Friday, June 14, 2013

5 Reasons Authors Should Create Fun Book Memes

by +Jean Oram

First of all, what the heck is a meme? Basically, it is most commonly an image with some text on it which has cultural value. In other words, something shareable. And by shareable, I mean it is something people will want to pass on to their friends because it is funny, ironic, or hits on some cultural phenomenon.

If we really get down to it, often a meme is advertising in one shape, form, or another. Those funny ecards you see on Pinterest and Facebook--advertising. Those goofy ones George Takei shares/makes? Advertising. I know who George is now and I have a very good sense of his brand as well as his sense of humor and even what sort of things he stands for. That is a good use of memes. Plus, his memes get shared a CRAPLOAD. You might even care to toss the word viral in there to describe some of his memes.

How does that happen? The memes have value to the user which makes them want to share them. And by sharing them, they are sending his mini advertisements out in the world on his behalf whether they think of it that way or not. They think of it as sharing something others will like and get a kick out of--and will increase their online esteem in some way.

That is a good meme. And that is why authors should play around with them if it feels like something within their skill set.

Yep, it's a meme. Yep, it is shareable.

5 Reasons Authors Should Create Memes

1. They are fun. If you do it right, you should enjoy the challenge of making one, and readers should want to share them. Exciting!

2. They are free advertising. Free, my friends. Well, if you have your own images.

3. It gets your name and brand and book titles out there (of course, this depends a bit on how you create this meme and whether you include these things). It is said a reader has to see your name/title several times before they actually purchase.

4. They can go viral. Or well, at least get around on Facebook and Pinterest a ton (if they are good) and gain access to places you might not be able to pay to get to.

5. They are a visual way to cement what you have for sale in the minds of others. A picture is worth a 1000 words, right?
Quote, title, cover art, author name. But is it shareable?

What to Put in a Meme

1. Something (your) readers will like.

2. Something that speaks to your brand. Eg. Something about love and romance if you are a contemporary romance writer. (Not gory and dark.)

3. Something that will give the reader/viewer a sense of who you are and what your books are about in a more specific sense than your general brand. Eg. Maybe an image of your book's setting along with a book or author quote.

4. Something to draw it all back to you whether it is your website's URL in the bottom corner, your name and book title, etc. The purpose (at least in my opinion) is to get something fun out there that leads people back to you. You don't see Kellogg's out there giving away t-shirts without their logo on it, right? Brand it.

5. Cover art--if it fits your meme and your meme is specific to your book, characters, setting, etc. If you are simply quoting yourself on the meaning of love, then your cover art might not suit the meme. However, adding your name (attributing the quote!) as well as adding "author of TITLE" afterwards is smart--and still branding it!

Note: If you are quoting others be sure to attribute it! As well, be very very careful with images. Be sure to find out whether you have the rights to use the image in this way. You may have rights to use an image in your book cover, but check to see if you have the rights to use those individual images in different ways. Rights usage can vary and you may find you need to purchase an additional license to use a cover image in other materials or if distribution of that image reaches a certain threshold. As an author/writer it is ALWAYS best to err on the side of caution--even if it means falling off your wallet. The cost of an image is less than a legal suit. And they DO happen.

If you want to get into the nitty gritty of memes and the ins and outs and faux pas of putting together a meme, and what to do with one once you've made it, jump over to my website where I'm talking about memes in more depth and getting downright specific about what works and what doesn't.

Now that you've looked at memes from the write angle, what do you think of memes? What makes you share them? Have you ever created one? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Jean Oram is a meme creating fool. Okay, not exactly, but she has played around with making a few for her free ebook Champagne and Lemon Drops. Some of which you may see in this post (and are completely shareable)! Connect with Jean at tip a week to help make you a better writer. You can also find her here:, Facebook, and Twitter.


Jemi Fraser said...

Love these! I haven't thought of making them, but I will now! Great idea :)

SC Author said...

Interesting! I've never thought of this, but you're right; memes travel insanely through Pintrest.

Scribbles From Jenn said...

What a great idea! Creating a meme never occurred to me, but I think I'll create one when my book is done.

Jean Oram said...

Thanks Jemi, SC, and Scribbles. I think they can be a TON of fun! I look forward to seeing your memes circulating the internet!