Archive for October, 2010
I stumbled across a really interesting idea yesterday while reading a marketing magazine. It’s one that I’m going to implement on our site when I get a chance, and I encourage you to as well!
Most of the authors I build websites for have a “thank you” page somewhere on the site. Maybe it’s the page someone is taken to after they sign up for the newsletter …. or submit a question/comment … or buy the book! These “thank you” pages are usually pretty boring. After all, their purpose is usually just to let the person know that their submission — whatever kind it is — has been received.
But why not do more with a “thank you” page than just say “thank you?” Here are some ideas of creative ways authors can put such a page to better use:
- Include links to your social networking profiles, so that people can connect with you other ways as well
- Ask if someone who has signed up for your newsletter would ALSO like to get the RSS feed from your blog
- Offer a fun link to a book excerpt that isn’t available anywhere else on the site
- Write a funny tidbit about how much you enjoy receiving comments like the one a reader just submitted
These are just a few ideas … feel free to get creative with it in a way that works best for you. And please do share any other fun ideas you might have in the “comments” section below.
I came across a really interesting blog entry today on The WM Freelance Writers’ Connection. In it, blogger and author Angela Atkinson talks about a contest she had on her own site (with the three winners getting free copies of her e-book), asking readers for the best and most unique marketing ideas they could muster. Ironically, just holding this contest was a pretty good marketing tactic, so good for you, Angela!
Here are the winners… Hopefully, some of these ideas may help authors like you!
First Place: Monica Holtz
One idea: Donate a portion of the book’s proceeds to a nonprofit organization, and reap higher sales. I did this with my book, Emily at the Zoo (holtzcreativeenterprises.com), and sales have been going strong at retail locations in my area for more than a year.
Another idea: Carry books with you everywhere. When an acquaintance asks what you’ve been doing lately, you can show the person your book. I have sold books this way in the parking lot of a grocery store, at a wedding reception, at meetings, and many other places.
Second Place: Ruth Molinar
1.One idea might be to partner with another author who has a complementary book or service and each of you offer the other’s product as a “bonus” for a limited time.
2. Seek endorsement or back cover blurbs from industry giants or academics.
3. Since you are already on the Kindle and going to other formats (Nook please!), you could work with the house (amazon or B&N) for “feature” you. I know that B&N does this and I have picked up books I would not have otherwise.
3a. B&N also has an excerpt feature for Nook owners to read a small section of the beginning of the book to prompt/tempt buyers— I know this has worked great because I have bought WAY more than I should have because of this!
Third Place: Diane Stephenson
One way is to pre-sell your book. Contact your entire list with an offer of a discount for ordering before the publishing date. Don’t have a list? Post it on your blog with an opt-in page and ask others to post it on their blogs with a link back to your opt-in and the promise of a copy of the book for helping you.
If you attend writers’ conferences there is often an opportunity to display and sell your books and also network with other attendees. You never know who you might meet there – an editor, agent, etc.
Enjoy! And, as always, feel free to contact us about marketing YOUR book online. Take advantage of our free consultation by contacting us today!
One of the things that I recommend for many of my clients on their author web site is a “welcome” message — with a great photo of them right next to it. And I find that many author sites built elsewhere don’t have such a message. Here’s why I think it’s important…
- As its name suggests, it’s welcoming! An author website is a personal thing. It’s a way to let readers experience you outside your books. So it’s important that someone feel welcomed when he or she ends up on an your site. This is your chance to let them get a sense of who you are and feel comfortable in your “space.”
- It provides an overview of the site. Someone might wind up on your author website because they searched for a keyword and simply clicked on one of the links in the results. When they arrive on your homepage, they may see your name and book cover, but is that enough to make them feel as if they’ve found what they’re looking for? The welcome message can essentially say, “Yes, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s what the book and website are about, and here’s what we hope to help you accomplish with it.”
- It’s a chance to list the target audiences. Let’s say you wrote a book about learning disabilities in children. And let’s say that someone ends up on the website because they’re looking for such a book. But how do they know right off the bat if that particular book is for them? They could be a teacher, and wonder if the book is more geared towards parents. Or vice versa. That’s where it’s sooooo helpful to have a list in your welcome message of whom you’re speaking to. In this case, it could be “parents, teachers, special needs educators, etc…”
- It’s your chance to “sell” yourself and your site. Think of the welcome paragraph as an audition of sorts. It may be the only thing that someone reads on your site (it’s going to be the first thing they see when they arrive), so it’s your chance to introduce yourself, explain why you write, what you hope to accomplish with your book, and tout anything you want people to know right off the bat. For example, you could use it to mention writing awards you’ve won, or the fact that a percentage of your proceeds go to charity.
I don’t recommend welcome paragraphs for every site — sites focusing on a book, instead of an author, for instance — but I do recommend it for many author sites. After all, you only have one chance to grab a site visitor’s attention and entice them to click around. Based on my experience, a “welcome” paragraph accompanied by an author photo is the best way to do that.
