about the things that interest me, and then hopefully if people like my writing style they’ll also check out my novels.

How many hours a day do you spend on facebook, twitter and other similar social media platforms?
Hmm, a good question! Maybe an hour or two (or sometimes three). I COULD spend an hour or less if I was focused and I didn’t end up going off on random tangents.

You are an ongoing supporter of Eco-Libris and I know the environmental issue is very important to you. Do you find similar awareness and concerns among readers?
I don’t think people tend to think about the environment when they’re reading a novel. Balancing out our paper consumption by paying for Eco-Libris to plant trees is such a brilliant idea – everyone should be doing it!

Finally, what is your next project and when we can expect your next novel?
My next novel, ‘The Most Beautiful Thing’, is on the horizon, and follows 14 year old Joe as he spends the summer in Amsterdam with his aunt Nel. I already have the NEXT novel queued up in my head, but I’m hoping to take a break yet. I’m looking forward to a quiet summer!

Thanks Fiona!

You can read more about 'Thaw' and the other novels written by Fiona Robyn on her websites - www.fionarobyn.com and www.plantingwords.com


We're giving away a signed copy of Thaw, courtesy of the author, and of course a tree will be planted for the copy!

How you can win? Please add a comment below with an answer the following question: What do you think about enabling readers to read a book for free online? Will it benefit the authors eventually? Submissions are accepted until next Tuesday, March 16, 12PM EST. The winner will be announced the following day.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: plant a tree for every book you read!


Rev. David Lawrence said...

Online lirtature is all to the good. Saves resources, provides easier access to works, and opens a greater readership to authors.

Rev. David Lawrence said...

Epublishing opens greater markets for authors

Crafty Green Poet said...

I think e-publishing opens up new markets and also enables more reviews for fewer resources which then lead to more readers. The problem for me is that i don't like reading large amounts on screen, and particularly with a novel, I like to sit comfortably with a book

Jeannette said...

I think that opening up a novel for readers to read online is basically a good thing, in that yes, I think it will attract new readers, and some of them will buy the book and other books by the same author. I worry though, that if people don't have to pay for things, they may not value them as much, or the work that goes into creating them. Time will tell... All of this is changing rapidly with the development of ebooks. It's a very exciting time to be writing and publishing.

green ink said...

I would like to think that e-publishing will never fully replace books, as, like Crafty, I don't like reading a huge amount on a screen and prefer getting comfy and cosy with a book. But I think online literature and e-publishing has a lot going for it, certainly in enabling authors to reach wider audiences. Anything that gets the word out there is always a good thing.

Anonymous said...

online publishing provides access for a wide audience and allows instant access, which is a good thing.

gary Wilson said...

It's certainly an interesting experiment.

As a benefit to authors it could raise the profiles of them and bring them to a wider audience but I think you have to be canny in how it is handled.

Robert B said...

Fiona is not the only one, although I commend her. I have a new eBook Store coming online that has more than 1.2 Million eBooks all in PDF and EPUB. I have been contacted by publishers who want to put a free novel in EPUB on our site to spur sales for their authors.

Regarding green tips. The problem is NOT as sinple as stopping the cutting of trees or using eco-friendly inks. The PROBLEM is the bleaching of paper! Trees are not WHITE. To make a printed book the paper must be bleached in Paper Mills producing Paper Mill Sludge. That contains 32 known carcinogens A second problem is LANDFILL. Throwing away catalogs, newspapers, magazines, and more is totally anti-Environment and PRO-Pollution. The solution is Digital Book Reading and eBooks are a definite part of that. Invest in an eBook Reader and really start helping. Plus, it is eye-friendly with no eye strain. We need to get this across to people who "just love the feel of a good book".

Mary said...

I think it is a good thing for authors, but for me personally, it hurts my eyes and back to sit at the computer and read. I would rather have the hard copy in my hands to read in a comfortable place
darrma2000 @ gmail.com

Raz Godelnik said...

mean green mom has left a new comment on your post "An interview with Fiona Robyn, an author with a ne...":

ohh this book sounds great! Hmmm, not sure about the free online marketing, but its probably a good move. I only read "in hand" books, and my husband mostly reads online. SO I can see that it may be a good way to get word of mouth referals, but still lots of sales from the people (like me) who don't read books online.

tina reynolds said...

I think it could be a good thing, but needs to be done slow and make sure authors are taken care of thanks eaglesforjack@gmail.com