Archive for May, 2010
Ever wonder where people come up with ideas on what to blog about? I’ll share my secret. It’s Google Alerts.
In case you haven’t heard of it, Google Alerts is an automated system where you sign up to be notified whenever a certain word or series of words is used anywhere on the internet — that Google is aware of, at least.
For instance, I receive several emails a day from Google with a list of links where words like “author websites” or “book websites” are used. They contain dozens of blog entries, author websites, news stories, etc… having to do with the subject matter. This not only allows me to stay on top of what other people in the industry are doing, but also gives me ideas on what to blog about.
But I also have one very special Google Alert. It’s one for “Smart Author Sites.” Once in a while, I get a Google Alert email that lets me know that my business has been mentioned somewhere. Most of the time it’s good stuff. Like this one: “Great site here all about author marketing: www.SmartAuthorSites.com.” That appeared as a forum comment on TheNextBigWriter.com. But the point is, I would never have known about that without Google Alerts.
And this is why all authors should sign up for Google Alerts. It’s simple and easy at http://www.google.com/alerts. Make sure to enter your name and book title as keywords, so that you can be notified whenever someone mentions you or your book.
And if you’re blogging, include other keywords related to your subject matter. It’s a great way to get ideas for blog entries.
Ready to talk with us about marketing yourself or your book online? Contact us today for a free consultation!
In previous blog posts, I’ve discussed why it’s never too early to get your author website and online presence going. In fact, I’ve claimed that having those pieces in place can actually help you get published, because it gives you a leg up over the competition. And now I have an editor backing me up.
Book editor Jevon Bolden, in her blog “Embrace the Impossible,” recently blogged a post titled 6 Days and 40 Manuscripts Later: Musings of an Editor Reviewing Submissions. Here’s an excerpt …
Writers should work on building an audience before submitting to publishers. Saying that you could market your book through social media once we decide to publish doesn’t tell us much. Basically you want the publishing company to invest in something that has no proven record of return—no perceived or anticipated value. That’s not fair. You wouldn’t invest in some random idea for a new company that may show up on the NYSE and it may perform enough to provided an ROI. You’d want to be able to see that the marketplace will patronize that company and that they will meet a consumer’s felt need. You’d want to see some paperwork, maybe a market analysis and a business plan. Yes? The same goes for a publisher. In determining if there is an audience waiting for something from you, we use our market knowledge based on past results. And our knowledge tells us that if we publish a book from someone with no audience, it will tank and cause us to lose money. You have to provide an argument to back up your claims that this book is something people will want to read else we will not take the risk.
There’s plenty more that she shares in her blog post, but this is what really had me grinning. Because it’s rewarding to have an editor back up what I’ve been telling clients for years.
Publishers no longer take responsibility for marketing the majority of their books. That responsibility now sits solely in the hands of the authors themselves. And if you can show a publisher that you know how to market yourself — and have already started marketing yourself — it can be the deciding factor in whether a publisher decides to go with your book or someone else’s. So build that website. Start blogging. Tie those in to your Twitter and Facebook accounts. Build a mailing list.
Like I always say (and Jevon says, too), it’s never too early!
The purpose of this blog is to alert authors to a new online opportunity for authors launched in March, 2009. It’s called FiledBy, and it has some interesting features. I like to call it a “Facebook for authors. Here’s what you need to know about this online author marketing tool, what it does, and what it DOESN’T do.
First, for a good summary of what FiledBy does, visit its Wikipedia page. This basically explains the features that they offer. In short, they provide a free website presence for authors (the equivalent of a Facebook profile), a listing of the author’s titles, and the opportunity to interact with readers. With their “premium” service (for a cost, of course), you can create a unique header bar for your page, add an events calendar or a blog, and more.
The Benefits of FiledBy
Some of the benefits are pretty obvious. It’s a free online presence, which is enough reason to go sign up for it right now. There are never enough ways to be found online, and this is yet another one you can add to your repertoire. FiledBy also seems to do a decent job tying in social networking profiles, blogs, etc…, and it’s clearly serving the social media scene that is so important in today’s online world. Lastly, it’s a great way to interact with readers — both those who have read your books and those who haven’t.
What FiledBy Doesn’t Do
In today’s world of social networking, many authors think that this type of online presence can replace their own website. In fact, FiledBy actually refers to the pages that authors have on their platform as “author websites.” But they’re most definitely not. Just like a Facebook page isn’t a website. What they’re missing is simple: Personalization!