Ready to talk with us about developing your author web site? Contact us today for a free consultation!
Search engine optimization (SEO) seems to be a theme this week with my clients. Some wanting to start doing it. Some asking questions about it. Others just completely misunderstanding it.
For instance, I had a client earlier this week who asked me to redirect a second URL that she’d purchased to her site. I did that (and optimized the site with that second URL as a keyword), but she kept telling me it wasn’t working. That’s because she was typing the URL into Google, not her browser. They’re not the same thing!
With that in mind, here are what I find to be the most common misconceptions about SEO among my clients:
1. Results are immediate. You may update your site so that it’s chock-full of keywords, but it generally takes weeks (or even months) for those changes to register on the search engines.
2. SEO is guaranteed. This is where it gets tricky. Because I can never guarantee that our SEO efforts — no matter how good they are — will get you on the first page of results. It all depends on the competition and/or the algorithm that the search engines are using for ranking. It’s really a case of trial and error.
3. SEO is permanent. It’s an endless game of cat and mouse. The search engines find an algorythm that works for them. Some computer genius finds a way around it — and gets their site to the top of search results, even though it’s not the most relevant. The computer geniuses at the search engine company then have to adjust the algorythm. And the rest of us non-computer geniuses have to try and keep up!
4. All you need is metadata. Metadata used to be the main cog in terms of search placement. But then the search engines figured out that any site could put tons of keywords in their metadata — that the public will never see — completely unrelated to the site itself. Now, it’s far more about what people can see than what people can’t see.
5. The more links to your site, the better. Quality links to your site are good. But hundreds of links from unrelated sites are not helpful. That’s called “link stuffing.” Also, one link to your site from the NY Times can do a whole lot more good than hundreds of links from little sites.
6. Every page of your site has to be optimized. This is especially relevant for an author site, where basically every page on the site is similar in genre. If you were publishing an online magazine, then you’d want every individual article to be optimized, because each one was probably on a different topic. But for an author site, only spend the time and money optimizing the pages that you want people to end up on — like the homepage or the “book” page — rather than the “contact” page, for example.
E-books are all over the news this week, with two big stories breaking about the future of digital books. It certainly is starting to look more and more like we’re heading towards a world of paper-free reading!
First, on Tuesday, the NY Times reported on Amazon releasing what they’re calling “Kindle Singles.” It’s essentially the equivalent of downloading a single song on iTunes instead of buying a whole album. Amazon says that a “single” will be text that might be 10,000 to 30,000 words long, or roughly 30 to 90 pages of a printed book. And the price would be a lot less than a full book as well, although Amazon has yet to reveal exactly what those prices will be. The NY Times goes on to say, “The new storefront isn’t open for business yet as Amazon still needs to recruit writers of shorter texts. But when it gets started you can expect it to disrupt the publishing industry a little bit more.”
Only days later, we receive news from the Association of American Publishers about the August sales numbers. And, no surprise, the e-book rules! According to their report, print sales went down in August, but e-book sales jumped 172.4%, to $39 million. At the end of 2009 — less than one year ago — e-book sales comprised 3.3% of trade sales. That number has now jumped to 9.0%. And we can only expect it to keep rising.
So what does all this mean for an author like you? It means that you MUST make sure you make your book available in Kindle or e-book format. Otherwise, like many traditional publishing houses, you’ll become outdated. You’ll be the CD lying on the shelf in the old music store that no one buys anymore because they’re on all iTunes now. Don’t let that happen to you!
Thanks to a poll by The Book Publicity Blog, as well as some comments on their blog post about the poll results, I was able to amass this list of annoyances that readers just can’t stand on their author websites. Are you guilty of any of these?
1. Flash intro pages. You should NEVER make people have to wait for a Flash intro to finish before they can start clicking around the site. No matter how cute it may be.
2. No RSS feed for the blog. Don’t make people have to come back to your blog to find your new posts. Make sure fans can sign up for an RSS feed so your posts can come to them.
3. No contact info. Sometimes, readers want to contact YOU — not your publisher or agent. Make sure you allow them to do that, either through an email address or a contact form.
4. Dark background, small fonts. A dark background is hard on the eyes, so if you’re going to have it, make sure your text is large and in a font that’s easy to read.
5. Audio or video that automatically plays. This is a pet peeve throughout the web — and one of my own as well. Let people click “Play” before your book trailer, video, or background music starts blaring. Don’t have it start playing as soon as they arrive on the homepage. That’s just annoying.
6. Untouched blog or message board. If you build these types of community elements, keep them fresh and updated. If you find you’re unable to, then take them down.
7. Missing information. Some people need a printable backlist of your books. They may want the ISBNs and pub dates for each one. You can never include too much of this vital information.
Do you have any other pet peeves about author sites? Share them here!
Many authors wonder if building an author website is going to be worth it. After all, it’s an investment that may or may not get paid back to you.
