Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
Location: Books & Such main office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
If you don’t know what a QR code is, scroll down to the end of this post to take a peek. QR (which stands for “quick response”) codes are ubiquitous–on food packaging, on clothing tags, in ads, etc. The codes might provide recipes that use the food item you’ve just purchased or ways to tie the scarf you’re considering buying or a video about the car pictured in an ad.
I’ll suggest some ways authors can use QR codes in a minute, but first I’ll explain how they work. (If you already know, just move on down to the numbered items.) The codes are two-dimensional, which means they can carry much more information than the one-dimensional bar code. QRs are designed to be used with smartphones by scanning the code with the phone’s camera. The phone’s software interprets the information and takes the user to a spot on the Internet.
Android phones have built in QR code readers, but other smartphone users can download an app for their phones to read the codes. CBA Retailers + Resource Magazine in its November 2011 issue, indicated that 40% of all mobile phones in the U.S. are smartphones, and by 2015 more smartphones will be owned than other mobile phones. The Pew Internet and American Life Project found that the majority of Americans research online items they’re considering purchasing. InsightExpress’s study reveals that 82% of shoppers already use their phones in some way before purchasing.
For all these reasons, it makes sense for authors to think about how they might use QR codes. Here are a few suggestions to get your creativity going:
1. On your business card. When you hand someone your business card, you could be handing them quick and efficient access to your website. You don’t need to put your web address on your card, which the user would have to type in (correctly, which is a challenge for some of us). Or you could send someone to your blog, if you want to show off your writing.
2. On your proposals. Picture a publishing committee meeting. There’s the conference room, the conference table, the decisionmakers–and lots of laptops. As the editor presents your project, everyone’s fingers are flying on keyboards. Your website is checked out; your presence on Twitter; what’s going on for you on Facebook; a quick trip to Amazon to check out your previous books and where they stand in the rankings.
Now picture this: You put a QR code on your proposal that takes the reader to your website; or you have a (short!) video of you speaking that shows off how adept you are in front of an audience or a video during you give your pitch for the project being considered. That way the committee gets to meet not only your project but also you.
3. To reach your readers. Ask your publisher to put a QR code in your book that leads the reader to a brief video of you introducing the book (and yourself). Or a QR code to an online readers’ discussion guide.
4. To sell other books. Add a QR code to a bookmark that contains all of your titles or all of the books in a series. Since reviews often help a reader to decide to buy a book, why not establish a page of reviews (or segments of reviews, to keep it short) on your website and create a code to take readers there.
The possibilities are almost limitless. And creating codes is easy. Just google “QR code,” and you’ll be taken to a variety of sites from which you can create the codes.
What ways can you think of to use a QR code?
And, now, just for fun, here’s a QR code that takes you to a photo of our agency staff, including our newest addition, Rachelle Gardner.
P.S. For those of you used to the rhythms of our blog posts, you’ll expect to read more from me tomorrow and Friday. But we’re trying a new rhythm of three blogs from one writer followed by two blogs from another contributor. So tomorrow and Friday you’ll meet up with Wendy Lawton here. We’re experimenting with this new arrangement for several weeks, and we’d love to hear what you think of the change as it rolls out. Plus we’ve added Rachelle Gardner to the writing schedule as well, starting on Feb. 13; so she’s a new voice on our blog that we know you’re gonna love.