Archive for the ‘Author Marketing Tips’ Category
But seriously, we all know that those are the two most commonly-used social networking tools in the digital world. But that doesn’t mean authors should be ignoring all the other social networking avenues out there.
In the past few weeks, I’ve stumbled across a slew of articles about some of the other communities that have been helpful to authors in their efforts to promote themselves and their books. With that in mind, here are some other sites to keep an eye on, and advice on the best ways to use each one.
Yes, it’s a lot like Facebook. And yes, it’s a lot less popular than Facebook. But Google+ offers a whole slew of additional benefits, including improved search engine optimization (after all … Google loves Google+), profiles that tie into your blog bylines via Google Authorship, and “circles” that allow you to have one profile, but separate your messages from family to messages to readers.
According to an article by Jane Friedman:
Here’s what a search result looks like without Google Authorship set up:
Here’s a search result with Google Authorship:
Goodreads is where readers converge to discuss novels, offer book recommendations, write reviews, and keep a list of the books they’ve read and want to read. All told, there are 18 million readers on that site. If you can get 1% of them to buy your book, you’re doing pretty darn well.
So how should an author use GoodReads? Here are some steps, courtesy of Lisa Verge Higgins:
1. Join GoodReads. First, you must join as a reader … later, we will explain how to join as an author. Just make sure you join under the same name that you write with!
2. Connect with friends and fans. Much like other social networking sites, the larger a group you build, the more people you will reach.
3. Connect your name to your books. Start by searching for one of your books. Then click on your hot-linked author name, which will bring up your author profile. Next, look around for a link that asks “Is This You? Let Us Know.” This is where you can identify yourself!
4. Take advantage of your profile. Fill it all out. Include links to your website and your blog. Tie in links to your Facebook/Twitter accounts, and upload video trailers. You can even post your future events and invite friends.
5. Get your book on other readers’ “to be read” list.” Here are some ways that Lisa recommends you do that:
- Widgets. Goodreads will create for you html strings for a variety of widgets that you can insert directly into your website. Some are simple buttons that, with one-click, adds a book to a TBR list. Other widgets are more elaborate and include a scroll of the highest-rated reviews for your book.
- Advertise. The last time did this, it was a beta system, and I ran an ad to support a giveaway I was running on one of my books. I didn’t think it was particularly effective, but the metrics may change now that they’re working with Amazon.
- The Almighty Giveaway: This is Goodreads most powerful offering, and but for the cost of books and postage, it’s FREE. Currently, Goodreads only allows giveaways of PRINT books, but that may soon change. The point of a giveaway is to increase the number of folks who put your book on their TBR list, and to (hopefully) generate pre-publication reviews from the readers who win. The control is all in your hands: You get to choose how many books to offer, the geographical limits, and the time length of the giveaway. When the giveaway is over, Goodreads will send you the names and addresses of the winners which you must pinky-swear to burn after you’ve shipped the books.
- Goodreads’ Greatest Perk for Book Launches. If you’re launching a book, it’s strongly suggested that you run a giveaway three months and then three weeks before the release date. Why? On your lay-down date, Goodreads will send out a targeted email to announce your book’s arrival to everyone who has your book on their TBR list. That’s pinpoint-targeted publicity, and it costs absolutely nothing.
Pinterest is a digital scrapbook that lets you post images you like to your profile. You follow people, and they follow you. Words are few and far between. Pictures — both your own and others you stumble upon on the web — run amok. So why is this a site I’m mentioning for authors?
Well, it’s certainly not worth the time and effort for all authors. But if your book is very visual (i.e. it’s a cookbook with photos), if you have illustrations/graphics in it, or if your book appeals primarily to a female audience (who spend a lot of time on Pinterest), it may be worth your while. Here is some advice on using it, courtesy of Randy Ross.
1. What to Pin
– Your own: photos, blog posts, Youtube videos, audio, Powerpoint presentations saved to Slideshare.
– Other peoples’ images etc: As with all social media, people will tune you out if you’re just flogging your own stuff.
2. Don’t Pin Hundreds of Things at once
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a prescheduling tool, so you’ll have to spend some pinning images regularly.