The design of every author’s page on FiledBy is ridiculously similar (even with the unique header you would need to pay for). That’s because it’s a mass site serving millions — like Facebook. And, as I always tell people, a a personally-designed website is so essential for authors. After all, if you wrote a book about vampires, you can’t really achieve the feel of your book on a bright white website. You need a design that really says what your book is about, who you speak to, etc… That’s done with the right colors, fonts and images. These are things that a super-site like FiledBy can’t do.
Personalization also comes into play in the content of the site. Since FiledBy is a template of sorts, you have to make your site fit their mold. They can’t fit yours. So, for instance, if you want to promote your business services — which compliment your book — that’s not so easy to do on a site like this.
What You Should Do
Sign up for a free FiledBy account. Set up a page with all the information you want to provide. Talk with readers there, join groups, etc… But don’t do it in place of your author website. Just consider it a very valuable addition to your online presence.
Do you already have a FiledBy profile? Has it helped you? What’s your experience with it? Please share!
Ready to talk with us about building your personalized author website? Contact us today for a free consultation.
I was asked a question by a client yesterday that I thought was worth answering in a blog post. After all, if one person has this question, the odds are more people do, too.
We are in the process of building her author website, and she knows she wants to interact with readers on the site. She’d heard about blogs. She’d heard about forums. But she wasn’t quite sure what the difference was or which one she should go with.
First, it’s important to explain that blogs and forums are very different things. Yes, they both involve interactivity, but in a completely different way.
A blog is about the author. Each blog post is written by the author. Site visitors can read the blog posts and comment on the blog posts (and the author can respond to those comments), but the author is really the one prompting the conversations in a blog. Site visitors can only post comments on the author’s entries (and the comments only appear with the author’s approval).
A forum is much more about the readers. Basically, it’s a free-for-all, where site visitors can start conversations and chat with one another, whether or not the author is participating in the conversation. Here’s an example of an author forum: http://www.jimbutcheronline.com/bb/
Now which one should an author have: a blog or a forum? Well, that depends. But I must confess that I’m much more likely to recommend a blog over a forum.
The benefits of a forum lie in the fact that the author doesn’t need to participate in it. It’s a place where readers can chat on their own. Discuss the book. Share their ideas. It’s much more of an open conversation.
But I’ve created forums for authors before, and each of them have hit a wall. There are two big reasons for this.
- It can be challenging to get a conversation started on a forum. And there’s nothing worse than a dead forum. Without a lot of traffic right off the bat, your forum will die a slow death.
- You have no control over the forum. Unlike a blog, you don’t get to review any posts before they appear on the site. Which means less responsibility for you, but also less control. I have honestly spent hours cleaning out author forums of pornography, inappropriate comments, etc…
So, in short, I personally favor the blog. Would I still build a forum for an author who wants one? Absolutely. But hopefully this entry helps clear things up a bit for authors who aren’t sure which way to go.
Ready to talk with us about developing your own author website? Contact us today for a free consultation!
Okay, I start this blog entry with a confession. I have been blogging here for almost a year. I check out my site traffic numbers a few times a month. I even have people randomly email me and tell me they like this blog. So I was more than shocked to discover last week that my blog is not being indexed by the major search engines. How could I have gone so long without even realizing it?
So the best piece of advice I have for any author who’s blogging is this: Make sure your blog is showing up on Google, Yahoo and Bing. Not your website; your blog. Because my site has been placing wonderfully for months. But my blog was nowhere to be found.
Start by searching for some of your blog entry titles on those search engines. Then try your name and the word “blog.” If your blog or blog entries are not showing up anywhere on the results page, it’s possible the search engines don’t know you even exist. Which, as I’ve been beating myself up over for the last five days, can cost you a lot of site traffic.
So how do you get your blog listed on the major search engines? Here are some ideas I collected in the hours upon hours I spent working on this …
- Check your privacy settings. After some sage advice from my WordPress guru, I think this was the source of my problem. In WordPress blogs, there’s a feature called “Privacy” in the “Settings” box on the left hand side of your blog admin. Go in there and check what the settings are. Mine actually said that my blog should be available to readers, but not to the search engines. Why that would be, I have no idea. But I recommend everyone check on theirs and make sure their settings aren’t blocking the search engines from viewing their entries.
