Archive for July, 2010
Gotta love the internet … and Google Alerts.
I got an email yesterday from Google that someone had mentioned Smart Author Sites. It turns out that Corra McFeydon, a lit major with a blog, had read a previous blog entry here (Getting Personal on Your Author Website) and decided to start a conversation on her own blog about how much information an author should share.
Of course I had to check out what people were saying. Here are some of the highlights of her post, and the subsequent comments.
I don’t often talk about my current novel because I’m following Hemingway’s advice that “You lose it if you talk about it.” I’m a big believer in just writing, and discussing the process afterward.
I feel writers should have the freedom to keep some stories untold, embraced within the solitude of memory. And while I thoroughly enjoy reading about the personal history of fellow bloggers/writers, I feel that the ‘expectation’ for personal candor within a blog is excessive. Writers, by nature, are pretty private, I think.
I do not believe there is a definitive recipe in deciding what each person should or would share.
As a reader, I do like to look up author info–like where they got their ideas and some background info because it helps me understand the books a little better (nasty English teacher habit–I make my students do this before we read a “classic”). I guess I should keep that in mind when I’m posting.
My personal life rarely has anything to do with my writing life. When the two do collide, I can maybe see mentioning it…but otherwise, why should I need to?
You can ask an artist what inspires him to sculpt, and I have to think he’d be stumped? He sculpts for the same reason he breathes: because it’s what he does.
I tend to be shy about talking about my writing process, or querying process, or anything else…in real life and online. I’m trying to break out of that, because having the support of those around me in the physical world and webberworld is important, and how can people show support if they don’t know anything about it?
Glad to see that a blog post of mine inspired such interesting comments! And please share your thoughts here as well!
Authors: I need your help!
You’d be amazed how many social networking sites there are out there for authors and their readers. I certainly was…
As part of a marketing project for a client, I spent some time this week scouring the web for such sites. Many of them are very similar in how they function — they’re essentially Facebook for book lovers and book writers.
So do these sites work? Are they effective? You tell me!
Here’s the list of sites I amassed this week:
Have any of you used these sites? Have you found them to be effective in creating a buzz for your books or attracting new readers? Have they been worth your time? Which ones have you found to be the most effective?
Please share your thoughts … I’d love to be able to advise my clients in the future on which ones are worth investing the time in.
It used to be that a publisher promoted an author’s book. If an author wanted to do more, they hired a PR person who made phone calls and sent out copies of the book for review.
How times have changed! Now, an author has to do nearly all of their publicity themselves! After all, you can’t exactly hire someone to tweet for you.
In 2010, it’s practically taboo for an author not to have a website, a blog, a Facebook profile and a Twitter account. That’s among other things, too. But the purpose of this blog post is to give you a brief overview of these four marketing tools and the purpose of each one.
1. An author website: This is what I do for a living, so I could write for days about this. But to make a long story short, the purpose of the website is to give yourself an online presence. People who read your book or hear about you from a friend need to have a place they can go to learn a bit more about you, see a list of books you’ve written, and get some special features … like book outtakes. The author website is essentially like an encyclopedia of your work. Just a bit more interesting.
2. An author blog: Every author should be blogging. And the blog should be closely tied in to the website. The purpose of the blog is to keep your site fresh and updated. Authors should blog at least once a week. The subject matter really depends on what kind of writer you are. Nonfiction authors should blog about the subject matter of their books. Fiction authors should get more creative and blog about their characters. Or about their writing for the next book. But a blog is your chance to interact with readers, let them know what’s on your mind, and give them a place to post comments.
3. Facebook: There are many social networking sites. Some specifically for authors (which I will blog about another time). But Facebook is the one that will get you the most visibility, since nearly everyone under the age of 60 (and some over, too) are on it. Create a Facebook profile or group. “Friend” people you know, and invite friends of friends to join. Make sure to include a link to your Facebook profile on your website and blog. You can also have your blog entries automatically feed in, so that whenever you post a new entry, it shows up on your Facebook profile without you doing a thing.
4. Twitter: You’ve probably heard of “tweeting.” You may even follow other people’s tweets. But for those of you who don’t know, Twitter (and its posts, called tweets) is a way for people to stay updated on what you’re doing. Tweets are short messages (less than 140 characters) that go from you to everyone on your list. They’re a quick way to let people know what you’re doing, or share a new feature/blog entry on your website. Individual tweets can be as simple as “Going to meet with my agent now.” Other tweets serve to link to something bigger, such as a new blog entry you’ve posted. Again, this can be automated so that the first 140 characters of your blog entry automatically go out to everyone in a Tweet. As with Facebook, you should have links to follow you on Twitter on your website and blog. Many people receive these tweets on their phone or other mobile device, so they can stay updated even when they’re not by the computer.
Whew! That’s a lot of information. But I hope you got the basics of it. All four of these things serve a different purpose. And the key is to properly integrate all of them, so that people who find your blog will come to your website. Website visitors will friend you on Facebook. Everyone will receive your tweets! And all of it toward the ultimate goal … selling your book, and maybe even getting the next one published.
Ready to talk to us about building an online presence for yourself? Contact us today for a free consultation!
There are certain pages that are “givens” on author websites. Those include a bio page, a list of books published, a contact page, etc… But what really makes an author web site unique is those “special features” for readers. Things that make the site feel personal and give readers a chance to get an inside peek at the author and their books. After scouring a lot of message boards to see what readers say they like on an author website, here are a few ideas for such content …
- Book outtakes: We love watching the outtakes of a TV show or movie. Why wouldn’t we want to see the same thing from a book? Consider posting “scenes” that didn’t make it in or character sketches for those that didn’t end up appearing in the book.