3. If you Pin a book cover, get the image from a page selling the book or a page with a review of the book. Pin your own book covers — if you have a book. And create a Pinterest page, or Board, for your friends’ books.
4. Create a Pinterest Board for writers similar to yours. The old, “if you liked these folks, you’ll like me.”
5. Create a Board for characters in your novel, destinations mentioned in your travel blog, other background you’ve used in your writing.
So which of these three sites (or the wealth of others out there) are right for you? Well, start by using some common sense. Figure out who your audience is and which sites they spend their time on. Then take your best guess and dive head-first into one of these communities. Give it your time and attention for a month or so. If your numbers improve, then keep it up. If not, then refocus your attention on another site.
As with everything else in life, it’s trial and error.
Okay, so you’ve built an author website. Congratulations! But just because the site is live doesn’t mean that people will find it. Here’s what you need to know about all the ways people can and will find your site, and what you can do to increase the odds of it happening.
1. Search engines. Optimize your site properly and people searching for your name, your book title, or the subject matter of your book will find your website near the top of their search results. This is probably one of the most important efforts you can put in to building your website! A blog can also be a huge tool in terms of boosting your traffic from the search engines.
2. Interviews. Plan to do an interview with your local TV or radio station? How about the newspaper? Always — and I repeat, always — mention your web address. People will undoubtedly go there to learn more about you.
3. Offline materials. Print business cards with your domain name on it. Make mouse pads, pencils, mini-calendars … whatever suits your fancy. But make sure to print your URL in big, bold letters on whatever you have made.
4. Your email signature. Every email you send should include your name, your book title, and your web address at the footer. This doesn’t cost a thing to set up, so it’s a no-brainer.
5. Social sharing. Let’s say you keep a blog on your site (which I highly recommend). Someone will read one of your posts. Someone will like one of your posts. That person may then choose to share your post on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Voila! A whole new audience has been exposed to your site.
6. Word of mouth. Make sure to talk about your writing — and your website — wherever it’s appropriate. Chat with strangers at the airport. Mention it to colleagues at work, or friends at a birthday party. Spread the word!
7. Cross-promotion. Make sure to include links to your author site from your Facebook page, your Google+ account, etc…
8. Cross-linking. Are there other authors whose works you like? Do you know people who write in a similar genre? Reach out to other authors (or organizations, individuals, etc…) and ask if they’d be interested in linking to your site, and vice versa. This is a great way to expose your target audience to your writings.
9. YouTube. Do you have a YouTube account? Have you uploaded any videos about your writings and your books? Make sure your YouTube account provides a nice segue to your author site.
10. Paid online advertising. There are a variety of ways to “advertise” online — from paid banner ads to Google Adwords campaigns to Facebook “boosts.” But before you start shelling out money for these sorts of things, talk to an expert who can guide you towards the efforts that will provide the best bang for your buck.
Can you think of any other ways that someone may find your site? Share them with us!
I came across a really interesting conversation on LinkedIn this morning. The question: What are the most ridiculous myths you’ve heard about writing and writers.
Here are the responses I’ve found (so far). And please use the comments section at the bottom to share your own!
That people don’t judge a book by it’s cover.
Of course, they do. (This includes endorsements on cover etc.)
What else do they have to go on, unless someone has recommended it.
Writing’s easy and we all make as much as Grisham or King
That you will have no trouble talking about it at a party.
They make a lot of money.
Writers are inherently antisocial. The disclaimer at the beginning of every novel: “All characters, locations…are fictional and figments of the author’s imagination.” Well, what inspired those aforementioned figments? Social interactions and life experiences.
I’ll add one of my own here as well. I’ll say that one of the most ridiculous myths is that all you have to do is write a good book and it will sell itself. That is soooo not the case. Being a successful author requires being a good marketer as well. And that’s true whether you self publish your book or go through a traditional publishing house. Writing a good book is just step one. Promoting it is just as important.
Okay, your turn! What is the most ridiculous myth you’ve heard about writers? Share it below!
My response? There is none.
Now, that doesn’t mean that social networking doesn’t work for authors. On the contrary, it has become an essential part of an author’s promotional plan. This is especially true for fiction authors, where word of mouth is the most common way that people hear about a new, great book.
