Archive for December, 2011
Kudos to FreePublicityGroup.com for creating this great video with some wonderful points about building author website. In short, it very much illustrates a point I’ve been making for years: it takes a lot more than just good design.
Watch the video below for some more helpful advice:
I came across a GREAT blog post today by author marketing guru Judy Cullins. Here are some of the highlights, quoted directly from the post…
Most authors sell only 200 self-published books. … In my 25 years of book coaching, so many clients don’t do the homework (actions) necessary to make their books well known to their target audience. … Here are 5 mistakes you don’t need to make…
1. Your name or your book aren’t well known enough because you don’t invest the time for a Social Media Book Marketing Campaign. Yes, your book is on Amazon. That’s not a big deal if you don’t send your audience to buy it there. Put up an author page and remember to add your Amazon book cover and blurb to your LinkedIn profile.
2. You present the wrong message about your book. Remember, it’s the hook, not the book. Your audience only cares about what the book will do for them. They don’t care about your story. They don’t care about the number of pages or the quotes or even what’s in the book. If you are a good marketer, your efforts will pay off.
3. You are not savvy with SEO strategies. Aim for top ranking in Google. It takes some time, but you can make it happen with the power of keywords.
4. You don’t realize the importance of a book website and getting targeted traffic there. Conversion rates of opt-ins and book sales are all important, so you must also produce a short sales message for each book, product, or service you want to market.
5. You give up too fast. You need to keep writing valuable content for your blog until you build a following and community who likes you and your information. Think at least six months.
Think the old-fashioned book tour is soooo yesterday? Maybe it’s just being reinvented.
Random House of Canada is certainly testing out that theory. They’ve created a new model for their author book tours. Here’s a summary of what they’re doing, courtesy of Publishers Weekly. Don’t be afraid to steal ideas!
- The book tour events are being done as a group venture: between the publisher/author, Fairmont Hotels and Air Miles. There are sometimes also advertisers who participate, with the opportunity to promote their products, which are usually relevant to the subject matter of the author’s writing.
- These aren’t just quick readings/signings any more. They’re full out events, often including dinner, drinks, etc…
- Attendees have to purchase tickets to the event, and a copy of the book is included in the price. In essence, the author sells a copy of the book for everyone who attends.
- The events range in size from 50 to 250 people, and in price from C$45 to $100.
- This model works best for authors who write in a very niche genre (in the case cited in the article, Natalie MacLean, who writes books about wine). The event includes wining and dining with her, of course.
- The different partners involved in the venture all get to do their own promotion of the event. The hotel gets to promote it to their followers, the author to his or her fans, and the advertiser to everyone who has become a Facebook fan. This exponentially increases the number of people who may be interested in attending.
- Some of these book tours are still taking place in old-fashioned bookstores, or are at least being hosted by bookstore owners. PW reports that: “Toronto bookseller Ben McNally is well-known for hosting brunches at the posh King Edward Hotel that allow readers to meet authors while enjoying a meal, and occasionally, he does dinner events at Grano Ristorante.”
Remember, it doesn’t take a publisher to execute something like this. If you’re an indie author and, say, wrote a book on travel and tourism, you could partner with hotels, airlines, cruise lines, etc.. to create a fun, informative kick-ass event. Will it work? Well, you’ll sell some copies of your book. Whether or not you’ll make money is still up in the air, but it’s worth a shot.
I came across this excellent blog entry today. Its name says it all: The 8 Jobs of Modern Writers.
For the purpose of this blog entry, I’m not going to focus on the editing or the accounting that goes along with writing.
No, I’m going to focus on the marketing that Robert Lee Brewer mentions.
The [sad] truth is that he’s absolutely correct. I hear this from writers all the time. There was once a time when a great writer could simply be a writer: nothing more and nothing less. If his or her writing was good enough, success was sure to come.
But, like in every other field, times are changing. Anyone who has worked in the corporate world would tell you that the people who move up the corporate ladder generally aren’t those who do the best job. No, the people who get the promotions are the ones who’ve kissed the most ass.
In the case of authors, today’s writer also needs to be an expert marketer. Put yourself in the shoes of a publisher. If you have two authors who both send you excellent manuscripts, and one has an entire marketing campaign already in place, which one are you going with?
You may not be a marketer. In fact, you may not want to put together a marketing campaign. As Robert points out in his blog entry, many authors are introverts, making marketing themselves a pretty unpleasant experience.
Every job has some unpleasant responsibilities. Yours is marketing yourself. Here are a few ways to do just that.
- Build yourself an author website. Use it to highlight both yourself and your writing. Include photos of yourself, your bio … anything that makes you appealing to both publishers and readers.
- Get involved in social networking. Create yourself a Facebook fan page. Join LinkedIn, Twitter, GoodReads. Over time, determine which ones seems to be getting you the most interest from readers and stick with those.
- Blog, blog, blog. It’s true: blogging is a bit of a time-sucker. But it’s also one of the primary ways that people learn about you. It’s only through your blog that people will find your website, learn about your book(s), join your mailing list, etc…
- Connect, connect, connect. Reach out to people who are interested in your type of writing. Join communities and groups of readers in your genre. Connect with other authors and share ideas. The more people you connect with, the greater your network of friends and followers.
I came across an interesting article this morning in my trusted Internet & Marketing Report newsletter. It talked about a survey that was run on Facebook, asking the Facebook fans of various companies exactly what they want most when becoming a “fan” or following someone on Facebook.
Here’s what they say they’re expecting from the companies they’re following, as well as my own interpretation of how authors can use this information.
