An introduction to the Google+ hangout feature and 10 ways it can be used for the publishing industry

This is a post by Novel Publicity President, Emlyn Chand

Welcome to week two of Novel Publicity’s guide to Google+ blog series. Last week, I gave you a basic overview of this new social network’s features and talked a little bit about how it fits into the world of social media and into the already robust Google site family. I’ll be blogging on this topic every Wednesday until I run out of things to say about +; how long do you think that will take? This week I’d like to dive deep into the hangout feature, which is my favorite by far.

To get started, I’d like to share the basic overview of the feature, which I presented as part of last week’s post, followed by Google’s promotional video.


An introduction to Google+’s hangout feature

Hangouts – The BEST feature and the one that really sets Google+ apart is hangouts. Hangouts are group video chats. Up to 10 people can join in at once, and Google+ will automatically switch the main screen to whoever is talking while the other chatters will be featured in small tiles underneath the big screen. Hanging out is meant to be informal as the name implies. Google likens it to running into your friend at the mall or a coffee shop. It’s not something that needs to be scheduled. You can just do it on the fly when you have a spare moment here or there. Be sure to try “hanging out,” before you decide that you don’t need any new social networks to keep up with. This feature alone will reel you in, hook, line, and sinker.


10 ways the publishing industry can harness the hangout’s power

Whoa, that was intense. Time to break it down. Here are 10 ways in which the publishing industry can use this feature – some are fun while others are more business-oriented, others still are just common sense.

1. Author book chat – The more personal an interaction, the better it sticks. Sure, sharing your book with the world – baring your heart and soul – that’s about as personal as it gets. Think of how much more it would mean to your fans to be able to interact with you face-to-face, or rather face-to-screen-to-face, but still! In-person events are fantastic, but your audience is limited by location. Now you can develop a more personal connection with readers all over the world! A video chat is far more personal than an email, tweet, or response to a fan letter. It’s even better than a phone call! And readers will appreciate this added level of interaction, which will bode well for the sales of your future works.

2. Expert Q&A – Expert chats have gotten very popular lately thanks to Twitter. Just use the designated hashtag at the designated time, and you can jump right into the frenzy. Why not use the hangout feature to make these sessions even better? Up to 10 people at a time will be able to participate, and rather than being stuck with 140-characters to make your point, you’ll have your full voice, its range of expression, and body language! Done in this manner, an expert Q&A will offer a lot more to the questioners than a tweet session.

3. Critique groups – Writers’ groups are awesome, aren’t they? But it’s often difficult to coordinate schedules. For many of us, just finding a group of local writers whose work we respect and with whom we work well is a major challenge. Why not hand-pick your group? Share files for critique via your blogs, email, or Dropbox and then meet up and hang out. You’ll get more feedback and more honest feedback this way – as writers, we’re pretty good at pounding out diplomatic responses via email, but not always the best at choosing our words when put on the spot. Honesty is essential to the growth of your work.

4. Book clubs – Right, right? How awesome is this group video chat for book clubs? It works for the same reasons noted with the critique groups – ease of scheduling and the lack of geo-restriction. You can also have your book club meet in person and bring a laptop to include additional book lovers who weren’t able to make it. Maybe you could even include the author via video chat! Note: I blog every Thursday about book clubs on a different blog – go check it out.

5. Panel vlogcast – Vlogs (that’s video blogs, people) are cool. I’ve been meaning to do one forever. I’m glad I waited, because with the advent of Google+ hangouts, I can one-up my original idea. If watching a video of one person talk to you about a topic is interesting and engaging, imagine how much better it would be to have a group of people talk about it. This would keep awkward pauses to a minimum as there would always be another speaker to jump in when the first stalls. Expect a panel vlogcast from Novel Publicity in the near-ish future. We’ve begun compiling a list of experts in the fields or writing, publishing, and book marketing and will roll out some panel vlogcasts later this year. This requires a bit of technical know-how as you’ll need to record the videocast to make it work. This article from PC’s Place explains how.

6. Business meetings – This one’s a given. Agents can talk to clients or publishers or both at the same time. Authors can hook up with their editors or cowriters or whomever. Businesses can hold internal meetings. These meetings can even be impromptu the way Google+ intended it. Call your colleague through video for a pleasant change. This is fantastic for remote workers; it reminds you that you are working with actual humans.

7. Office hours – When I learned about the hangout feature, this was pretty much my first thought:  Oh, awesome! I can hold office hours to talk with new clients or to put faces to Twitter accounts and email addresses. Being available to talk to your audience (be it clients or readers) is a big step in the right direction. Shows that you care. Starting today, I’ll be holding office hours on Google+ every Wednesday from 12 to 3 PM Eastern Time. Depending on how it goes, I’ll increase my hours to include other times and other days. Drop by Google+ and talk face-to-screen-to-face with me.  Bring your questions about writing, publishing, book marketing, and social media. And if you wanted to inquire about Novel Publicity, that would be totally cool – although it’s not required. If you’re not on Google+ yet, you can leave a comment at the bottom of this blog post, and I will send an invite to you promptly.

8. Dry runs for speaking engagements – For most of us, public speaking just doesn’t come easy, especially since the writer community is primarily composed of introverts who prefer to be left alone with a Word processor rather than expected to make small chat with others. Sometimes we need to perform readings or give speeches, it’s something that can really help our careers – but it’s stressful! Practice makes perfect, right? Gather some of your online friends who won’t be able to attend the brick-and-mortar version of your speech (and therefore won’t have to hear it twice) and ask them to be your audience. Solicit feedback and advice in order to boost your confidence and preparedness for the real thing.

9. Develop personal branding – Bring your author photo to life! Social media is great; the written word is fantastic. But nothing compares to a humanly interaction. It’s how we’re wired, folks. Get to know your readers; you just may learn something from them. Also here’s a tip:  as authors, we’re all selling ourselves more than we’re selling our books. Readers and publishers want to know that you’ve got a multi-book career ahead of you. What’s the point of pumping the big bucks or one’s precious time into a one-hit wonder who will go hide under a rock once the book is put to print?

10. Writers’ block busting – Writer’s block happens to the best of us. If you’re like me, you get writer’s detour instead – going on and on in the wrong direction – you need someone to pull you back. Hangout on Google+ and pick the brains of your friends who have a bit of spare time to devote to your problem. Tell them where you are and where you want to be, ask them for ideas. You could also tell them some of your own ideas and ask for their reactions. Break through writer’s block and avoid writer’s detour with a little help from your friends.


Want a Google+ invite?

And if this post has gotten your heart pumping to the tune of pu-pu-pu-plus, I’d be happy to send you an invitation to try it out. Just post your email as a comment to this blog article or get in touch with me on one of Novel Pulicity’s many social networks. I hope you’re excited about this new network!


Emlyn Chand, President of Novel PublicityAbout this post’s author:

Emlyn Chand is the president of Novel Publicity and a YA author. She loves to hear and tell stories and emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). Her first novel Farsighted released in late 2011 and is of the YA genre. Learn more about Emlyn at or by connecting with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or GoodReads.

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