What I meant was that there is no one social network that is right for every individual author. Before deciding where to invest his or her time, an author should think long and hard about who the audience is for the book and where that audience tends to spend its time.
Case Study #1
A woman writes a book about the most adorable interior design ideas for a baby’s nursery. The book is chock full of pictures, and obviously speaks to an audience of 20 and 30-somethings (prime childbearing age).
In her case, I would recommend that she dedicate her time to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Facebook and Twitter are important, primarily because of the audience — that’s their preferred methods of communications. Pinterest is also extremely important for this author, as her book is photo-centric, and Pinterest is an amazing place to share photos.
Case Study #2
A man writes a book about saving for retirement. It is geared towards 40- and 50-somethings.
This author should be focusing much his social media efforts on Facebook. After all, his target audience doesn’t dedicate a lot of time to Twitter, and Pinterest isn’t really relevant for this book. Neither is GoodReads, which is much more fiction-oriented. Instead, he should also delve into LinkedIn and Google+, as those are where a professional audience tends to spend more time.
Case Study #3
An up-and-coming author wants to be the next JK Rowling. She writes the first book of a fantasy series targeted to young adults.
Where are today’s youth spending their time? Sure, they’re on Facebook. But so are their parents. They spend more of their time on Twitter, Tumblr, and who knows where else. They may always be a step ahead of us, but it’s this author’s (or her publicist’s) job to pay attention to this young demographic and figure out where they are spending their time. That’s where the marketing efforts should be.
Case Study #4
A novelist writes a suspense-filled mystery and wants to get it in front of his target audience: both men and women who happen to love a good mystery.
Facebook and Twitter would be helpful for this author. But I would recommend that he really delve into GoodReads. The most common reason why a fiction reader buys a book is because it was recommended to them by someone else who has similar taste in books. And unlike other social networking sites, GoodReads gives you the opportunity to get your book in front of an audience of readers who you know already are interested in your genre, and have “friends” whose recommendations they value.
See what I mean? Four authors, four different online strategies for book promotion. Before you put together your social networking plan (and dive into anything and everything that has worked for other authors), stop and take a good hard look at your audience. It may save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
There are thousands — if not millions — of authors out there trying to make a name for themselves. Most of them have very little in terms of publicity agents, marketing experience, etc… So they’re basically fighting an uphill battle.
That’s why so many authors are looking for ways to connect with other authors, and potentially help one another. With that in mind, here are nine creative ways that authors can team up to help promote one another’s books, author websites, etc…
1. Share, share, share. Are other authors posting blog entries? Tweeting? Pass on what you’re reading of theirs to your friends, readers, etc… If they do the same for you, you can increase your reach exponentially.
2. Like one another. Clicking on a Facebook “Like” button is so simple. And yet, doing so really does help to spread the word. So swap “like”s. What’s there to lose?
3. Guest blog post for one another. Do you have a blog? Does your friend, an author, have a blog? Why not write a guest post for his or her site, and vice versa. Not only will this breathe some fresh life into your own blog, but it will get your writing out to a new group of readers.
4. Review one another’s books. Post a review/recommendation of another author’s book on your site. Have him or her do the same for you. If you speak to a similar audience, you’re exposing a whole new crop of readers to a book they may not have heard of otherwise.
5. Interview one another. Use one of your blog posts to interview your author friend about his her book, writing habits, publishing lessons learned, marketing techniques used, etc… Again, it’s a great way to get new faces in front of an existing readership.
6. Offer special deals/giveaways. Why not consider providing a special deal or giveaway to people who came to your site through your friend’s author site or social media page? Any incentive that will get people to buy your book or give you their email address is a good thing.
7. Consider doing group tours. Not actual tours, of course: virtual tours. But by teaming up, you can offer book clubs, libraries, schools, etc… the opportunity to double the attendance by featuring two authors (and triple, if three of you get together).
