Posted March 7, 2011 3:28 pm by with 2 comments

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If you could ask your favorite author anything, what would you ask? Would it be a question about how to become a best selling author? A query about the motivations of a character or something more personal like, what would you do if you found out your date had false teeth?

No question is off limits on Simon & Schuster’s Ask the Author page, but just cause you can ask, doesn’t mean you’ll get an answer. Unlike canned interviews of the past, this new program is set up so fans can leave a question for a particular author and get a video response back at a later date. You can also scan through a list of current questions and listen to the answers that have already been recorded. The whole thing is made possible by and if you visit their webpage you’ll see how other businesses have used their conversational video software to connect with their readers and fans.

Because the authors are replying from their homes and replying directly to a, sometimes nonsensical, question, it creates a personal bond and that’s important when marketing anything.

In an article about the Ask the Author program, The Wall Street Journal quotes Seth Godin as saying,

“The author who can build a tribe via one-to-one connections, at mass, is guaranteed a career and is also going to have to work at it pretty much full time.”

The Ask the Author program is especially good news for niche authors whose books don’t warrant the cost of a cross-country book tour, especially if they’ve got the personality to sell it. Take a look at pop culture author Chuck Klosterman. He answers his questions in a dark room with “You Light Up My Life” playing in the background. Just watching him speak for two minutes will make you want to buy his books, which of course, is the whole point of the exercise.

Using video to personally connect with your customers is something anyone can do. Just switch on that laptop webcam or point your iPhone at yourself and say hello. Don’t worry about looking and sounding perfect, the less polished the better (unless maybe you’re a lawyer or a surgeon). Present yourself and your product, use your Facebook fan page to solicit questions, then answer them on camera, or you can sign up for a VYou account and let them handle the Q&A for you. Who knows, in addition to gaining more customers, you might become YouTube’s next big video star.

Have you ever put yourself on camera for your business?