Archive for April, 2011
It’s a common complaint I get from authors today: “How am I supposed to find the time to invest in all these social networking sites?” I can’t say I have a great answer for that.
But one thing I can do is advise authors as to which social networking sites may be most effective for them. Just like every author website is different, every author should have a marketing campaign to drive traffic to their site — one that’s customized to their audience.
I just read an article yesterday in Internet and Marketing Report which says that more and more people are separating their social media lives into professional (LinkedIn) and personal (Facebook).
With that in mind, here’s a good way to know whether your time and effort should be dedicated to Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter…
You Should Spend Time on Facebook If Your Book (or Books) …
- Appeals to readers under 40
- Would be appropriate for a book club
- Seems to spark controversy/conversation
- Is one that you think could go viral (i.e. people want to share it with all their friends)
You Should Spend Time on LinkedIn If Your Book (or Books) …
- Has some kind of connection to business or finance
- Is a self-help book that could provide career guidance for people
- Would be relevant to people you may have worked with in the past
- Is specific to one industry or field of work
You Should Spend Time on Twitter If Your Book (or Books) …
- Is specifically for teens, tweens, or young adults
- Has a subject matter or theme that you can continue to update people on
This is not to say that you should only use one of these three social networking tools. Especially Twitter — which can be useful in conjunction with either Facebook or LinkedIn.
But, hopefully, by figuring out where your target audience is spending their time (and what they’re doing on those sites), you can put your social networking efforts to good use and sell the most copies of your book possible.
This Saturday, April 30th, I will be appearing as part of a panel at the American Society of Journalists and Authors’ 2011 Writers’ Conference in New York City.
At 9:45 am, I will be one of three speakers presenting at a workshop titled: Website Wording: 10 Things You Must Say.
If you’re in the New York area, you can still register for the conference at http://www.asja.org/wc/2011/. Here are just a few of the things that I’m going to cover in my presentation:
- How to set goals for your author website … and build the site to meet those goals
- Why (and how) to amass contacts through your site
- What to do (and not to do) on your homepage
- How to make it easy for people to buy the book through your website
- Why it’s important to keep your website fresh and updated — and how to do that
Sometime in the next few weeks, I should have a video of the entire presentation to post here. And I’ll definitely do that for those of you who aren’t fortunate enough to make it to the workshop.
But I highly encourage any of you who are based in or around New York to attend … not only for my presentation, but for all the wonderful things you can learn this weekend. I plan on sticking around for a while after my workshop to attend a few others.
If you’re going to be there, please post a comment below and let me know. Maybe we can connect!
In the second post of this series (click here to see the first), we’re featuring Patrick Maguire, MD, the author of “When Cancer Hits Home.” His book was released and his website launched in December. Since then, he has been getting rave book reviews, good site traffic (at least 500 visitors each month), and lots of media appearances.
So what is Patrick doing right? Here are his answers to our questions….
1. Who built your website? How was the experience?
2. Which social networking sites do you regularly participate in? Facebook? Twitter? GoodReads? LinkedIn? Any others?
Only Facebook & only as “fan page”
3. How has your online presence (be it through a website or social networking profiles) increased your visibility/book sales?
Visibility has definitely increased. Book sales tend to lag a bit behind the increased visibility.
4. What is your “secret” to achieving this success? Were there any tricks or creative ideas (i.e. a contest) that you used?
Link to Facebook fan page, with >100 fans thus far, has been one critical point. Regular blog (about once per week) about cancer in the news, etc has also helped.
5. Is there anything you would do differently if you were starting over again?
Newsletter has not been too helpful and I would eliminate it. But the advice from folks at Smart Author Sites was excellent and wouldn’t change a thing! I’d still like to better connect to other bloggers, etc.
6. What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned in the process of building your online presence as an author?
Online presence as author takes consistent work, similar to book marketing in general.
7. How and where do you promote your website? Is the URL on business cards? Your email signature?
Email signature. Also, any e-mail ads that I send out always have both Amazon URL & my website URL.
8. Final words of wisdom for any new authors wondering how to get started….
Talk to the folks at Smart Author Sites!!
Aw, thanks, Patrick! We’re blushing…
You guys are writers! You’re creative with words! Maybe it’s time to break out of the mold when it comes to link text on your website.
If you browse 50 author websites, you’ll probably find the words “Click here” … “Read more” and “Buy Now” appearing hundreds of times. Because it’s easy. It’s clear. It’s pretty standard, right?