8. Promote each other through other forms of social media. Do you have a GoodReads account? Make sure to cross-promote there as well. Ditto if you follow people on Twitter, highlight book covers on Pinterest, etc…
9. Create a group blog. This is a little harder to do, but it’s not unheard of. Get a group of authors together and create an author blog site. Agree to each post, say, once a week. The more posts you have, the more you will become a can’t miss destination for other authors. Then, make sure each of your books/websites get fair promotion.
One last caveat … as much as your friend may be your friend, make sure that you’re not wasting your time cross promoting with him or her. In other words, if you have 100,000 followers on your blog and your friend has 5,000, it may not be worth your time for you to “help” one another. Always ask potential authors for information on their following before deciding whether it makes sense to proceed. If the two of you are in the same ballpark, then it’s probably a good arrangement.
Looking for additional advice on selling or marketing your book? Contact us today at Smart Author Sites for a free consultation!
Online reputation management is a hot term these days. There are companies out there that make a lot of money providing online reputation management services for companies large and small. But what is online reputation management and how does it play out for authors?
According to Wikipedia, online reputation management (or monitoring) is the practice of monitoring a reputation on the internet with a view to controlling perception of that reputation.
In other words, let’s say a potential reader hears about you, the hot new author on the market. He goes to Google or Yahoo or Bing and searches for your name. What does he then see? Ensuring that what he sees is going to make it more likely that he buy your book than not is what reputation management is all about.
So how can an author take control of his name or book title on the search engines? Here are three strategies…
1. Build an author website! Okay, I’m biased here, because that’s what we do for a living. But this is probably the most impactful thing you can do. Why? Well, let’s say someone searches for “Lisa Smith.” Do you know what’s most likely to be the top search result? Not surprisingly, it would be “LisaSmith.com” or “LisaSmithBooks.com.” The domain name is one of the primary pieces of an SEO strategy, so having a domain name that matches your name means that it’s likely your author website will show up right at the top of search results. And since a user is likely to then click on that top link, the you (or, in this case, Lisa Smith), is then taking full control of what a user is seeing. That’s online reputation management at its best.
2. Respond to comments. In today’s world of social media, it’s so important that authors interact with their readers. If a reader posts a comment or question about a book, the author absolutely must answer it. And while there’s not much that can be said in response to a negative book review, there’s definitely some value in an author interacting with her readers online. It helps her come across as more human, thus creating a warmer online reputation.
3. Pose (and encourage) positive book reviews. Picture this: someone hears about your book. He searches for your book title and ends up on your book page on Amazon or GoodReads. He’s bound to see reviews, right? But are they negative reviews? Or are they glowing reviews? Part of building a good online reputation is ensuring that the positive reviews outweigh the negative ones. There’s no book that everyone in the world is going to love, but people are definitely going to pay extra attention to the books that have far more good reviews than bad ones. So make sure that you ask everyone who raves about your book to post a review online. You may even want to offer a bonus for doing so; say, a free autographed copy. After all, a glowing review posted on a prominent site will sell you far more than the cost of that one copy.
4. Stay on top of what’s being said about you. Sign up for Google Alerts and get notified every time someone posts something about you or your book. Also, Google your name once in a while and see what comes up on the search results. It’s only by putting yourself in the position of a stranger hearing your name for the first time that you can actually recreate the experience of someone’s first impression. And only then can you work to improve that first impression.
See? Online reputation management isn’t just for multi-national corporations. By taking control of your online reputation, you are taking a huge step in building your business … even when that business is just you and your books.
It’s what every author dreams of: her book getting picked up by a book club. Everyone in the club reads it … and starts talking about it. Then they tell their friends about it … and they tell their friends. The rest is bestseller history.
But how do you get your book in the hands of book clubs in the first place? Here are three steps to getting started:
Step 1: Set up the incentives.
Before you even start reaching out to book clubs, you need to figure out what you’re offering them to sweeten the pot. A good starting point is a downloadable discussion guide (available via your author website). Other possible incentives can include a few free copies, autographed copies, or the offer for you to chat with the book club (either in person or via Skype). The more incentives you offer, the more likely someone is going to bite.
Step 2: Locate relevant book clubs.
