Monday, August 25, 2014

CHARACTER INTERVIEWS AS MARKETING TOOLS


In e-publishing, the author assumes much of the responsibility for marketing his/her book. With a book release approaching, setting up a marketing plan is essential. There are many opportunities to showcase a book. One method is blog tours with author friends. There’s a courtesy involved when you’re visiting other authors. Check out their webpages to make sure that what you submit fits well for content and heat level. Don’t ever do a “Buy My Book” post with only an introduction, blurb, and a LONG excerpt. There are many choices for content in posts. For my upcoming releases I plan to write posts to share recipes from books (all my stories feature cooking and meals), highlight the setting, feature historical background, or submit whatever my host requests. I’ve decided to add character interviews as post content for use as a marketing tool with the goal being, of course, to sell my books.

I scoured the internet looking for interesting examples of interviews and read dozens. Some of my very favorites, however, were very close to home. Olga Godim (http://olgagodim.wordpress.com/), a Champagne/BURST author of fantasy stories and TWV contributor, creates awesome interviews about her own characters and invites fellow authors to drop by and introduce their own hero and villains. The common characteristics of the best character interviews I found included: revealing the character’s personality/goals/motivation/conflict to make the reader want more, showcasing the author’s writing style in the interview, reflecting the  tone of the book in the character’s answers, and asking questions that reveal and/or develop enough of the plot to encourage readers to BUY the book. Olga accomplished this by using open-ended questions that gave the character the opportunity to be expansive, rather than narrow, which told the reader a lot about her hero and his story. Olga graciously gave me permission to share one of her interviews. I chose her interview with Darin Barclay from her new sword-and-sorcery fantasy novel Eagle En Garde, (Champagne/BURST, 2014) the first in her new Eagle series.
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1. Tell me about yourself—name, profession, home, family, the usual.

My name is Darin Barclay. I’m twenty-four years old. I’m a lieutenant of the mercenary company Eagles of Coll. I have a hundred fighters under my command, swordsmen and archers mostly but also a couple of healers and a few grooms. Our company is the best mercenary outlet in the kingdom of Talaria. I have been with the company for eight years: the first three as a soldier, and the last five as an officer.
What else? I’m an excellent swordsman. It’s not an empty boast. My mercs consider me the best sword of the Eagles. Some even say I’m the best in Talaria, but I’m not sure. I haven’t competed against all the swordsmen in Talaria. But I fought practice fights against all our men and I almost always win. One of my most treasured books is a rare volume on sword fighting technique. It was written almost a hundred years ago by a legendary swordsman. I still haven’t mastered all the complicated combinations in the book but I’m at about 75 percent.

My family? My mother died when I was three; I don’t remember her. My father was never in the picture. I grew up with my uncle’s family. He owns an armory shop. At sixteen, I joined the Eagles. I haven’t been home since, but we often write letters to each other. This year, after the fighting season ends, I’ll finally visit home
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2. What happened to you, so you ended up in this crazy adventure the novel talks about?

It all began several decades ago, when a power-crazy sorcerer raised a spell around the Talarian border.  The spell doesn’t allow magic or magicians to cross into Talaria. Although the sorcerer is long dead, his spell lingers.
Our king wants to lift the spell, to invite magic back into the kingdom, but the fanatical sect of Cleaners wants the opposite: to prevent the return of magic. Cleaners have always been troublemakers, but recently, their activities spiked. They started killing witches and harassing elves all around the country. They say they are ‘cleaning’ the land from magical contamination, and some people support their agenda, but in my opinion, it’s just butchery and bigotry. That’s why I became embroidered in the reckless adventure of this book: I saved a couple of witches from Cleaners, and that started the entire escapade.
It appears that Cleaners hatched a much more sinister plot than merely eliminating witches and elves. They plan a royal assassination, but I won’t go into specifics. Let’s just say that I have to stop them. You’ll have to read the book to find out the details. 

3. You’re a mercenary. Would you ever work for free?

Well, you’ve got me. I shouldn’t and I don’t usually, but once I found out about that murderous plot of Cleaners, I couldn’t let it go. The safety of the entire kingdom might be at stake. I have to intervene, to do everything possible to prevent the fanatics from succeeding. On the other hand, I won’t risk my men’s lives with no contract and no paying client. I have no proof, just vague suspicions and my own convictions that whatever Cleaners concocted can’t be good. They’re zealots, hating everything beautiful and different. So I’m sending all my soldiers home. I will risk my own life but nobody else’s. Of course I can’t oppose a horde of Cleaners by myself; even my sword isn’t that good. But there are other methods. I can fool them, rob them, trick them. I’m a mercenary, so anything goes.

Doesn’t the interview make you want to but the book to read more about Darin? Great job, Olga, and thank you for sharing. Next month, Single or Multiple Publishers: My Personal Quest.





Rita Bay – WEBPAGE & BLOG / FACEBOOK / PINTEREST / AMAZON

8 comments:

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

A unique way of sneaking in plot points while keeping the voice of the character.

Liz Fountain said...

I love the idea of giving readers something interesting, and when I've done this, it also helps me understand my characters in a new way. Lots of fun!

Liz

Big Mike said...

I actually enjoy character interviews. Makes ya think about what distinguishes the H or H from other stories you created. As a helpful trick, once I finish the draft I do my own character interview to ensure the imagine in my head comes across on paper.

Michael Davis (Davisstories.com)
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

olgagodim said...

Rita, thank you. When you asked to talk about my character interviews, I assumed you would just mention the series of character interviews on my site, not profile me and my hero. Thanks a lot. By the way, I run a recurring feature, interviews with fantasy characters, on my blog. Any fantasy writer and his heroes are welcome.

Rita Bay said...

Thanks to everyone for commenting. I am a character interview total novice, but it's such a great idea I had to share it. Thanks to Olga for allowing me to use her interview.

Veronica Helen Hart said...

Rita,

What a great post. I've heard about the character interviews, but never actually pursued reading a single one until now. Now that I understand how they work, I'll certainly pay more attention and will most likely go do one on a blog later today just to see how it works.

Nikki said...

I once did an interview with one of my minor characters--a dog. Turned out he had a unique and engaging voice I'd never listened to. What fun to flesh out a new kind of personality!

Rita Bay said...

Olga has a way with the interviews - Love them. Mike's and Nikki's use of interviews to develop the characters is a great idea. Will have to try it!