Fans from all over the world had a chance to interact with Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl during their recent two-week U.S. tour to promote Beautiful Darkness, the sequel to the debut installment of the Caster Chronicles, Beautiful Creatures (2009). Five of their appearances were live-streamed on Blog TV, enabling viewers to participate in Q&A sessions and answer trivia questions to win prizes. The authors also spent some of their time on the road in front of another camera, as their friend and fellow L.A. author Kaleb Nation joined them at several stops to film a video documentary about their tour and their lives as writers.
The idea of using live-streaming to expand the audience for their tour grew out of the authors’ experience at a library event in San Diego earlier this year, when they were promoting Beautiful Creatures, a southern gothic fantasy that has been sold to 38 countries and has a combined hardcover-paperback domestic in-print tally of more than 275,000 copies. “Our visit was live-streamed to more remote libraries,” says Garcia. “We took questions from readers who were at those locations, and realized how easily current technology integrates live and online audiences. Adding a virtual element to a tour allows any reader with a computer to ‘attend’ an author event.”
While planning their recent tour for Beautiful Darkness, which Little, Brown released this month with a 150,000-copy first printing, Garcia and Stohl sought help from Nation, author of the Bran Hambric series and an avid videographer who regularly uses BlogTV to reach his readers. “We discussed live-streaming our tour with Kaleb, and he helped us work out the details,” says Stohl, who explains that she and Garcia were able to add the virtual component quite easily, “even though we are not tech geniuses. From a technical standpoint, a portable wireless modem is a necessity, as it eliminates issues with the Internet connection in stores. And we brought our own laptop and microphone with us on tour.” The authors’ live-streamed events in St. Louis, Phoenix, Austin, San Antonio, and Boulder attracted a combined audience of more than 1000 remote viewers.
As an added bonus for fans attending tour events in person and online, Garcia and Stohl arranged to have other authors (among them Sarah Ockler, Sara Zarr, and Heather Brewer) serve as guest interviewers. Clips of these events are available on BlogTV's site. “Our live attendees loved their role as studio audience, and we were able to field questions from Italy when our event was in Texas!” says Stohl. “After this experience, we can’t imagine having events without live-streaming them, now that we know how easy it is. And, more importantly, now that we see how much our fans appreciate it.”
Caster Chronicles fans can also view the authors on YouTube, where the first installment of Nation’s three-part documentary of the tour can be found (there are links to the remaining segments). “Kaleb’s visits to several cities to film the documentary about our tour and about our lives as writers was yet another of our efforts to bring readers closer to us and the world of our books,” says Garcia.
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers associate editor Julie Scheina, who edits the series with editorial director Jennifer Hunt, credits the novels’ success to the coauthors’ seamless teamwork. The two, who have been friends for nine years, met at a parent-teacher conference when Garcia taught literature to Stohl’s daughters.
“Their writing is like a running stitch, going back and forth over itself,” Scheina observes. “They write every single chapter together, passing it back and forth. By the time they show us a first draft, it’s been switched back and forth so many times it’s impossible to know who wrote what. Even their husbands can’t even tell exactly what their wives contributed.”
Garcia and Stohl are currently writing a third novel, not yet titled, which is scheduled for fall 2011 release. A fourth book will follow in 2012.
Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Little, Brown, $16.99 Oct. ISBN 978-0-316-07705-7