Archive for March, 2012
I’ve said it many times before: it’s waaaaayyyy easier to market a nonfiction book than it is fiction. The reasons are numerous:
1. People are searching for books on specific topics. They find those books. No one is searching for a good novel, so a fiction book has to find them.
2. Nonfiction writers have knowledge in a specific field that the average guy doesn’t have. As a result, he or she can blog about the topic and have a ready-made audience of people wanting more information on the subject.
3. Nonfiction writers have a wealth of organizations, groups, websites, etc… to reach out to about promoting their book. It’s easy to explain why such a book would be valuable to people already interested in the subject matter.
But marketing a fiction book? That’s a whole lot more difficult. Thankfully, there are people out there who have come up with some great ideas for doing so. Here are highlights from a post I read today titled 7 killer book marketing tips for fiction on Build Book Buzz … and some comments in parentheses.
1. Support your book with a good website designed by a professional. (Hint: Smart Author Sites )
2. Use your content to identify promotion allies. (A great example is Camille Noe Pagán’s novel, The Art of Forgetting, which tells the story of what happens to a friendship when one of the friends suffers a traumatic brain injury. Pagán partnered with the Bob Woodruff Foundation.)
3. Think beyond book reviews. (Get the press to talk about your book for as long as it’s available for purchase.)
4. Use the nonfiction nuggets in your manuscript to create newsworthy material for media outlets. (Think about products, locations, services or brand names in your novel. Can you use any of those to find people with a personal interest in featuring your book?)
5. Take advantage of holidays, special occasions, annual events, and seasonal stories. (There’s a holiday for just about everything. Hitch your book to one of them and use it to get into the news.)
6. Leverage what you uncovered while writing your book. (Did you learn about a period in history or a specific region? Use this knowledge as a springboard for publicity.)
7. Get social. (Pick your favorite social media outlet — Facebook, Twitter, etc… — and master it.)
Hopefully, some of these techniques will help you turn your new novel into the next hot topic at the water cooler!
Talk about a chicken-and-egg situation. You have to design and build a website. You also have to get traffic there. Which should you do first? Which is more important?
Well, they’re equally important. And obviously building the site should come first. But here’s the catch: if you don’t build it the right way, all the traffic in the world won’t mean a thing. In other words, what good is having a website if the people who visit it don’t do what you want them to do?
Whether your goal as an author is to sell books, build a mailing list, or turn yourself into a superstar in your field, here are some tips I’ve collected on how to build your site right the first time around.
1. Talk to one audience. Who are you trying to reach? Is it readers? Prospective clients? Agents? Don’t spread yourself too thin trying to be too many things to too many people.
2. Track conversions. What’s your goal? Is it books sold? Sign-ups? Track how many people are doing each of these, and use Google Analytics to determine exactly how those people are getting to your site and what they’re doing while they’re there.
3. “Sell” what you want to sell. Authors have to wear many hats today. Being a marketer of themselves and their books is just one of them. Don’t be afraid to talk up your book and explain to your readers how their lives would change from reading it or how it’s the best book in its genre today. If you want people to sign up for your email list, give them incentives to do it. Be a salesperson and don’t be afraid of doing so.
4. Prioritize content over design. What would make you decide to take the plunge and buy a book? Would it be the cool graphics on the author website? Or would it be the compelling description of the book, the tantalizing testimonials, or the quote from the great review that the book got? Sometimes, authors get too caught up in a flashy design and forget what’s most important to visitors: information.
5. Build relationships. Don’t treat your website like a brick-and-mortar store. This isn’t a business you’ve created. It’s your author persona. When people join your mailing list or decide to read your book, they’re committing to you. Return the favor by writing personal thank yous to your readers, offering to answer their questions, and taking a genuine interest in how they enjoyed your books and services.