This takes a little bit of time and research, but it’s totally worth it. Scour the web to find book clubs — both online and offline — that regularly read books in your genre. If you can find ones that are local, all the better. But don’t limit yourself. Make a long list of relevant book clubs and the contact information of the person who leads the club. If you don’t want to invest the time and energy, there are plenty of people out there willing to do the work for you. Then…
Step 3: Reach out to the book clubs.
Once you have your list of clubs and you have your pitch, it’s time to reach out. Customize your letter to each book club, ensuring that you touch on all the relevant points to that club. If it’s local, make sure to mention that you’re local as well. If it focuses on your genre, point out how relevant your book is to their readership. Don’t hesitate to include relevant materials in the email, such as a press release about your book, photos of you and your book cover, or the discussion guide we mentioned. This is your chance to “sell” your book, so don’t skimp.
You may reach out to 100 book clubs. If you’re lucky, a few will pick up your book. But those few could turn into hundreds — or even thousands — of copies of your book sold. Put in the thought, time and energy and your book will be the next must-read.
If you’ve written a science fiction book … or a military history book … or a chick-lit book (you get the point), then this is obviously a genre that you enjoy and that you’re familiar with. In this post, I will explain why and how you should utilize that knowledge and interest to help promote your own book.
Strategy #1: Review Other Books in Your Genre
People love reading book reviews. After all, they want to know that other people have enjoyed a book before they invest the time and money to read it themselves. So build a blog in which you review other mystery novels … or self-help books … or whatever genre you’d categorize your writing as. Once you start building a following, people will start valuing what you have to say. And if they agree with you about various books, they’re much more likely to take the plunge and read your book as well.
Strategy #2: Offer to Cross-Reference Other Books in Your Genre
At the end of the day, other writers in your genre aren’t really your competition. They’re a potential source for finding new readership. So reach out to other writers who talk to the same audience. See if they’re interested in sharing blog posts with you (and vice versa) or reviewing/recommending each others books (and vice versa). Remember: authors aren’t like accountants. Most people have more than one that they are loyal to at a time. So take advantage of the following that another author has, and offer the same in response.
Strategy #3: Write Round-Up Articles
This idea comes courtesy of one of my favorite people in the field, Sandra Beckwith of Build Book Buzz.com. She recently wrote an interesting post about how authors can get their books out there through round-up articles. Here’s a summary of her recommendations.
Step 1: Define your roundup
A “roundup” article usually gathers up the best, worst, most, least, newest, top, funniest, etc.
Step 2: Figure out your roundup topic
For example, “Best business books of 2013″ or “Best beach reading for the summer”
Step 3: Create your list
Your list doesn’t have to just include books, either. Think outside the box. For example, your book could be part of a “best Father’s Day gifts” list or a “Fun things to do while your spouse plays golf.” Then figure out what — besides your book, of course — will comprise the list itself.
Step 4: Pitch your list to the press
Write a press release announcing your list. Make sure to present it as identifying a problem that your list can solve.
Voila! Three reasons you should seriously consider reviewing and recommending other books in your genre. As always, think outside the box, and feel free to share any good ideas with the rest of us!
Authors are willing to try a lot of things to promote their books. Giving copies away for free is one of them.
That’s not to say that free book giveaways are a bad thing. In fact, there are some significant benefits to doing so.
Here’s what you need to know about the potential positives and negatives of free book giveaways:
It’s pretty simple. Giving your book away for free will significantly increase its reach. After all, who isn’t willing to accept something for free? And when they get it, then they’re likely to read it. And when they read it … well, maybe they’ll love it. Maybe they’ll tell their friends about it. Maybe they’re rave about it on Amazon. And maybe … just maybe … you’ve built a fan for life. When your next book comes out, you’ll have a loyal reader. And then, they’ll be willing to actually pay whatever you charge for your new release.
Let’s start with the simplest of the negatives: there’s no money to be made when you’re giving something away for free. In fact, you are likely taking a loss when you do this. That’s especially true if you’re giving away print copies of a book. But even with electronic copies (which cost nothing to actually create or give away), you’ve still invested a whole lot of time, energy (and possibly money) in the giveaway campaign.
