Archive for April, 2010
I know … I blog a lot about blogging. But it wasn’t always this way. In fact, I didn’t start this blog until about a year ago. After all, who has the time to sit down and do this regularly? Who’s reading it anyway?
Well, I just got more proof that blogging really does make a difference. According to The Internet and Marketing Report, “web sites with active blogs that publish at least five articles a week attracted 6.9 times more organic search results and 1.12 times more referral traffic than sites without a blog.”
Get that? 6.9 times more traffic? Imagine how many more books you’d sell?
Now, it’s not easy to blog that frequently. I certainly don’t. But blog as often as you can. Or think outside the box and have other people who are knowledgeable in your subject post blog entries with you. The more content you have, the more site traffic you’ll get.
And one last thing … always remember to include a “Call to Action” in each blog post. That means plugging your book at least once. Ideally, include one link to buy your book, one link to sign up for your newsletter … and anything else you want people to do.
With that in mind ….
Take advantage of your free consultation about website development and website marketing? Click here!
We’ve already established that an author’s website should contain interesting content above and beyond what’s in the book. But for some people, it’s a challenge to figure out just what that is. Sure, if you’re a doctor who writes about health-related issues, it’s a no-brainer. You should blog and answer questions about health. But what if you’re a fiction writer? What if you’re not an “expert” in your field? What in the world would people want to hear about?
Believe it or not, there are many aspiring writers out there who wish they were in your shoes. And whether you’re published by a major publishing house, self-published, or looking for a publisher, you’re already a big step ahead of most people who want to become the next Nora Roberts. While your personal story may seem mundane to you, it’s probably of interest to many other people out there.
So why not write about being a writer? Blog regularly with your stories about what prompted you to write, the struggles you have getting published, your thoughts on your next book, your struggles with writer’s block. Blog in real time, and share your feelings as you finish your next manuscript or prepare for a meeting with an agent.
In short, write about writing. And offer tips and advice to other aspiring writers. This will keep your site new and fresh, offer fun “inside” tips to people who are fans of your books, build a loyal following, and attract other aspiring authors to your website who may never have heard of you otherwise.
See, you are an expert on something!
Remember in the old days when authors used to go on book tours to promote their books? That’s sooooooo 20th century. Now, authors can accomplish the same goals without leaving their living rooms. Yes, book tours have morphed into blog tours.
So what’s a blog tour? It’s basically an author making the rounds among bloggers that speak to their target audience. Sometimes those are book bloggers (who are always reviewing the latest books). Sometimes those are bloggers who have a following in the subject matter of your book. For instance, if you wrote a book about real estate investing, then you might want to reach out to a real estate blogger. Either way, the whole point is reaching people who are potential readers of your book.
So what do you do on a blog tour? That depends. Some bloggers simply like to review books. In that case, you’d reach out to them and ask if they’d be interested in your book. If so, you’d send them a complimentary copy and hope they like it! Other bloggers like to do interviews, so they might post a blog entry to their readers introducing you and allowing people to submit questions to you about your book. Those Q&As would then appear as a blog entry on the date of your blog stop.
Some bloggers may ask you to guest blog for them. Others may want to have a contest offering your book as a prize. The options are endless.
But here’s a tip: try to vary what your blog tour covers. Because you might have people who follow you around from blog to blog, so it makes sense to offer them something new and different with each blog stop.
No matter what the blog tours involve, always promote each blog stop on your website’s events calendar, and always include links back to your website and/or to buy the book from each blog on your tour! After all, that’s your goal, right?
Here are a few other resources to help you learn more about blog tours…
There are a lot of things that go into deciding on a design theme and layout for the homepage of an author website. But there’s one element that often seems to get overlooked in the process. It’s how often your website plans to be updated. Or another way to say it is this: Is your site a conversational blog? A static portfolio? Or somewhere in between?