Building an author website can do a lot more for you than make money. It can raise your profile, build a fanbase, etc… But that leads to the question: How do you put a dollar amount on it? How can you ensure that you get your money back and more?
That’s a hard question to answer. But what I CAN do is tell you all the different ways that you can financially benefit from your author website — both directly and indirectly — and then it’s up to you to figure out how much is worth spending.
There are only a few ways to collect money directly off your website. They are:
- Selling your latest book. This is the obvious way to make money on an author website. Exactly how many books you sell (and how much money you make off of each sale) can depend on your publishing status, how much traffic you get, and how good a job you do selling your book on the website.
- Advertising. There’s no reason you can’t put a Google adwords ad on your website. I can’t say we do it often, but we can do it. And it’s a nice way to collect a little bit of money each month.
But there are so many more ways to indirectly benefit financially from your author website! Like…
- Selling your book … just not on the website. Don’t judge the success of your website on how many books are sold through the site itself. Many people will want to go to the bookstore to buy it. Others will go back to Amazon.com later on and order it.
- Selling your NEXT book. This is the beauty of an author website instead of a book website. With an author site, you can tout your next book before it’s available. You can collect email addresses of people who want to be notified as soon as that book is for sale. By having an author website, you can sell copies of your next book before it’s even published.
- Network schmoozing… Having an author website can give you a HUGE leg up in the industry. Agents, publishers and the media will be far more likely to contact you and consider you an established author/expert if you have a website.
- Promoting your services. Maybe you’re a career coach who wrote a book on success. Maybe you’re an expert on real estate who offers workshops, too. Your author website can be a great tool for not only promoting your writing, but also promoting your additional paid services to those who are impressed with your book.
- Spread the word about book signings. You can promote any upcoming book signings on your website (and through Facebook/Twitter, etc…) to help improve the turnout. The benefit is twofold: 1) you can sell more books there; 2) you can build a better buzz about you and your book.
See what we mean? Whether or not you should spend the money to build an author website shouldn’t be determined only by how many books you plan to sell through the website. In fact, there are so many more ways that you can earn back what you invested … and hopefully a lot more!
Ready to talk with us about building your own author website? Contact us today for a free consultation!
Many authors I speak to say they don’t need an author website: they already have a blog. And vice versa. But here’s why they’re wrong!
A blog by itself…
Well, it generally doesn’t sell any books. And why? Because the book doesn’t get the position that it should on the homepage. A blog will always feature the most recent entry in the most prominent spot. Which means that the first thing someone sees when they arrive on your site is your most recent blog post (and maybe the few before that). Those posts may be about the next book you’re working on, your opinion on a news story related to your book, or just a funny blurb about your trip to the supermarket yesterday. But that’s not selling your book! Every author website should have a static homepage that includes a large photo of the book cover, a tantalizing description of the book, and links to learn more, read an excerpt, read reviews, and/or buy the book. Without that, you’re missing your opportunity to get potential readers exposed to your book.
A website by itself…
Doesn’t really draw people back on a regular basis. It can work for an author whose goal is just selling one particular title. Once that book is sold, it doesn’t matter if the reader comes back again. But most websites are author websites, which means that it’s in the author’s best interest to have readers keep coming back, sign up for newsletters and/or RSS feeds, and stay in touch. This is invaluable in terms of getting reader feedback, interacting with readers, and making sure that people who like your writing will hear about your next book as soon as it’s available. Keeping a blog keeps your site new and fresh, and allows readers to post comments on your writing, which gives your author website two invaluable qualities: interactivity and frequency of updates. A website without a blog can often look … well … static.
When we build websites for authors, we always recommend a static homepage (often with one box that can be updated regularly with news/events) AND a blog that’s integrated into the site. This provides your site with the 1-2 punch it needs to sell your books — both current and future!
If you’re a smart author — and all our Smart Author Sites clients are — you’ll have your website up-and-running well before your book is published. In fact, your website may have even helped to get your book published.
But exactly what should an author be doing with the website for the months leading up to the book’s release date? How do you promote a book that’s not on the shelves yet? Here’s what you can do to get a head start selling copies of your book:
1. Post reviews. If your book is reviewed by a publication pre-release, get that review up on the website ASAP. Especially if it’s a good review.
2. Keep your blog current. Post regularly about things related to your book and/or its release. Make sure people keep coming back for more.
3. Conduct contests. The winner will get an autographed copy of your book as soon as it’s available. Again, this is a great way to create some buzz before the book is even released.
4. Offer a pre-sale price. Obviously, you can only do this if you’re selling the book yourself. But it’s a great way to let people pre-order the book at a discount.
5. Include pre-order links. As soon as your book is available for pre-order on Amazon or B&N, get those links set up from every page of your website. Make it easy for people to order your book immediately.
6. Collect email addresses. Offer an incentive for everyone who visits your website to share their email address. Then, as soon as the book is released, you have a ready-made list of interested parties that you can email with the announcement that the book is available for purchase.
Did you do anything else on your website leading up to the book release that helped increase sales? Share your experiences!