K.D. Hays and Meg Weidman are a mother-daughter team who aspire to be professional roller coaster riders and who can tell you exactly what not to put in your pockets when you ride El Toro at Six Flags. Meg is studying art in a middle school magnet program. For fun, she jumps on a precision jump rope team and reads anything not associated with school work. K.D. Hays, who writes historical fiction under the name Kate Dolan, has been writing professionally since 1992. She holds a law degree from the University of Richmond and consequently hopes that her children will pursue studies in more prestigious fields such as plumbing or waste management. They live in a suburb of Baltimore where the weather is ideally suited for the four major seasons: riding roller coasters in the spring and fall, waterslides in the summer and snow tubes in the winter. Although Meg resents the fact that her mother has dragged her to every historical site within a 200-mile radius, she will consent to dress in colonial garb and participate in living history demonstrations if she is allowed to be a laundry thief.
Their latest collaboration is a wonderful book titled Toto’s Tale.
You can visit their website at www.totostale.com.
Thank you for this interview, Kate and Meg. Can we start out by having you tell us briefly what your new book is about?
Meg: It’s the Wizard of Oz from Toto’s point of view.
Kate: Definitely the easiest of my books to describe. One short sentence. Usually it takes me about three paragraphs to explain each of my stories!
More and more authors are realizing the potential for sales that derives from virtual book tours. Can you tell us your personal reasons why you chose a virtual book tour to help get the word out about your new book?
Meg: She probably didn’t want me to miss school for a regular book tour. But I wouldn’t mind!
Kate: It made sense to do an online tour because as time goes on, more and more book purchases are made online. The last two times I’ve looked for a book in the store, the booksellers suggested I buy it online, even though they could order it for me. It’s just easier — and cheaper. So if the buyers are online, then that’s where our promotional time and money should be, too.
Is this the first time you have heard of them?
Kate: No, but it’s the first time I’ve used one.
What do you hope to achieve through promoting your book through a virtual book tour?
Kate: We hope to get the word out that the book exists and that it is a fun, modern re-telling of a classic tale. Of course we’d love to generate sales, but before you can do that, you have to get exposure, so that’s our first goal.
Do you promote online through other means? Website? Blog?
Meg: We have a Toto’s Tale Facebook page with pictures of our own “Toto” and other dog related stuff.
Kate: I had three different websites – one for the historical books under my name, then when I started writing contemporaries stories I started a K.D. Hays website. For this new project, I started a third website. It was pretty impossible to keep up with them all. This fall, I finally hired a professional web firm to redesign and combine all the sites. Since I firmly believe that a website needs interesting and informative content, I wanted to feature the types of articles I had been writing about history and other topics on the old websites. Those are now incorporated into a blog. I didn’t want the website to be just an eight-page ad for my books. I want people to enjoy reading the site even if they have no interest in buying the books.
Who maintains your website?
Kate: I do. Up until now, I’ve also designed the sites – and it showed! It’s nice to have more professional look.
What are your experiences with offline booksignings? Do you have much luck selling your book through that method?
Meg: It’s kind of fun and kind of embarrassing.
Kate: I generally really hate live signings. Authors usually have to sit right in front of their books so lots of people are afraid to come up and browse because they’re afraid it might get awkward if they don’t like the book. Signings in bookstores can be the worst – people just walk right by the authors as if we were just mannequins wearing our books or something. I much prefer events where authors mingle and talk and the books are off to the side so customers can browse on their own.
Here’s a fun question. If money were no object, how would you promote your book?
Kate: A round-the-world book tour cruise. I would stop everywhere and it would take years. I probably wouldn’t sell many books because I’d be traveling to remote places, but you said money was no object, right?
Meg: I’d build “Great Toto Lodge.” It would be like Great Wolf Lodge, the hotels with the indoor water park and MagiQuest game. But instead of MagiQuest, my hotel would have a magic game based on Oz and Toto’s Tale. Guests would hunt for virtual pork chops and collect different sources of water and then battle the witch in a big showdown.
Thank you for this interview, Kate and Meg. Do you have any final words?
Meg: Puppy power!
Kate: I think those were Toto’s final words.
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