- 1. Excusive Content, Events or Sales
Percentage of people saying it’s important: 58%
What authors can do: Share information on Facebook that you don’t anywhere else. Promote your events, offer special writings exclusively to your Facebook fans, and share information on how your book is doing, feedback you’re getting on it, etc…
- 2. Discounts or Promos
Percentage of people saying it’s important: 58%
What authors can do: If you’re selling the book yourself, offer a special discount for Facebook fans. You can also consider selling autographed copies of the book exclusively to people who have become fans on Facebook. If you’re offering special contests, tell your Facebook people first to give them a leg up on others. In short, there some financial advantage that comes with committing to your Facebook fan page.
- 3. Updates, Photos or Videos
Percentage of people saying it’s important: 47%
What authors can do: Duh! Post on Facebook. And frequently. Post status updates about your daily experiences as an author. Upload photos and videos of yourself at book signings, or when you’re meeting fans. There’s no such thing as posting too much on Facebook.
- 4. Relevant Content Based on the Info in Their Profiles
Percentage of people saying it’s important: 36%
What authors can do: Now, this is a little trickier than the others, because it involves some legwork. Basically, authors should start by looking at the profiles of the people who have become their Facebook fans. Are they other writers? Are they readers? Just people interested in the subject matter of the book? Whatever it is, get a good sense of who they are, and post content on Facebook that is relevant to them. After all, what you would post to a group of authors is probably very different from what you would post to people who just love sci-fi books, right?
- 5. The Ability to Interact With the Page Owner
Percentage of people saying it’s important: 28%
What authors can do: Interact, interact, interact. That means that you need to pose questions to your readers, look for their responses, and keep the conversation going. Also, encourage fans to submit questions to you, and respond to those too. Once someone becomes a fan of yours, they’re fully expecting to be able to communicate with you through your fan page, so don’t disappoint.
So you have a book and a website. You may even be getting some great feedback on them. But how do you go from a few people telling you that you’re a great writer to actually being a successful author?
Thanks to browsing a few conversations within author groups, I have amassed the following quotes from other authors on what’s worked for them….
“I have found that pledging a donation to charity with every copy sold has helped move a few off the shelf, and the bonus is that with a win-win relationship like this, I have had the opportunity to present at and be involved in a range of activities with the relevant charitable organisations for free while also being part of raising awareness for issues that arise in my book.”
“Today I got a call from a large hospital in my area, and they want to interview me and allow me to sell my book through their offices and their email contacts as well. All because I dedicated my book to them.”
“Send a copy to a big (online or print) newspaper in the market you wish to cultivate, with a nice “sell sheet” that basically has your back cover info on one full-color page, and a personalized cover letter to the editor or the book reviewer (or both).”
“Go to local book stores and secure signings (you might have to contribute wine). Participate in teleseminars. Place guest posts on other blogs. Invite other writers to guest post on your blog.”
“A Twitter account can help increase your presence online and help you connect with the folks you want to connect with. It takes some time out of your day to post Tweets, correspond and reply back but it’s worth it.”
“Post links here to where your book is on sale, put them on your profile, send out a ‘global’ message to all your contacts and connections, make a FB page for the book – and yourself – and invite people to ‘like’ it and share it.”
“One thing that Paulo Cuelho and his wife, Chris, did was to print pamphlets and hand them out at cinema and other queues – captive audiences.”
“Why not make a ‘fan’ page just for your book – loving the title and cover BTW – you can garner ‘likes’ for it and spread the word that way.There are chains and groups that will help you promote.”
Do you have additional ideas about how to spread the word? Share them in the comments box below!
I can’t tell you how many times I get comments from authors about wanting to remove the repetition on their website’s homepage. But why? In some cases, repetition is a good thing.
Here’s an example: we might have a picture of the book cover on the homepage with a link next to it that says something like “Read more about the book.” We may also have an element in the navigation that says something like “About the book.” On numerous occasions, I’ve had authors tell me to ditch the link by the book cover – it’s repetitive.
Here’s why that’s a mistake…
Authors are used to writing for print. In a book, you don’t want to have repetition. That’s because people generally read a book from cover to cover. If they come across something that they’ve read before, it feels repetitive to them.
People don’t “read” websites, though. They peruse websites. In fact, research shows that your average visitor will only spend a few seconds on a site’s homepage before leaving. What will they see in those few seconds? Certainly not everything on the homepage. No, what they will see is what catches their attention. It might be the book cover. It might be the author photo. Maybe it’s a graphic they like. Whatever it is, you want to make sure you encourage readers to DO something during those few seconds that you have their attention. Don’t make them scan the page to find something … bring it to them, even if you do so in a multitude of ways.
To further the point that repetition is okay, let’s talk about the difference between website navigation and content. The navigation of an author site (or any site, really) should be the primary way of getting around. Everything that’s on the website should be summarized in that nav, and anyone who glances at the navigation should be able to get a sense of what they can find on the site and where to find it.
That navigation is a resource — sort of like an index — that appears on every page of the website. But you shouldn’t mistake that index for anything except a resource for someone to glance at when they’re looking for something.
The content on your homepage is the bread and butter of your site. It’s completely different from the nav; it’s what YOU want your readers to see, not necessarily what they’re looking for. So even if you have links to buy the book or read an excerpt in the nav, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use the content of the homepage to tantalize people into doing the same.
Think about it…. When you visit a website, what do you first look at? Chances are, it’s not the navigation. No, that’s what you glance at when you’re looking for something specific, or if you want to get a sense of the kind of content that the site encompasses. Your true attention goes to the body of the page. You want to see the headlines, read the copy, and look at the pictures. If it’s compelling enough, you might decide to take the plunge and click through to the links that are included in that content, enter your email address, or purchase the book.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you should eliminate calls to action on your homepage because the same links exist in your navigation. Repetition is okay. Your content and your nav are like apples and oranges: all they have in common is that they’re both a type of fruit. If you want to call that repetition, so be it.