- Set up links to your blog. Go to other websites or blogs in a similar genre and start posting comments. Include links to your blog (or specific blog entries) there. That will get your domain out there to the search engines.
- Get your blog listed on blog communities, like MyBlogLog, BlogCatalog, Blogged and NetworkedBlogs
- Submit your blog through Google’s Webmaster tools section. In the “Add new site” section, enter the full URL of your blog. Google will usually index your blog on its next crawl.
Now, even after you do all this, it can take anywhere up to a month before it’s fully indexed. But hopefully these steps will help get your author blog out there to the general public.
Ready to talk with us about driving traffic to your website or blog? Contact us now for a free consultation!
I received a post card in the mail yesterday (and it’s been a long time since I last got a real post card). It was promoting an upcoming children’s book that will have its own booth at Book Expo later this month, encouraging me to come by the booth and get a taste of this written masterpiece. I guess I got it in the mail because I attended Book Expo last year, and the publisher rented the mailing list to promote their hot book for 2010. But it got me thinking…
What’s to stop any author from promoting their book and their website through print materials? Even though technology is an essential part of today’s marketing campaigns, that doesn’t mean that you should exclude old-school print products altogether! Here are a few ideas …
- Make your own promotional post card (it’s pretty cheap to do online) and send it to everyone you know. Then bring a stack to each of your local booksellers and ask if you can display it near the register.
- Get business cards printed. Talk to everyone you meet about your book, and if they seem interested, give them a copy of your business card. It shouldn’t look like an accountant’s business card, though! Make sure it fits the genre of your book and looks interesting and creative.
- Make bookmarks! After all, it is a book you’re promoting. Give out free bookmarks to booksellers, friends, people at book signings. Anything to really get your information out there.
- Have book signings or speaking engagements? Make up flyers! Then have them posted around the neighborhood in the weeks leading up to the event to get the maximum attendance.
And now for the most important piece … make sure to put your web address on every piece of printed material. It doesn’t matter if it’s a post card, flyer, bookmark or business card. People who are interested in you and your book will want to check out your author website or book website first to learn more before making the purchase. Making sure to include your web address on anything and everything is easy to forget, but can be a huge faux pas.
Ready to talk with us about a marketing plan for yourself and your book? Contact us today for a free consultation!
I have had so many authors ask me this question: What in the world would I tweet about? And that’s from those who know what tweeting is, which isn’t everyone.
So I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk about tweeting and how it can help an author promote him or herself.
For those of you who’ve heard of Twitter (or tweets), but really don’t get what it is, here’s a definition from About.com:
A tweet is a post or status update on Twitter, a microblogging service. Because Twitter only allows messages of 140 characters or less, “tweet” is as much a play on the size of the message as it is on the audible similarity to Twitter.
These “tweets” of 140 characters are less are read on blogs, websites, and (most commonly) people’s cell phones. A website might have a Twitter feed (where certain tweets will automatically appear as soon as their posted). If someone signs up for a specific person’s tweets, they will get a feed with the most recent entry on their own cellphone. This is part of why each entry can only be 140 characters. It’s supposed to be quick and easy to read.
So now we move on to this: What would I tweet about? Why would someone want to read my tweets? Would doing this actually sell my book?
First, people actually do read tweets. According to a recent Publishers Weekly article, there are many publishers that now tweet regularly, and the number of people reading those tweets has skyrocketed in the last year. For example, AAKnopf had 1,581 followers in 2009 and a whopping 24,225 in 2010. So it’s a popular feature in publishing, and it’s only growing in popularity.
What people tweet about can vary, but Twitter is usually considered a peek into someone’s life. Here’s a quote from that same PW article:
@AAKnopf, the Twitter feed that saw the biggest increase in followers on our list, is run by two members of the imprint’s marketing department, Mary Buckley (assistant manager of advertising and promotions) and Pam Cortland (assistant marketing manager). The duo’s boss, Anne-Lise Spitzer, said she thinks the feed works because it’s not just about book promotion. Although Buckley and Cortland don’t go as far as sharing personal activities—no one following @AAKnopf would even know their names—the feed is meant to engage followers in a larger conversation about literature. ‘They really created a voice,’ Spitzer said, noting that the tweets combine a mixture of interesting news (often tied, directly and sometimes not-so-directly, to Knopf authors) and the occasional hard sell (a book giveaway or details about a reading or other event).
