Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Voirey Linger on the Summer Reading Trail

If anyone’s caught me talking recently they’ve heard me talking web promo and memes. Not so much Thursday Thirteen, but the author reading trails. I’d always known reader trails were out there—a little like Goodreads, but more interactive. Then Voirey came along and took the whole concept sideways, creating author links to excerpts and free reads, giving potential readers a feel for authors they might otherwise never read.

Voirey Linger is the founder of the Summer Reading Trail. She loves kittens, chocolate and isn't very good at talking about herself--although if you ask her about upcoming slots, her fingers go a mile a minute.

Voirey recently sold her first book, Risking Eternity, to Ellora’s Cave. An angel on the edge of a fall, a woman who should be dead and a demon out to destroy them? Sounds like a good read, and since it’s from EC, probably hotter than Hell. She’ll give me a link once she gets a release date, and you can check it out yourself.

Voirey: I want to thank Jodi for inviting to share a little about a project called The Summer Reading Trail. For those who have never heard of the Trail, it’s a collection of free reads by both published and unpublished authors which takes readers to various author sites. It gives them a chance to explore and get to know new and new-to-them authors.

The project came into being one day last year when I was surfing author websites, looking for free reads. Some of the sites had mutual links, and the idea of linking free reads in a row clicked. I talked it over with my friend and fellow writer, A. J. O'Donovan, and The Summer Reading Trail was born. I took the Trail to my online writers' group and by the end of the day, sign-ups had begun.

The general concept for the trail is simple. The author provides a free link on his or her website or blog. The trail links to that free read, and in return, the author links back to the trail and uses his or her existing social media and promotional networks to promote the trail as a whole. This year it runs from the beginning of May to the end of July, and at the beginning of each new month, a new batch of free reads are posted. The trail and all links stay active until the next year's trail begins.

The one thing that makes this concept work is mutual promotion. By myself, I have a limited pool of people I can reach at any given time. I have a specific number of people who follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook. My website is one of billions. My groups and forums may be large, but the membership is finite. Small or large, we all have limits.

The question became, how do we extend our limits? How do I introduce myself to new people and make my personal pool larger? The solution was to join my pool with someone else's. When we combine our pools, we both reach more people and extend our range. With every person who joins, the pool gets larger, which benefits every member.

The trail hasn't all run smoothly, of course. Programs such as these are never without flaws. Human error is a fact of life. Originally the Trail plan was to have the stories in a row, so that when a reader got to the end of one, he or she could click a link at the bottom and be taken directly to the next author's free read page, but there were mistakes which resulted in the trails being broken. Readers reached dead ends. That kind of disruption and frustration loses the audience. To fix the issue, all reads now link back to the main page on my site and the duplicate page on A. J. O'Donovan's site.

I've always felt one of the best ways for writers to connect with readers is simply by providing the reader with something to read. It's the foundation of the author/reader relationship. When a writer can get his or her work out there in front of readers, their professional reputation and following grows.

If you'd like to get in touch with Voirey you can contact her through her site at


Inez Kelley said...

I joined the Summer Reading Trail at its beginning and have signed up again this year. The increased traffic to my site has been great and more exposure never hurt any author. Anything from Snippets, cut scenes and glimpses go and I have found new voices just by reading. Voirey and AJ did a great job with it and any author who passes up free promo for a year needs to rethink their game plan.

Congrats on the first sale too!

Jeannie Lin said...

Congrats on the first sale! I participated in the Summer Reading Trail, but didn't have enough material or time this yea. Hopefully I can jump on the next one. Looking forward to the reads though.

Voirey said...

Thanks Inez and Jeannie.

That's the heart of the entire Trail concept -- Increasing traffic through mutual effort and letting new readers find you.

Jeannie, I'm sorry you aren't joining us this year. I hope you can take part in the next one.

Victoria Janssen said...

Great post!

I'll have to keep reading trails in mind for when I have more material.

Keri Ford said...

congrats on the sale!

I'm doing the Reading Trail this year and I'm really excited about it. I think it'll be loads of fun!

Voirey said...

Thanks Victoria.

I highly encourage the idea of keeping free reads available and up-to-date on author websites. They not only draw in new readers, they give established readers something to keep them reading and you in the front of their mind.

Keri, I hope you do enjoy your participation on the Trail. I am looking forwarf to reading your freebie.

Kate Pearce said...

It's a great concept and I've enjoyed reading everyone's excerpts in previous years.

Charlotte McClain said...

I love the Summer Reading Trail. I started out just reading last year, but joined in my the end. It's great fun.

jodi said...

Thanks for being here, Voirey. :) I hope this year's reading trail does even better than the last one. :)

deanna said...

This looks really interesting. What a great idea, Voirey. Thanks for the info.

Jodi, your blog looks very cool and green and inviting. :o)

Voirey said...

Kate, I'm glad you're enjoying the trail. There are some very talented writers on it again this year and I hope more will join us.

Thanks for joining tis year, Charlotte. I hope you find it rewarding.

Deanna, thanks for stopping by. I agree, the bamboo looks very soothing, doesn't it?

Jodi, thanks so much for the invitation.

jodi said...

Thanks, Deanna. I finally noticed Blogger added a template designer and used the image from my desktop.

I love seeing the world through a bamboo forest. :)