Posts Tagged ‘blog’
You know that you need an author website. Everyone has told you that you need one. But what exactly should be on that author website? Why do people visit author websites at all?
This is a common question. And it’s a question that is very helpful to know the answer to before you start building your site. So why do people visit author websites?
A first-time visitor is likely to visit your website because:
a) they heard your name and want to learn more about you
b) they read your book and want to see if you’re written others
c) they stumbled upon your site from another site
No matter which of these three methods someone went about finding your site, what’s important is that they did find it. And the truth is that you now have only a few seconds to grab their attention.
You need to know right off the bat what exactly you want someone to do on your site. Is it buy your book? Give you their email address for future correspondence? Sign up for your blog notifications? Set a goal for yourself and make it as easy as possible for first-time visitors to help you accomplish it!
This is where it gets a little more complicated. It’s easy to explain why someone might wind up on your website the first time. What’s harder to figure out is why some author websites get visitors to return time after time, and others do not.
Thankfully, we have the answers. Not to toot our own horn or anything…
Before I get into the nitty gritty details, remember this: if you’ve set the goal of getting first-time visitors to sign up for something (as described above), then you’re far more likely to get them coming back for more. If all you’ve encouraged them to do is learn more about your book, read an excerpt, or even buy the book, then what motivation have you given them for coming back?
Now on to the meaty stuff. You see, the best way to know how to get a reader coming back to your website over and over again is to find out why people opt to return to some author websites and not others. With that in mind, I’ve collected some anecdotes from various message boards to see what people are saying about why they visit author sites repeatedly. Here are some of the highlights…
- I love to check out Sarah Dessen’s blog, where she posts pictures and gives lots of little tidbits about her new books. She’s been showing pictures of the new covers for the re-released versions of her books, and she dropped a hint that her next book, due out in May 2013 will be called Someone Else’s Summer.
- I visit author sites because they usually have their book info and bios layed out more clearly than Amazon does, along with links to their Twitter, FB, and/or blog. They mention upcoming titles and events and many have special sections devoted to their series, discussing the larger story arc behind the series, whether readers can expect additions to the series, etc.
- I think trying to connect with authors is a big part of it. You wonder if they’re really and truly human. Do you have anything in common? The books is another angle. What do they have? What series? How many? Are there going to be more? My daughter is a huge reader and she stalks the sites of the authors she loves to see what conferences they’re attending, where are they signing, when is that next book, do they have a new cover yet, and so on.
- I occasionally visit author websites to find out about the status of their works-in-progress. That’s when I’m a fan of their writing.
- I’ve only ever gone to one I think – but he’s my favorite author. For some reason I want to read about his life! And the the funniest thing is that I don’t even think I’d LIKE him in real life. Yet, still – every few months I go check it out to see what he’s up to.
So what do all of these quotes have in common? They all have to do with currency. No, not currency as in money; currency is in timeliness. What is the author currently doing? What is the status of his or her latest book? Where is she doing book signings? Are there any teasers in place for the next book?
Yes folks, that is “the answer” to the question. Why do people visit author websites? Because the website gives them something new and interesting to digest. Keep that in mind before you decide that you don’t have the time to blog or simply want the site to be a static portfolio of your work. You may be losing out on a lot of repeat visitors. And less visitors = less book sales.
Just about every author thinks that they book they’ve written is a wonderful piece of work. Sometimes they’re right. Sometimes, they’re not. But that’s for another day. Unless the author website reflects the quality of the book, an author is shooting himself in the foot.
With that in mind, here are some interesting points from The Creative Penn about common mistakes that authors make in regards to their websites:
Mistake #2: Underestimating the importance of a website.
Many authors know how important first impressions are, but don’t realize how that translates to a website. They go to bat for good cover art design, but not for website design. A website is just as important as a book cover in terms of how a book should be seen by the public eye.
Mistake #3: Thinking that a beautiful design is all that an author website needs.
Unless the site is easy to navigate and contains valuable information, even the best design in the world won’t make a potential reader stay long enough to get sucked in.
Mistake #4: Not engaging with readers via the author website.
Think you just need to build a website and then it will sell copies of the book all by itself? Think again. Use your website to feature upcoming events, share news, and allow readers to talk with each other. Blogging, of course, is another great way to communicate with fans directly. Ditto for a newsletter. All this makes it much more likely that readers will be there for you when you ask them to show support for your new book.
Mistake #5: Building a website that doesn’t reflect you.
You need to be comfortable with your website. It should look like you your books. And you should feel that the colors and images are a nice reflection of you and your work. After all, if you’re not comfortable in your own online skin, then no one else will be either!
I belong to several author groups on LinkedIn. I love offering tips and advice to authors who are just starting out (usually, advising them to build a website and/or start blogging). However, I also get a lot of great ideas from those groups, too. After all, there’s nothing like authors helping other authors.