Based on this interesting piece of information, I would say that it’s probably a good idea to stay away from using Twitter for book promotion. No one is going to sign up for your feed if that’s what you’re doing. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it for author promotion. It’s a fine line, but one that’s very important to distinguish. People will use Twitter to follow you, because you’re an interesting person. Deciding to buy your book is a secondary thing. Unless someone is already a huge fan of your book, they’re not going to follow your Twitter feed if it’s mainly about the book.
Before you start tweeting, start by reading other people’s tweets. Sign up for feeds from other authors you like and see what they’re doing. Then, when you have a better idea of exactly how to use Twitter, sign up for your own account and start tweeting with your daily musings. Have your Twitter feed automatically update on your author website, and encourage people to sign up for it as well. It may not be your main source of book sales, but it sure can build a following.
Ready to talk with us about using social marketing to increase your web presence? Contact us today for a free consultation!
Okay, I must confess that I’ve changed my tune on this one. I remember reading a while back (and blogging about) some things that people said they wanted to see on author websites. One of them was a printable backlist. At the time, I wasn’t really sold on the idea. After all, it seemed a little archaic in this day and age.
But my mind has officially been changed. I came across another comment recently that read as follows:
I think the number one thing I want to see from an author’s website, and I really don’t see it often enough, is a printable backlist, with series books in order. That way I can just print it out and take it to my library or bookstore.
I can see why, if someone still prefers to buy their books at a bookstore, this would make sense. It certainly is a lot easier than making them hand-write each book title, ISBN, etc… that they want to read.
And if something as simple as a printable backlist means that an author is going to sell more books, then it’s a no-brainer. It’s something I’m going to start recommending for all my authors going forward.
Now onto the question of what should be on a printable backlist. First, here are some examples of different types of printable backlists on other author sites:
As you can see, different authors do it differently. But in my humble opinion, here are the do’s and don’t s of backlists:
- DO include the ISBN and pub date of every book.
- DON’T put your book covers on the backlist. It may be helpful in terms of recognizing your book, but people will be annoyed having to print out all those pictures.
- DO put your name on the page. This sounds silly, but the Roxanne St. Claire backlist above is devoid of her name!
- DO include information about the series that a specific book may be a part of.
- DON’T put anything in color, or include long book descriptions. Make it as quick and easy to print and scan as possible.
Ready to talk with us about building the perfect author website for you? Contact us now and take advantage of our free consultation.
Check out this one-page website (and I use the term loosely) for author Jeffrey Lewis: http://www.jeffreylewis-novels.com/
Catchy headline, right? You’re probably wondering what it means. I’ll get to that….
The germ for this post started with my reading an article in the New York Times about the rise of self-publishing. It basically says that it’s no longer considered more prestigious to get published by a major publishing house. More and more authors are opting to self-publish, because of the control it offers. And, of course, the potential to make lots of money. For the first time in history, some self-published authors are hitting the best-seller lists or becoming the most downloaded books on Kindles.
So what does this have to do with real estate? That idea came from one of the comments I read in response to the article:
Authors who expect to reach readers … start their own businesses, just like any businessperson would, and farm out whatever tasks they do not have the expertise to do themselves (for example, they would hire a competent editor and a cover designer) . Traditional publishing may have more prestige, but a savvy self-publisher can actually make five times as much as he would with a commercial publisher.
And that’s where real estate comes in. This gave me a total flashback to when I was moving from a co-op apartment to a house. In an apartment, you pay a flat monthly fee to cover all of the services you might need (gardening, snow shoveling, etc…). And if you have a problem in the apartment, you call the super, who will come fix it. But when you move to a house, a whole new slew of responsibility comes your way. But with that responsibility comes choice. We can choose whether to mow our own lawns, or hire someone to do it. When we need new windows, we get to call different window companies, get bids, and decide what works best for us.
Owning a house is far more work, but there’s also far more opportunity to make it your own (and make the most money, too). Just like self-publishing. If you’re up for the challenge, it’s a great option.
Just one little plug here … if you do plan on self-publishing, don’t forget to outsource your website development and/or marketing. What good is writing a book if no one hears about it? And what good is building a website if no one visits it? That’s where we come in. Contact us today for a free consultation and we’ll give you ideas (and a competitive price) for selling your self-published book online.
If a publishing company’s publicity person is the “super,” who will do what the “building” wants, we’re the “contractor” who will do what YOU want.