6. Be a kick-ass copywriter (or hire one). As I touched on before, words are very powerful. The websites that get the most sales are ones that literally go out, grab a potential reader, and don’t let go. If you can write that way, then great! If not, consider hiring someone to write some of your sales copy … or at least getting some feedback from other professionals on your efforts.
Remember, if you don’t do it right the first time around, those visitors may never come back again.
I’ve written posts before about the options for building online shopping carts for authors. But there’s some news this week that gives authors yet another way to sell their books online.
Lulu.com, one of the industry leaders in the self-publishing and selling of e-books, launched a new e-commerce platform this week. Their site underwent many upgrades that reportedly can improve the self-publishing experience.
But there’s one little tidbit that was part of this announcement which intrigued me the most:
The new platform creates an entirely new infrastructure for Lulu.com to build upon, which greatly increases the speed at which the company can release new features and updates in the future to better equip customers with the tools they need, when they need them. One example being Lulu.com’s soon to be available ecommerce APIs (Application Programmer Interfaces), which enable businesses and publishers to build Lulu.com and Elastic Path’s ecommerce tools into their own branded websites – absolutely free.
If I am understanding this correctly, this means that authors will now be able to embed the Lulu shopping cart into their own website at no cost. They can sell one or more of their books through their site, allow people to purchase multiple copies of each one … and these readers would never leave the author’s site.
For authors who publish through Lulu and only sell e-books, this is a huge boon. I know I’ll be recommending it to authors who fit the bill.
Unfortunately, that’s only a small percentage of authors … at least as of today. Remember: this shopping cart will only allow you to sell the e-book through Lulu. You can’t sell hard-copies, and you can’t let people purchase it through Amazon, B&N, etc…
That said, this may be one of those defining moments that causes even more authors to publish through Lulu. After all, self publishing and e-books are the wave of the future. This news can just help speed that process along.
Given the fact that I make a living building author websites, it’s not surprising that I firmly believe in their importance. You hear a lot of people today shunning websites for social networking and/or apps, but I think they’re missing the boat. Thankfully, I was reminded this morning that I’m not alone in feeling this way. In fact, a large majority of the author market agrees with me.
I stumbled upon a conversation on a message board this morning. The subject line? “Are author websites really necessary?” Here are highlights from some of the responses:
“I use mine to post links to interviews on other sites, for articles I write, and for building an email list. Fans can see what I’m working on and what’s happening.”
“Extremely important to have one. You need a place to build interest and a platform while you write the book. It’s amazing how many authors start their marketing after the book is done. Wrong!”
“It’s funny, in the Internet marketing world they’re always selling… here authors hate to sell. But if you want to be successful, you have to market yourself/book and a website is crucial.”
“I believe author websites are necessary, if for nothing else but to give people a starting place on how to find your work and how to contact you. It’s great to have all that information in one handy place.”
“Necessary? No. But a good cover isn’t necessary, because I’ve seen books with terrible covers sell. A good editor isn’t necessary, because I’ve seen poorly edited books sell. But I think everyone here would say that it’s important to have a good cover and good editing. So necessary? No. A very good idea, especially if done well? Yes.”
“People who’ve read and liked my stuff may do a web search to learn more about me and whether I’ve got any other upcoming works, so it’s nice to have that info readily available for them in one place. I wouldn’t want to rely on Amazon and some random bloggers who may or may not ever mention me as my sole way of reaching readers.”
“You want to set up the website early on so that you get all the search affiliations built up before you start selling. You’re going to want to redirect those readers somewhere. You’re going to want to get them signed up for new releases emails / mailing lists. That sort of stuff needs to be built out before you publish. If a new fan runs a Google search and can’t find you? That’s what I would classify as a disaster.”
“The cost is minimal and the reward is outstanding. I use my website to connect with readers, to let them know what I’m working on (and when it’ll be out). I get feedback on cover ideas and answer their questions in the forums (which were free to install on my site). And I sell signed books through my website (30-40 this week, so it makes financial sense as well).”
