Authors: Consider Offering an Online ‘Prequel’ and ‘Sequel’

I read this great article in Publishers Weekly about a bestselling YA author, Michael Grant, and the incredible multimedia marketing campaign that his team is launching.

Here’s a description of it:

GoBZRK is a six-month-long interactive transmedia prequel to Grant’s novel; it began in August and uses everything from multiple Web sites to social media, incorporating an elaborate layering of fictional subplots, character blogs, Web comics, role-playing games, videos, and mobile device apps in an intricately scripted gaming experience aimed at fueling online interest in Grant’s book before it appears in stores. It’s a born-transmedia project, plotted out by Grant and LeMay, an experienced film, TV, and commercial director, who has organized a team of writers, game developers, and social media experts to produce the project. GoBZRK is being paid for by Shadow Gang, Grant, and Egmont.

Now, I’m aware that most of the authors I work with don’t have the funds to launch such an intricate, complicated campaign on so many platforms. But that doesn’t mean you can’t steal an idea or two and make it work in a much more affordable way.

For example, here’s the paragraph that jumped out at me:

LeMay emphasized how the transmedia experience fuels interest in the story between books in the series. “YA readers hate the publishing cycle of waiting two years between books,” LeMay said. “We’re giving them the prequel and the sequel at the same time, and we’re attracting new readers and new audiences.”

He’s right. By offering readers a way to follow your first book after its published, and your second book before it’s published, you’re maintaining the interest of a readership that may forget about you otherwise. Here are a few ideas on how to implement a “prequel” and a “sequel”:

  • While you’re still writing your next book, allow readers to vote on the names of minor characters or the name of the town that it takes place in.
  • Before your book comes out, offer “teasers” (play on words, etc…) that hold secrets to what’s going to happen in the next book.
  • Offer games/puzzles that readers can play related to your next book.
  • After your book is published, use your blog as a place where readers can continue to follow the characters. For example, if your book ended in a high school graduation, chronicle your main character’s venture into college.

The ideas are endless. And you don’t need massive technology to make it happen. Be creative and remember … your audience will follow you as long as you give them a reason to.