With that in mind, I stumbled upon a conversation today titled, “Any ideas on how to get the buzz going about my book?” There were tons of answers, many of which I found to be very insightful and creative. Here are the highlights…
- You may want to add a mailing list feature to your website so you can keep in touch with your readers. Also, having a media kit readily available on your web site makes it easier for an interviewer to research you/your book. Perhaps some pre-done interview questions for them, A virtual book tour could also stir things up for you. – Judy Robertson
- One ‘word of mouth’ strategy I tell my clients is place your book at the airport where people are checking in ( or a bus depot, coffee shop) . Write in the 1st page this book that it is is “from the author and please leave behind for someone to read when done. ” Sign your name and provide you email and website. You’ll be surprised by emails and where your book has traveled. One clients book went around Europe in a months time. — John Weaver
- I’ve donated a book to a library and placed a small article in local media. –Kent Whitaker
- Have you thought about Pinterest at all? Remember, the key is exposure. Also, get profiles up on Good Reads and Library Thing, too – big sites getting lots of traffic. –Penny Sansevieri
- One of the most efficient methods we’ve found is to create and send a press release with a good “hook” to journalists and media outlets for whom the book would be of particular interest. –Ron Kaye
- Check out some of the book bloggers/ book reveiwers out there. Many of them will post reviews to Amazon, B&N, or Goodreads, as well as on their own blogs. It’s a great way gain exposure. –Thomas Hill
- Check out some of the indie book contests (such as Readers Favorite). Books that win awards get noticed and can greatly enhance your marketing efforts. –Thomas Hill
- I haven’t launched my book yet either but one of my ideas is to have flyers made from the book cover. I plan to hang them anywhere and everywhere. –Lawrence Weiner
- Viral marketing is the equivalent of hitting a home run. Whether it’s a blog post, a comment on someone else’s blog, a video trailer, media interview or a very clever ad, such efforts can go viral and have a life of their own. –Charles Weinblatt
- Drive people WHEREVER you have OUTSTANDING book reviews, a solid blurb and where people can see a sample of your book, as well as seeing that other people HAVE bought it and enjoyed it. Every time you get a great review, tweet it. Make good use of hashtags, like “amreading,” etc. –Kimberly Hitchens
Do you have any other marketing ideas that have worked for you? If so, share them below!
Did you know that Facebook “shares” is the most popular way to drive traffic to your author website or blog? Yup … according to the most recent statistics, people visit a website more often because a link was shared by a friend than as the result of a Google search.
But there are certain types of articles. blog entries or Facebook posts that are shared far more than others. With that in mind, here are five different techniques that you can use (ideas courtesy of Internet & Marketing Report) to make sure that your post gets spread around the world of social networking.
1. Be an advocate. Write Facebook posts that are helpful and informative, or advocate for a cause. People love to share something when they feel like they’re doing it for the greater good. A great example is sending around a link about an injustice related to the subject matter of your book, or information about how a percentage of your sales this week will go to charity.
2. Connect people. Some people love to share links because it helps them strengthen relationships with others. So give them something that tugs on their heartstrings and they will enjoy sharing it.
3. Be provocative. There’s nothing that gets people talking — or sharing — like a provocative post. Talk about a hot-button issue related to your book’s subject matter, or ride the coattails of a controversy in the news that’s somehow similar to the book.
4. Offer information. Provide lots of helpful information and people will want to share it with friends and co-workers. Offer a “how to” list or Q&As related to being an author, getting published, etc… It’s almost guaranteed to go viral.
5. Start trends. Everyone loves to be the “first to know.” So stay on top of the news related to your book’s subject matter, and post immediately about it. People will want to share it with their friends …. whomever knows before everyone else is automatically the “cool” person.
Aren’t we all secretly authors? Some of us have already published books, others are working on books. But the majority of us are just thinking about the book that we dream of writing, be it a novel or an autobiography.
Regardless of your status, there are tons of things you can do to get your author career off the ground. Not surprisingly, I’m going to recommend that you start with an author website.
Before you even ask: yes, it’s okay to have an author website even if you haven’t published anything yet.
But what should be on that author website? And how can you use it to catapult your writing career? Here are a few ways…
1. Offer writing snippets. At some point, you will be reaching out to agents and publishers in the hopes that they will be interested in your works. Well, how will they know how good a writer you are unless they can actually read your writing? Make sure to offer articles, short stories, book excerpts, etc… on your author website so that they can get a taste of your work even before it’s published.
2. Show your personality. The publishing field is much like the music industry: it used to be all about talent, but now it’s as much about “sellability” as anything else. All of this means that it almost doesn’t matter how great a writer you are. You also have to be personable, outgoing, funny, etc… in order to make it in today’s publishing world. Make sure to include photos of yourself on the website, any audio/video of yourself, and a blog that really lets your personality shine through.
3. Build a fanbase. This is probably the most important of the three items listed here. Why? Because a publisher is far more likely to work with a writer who already has 100,000 followers than one who doesn’t have a platform. Here are some creative ways to start building that platform and watching your number of followers climb:
- Blog, blog, blog. This is the best way to drive traffic to your website and keep people coming back from more. Pick a subject to blog about and stick to it. Make your blog informative, humorous, and a must-see destination. You’ll be surprised how many people keep coming back …. and even better, “sharing” your content.
