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.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is a crucial piece in website development. A site that is not properly optimized will rarely show up on people’s search results. As a result, that site can lose a large percentage of potential visitors. And in the case of authors, that could mean reduced book sales and a smaller number of “followers.”
Yes, all of this is true. But there’s one big caveat that comes with this statement. Poor SEO can only reduce your potential traffic and book sales if people are searching for keywords related to your book. And in the case of fiction authors, that’s a huge if.
Let me explain….
Let’s say your a nonfiction author and you wrote a book on how to write the perfect resume. There are going to be thousands of people each month going to Google, Yahoo or Bing and searching for something like “resume samples” (49,500 on Google, according to the Google Keyword tool). By not optimizing your site for that and related keywords, you will be losing a wealth of potential readers.
But let’s say that you’re a novelist who wrote a book in the suspense genre. What exactly would you optimize your site for? “Suspense book?” That gets 20 searches on Google each month. How about “great suspense novel?” That gets 40. Is SEO worth it for you? Probably not.
Here’s the truth of the matter: people do not find their next fun read by searching for it on Google.
People find self-help books, historical books, and biographies by searching for those terms on Google. That’s because they’re already looking for information on a subject matter that interests them. But novels? People find out about their next good read from water cooler talk, reading a good review online, or having it recommended through someone on GoodReads who tends to have similar taste in books.
If you’re a nonfiction author, your site must be optimized for the relevant search terms. Here at Smart Author Sites, we do that for our clients.
But if you’re a fiction author? You’re much better off investing your time and money on social networking, guest blogging, and getting people to review your book.
After all, it’s just common sense…
I build websites for authors all the time. Most authors don’t want to sell their books themselves, so we end up setting up links to Amazon and B&N. But we all know that authors only collect a very small percentage of the profits on these books. And a small percentage of a 99 cent e-book … well, it barely buys you a tic tac.
Here are some of the quotes in the article from co-founder (and self published author) Ben Galle about the new venture:
“Libiro devotes its shelf-space entirely to self-published and small press titles. … To authors, we’re a marketplace for their books and a platform that can help them make waves. And to readers, we’re an exciting place to shop, providing the latest indie talent and exhibiting what indie authors are capable of.”
“The opinion is that these books are all of terrible quality, simply because they haven’t seen the inside of a big publishing house. I’ve always been on a mission to quash this stigma, because it simply isn’t true. Libiro, being a purely indie store, can showcase the indie market, offering readers an opportunity to see what we’re really made of!”
“At stores like Amazon, quality indie authors can often struggle to get noticed amongst the crowd, especially when they don’t have the marketing budgets of the big publishing houses. The point is that indie literature is exciting — it can be raw, it can be fresh, and it can be just as good as traditional literature. We want Libiro to be the go-to place for readers wondering what indie authors are all about. We want to create our own bestsellers.”
And that’s not all. The biggest benefit to authors, according to Galle, is the royalties. A far cry from other e-book stores, Libiro offers a whopping 80 percent royalty as standard, regardless of book length or price.
But, of course,nothing is perfect. As a new venture, Libiro doesn’t quite have the following yet of a big e-book store. In addition, their technology is still sorely lacking. According to the Forbes article, “They don’t yet have an author dashboard, for example. Instead there is a simple book upload form on the site, and if authors want to request changes, they have to do that via email. And Galley is still figuring out how to give authors access to the website analytics and mailing list integration that comes baked in to the backend of a BigCommerce site.”
Galle claims that the site is currently working on building these services and should have them available in the next few months.
So Who’s on Libiro?
Not too many people … yet. The site currently lists 70 books from 30 authors. But it appears that the site is continuing to grow its portfolio.
In the Forbes interview, Galley says: “The priority for us at the moment is to build up a big catalogue so the reader has more choice and access to an entire spectrum of indie books. We’re reaching readers at the grass roots level, building relationships on social media and via word-of-mouth. What’s good for our readers is that authors can sell their books in any and all formats – PDF, ePub, and Mobi – meaning we can cater for any reader and any device.”