But, apparently, that isn’t the only drawback to giving your book away for free. As I discovered in a recent conversation on LinkedIn, there’s another, more obscure problem: a de-valuing of your product.
The conversation started with this post:
This is a question I pondered in my last blog post, after I’d received a one-star rating for my blog anthology, “Out Where the Buses Don’t Run.” It then occurred to me that the person that gave me the one-star rating won my book via a Goodreads giveaway.
Has anyone else encountered something like this, where they’ve given copies of their books away, either as a promotion or as a way to garner reviews, only for that to turn around and bite you? I’m beginning to think a book giveaway wasn’t such a great idea to begin with.
And the responses seemed to back up this claim. Here are some of the highlights:
It’s true people devalue the free. When I was a stage performer, free shows would end up badly promoted and lacking tech support. – John Kulm
Yes, especially with Amazon’s free books. My worst reviews came from giving my book away. Most people connect free to garbage, so I’m sure these readers (the ones who left the bad reviews) were already biased to think the book was no good. –Richard Houston
There is definitely a correlation in marketing that goes something like, “In the absence of other signals, the buyer equates quality with price.” –Lucy Gold (500+)
So maybe there is something to be learned here. Maybe free book giveaways have a certain caché that come with them. This is something all authors should keep in mind before launching such a campaign.
But before you get too down on book giveaways, I’m going to include a quote from one last comment in that same conversation on LinkedIn:
I think giveaways are a great way to promote your book, but they are more effective if yes, you have a larger number overall, but also if it is part of a promotional event where people realize you are giving away a few number of books for the purpose of promoting it, not necessarily because you just want to give them away — which, unfortunately, can sometimes SEEM to be the case, even if it isn’t.
I’d say keep doing it, but maybe on a smaller scale, and only as promotional ventures that truly make sure people are aware they are being blessed with a free book instead of being given “just” a free book. –Jessica DuBois
So there you have it! All you need to know about the potential benefits and drawbacks of a book giveaway. Make your choice wisely and best of luck!
And yet, many authors continue to avoid social media at all costs, or worse, make some serious mistakes while investing their time and energy in social media.
With that in mind …. presenting, five common social media mistakes authors make.
1. Being too promotional. It’s social media. It’s not a commercial. If you make the mistake of treating it like an advertisement — and only talking about your product — people are going to treat your social media presence like they would treat any other advertisement: fast forward through it.
2. Not interacting with readers. Part of why social media has spread like wildfire is because people love that it truly is a conversation. An author website is a place where authors can talk and readers can listen. Facebook, Twitter, etc… is where readers can communicate with writers as equals. So make sure to pose questions to your followers, respond to questions and comments, etc… Remember: it’s a conversation.
3. Posting too infrequently. In this way, social media is much like a blog. People are only going to follow you if you post in a timely and frequent manner. That means that you share your opinions on news and events as soon as they happen (not weeks later), and you respond to questions and comments while they’re still fresh in the minds of the people who posted them. Just take five minutes a day to pay attention to your social networking profiles and it can make a world of difference.
4. Confusing professional and personal. I’ve had many authors ask me if they need to create a separate professional profile on Facebook. The answer is a resounding “yes,” and for a multitude of reasons. To begin with, what you want to share with your readers is probably very different than what you want to share with your second cousin. The latter may care that your toddler was picking his nose yesterday, but the former probably doesn’t. In addition, it’s important that you remember that your professional profile is just that: professional. I recently was reading a conversation on LinkedIn in which someone was talking about how an author had linked her professional profile as a children’s author and her personal profile, in which she was venting about her own political beliefs. Sure, she has the right to talk about whatever she wants. But why alienate readers when it’s completely unnecessary?
5. Not measuring results. I say this all the time about websites. The same is true with social media. If you’re not paying attention to which posts are getting read/liked, and which Tweets are getting retweeted, then you’re working blindly. Pay close attention to what’s working — and what’s not — and alter your social media strategy accordingly. If you don’t know how to do that, you can find plenty of tutorials online about Facebook insights and the corresponding tools on other sites.
Sure, social media can be a pain. It can be a time suck. And you probably would rather spend your time … well … writing. But do social media right and you can see a hefty reward.