- What’s in a name: If you’re a fiction writer, there’s a reason you gave characters in your books certain names. Share the secrets with your readers about the secret meanings behind the names, the people from your past who had those names, etc…
- Research notes: Did you do any research for your book? If so, share the stories of where you went, who you spoke to, and what you learned that you didn’t share in the book.
- Games and quizzes: Readers love fun and interactive elements on an author website. Have a quiz related to the book, or a fun game readers can play.
- My favorite things: Give readers a sneak peak into your life (within reason, of course). Share your favorite books and movies. The colors you like to wear. Your favorite month of the year. People just eat this stuff up.
What other unique elements have you enjoyed on author websites? Share your thoughts!
And don’t forget to contact us to take advantage of our free consultation! You won’t want to miss our author website services.
There was a really interesting article this week in the New York Times about authors and book trailers. I highly recommend you read it (but please be aware you need to create a free NY Times account to do so). Here’s the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/11/fashion/11AuthorVideos.html
For those of you who don’t feel like registering, or don’t have the time to read the full article, here are some highlights:
- Most authors feel like they’re out of their comfort zone when they have to make a video. After all, writing and acting are very different skill sets.
- Publishers want to see you and know who you are before they even speak to you about publishing your book. At the very least, they want to know you don’t have two heads or a heavy speech impairment! Hence, the video …
- Jeannette Walls, who starred in trailers for her books “The Glass Castle” and “Half Broke Horses“, received 157,775 hits for her Glass Castle video.
- Author videos are becoming more mainstream. In 2008, Amazon began designating its top five videos of the year. In May, book videos had their own Oscar-ish awards show, the Mobys, for best and worst book video honors.
- Videos are a must for the next generation. According to a 2009 online survey by Teenreads.com, 4 in 10 teenage readers said they liked to see book trailers on book-related blogs and 46 percent watched book trailers on YouTube. Even more startling, 45 percent bought a book after watching the trailer.
- What works for author videos is elusive. But we’re starting to figure out what DOESN’T work. “It’s hard to make a visually interesting video of a writer talking, even when the author is a star,” said Nancy Sheppard, vice president for marketing at Viking. “We see enough static talking heads in the media.”
So here’s the gist: Authors now need videos. The hope is that those book trailers will go viral. They should be interesting and dramatic — not just an author talking. But to get an author to do that can be a bit challenging. Who knows … maybe you’ll be the author who figures it all out
Ready to talk with us about developing an online presence for yourself as an author? Click here to take advantage of our free consultation.
What’s the purpose of your author website? It’s probably to sell books.
When you sell your book to an individual, you’re probably only selling one copy. But when you sell it to an educator — be it an elementary school teacher or a college professor — you could be selling a boatload of copies.
So if you think there’s the possibility that your book could be used by an educator as part of their curriculum, you want to make sure your website helps that cause. Here are a few ways to do just that…
1. Plant the idea in people’s minds. On your homepage, consider including a list of people who might benefit from your book. It could be comprised of any variety of groups, from “animal lovers” to “financial professionals.” But make sure to put educators on that list!
2. Create a “Just for educators” page. Someone who is considering using your book in their class is probably looking for different information on your website than a casual reader. So make sure you clearly direct them to the section of your site where you can speak to them directly on why they should consider using your book, how you think the book would enhance their curriculum, and …
3. Offer downloadable study guides. You want to make this as easy as possible for teachers or professors. So include tips on how to review the book in a class, questions to ask students, good topics of conversation/debate, etc… For concrete examples, see these examples of author websites with study guides.
4. Mention any discounts. If your publisher is willing to offer a discount for bulk purchasing and/or purchasing by an educational institution, make sure to mention that on the website. And make it prominent — so that it can’t be missed.
5. Offer to do personal appearances. For schools in your geographic area, you can offer to come by and discuss the book with the students. On a national level, offer to speak with the students via Skype or video conferencing.
Do you have any other ideas on how to make your book more appealing to educators? Authors (and teachers), share your thoughts here!
And don’t forget to contact us about developing your own author website. Register today for a free consultation!
You probably built your author website because you were trying to promote your first book. And, if you were smart, you built it around yourself as an author. That way, when you got future books published, you could easily promote those on the website as well.
But what do you do between books? Do you just let your website sit there? Dormant until you have a new book to announce? Of course not! Here are a few ways to keep your website active — and interactive — while you’re working on your second, third or fourth book…
- Chronicle your bookwriting. One really interesting idea is to let fans follow the progress of your next book while you’re working on it. You could regularly post updates on what percentage of the book is completed, discuss your publishing efforts, or blog about the ups and downs of working on a new book.
- Blog, blog, blog. I know I really push blogging, but it can do wonders for an author website. This is especially valuable for a non-fiction writer. If you have a particular subject that you have interest in or knowledge of, blog about it! It could be women’s issues, politics, animal rights… whatever. People who are fans of your writing want to read what you have to say.
- Write short stories. This one is more appropriate for fiction writers. Keep your readers satisfied and returning for more by posting free short stories on your website. As a fan once said about her favorite author site, “I spent hours reading those stories. They keep me sane between her books.”
- Don’t forget about announcements and events. Doing any speaking engagements? Winning any awards? Make sure to update your website with this type of information. And every time your previous book hits a sales goal, announce that, too. Don’t think of it as bragging. Think of it as keeping your readers informed.
Do you have any other ideas about how to keep an author website active between titles? Share them with us here!
And if you’re ready to discuss building your author website, contact us today and take advantage of our free consultation!