“Nowadays, the Internet is likely the very first place readers are going to look when they want to find out more about you and your books. You want them to be able to find that information quickly and easily.”
“I use mine as sort of a gathering place for all my online endeavors — books, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. It gets a decent amount of traffic and I have a number of fans who refuse to use social media. Plus the URL is my name (KathleenValentine.com) so, if nothing else, it makes it easy to tell people how to find me.”
“I’m new to this, but I track the traffic and it helps to show me which promotions are working. I’d say for me, it’s definately necessary. For Nora Roberts, maybe not so much. People are going to buy her books no matter what.”
Convinced yet? If you’re ready to get started on an author website, contact us today for a free consultation!
We build all of our author sites on WordPress. And if you’re familiar with WordPress, you know that it’s all about plug-ins. They’re what turn a flat site into a dynamic one. They’re how you integrate SEO and social networking into static text. Here is the list of plug-ins that we’ve found to be most effective for authors. Best of all, these are all free!
If you have other plug-ins you’d like to recommend, share them in the comments box below!
- All-In One SEO Pack: This plug-in automatically submits your website to all the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc…). It also allows you to write unique metadata for each site page and each blog post. That information is then submitted to the search engines and can help your placement on results pages.
- G-Lock Double Opt-In Manager: Want to start collecting email addresses? Of course you do. This easy plug-in allows you to have a sign-up box anywhere on your site. You can customize the text to offer promotions, etc… for people who sign up. All the email addresses collected are then stored in a database and you can use them as you wish.
- WP-DB Backup: We’ve all done it. We’ve made a mistake that we wish we could undo. That’s the beauty of this backup plug-in. It backs up all of your work so that you can go back in time and undo any screw-ups that may have arisen.
- Simply Sociable: You want people to be able to share your site and/or blog post on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, etc… right? That’s what this plug-in does. It automatically adds those sharing options to every page and every post.
- Ultimate Google Analytics: What good is a website if you’re not keeping track of how many people are visiting it, what they’re doing there, etc…? Set up a free Google Analytics account and use this plug-in to implement it on your site. Just enter your account information and you will automatically have access to a wealth of information about your site traffic.
- Akismet: If you’ve ever had a blog before, you know the biggest pain in the neck that can accompany it: SPAM comments. Akismet can block a HUGE percentage of that SPAM before it even comes into your mailbox. It doesn’t work 100% of the time, but even 90% can make an enormous difference.
What plug-ins can’t you live without? Share them with us!
I have written more posts than I can count on author blogging: how to do it, when to do it, and why to do it.
It seems that I’m not alone. A blogger with Infinity Publishing — a self-publishing company with which we have a partnership — thinks the same way. Today, I present you with Sherrie Wilkolaski’s Blogging Is a Goldmine for Self-Published Authors.
Here are the highlights of her top 7 secrets to blogging success … with which I whole-heartedly agree.
- Select the key words for your website. Do you your research and find the right keywords that make the most sense for your title. … Tag your content with those key words with every article.
- Write on the subject matter associated with your key words. It really is as simple as that. It may take you some time, but find your voice.
- Fresh content. Write a new article every day, or at least 3-4 days a week and you’ll be a hit with the search engines. Note: Don’t just throw up anything on your blog. Make sure it’s a value to your audience.
- Blog on the weekends. You’ll be a rock star with the search engines.
- Invite guest bloggers to the party. Blogging 356 days a year can become daunting, so why not invite some guest bloggers to join you in your effort to fill your blog with relevant content. It also helps with cross-promotion, have your guest bloggers provide you with a link back to your site and ask that they let their audience know about their guest appearance.
- Syndicate your blog. Distribution of your content is key. Make sure you have an RSS feed and an email subscription option to your blog. Use your social media outlets to help market your daily blog posts and your content will go viral.
- Track your results with Google Analytics. Monitor the traffic on your site and see what content your visitors are most interested in…then write more of it.
