February 2nd, 2013 | by Beth Barany
Welcome to guest author, Matt Posner, one of the featured authors of the new Carnival of Crytids, where he shares about the cool tool, Authograph.
This article is brought to you by Kindle All-Stars 2: Carnival of Cryptids. Seven stories about mysterious and dangerous unknown beasts, selected and introduced by Bernard Schaffer, and featuring the writing of Simon John Cox, Susan Smith-Josephy, William Vitka, Tony Healey, Doug Glassford, Jeff Provine, and yours truly, Matt Posner. Seven stories that will make you jump, laugh, shudder, and possibly feel a little grossed out in the best possible way: and all proceeds go to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (http://www.missingkids.com).
Some of us at the Kindle All-Stars team have been trying out Authorgraph, a new service offered for free by entrepreneur Evan Jacobs. (No, I don’t know him personally.) It’s a service that lets you enroll your books at Amazon.com for electronic signatures. You use your Twitter account to login, or create an account with just an email and password. Add your books one by one with the ASIN (Amazon’s identifying code name). Your name goes up on the site as part of an alphabetical list. Anyone who clicks on your name sees your books with a “request authorgraph” button underneath each. From there, clicking on the book goes to the appropriate Amazon page for that book so you can shop.
When you request an authorgraph, you get a screen in which you can type a personal message to the author. I’ve been putting a sentence or two about the book and my relationship with the author. Be sure to put in your name and any other requests you have for the signature.
If you are an author receiving a request, you get your choice of two boxes. In the top box, you can type a message in either a fancy script font or a typewriter font. Or, instead, in the bottom box, you can use your mouse or tablet to write in your natural handwriting. (I can’t do that with a mouse myself, so I have to use the font on the website.) Whichever box you pick, you can write a message and type your signature. As soon as you click send at the bottom, an email goes out to the person who made the request.
You will get a request right away, because founder Jacobs requests an authorgraph from you when you sign up. This is probably automated, and it’s smart anyway, because it gets you to practice on the site and is lightly encouraging.
You collect an authorgraph when you get an email saying it’s ready. Click the link in the email and you see a white-bordered square on your monitor containing the book cover on top, and beneath, whatever the writer typed. If you want to watch, you will see the authorgraph gradually appear as the signature slowly draws itself. Alternately, at the lower right of the screen is a link to save the authorgraph as a .pdf file. This preserves your “collection” digitally, and you can share these authorgraphs, not only by copying them and emailing them, but in yet another interesting way.
Since your authorgraph account is typically linked to your twitter account, Jacobs has added a function to tweet your authorgraph.
First, wherever you are on the authorgraph site, you can go to the top right of the authorgraph screen. If you click on the arrow, you get a small drop-down menu.
The “your requests” bar lets you see what authorgraphs you have to sign. (I only have zero because I finished signing six hundred of them before I took the screen shot. Really. Heh heh heh.) But at the top is Your Collection. Click that and you get a screen that lists both those received and those requested.
If an authorgraph is listed as Fulfilled, you can right-click on PDF to save it, as I described above. Or, you can left-click on Fulfilled to see the authorgraph. At the bottom of the resulting page
on the lower left is a link marked Tweet. When you click that, a tweet is automatically generated that looks like this:
(If you tweet your own authorgraphs, the tweet has the same wording, as if you sent it to yourself.)
This is cool and fun, at the least. But what is it good for?
The only way I am aware of Jacobs making money is that if anyone uses his site as a shopping site, and clicks through a book cover to Amazon to buy the book, he gets a cut of some kind. This seems legitimate to me.
But what do you get out of it?
Authorgraphs will never be as valuable as autographs, because they can be electronically copied. However, since some of them are personalized, with messages from the author to you, they can be cool keepsakes. But for the author, there are greater benefits to the time spent to make them.
First of all, it gives you a way to interact with readers. We have other ways to do that, but this one is clean, fun, and pretty safe. (That’s assuming there are no tracking cookies: if you find that there are, please email me and Beth to let us know.)
Second, it gives you a way to show off your book covers. Someone who has only heard of one of your books, or just your name, can see everything you have to offer with built-in sales links.
Third, it gives you a promotional tool when working with other writers. True story: I traded authorgraphs with time-travel romance author Georgina Young-Ellis. If I tweet that I received hers, people who follow me can click through the tweet to see her cover and what she wrote. If she tweets that she received mine, then we have just promoted each other’s books, and since there’s no promotional message, it’s a pretty soft sell, which may help to break through the average Twitter user’s resistance to book ads.
Now expand this strategy to an entire collaborating team of co-promoting authors. If you all authorgraph each other, and tweet each other’s authorgraphs a few times a day, you generate a lot of advertisements, all of which provide an interesting artifact to look at.
If you have fans, they may tweet the authorgraphs you give them because, well, fans like to do stuff like that. It’s low-impact advertising, but it’s still advertising, and it’s cool.
Jacobs also has a few bigger names as “featured authors.” As I write this, one of them is Amy Tan. I sent a request for The Joy Luck Club, telling her how thankful I was for what I had learned from her that I couldn’t have learned anywhere else. I realize the reply couldn’t have been from her, but must have been from some flack or volunteer — but the reply was still somewhat personalized as it said “Thanks for letting me know what the book means to you.” I may have been a sucker for doing so, but I enjoyed that.
Find Matt Posner on the Web:
Also a Goodreads author.
Book Purchase Links:
My books are available for Kindle from all Amazon bookstores and also for Nook.
In India, the School of the Ages series is sold exclusively by Times Group Books in their online venues or in bookstores.