There’s no way to predict what the future holds, but my bet is that this site will continue to grow. After all, an author being able to take hope 80% is nothing to sneeze at!
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!
Not surprisingly, I’m going to say “yes.” And that’s not just because my company builds them for a living. An author website is just as important as a website for any other business. Would you go to a lawyer who didn’t have a website? Would you go to dinner at a restaurant that didn’t have a website? Probably not.
And yet, that’s pretty much the question that was posed in two different LinkedIn conversations the past few days. They were so appropriately titled:
… and …
Do you believe that you should have a website dedicated to your book(s) or avoid websites completely and use blogs, Twitter and your Facebook Fan Page?
Rather than go on and on about why I think you need an author website, I will let the responses to those questions do the talking. Here are some of the highlights…
It’s the total package that counts: word of mouth, your website, your book cover, etc. –anything you do to become visible to your target reader. If you plan on writing more than one book, consider this scenario. Someone buys one of your books at a bookstore signing, they like it and see your web address on the back cover. They go to your website to learn more about you. They discover you’ve written a second book and they can link right to Amazon to buy the book for their Kindle. That justifies the time and money you’ll spend putting up that website.
I think having a web site is basic. It gives you a platform to tie in your books to social media and blogs. I post my event schedule. I post my video book trailers. I post testimonials from leading NY Times best selling authors about my books. However, word of mouth and direct appearances by me at events to sell books is still the main way that I drive sales. My web site is one tool in my tool box that includes many other ways to reach my targeted audience.
This is not an either / or proposition. For a professional, a website is not optional. It’s a critical link in the word-of-mouth-to-engagement-to-sales chain. It’s also an author’s best hope to control their own brand.
The screaming answer is YES. Of course that depends on how much you get out there and promote your site. My site actually isn’t so much about books as it is about me. What I am selling is my name, the books will naturally follow.I can tell a pretty big difference between when I have been pushing my site and when I have not. The first half of this year I have not done any marketing for my site of any kind because of my wife’s and my own health issues and we are just now completing a move from Jacksonville FL to Atlanta GA. My sales have fallen off tremendously.
–Michael “Duke” Davis
My book isn’t published yet, but my blog and website are allowing me to gain some following now in advance of the book. I’m building a mailing list of people who want to know when it’s available.
The marketing folks I with whom I work are in agreement – a website is a tool. Not THE tool or THE ONLY tool, but a tool. Anything that gets our presence felt by those in the outside world is a good thing.
According to a survey done by Sisters in Crime, the number one thing readers want is a user friendly website where they can discover where your books are available and when your next book will come out.
–Kathryn J. Bain
I’ve had a website for 5 years now and it has been a crucial tool for me as a hub of information to which I can send folks who want to book me for a speaking engagement or for fans wanting info on my Birder Murder mysteries. As for sales, it hasn’t been a big driver.
I would tell a writer the same thing I’d tell any business owner (yes, writing is a business)…a website is absolutely necessary. Even if they don’t buy from your website, a reader will check you out, as will a publisher, a school looking for a guest speaker and other writers who might be looking for collaborative partners. They may end up calling you or sending an email, but the website gives them a safe place to get to know you a little better. A website helps you build credibility and it expands your reach exponentially.
A web site, when done well, is a combination of storefront, PR/marketing department, (able to speak and sell to different audiences), info center, knowledge base, resource archive, blog, cashier, info-capture tool, electronic product-delivery system, and a lot more.
What other vehicle can do that much? And unlike FB and Twitter, it’s not going to get polluted by spam and over-exposure as those vehicles can (as CD points accurately out). Too many people on Twitter and FB are just mass-promoting, without building a platform, and the result is, it’s hard to get heard.
Sold yet? Convinced you need an author website? Reach out 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.
And this isn’t the first time I’ve seen something like that. I’ve seen other authors asking for feedback on book covers, website designs, and more.
So is this a good idea?