Sherrie finishes her post by saying:
I’m living a bloggers dream. Not only am I seeing the results in the website traffic. It has rekindled my romance with writing. It just doesn’t get any better than that. Well, only if I was writing in Paris. Cheers!
If more self-published authors took Sherrie’s advice, my job would be a whole lot easier!
It’s one of the greatest challenges of an author website: keeping it both active and interactive. It’s easy to just build a site with your bio, your book descriptions, etc…. But why would a reader continue to come back to a site like that? That’s where interaction comes in.
It’s important that an author continue to keep their site updated with news, events, and commentary (enter the blog). But it’s equally important that an author allow a reader to also feel involved in the site. It’s only those readers — the ones who really feel like they’re interacting with the author — that turn into your loyal fans for years to come.
So how can an author make their site interactive? Here are some ideas:
- Encourage reader reviews. Allow people who have read your book(s) to submit their own comments on it. Approve anything that’s appropriate to appear on the site … even if it’s somewhat critical.
- Ask and answer questions. Pose questions to your readers. Ask them what they thought of certain parts of the book. Encourage them to submit questions to you, too … and answer them. Create a conversation.
- Hold contests. If you write for kids or teens, then allow children to submit their own short stories for possible inclusion on the site. Ditto for adults. Come up with a creative way to tie a contest in to your book and your genre, and offer a sweet reward (like an autographed copy of the book) for the winners.
- Let readers contribute to your next book. Working on another book? Ask your readers to submit ideas for character names, locations, etc… Not only does this excite readers, but it may help you come up with new and interesting ideas, too.
Have you done other things to make your author website interactive? Share them with us in the comments box below!
And if you’re ready to get started on your author website, contact us today for a free consultation!
I read another great piece in Internet and Marketing Report today. This article focused on the most common mistakes people make using — or not using — social media. I’m going to relay some of this information, putting an author slant on it, of course.
Mistake #1: Waiting too long to get started
Are you on the fence about whether or not to build profiles on Facebook and Twitter? Well, stop thinking and act now. There are many problems that you can avoid by getting started sooner rather than later. First, it’s important to grab your profile name before someone else does it for you. Also, you should be aware that other people are already discussing you and your book somewhere in the internet universe. If you don’t start talking about it too, you’re letting others dictate the conversation.
Mistake #2: Only talking about yourself
Much like what I’ve discussed in terms of website content, the posts/tweets on social media sites must have some value to the people you want following them. Your friends may be interested in your family or your trip to the store, but potential readers are not. Write posts that ask for comments and opinions. Offer insight into topics of interest. Keep this in mind as you write your next post: Fill-in-the-blank questions generate nine times more comments than regular posts.
Mistake #3: Posting infrequently or without a strategy
To answer your question before you even ask it … No. Posting once a month on Facebook or Twitter is not enough. Nor is posting randomly about things unrelated to one another. Create a strategy for your social media page. Decide how often you’re going to post (ideally, at least once a day), who your posts are targeting, and what they’re offering people. For example, if you’re an author of a nonfiction book, you might want to decide to post once a day — say, after you read the morning paper — with links to interesting news articles on the subject matter of your book.
Mistake #4: Writing posts that are too long
Don’t confuse your social networking profile with your blog. If you want to write a few paragraphs about something that’s going on in the world, your opinion on the political scene, etc… do it in a blog post. Then use your Facebook and Twitter accounts to write an exciting blurb about your post and include a link to it. Posts with 80 characters or more receive 40% less engagements (likes, comments, and shares). So keep it brief!
Mistake #5: Outsourcing social media
Take classes in social media. Ask for advice from experts. But don’t ask someone else to actually do your social media work for you. While it may be tempting to have an intern (or your teenage daughter) manage it for you, the only way to really get the most out of it is to do the work yourself. Social media may be free, but it does require that you invest something just as precious as money: your time.
Are you ready to start talking with us about building an author profile on the web? Contact us today for a free consultation.