- Interact. People visiting your blog will start commenting on it. You need to comment in response. Join the conversation with your readers. They will appreciate it.
- Offer email sign-ups. Give readers a good reason to enter their email address. Maybe it’s a little trinket or something. Regardless, collect as many email addresses as you can. That will be invaluable when you talk to a publisher.
- Use social networking. It doesn’t matter if your preferred network is Facebook, Twitter, etc… Ideally, it’s all of them. But make sure you build fans/followers and keep them informed on what you’re doing. Pose questions, offer tips, etc… Whatever is working, just keep doing it. And watch those numbers continue to rise.
No one said becoming a professional author is easy. But it is doable. And hopefully these ideas will help you get started.
Ready to talk with us about building you an author website? Contact us today for a free consultation.
They say that no press is bad press. I would venture to say that book reviews are similar. The more mention your book gets throughout the web, the more likely people are to hear about it and decide to check it out for themselves. Of course, a rave review will garner far more interest than a bad review, but getting your book reviewed at all can only be a good thing.
With that in mind, here are four ways to start racking up those online book reviews…
1. Think GoodReads. Scour GoodReads to find people who regularly review or recommend books in your genre. According to a blog post on Build Book Buzz, “With more that 7.3 million members, Goodreads.com gives book lovers a chance to create virtual bookshelves (with more than 260 million books!) that others can peruse. Those members not only share what they’re reading with their personal Goodreads networks, they also review and recommend those books, or create lists that announce what they want to read next.”
2. Contact Amazon reviewers. Go to the Amazon pages of other books in your genre. See who is reviewing them. Then, compare some of those names to the list of top Amazon reviewers (which you can find here). This will allow you to identify the regular reviewers who are most respected on Amazon. Reach out to each of them, tell them about your book, and offer them a free copy of the ebook. If you’re lucky, they’ll take you up on it.
3. Think bloggers. If you’re a nonfiction author, track down bloggers who regularly write on the subject matter of your book. Reach out to them, tell them about your book (and how it would benefit their audience), and ask if they’d be willing to review it. You may also want to consider offering something to sweeten the deal, like a link to their blog from your site or an article you’d be willing to write exclusively for them. Again, this is a great way to get your book right in the face of your target readership.
4. Mind your manners. There’s a blog entry on the Infinity Publishing site about the to dos (and not to dos) when contacting a book reviewer. You can read the full list, but here are some highlights:
- Don’t ask when the review will be completed.
- Don’t tell the reviewer what you want them to say.
- Don’t be offended if they don’t like the book.
- Always send a “thank you” note
Remember, even if a book review isn’t as positive as you’d like, you can probably find a sentence or two to pull and use in your promotional material. As I said … no reviews are bad reviews.
I just read a great blog post this morning. It was by Sonia Marsh, author of the forthcoming travel memoir, Freeways to Flip-Flops: Our Year of Living Like the Swiss Family Robinson.
Sonia’s premise is one that I have focused on in previous blogs: Building a successful author website is about providing valuable information to your readers and thinking about them more than thinking about yourself. She puts it like this:
There is a secret which writers tend to forget, especially if they are not familiar with the way social media works.
Stop focusing on yourself and your book, and your audience will grow.
Here are some of the ways that both Sonia and I think you can do this…
Step 1. Bring all of your work together under one umbrella. I don’t care if you’ve written two fiction books, two nonfiction books and a wealth of poetry. Find some common factor that carries through all of your work and use it to build a brand. In Sonia’s case, the theme was “gutsy living.” Figure out what yours is.
Step 2. Develop a tagline. I tell all of my authors to have some kind of tagline under their name at the top of the website. Otherwise, how is someone going to know what they will be getting from “JaneSmith.com” or “JohnJones.com.” Once you have the branding figured out, find a way to briefly, succinctly, and creatively express it in a tagline. Sonia translated her “gutsy living” theme into the tagline, “Life is too short to play it safe.”
Step 3: Carry your theme into other works. Make sure that all of your online efforts fit under this same umbrella. Blog about the topic that ties together your work. Comment on other authors’ blog posts or articles on the topic. Use social networking tools to build a following among people interested in that subject matter. Remember, you’re building a brand here. As Sonia puts it, “You wouldn’t shop at Target for a car, so when a reader visits a travel blog, they expect to get information related to travel.”
Step 4: Interact and inform. Now that you have a “brand,” it’s important to get people interested in it and willing to come back for more. Remember, your readers are more important than you are. Provide them with information, education, etc… relevant to the subject matter. Ask them questions, and respond to their questions. If you give more than you get, you’ll be rewarded for it.
Sonia wraps her post up wonderfully, so I will simply quote her here:
The more you connect and help others, the more people will subscribe to your blog or website, and you will gradually build an authentic platform with loyal followers. It won’t happen overnight, but once people realize that you care about them, and are willing to share helpful information, all the pieces suddenly fit together. That’s when the magic happens, and you know you’ve accomplished something more than simply being an author who wants to sell her book.
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!