If you plan to update your website regularly with blog posts, tweets, etc… then those things should be prominent on your homepage. Because one of the best things you can do with a website is to update it frequently. And you’re not truly maximizing the time you’re putting in to updating a website unless your homepage prominently features the newest information. If you’re going to have a “news and events” page that you think you’ll consistently be adding to, then you should have a corresponding “news and events” box on the homepage that features the newest of the news (with a link to see more, of course). Why make people have to click around to find what’s new?
Conversely, some authors prefer to use their website as a portfolio of their work. It’s a place they can send readers, publishers, etc… to see samples of their work, read their bio, download their media kits, etc… But they don’t plan to update it regularly, answer questions, or blog. If that’s the kind of website you envision, then your homepage should function very differently than a website with a blog, a forum, etc… When you’re creating a homepage for this type of site, what’s most important is the “look.” You can feature your photo, your bio, your books, etc… on the homepage. Whatever you believe the strongest, most important elements to be. You actually have a bit of an advantage, as you have the freedom to make the design more image-heavy and attractively laid-out than a blog site. A homepage that’s going to be changed frequently needs a flexible enough design that if you add/remove text, it won’t screw up the alignment.
Now most author sites sit somewhere in between the two types listed above. But the idea is the same: your homepage should feature the content which is strongest and most appealing. Just what that is depends a great deal on your update frequency.
Ready to take advantage of our free author website consultation? Contact us today!
I came across a really interesting blog entry (and subsequent conversation) by Barbara Vey, a regular Publishers Weekly blogger. It starts like this …
Does the idea of Twitter cause you to tremble?
Is Facebook giving you heart palpitations?
Blogging becoming a four letter word?
If your answer to any of those questions is “yes,” then you’re not alone. In fact, you may also want to check out one of my previous blog entries: Getting the Introverted Author Out There
But back to Barbara’s blog … Barbara is speaking this week at a writer’s function in Washington and is looking for authors to chime in about how social networking has helped them, if it was worth their time, etc…
The responses are interesting. And I think it’s safe to assume that yes, social networking does work as a marketing tool for authors. Some of the more interesting comments (from authors, readers, book store owners, etc…) include….
I have to say that if it weren’t for Twitter and Facebook, I wouldn’t be reading some of the authors I do.
Owning a small Indie Bookstore, We have a store blog, I twitter and use FB. Authors on FB become a FAN of Indie Bookstores, we are good at promotion and getting your name out.
I’m a Facebook and Twitter newbie, but I must say, from the writer’s point of view, I’m enjoying Facebook particularly. Think I’m picking up a few new fans, or at least, people who seem interested in what I do!
Check out the whole blog entry and subsequent comments here.
But please do share your thoughts with us as well. How has social networking worked for you? Was it a challenge to get started? Do you feel like it’s gotten your name out there? Leave a reply below!
One really interesting idea for content on an author website — and one that I think gets sorely overlooked — is a page called “Behind the Book.”
On a “Behind the Book” page, an author can write a piece in the first person explaining what prompted them to write the book. Think of it as an opportunity to share something personal with people who are fans of your book. Something that can’t be found within the book itself.
If it’s a nonfiction book, there’s probably a really good story behind it. For instance, it might be your personal story of watching someone overcome addiction. Or it could be your decade-long quest to find a spiritual truth. You get the idea.
For a fiction author, there was probably a little germ of an idea a long time ago that has now turned into a published masterpiece! Why not tell people how the idea started out, how the story evolved as you began to work on it, and any fun tidbits that came up as you went along — like changing the main character’s name.
This may sound simple, but it’s a great thing to offer your readers. After all, don’t you love the Behind the Scenes interviews with movie actors? The ones where they share their stories about making the movie? Or wouldn’t you love to see the creators of your favorite TV show share the details about how the idea came to fruition in the first place?
A book is no different, and your website is the perfect place to offer this little “web extra” to your fans.
It’s common sense that having lots of rave reviews of your book on Amazon can increase book sales. But what’s the best way to get those reviews on there? Here are some do’s and dont’s:
- Do send out an email to your full list of contacts, announcing when your book is released and encouraging them to go onto Amazon and post a review once they’ve read it.