Reasons to Do It
What better way to utilize social media than to get feedback on things before they are finalized? Just like it makes sense to bounce baby names off of other people (they may notice something you don’t, like inappropriate initials or bad nickname combinations), it makes sense to bounce book titles off people as well. They may spot something that you don’t.
I can personally say that I’ve been the person providing that feedback/insight before. I once worked for a company that wanted to use the tagline on their site, “We’re all in this together.” Clearly, none of them had family members who watched High School Musical. Fortunately, I did. And I alerted them to this, which was honestly all I could think about as I heard that name:
Needless to say, they went in another direction. In cases like these, it’s a very, very good idea to put your ideas out there.
Reasons Not to Do It
If you think I’m convinced that every author should be doing this before titling a book, approving a book cover, or launching a website … well, I’m not. And here’s why.
Writing is, in many ways, an art form. Sure, it’s also a business. But at its core, it’s a skill and creative talent, not all that different from painting or sculpting. Do you think great artists run their ideas by the general public before finishing (or naming) their work? Probably not…
Many authors write out of inspiration. They have a vision. They have a message. Once you start questioning that vision and collecting feedback, the message begins to get watered down.
Think of it like the difference between an Oscar-winning movie and a TV movie that airs on one of the major networks: one is a true work of art (with little to no limitations) and the other is a watered down, shortened, cleaned up version. Which one is really better?
When it comes to art, there really is such a thing as too many cooks in the kitchen.
My philosophy in life is always this: do what works for you. Whether we’re talking about religion, medicine or authorship, there is no one “right” answer. Some authors may get incredible feedback by bouncing their ideas off of others. Other authors are better off following their instincts and sticking to their guns.
As with many things in life, it’s up to you to figure out which path to take.
That said, if you have any positive/negative experiences doing this in the past, please share them with us!
Every author who contacts me does so because he/she knows it’s time to build a website. But what these authors often don’t understand is just how important it is to have a long-term vision when building a site. Think too short term and you might make mistakes that are hard to rectify down the line.
Here are five examples of how short-term thinking can damage an author’s web presence.
1. Naming the site after a book. There are certainly instances in which a website should be named after a book — not the author. But unless an author is absolutely, positively sure that he or she won’t be writing any other books in a similar genre, it’s a good bet to go with the author’s name as the website name. Otherwise, what is he or she to do when the next book comes out?
2. Making the website resemble/represent the first book. This is very similar to the item above. All too often, an author builds a website that reflects the first book cover. Maybe it uses the same color scheme as the book cover. Maybe the design is structured around an image or icon used on the cover. Regardless, this tells site visitors (either consciously or subconsciously) that the website is an extension of that book. Any future books will look out of place without a complete redesign.
3. Not collecting email addresses. I always (and I repeat, always!) recommend that authors start collecting email addresses of site visitors who are interested in their works. “But I don’t plan to send newsletters or anything,” they sometimes tell me. It doesn’t matter. Even if you never plan to do anything with the list, it’s a good thing to have. After all, you never know what you’ll be doing in the future — a TV interview, perhaps, or publishing another book — that you would love to alert all your followers about. Build the list. Figure out what you want to do with it later.
4. Making the site too design-heavy. Web design can be a beautiful thing. But it can also be overdone. Remember: images can be a pain in the you know what to change. So, for example, don’t have your homepage text appear in an image. It may look pretty, but it won’t be easy to update when you have a new announcement to make. Ditto with the navigation. If the tabs on your site are images, it’s a whole lot harder to add a new page when you want to promote your new book trailer, press release, etc…
5. Not blogging or focusing on SEO. An author website is a long-term investment. It takes lots of time and energy to build it to where it needs to be. Over time, it will rise on the search engine rankings. The blog (if it’s regularly updated) will build a group of followers. Anyone who doesn’t want to invest the time in either of these things is thinking short-term. He or she is also not being realistic. A site is not going to jump of the top of Google search results just for existing. It’s going to take some sweat and some thought to make it work, but a good author website is well worth it.
Can you think of any other short-term mistakes authors make on their websites? Share them with us!
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!