Here are some reasons why you should throw “standard” under the bus and start getting more creative with your link text…
- Google likes words! Want to start ranking highly on Google for a keyword, like “science fiction novel”? Then have those words in the links on your website. Google calls this “anchor text” — it’s the text that is actually clickable and links to another page on your website. The page that is linked to from the exact words in the anchor text will actually start appearing higher on results pages for that search term. “Click here” does you no good in terms of the search engines.
- Readers like more detail. Sure, people will click on a link that says “Read more.” But even MORE people might click on it if it actually tells them what they’re getting. For example, if you have a picture of your book cover with a “Read more” link underneath it, try changing that link text to, “Get the publishing details,” or “Watch the book trailer.” The more information you can give people about where they’re going, the more likely they are to click.
- Remember, this is a marketing tool! Offer benefits to your readers in your links. For example, “Sign up for tips” is far more likely to get someone to subscribe than “Click here.” … “Get a sneak peek inside this breathtaking book” is more interesting than “Featured excerpt.” Get the idea? You need to sell your clicks, just like you’re selling your book.
So next time you see the words, “click here” or “read more” on your website … click your “edit” tool and change them!
It has been an interesting topic of conversation over the last few weeks: “The End of Social Media?”
And while that’s a little dramatic (and we aren’t about to say that authors should stop using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn — that’s practically career suicide nowadays!), it may be time to start thinking about what you’re going to do after the social media craze is over….
Several months ago, I started noticing that television commercials for everything from fast food to cleaning products were no longer putting their domain names at the footer of the screen at the end of the commercial. Instead, they were putting their Facebook URLs. I specifically remember seeing www.Facebook.com/FritoLay. I remember wondering if this was a wise move … after all, you’re taking your website traffic and sending it to Facebook.
I now know that my instincts were correct. That’s not a wise move for anyone. In fact, this recent article from AdAge points out how Pepsi has fallen well below Coke because of its heavy focus on social networking.
There’s also an article in a recent issue of Internet and Marketing Report that estimates that the social media craze has pretty much peaked (thank goodness). Much like reality TV, it will remain popular for a while, but won’t continue to grow at leaps and bounds.
So, for authors, this is the time to take a step back and start thinking about how you’re going to manage your online marketing efforts for the next few years. After all, it’s better to be ahead of the curve than behind it!
One of the concerns I’ve had about social networking from the beginning is the fact that, unlike with your own website, it’s the social networking sites that are essentially in control of your profile and your relationships. For example, you may have 1,000 Facebook friends. But if they stop using Facebook, then you’ve essentially lost them. You don’t have their contact info (phone number, email address), nor do you know how to reach them through other social networking channels.
So maybe it’s time to take the bull by the horns. Here are a few ways to do that….
- Ask all your Facebook friends/fans to give you their contact info directly. Try encouraging them to sign up for your email newsletter, and make sure you offer some kind of reward for doing that. This way, the information will be in your hands, and you can do with it as you wish down the line.
- Talk to any teenagers you know and ask them how they’re following their favorite authors, actors, singers, etc… They always have a leg up on us oldies (and I’m in my 30s, which makes me practically ancient).
- Put your attention back to your own website. Do you keep it current? Do you blog? Rather than spending all your time on social networking sites, make sure you don’t neglect your own site. After all, that’s yours. It can always be yours.
Who knows what the future holds in terms of author marketing…. But if you think ahead, you may get a leg up on everyone else.
I recommend that every author create a profile on Facebook, garner friends and/or fans and then start posting, posting, posting! But what you may not know is this: Your posts don’t necessarily show up on the walls of those friends and fans that you’ve amassed.
Just like Google has a secret back-end system through which it determines what is going to show up on search results, Facebook has its own algorithm for determining which posts/status updates are going to show up on other people’s walls. Which means that if you’re not doing A, B, and C, then you’ll never get D — exposure for what you have to say!
So just what should you be doing to make sure you’re making the most of your Facebook efforts? Based on what we know, here are the tricks for increasing your Facebook exposure.
- Keep time in mind: Time is a important factor in your Facebook efforts, and for two reasons. One reason is because the largest percentage of people are on Facebook in the evenings (after work hours), so that’s the time of day that you’re most likely to have people eyeballing what you’re posting. Conversely, since the newest content is the most visible (your posts will disappear once there are enough “newer” ones), you may want to consider posting late at night or when there’s less competition. Try out both strategies, and see what generates the most buzz.
