Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Web 2.0 Book Launch

Freezing Point by Karen Dionne
An innovative thriller author throws a new kind of party

In a YouTube world, it's becoming ever more difficult for authors to grab and hold readers' attention. To a Web 2.0 generation accustomed to tag clouds, wikis and widgets, authors' static text-and-images-only websites are as outdated as Fred Flintstone's writing tablets.

"Authors naturally think in terms of words," says Karen Dionne, whose debut thriller Freezing Point about an environmental disaster in Antarctica releases October 2 from Berkley. "But on the Internet, we're not limited to text. Today's Internet is very visual, very interactive."

Savvy authors are taking a page from the digital age and posting book trailers to their websites. Dionne is going them one better. With help from renowned thriller authors David Morrell, Lee Child, James Rollins, Gayle Lynds, Douglas Preston, and John Lescroart, Dionne is throwing an online book launch party where family, friends, and fans can mingle and win prizes - and catch the buzz about her new novel in the process.

As co-founder of Backspace, an Internet-based writers organization with hundreds of members in a dozen countries, Dionne knew only a handful of friends would be able to attend her book launch no matter where it was held. So she set out to recreate the traditional launch party experience on the Web.

Entertainment for the October 1 - 3 event includes video welcomes from bestselling thriller authors, a reading by a professional voice actress who's also a New York Times author, standup comedy from one of her author friends - even testimony from a medical doctor regarding the science behind the story's premise. There are door prizes: a boxed set of the BBC's "Planet Earth" series on DVD, bottles of genuine iceberg water, and Penguin Gear from her publisher. And because a book launch party wouldn't be complete without, well, books, two independent booksellers are making signed copies available.

"Writers shouldn't be afraid of the Internet," says Dionne. "We're creative people. We can figure out how to use the Internet to spread the word about our books in new and exciting ways."

Compared to a real-world book launch, Dionne says her online party has definite advantages. "Where else but on the Internet could my mom hang out with Lee Child?" There's no limit to the guest list, work schedules and time zones don't even factor, and perhaps best of all, Dionne's guests can attend wearing their pajamas.

Visit Karen Dionne's book launch party at

Monday, September 22, 2008

Books for Barack

More than 750 authors have contributed signed copies of their books to novelist Ayelet Waldman, who created Books for Barack, an online promotion whereby people who donate $250 to Senator Barack Obama's campaign through her site receive a mystery bag of 10 books. The books include a canvas tote bag with the Books for Barack logo. The first bags will be sent out this coming Friday, September 26.

Waldman wrote that another 40 books arrived this past Saturday, "a slow day. . . . My living room is a nightmare as you can imagine, so at some point Michael [Chabon, her husband] may put the kibosh on it."

The promotion started with the idea of auctioning a handful of signed books at an Obama fundraiser but grew when Waldman e-mailed other authors, who responded in droves. Among them are Stephen King, Ursula LeGuin, Judy Blume, Lemony Snicket, Richard Price and Amy Tan.

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