- Do not make up a dozen fake usernames on Amazon and start posting lots of similarly-sounding rave reviews of your book. How bad would that look if people figured it out?
- Do ask your friends and family to post reviews of your book — in their own words. Also, make sure their usernames don’t match your last name!
- Do not tell people what to say in their reviews of your book. Even if your friends and family aren’t great writers, it’s so much more natural when they choose their words themselves.
- Do encourage your website visitors or people who write you to you to tell you how much they like your book to post book reviews on Amazon.
- Do not allow your well-meaning mother-in-law or close friend to create a dozen fake accounts on Amazon and post glowing reviews of your book. That’s no different from you doing the same thing yourself.
- Do approach people who are “Top Reviewers” on Amazon and ask them to review your book. They may or may not agree to do so, but their reviews are pretty well respected.
What strategy helped you get lots of good reviews on Amazon? Let us know!
So your author web site is launched. Congratulations! But the work is just beginning. Because what good is a website if no one is visiting it?
Here are some simple ways to ensure that your website gets looked at…
- Amass a list of contacts. It should include as many people as possible — anyone you may have worked with, talked to about your book, etc… Send a mass email to your all of them letting them know about your new website and encouraging them to visit it.
- Use social networks to promote your website. Tweet about it. Include it on your Facebook profile and tout in in Facebook posts as much as possible. Include it on your LinkedIn page.
- Add your URL to your email signature. Make sure that every email you send not only includes your name in the signature, but also a link to your website.
- Always mention your site at appearances. Are you doing book signings? Or speaking engagements? Make sure to mention your website and let people know what they can find there.
- Become involved in blogs. Find other blogs in the same genre as your website. Then start posting comments and getting involved in the conversations. Link back to your site whenever appropriate.
- Create your own video. Videos can go viral! So grab a little camera and make a brief (3 minutes or less) video about your book. Make sure to mention your website in the video. Then upload it to YouTube and send it around to friends.
- Add your URL to all bylines. If you write any articles on the web, make sure to include your site address in the byline.
Have any other ideas that have worked for you? Please share them here!
For some authors, the main goal of building a writer’s website is to sell their book. But I encourage most authors to think a little more long-term than that. Because one of the best things you can do with an author website is to make it a long-term destination for readers. The benefits of that are many, including:
- Building and maintaining a fanbase for future books
- Providing additional information and resources for people interested in your subject matter
- Getting a chance to interact with your readers and find out what they would like more of from you
So how do you build this long-term relationship? How do you get people to visit your website after they read the book, and then come back regularly for weeks, months, or even years after that? Here are a few ideas…
- Blog, blog, blog. I always tell authors that if they’re willing to make the commitment to a blog, they should do it. It’s the best way to keep an author’s website new and fresh, and encourage people to come back regularly.
- Talk to readers. Have a place on the website where people can submit questions or comments to you about your book, your writings, or your field of expertise. Then pick out a few questions/comments each month and feature them on the website. And, of course, include your responses to each one. Make it a conversation.
- Have contests. Hold writing contests on the website. Or design contests. Whatever best suits your genre. Then the “winner” each month will get an autographed copy of the book, or a phone call with you.
- Review other books. If someone likes your writing, they would probably want to hear what other books in your genre you’re reading, and what you think of them. So have a regular book review page, where you recommend books for your fans to read. You could even include a message board where fans can discuss your recommended book each month.
- Add resources. If you’ve written a non-fiction book (say, on, how to get the job of your dreams), then you should have a place on the site where you offer things you couldn’t offer in print. They might be a list of other websites that might be valuable. Or downloadable worksheets. And, again, make it interactive. Have a place where readers can share their own recommendations for resources.
- Tie in your social networking platforms. If you regularly Tweet or update your Facebook page, make it easy for people to connect with you through those platforms on your website. Again, it’s a new way to interact with people and let them stay in the loop on what’s going on.
These are just a few of the ways to make your website a destination. Remember, a writer’s portfolio only goes so far. A writer’s website can build a community of people that may make your next book a bestseller.
Do you have any other website features that made your author site a destination? Let us know!