- Interact! The more you interact with your friends and fans, the more likely that Facebook is going to raise your ranking with them, which means that your posts will appear higher on their walls. And the more that people are responding to your status updates, the better “quality” that Facebook will consider them — again, raising your rankings. So respond to what your friends are posting, and make sure that your posts encourage people to respond to you. The more interaction, the better!
- Use “share” links. Every article or blog post that exists on your website should have a Facebook “share” link. This will allow people to share your external writings through their Facebook profile. That means that not only will your Facebook friends be reading what you wrote, but so will the friends of friends — a great way to increase your Facebook audience.
No matter how you feel about social media, Facebook is a great way to reach a wide audience. So follow this simple advice and you can make the most of it.
There are many things that we hear that people want on an author website: a bio, photos, a list of books, etc…
But every author is different, and every group of readers is different. Someone who visits the website of an author who writes about campaign finance reform probably is looking for something different than the 13-year-old who wants to learn more about a YA author.
Given the number of author websites I’ve worked on, I generally have a good idea of what works for each genre. But you know what could be even more beneficial? Hearing from your readers directly!
We could build a website for you that WE think is cool, hip, and chock full of information, but what really matters is what the readers think.
With that in mind, consider using the free survey service: SurveyMonkey.com. Use this easy survey tool to ask your readers what they like on your current site, what they would love to see on the site, and what their favorite things are on other author websites. Find out how frequently they’d like to be updated, if they would be interested in doing live chats, etc…
Make sure your readers are asked to participate in the survey by including links on your homepage, touting the survey on your blog, inviting all your Facebook fans to participate, and including links to it in all your emails.
The results of the survey may surprise you. But, I guarantee, they will be invaluable.
The BookNet Canada Technology Forum started this week. And the early message? Community is the key!
In this Publisher’s Weekly article, they talk about a presentation by digital marketing guru Mitch Joel, president of Twist Image. Here are the highlights…
- Publishers always used to promote books to a wide audience, hoping that a small percentage of them would buy the book. The new trend is to speak to a much smaller, targeted audience. “Social media centers on who you are getting your message out to, not how many,” the article states. In addition, there are hundreds of specialty websites and communities out there that specialize in your type of writing. For fiction writers, there are tons of book clubs and book review sites that focus on your genre. Nonfiction writers can find websites and communities that gather around the subject of the book. Join those communities … talk to them … tailor your messages to them. It’s far cheaper (although more labor-intensive) than traditional advertising.
- It’s important to be relevant to your audience. You may be one of the 600 friends a potential reader has on Facebook, but that doesn’t mean they’re really following you. Think about it: you have lots of “friends” on Facebook, but how many of them do you really pay attention to? In order to break into that small group that a reader actually follows, you need to provide fun, interesting, relevant information that they can enjoy or use.
- Authors shouldn’t be afraid of social media. In his speech, Joel reported that between 75% and 85% of people who shop online read reviews first. But many publishers and authors shy away from allowing readers to post online reviews, because they can’t control the negative comments. But maybe we all need to change our mindset. “Social media is about making your content as sharable and findable as possible,” he stressed.
- It’s soooo important to interact with readers. There are two types of content on the web: static content (in which the author is doing the talking and the reader is doing the listening) and interactive content (a back-and-forth conversation). Patrick Brown, Goodreads director of author and publisher outreach, points out the importance of interactive content, which can include blogging, commenting on Facebook, answering reader questions online, etc… He notes that more than 750 people joined a group that allowed them to pose questions to author Margaret Atwood. That’s power!
I find myself overwhelmed with the variety of social networks an author can use to promote him or herself. Quality blog posts on my official site should take priority — should represent my writing completely — however, in the online popularity game of celebrity status (i.e. the more networks your name is on the better) I find it hard to put the right amount of time and effort into my blog.
I decided to stop promoting myself for the sake of promoting myself, and began a Twitter account to bring awareness to the anti-conflict diamond campaign — a cause I care deeply about, which in return promotes my research, writing, and helps me build a reader following by tweeting with people who are interested in the subject.
Authors that specialize in a particular field will find Twitter to be a useful tool for (1) informing your audience on current topics, studies, and statistics related to your expertise, (2) directing traffic to your official site, and (3) marketing your book (products or services). People with Twitter accounts often choose to follow others who are involved in the same interests and careers. Using this site is a great way to reach out to your targeted audience. An author can have a link to their Twitter account via their Website. It’s a great way for first time visitors to connect to your site by them following your tweets. It keeps you connected to your readers…bonus.