Posts Tagged ‘bloggers’
An author writes a book. An author builds a website to promote that book. A year or two passes. The author starts ignoring the website. It becomes like a “portfolio” — somewhere that he may send people if they’re interested, but not something that he things about all that often.
Here are five tell-tale signs that an author has stopped paying attention to his or her website (and why that’s a problem).
1. The last blog entry was months ago. This is probably the most tell-tale of the signs. Authors are often told to blog. And when they first launch their site, they invest the time in blogging. But, after a while, they feel like they’re talking to a wall and stop investing their time and energy in the blog. Sure enough, a visitor comes to the site, goes to the blog page and notices that the author hasn’t updated it for months. Do you know what would go through that user’s mind? Something along the lines of … “Well, if she isn’t paying attention to the site, why should I?”
2. The copyright at the footer of the site is outdated. I confess. I haven’t yet hanged the copyright at the footer of our site to 2014. But if your site still says 2010 or earlier, then that’s a pretty good sign you haven’t been paying close attention to the site recently. Seriously … just change the date. It’s not that hard. And it sends a clear message to users that you’re on top of things.
3. Your site isn’t mobile-friendly. Have you looked at your site on a mobile device? Nearly all sites built today are somewhat mobile-friendly; that is, they are viewable and navigable on smartphones and tablets. If your site was built more than 2 or 3 years ago, make sure you check how it appears on mobile. With more people than ever accessing sites from mobile devices, this is something authors need to stay on top of.
4. There are no social media links/widgets. When we started building websites for authors in 2006, social media was not something we paid much attention to. Boy, how times have changed. Now, every author site needs to either have links to connect with the author via Facebook, Twitter, etc… or (even better) widgets that feed in the most recent activity on those social media profiles. If your site still doesn’t have them, clearly you haven’t been paying close attention.
5. There is very little new information on the site. Let’s say you go to an author’s homepage. And let’s say that the top “news” item on the site is about an award the author won five years ago, or about a “newly released” book with a pub date of 2010. What does this tell you? It tells you that the author isn’t paying very close attention to his or her website. Or, that the author hasn’t been doing much in terms of writing over the past few years. Either way, it’s a clear message to visitors: “Time to go!”
Authors: take a look at your website. Is it showing any of these tell-tale signs? Have you been paying enough attention to it lately? If not, then you may be turning away potential readers without even knowing it.
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!
This post was inspired by another piece I came across this morning on BookClubReading.com. The article coined a new term, “scatterblog,” defined as taking a scatter gun approach to your blog—writing about every topic under the sun in an attempt to sell readers on your clever wit and creative writing abilities. As a result, these blogs have no direction and fail to target any specific audience.
The article goes on to say:
A blog that contains posts on topics as diverse as mating rituals, obscure Polish dishes, and awful job interviews will draw very different types of search engine traffic … visitors who likely had no intention of buying a book in the first place. This would be akin to going book-in-hand to a sports bar, a Polish restaurant, and a college career center to pitch your romance novel. Trying to convert this type of visitor into becoming a paying reader only makes your job more difficult. Successful bloggers focus on a particular niche.
I couldn’t agree more. And, with that in mind, I present … five ways to blog with purpose (i.e. not to scatterblog).
1. Identify your readership. Did you write a biography on a historical character? A novel about alien invasions? A self-help book? Obviously, these three books have very, very different types of readers. Think long and hard about who’s going to be buying your book and customize your blog to speak directly to them.
2. Think about keywords. When you are building your website, you should be thinking about specific search terms that people looking for your book might be typing into Google. Those keywords should drive your blog posts. So, in other words, if you have determined that “how to write a great resume” is a search term that you are optimizing your site for, make sure your blog posts are also optimized for that same term. You could even write one or more blog posts specifically with the keyword as the title.
3. Think outside the box. Deciding what to blog about can be challenging for fiction authors. After all, it’s a lot easier to blog about how to write a great resume than it is to blog about … say … heartwrenching romance stories. So fiction authors need to get a little more creative when coming up with a blogging theme. One idea that I like to bring up is that of blogging as your main character. It would take some work, but it’s an interesting concept. Other fiction authors prefer to blog about the challenges of writing, getting published, etc… Either way, figure out what your niche is and start blogging.
4. Follow the news. So many authors have trouble figuring out what to blog about on a daily or weekly basis. After a few blog posts, they feel like they’ve run out of ideas. Well, that’s where the news comes in. Browse a news site and see if anything comes up that’s related to your subject matter. Then write a blog post with your (or your main character’s) “expert” opinion on it. For example, let’s say your main character was a detective. Maybe he would post an entry about a murder mystery case that’s in the news. Or, if you’re a nonfiction author who has written a book on, say, investing, you might want to post a blog entry about something significant that’s happening on Wall Street.
5. Stick to your guns. As casual as a blog may feel, it’s serious business. If you decide that you’re going to blog on a particular topic, stick to it. Don’t let yourself be inspired to sit down one day and write a post completely unrelated to your brand. That just reeks of unprofessionalism. Make your blog a go-to resource for your readers — both current readers and prospective readers — and you will reap the rewards for your efforts.
“If you build it, they will come.” That may be a great slogan when it comes to baseball fields, but it’s definitely not true when it comes to websites. In fact, I’ve worked with a multitude of authors who have launched author websites, expected to see thousands of visitors, and just sat back and waited. And waited. Not surprisingly, they didn’t come.
You see, building an author website is just one step in the process of building an author website presence. Next, you have to figure out how you’re going to get people there.
Here are five ways you can do just that.
1. Optimize. You’ve been told all about search engine optimization. What you probably don’t know is what it is, how it works, or how to implement it. I could talk about this for days, but I’ll try to make it brief. Do your keyword research (or hire someone to do it for you). Pick the keywords in your genre that get the most searches and have the least competition. The more specific, the better. Then make sure to work those words into your site – both in the metadata (which visitors can’t see) and the actual text on the page. It may take some time to work, but this optimization can help you tremendously. Learn more from our post on SEO tips.
2. Blog. You probably don’t want to hear this, but it’s true. Blogging about the topic that your book covers can increase your site traffic exponentially. Why? Well, because a blog is chock full of information – not just marketing copy – which makes your site much more likely to show up on search results. It also makes your posts much more likely to get clicks. Think about it: if someone goes to Google and searches for “how to write a perfect resume,” what are they more likely to click on? A page that touts your book about how to write a perfect resume or a brief blog post that you wrote with resume-writing tips. You have the answer. Find out why and how authors should be blogging.
3. Go social. Social networking is the singlemost effective form of marketing in today’s online world. Think of it as an interactive form of advertising. You build a website to really sell your product. Then you use social networking (Facebook, Twitter, etc…) to get people there. Sure you can’t write too much in a Facebook status update or a tweet. But the point isn’t to share your story there. The point is to get people to click on that link to your website.
4. Update your email signature. Quick … what does your email signature say? Probably not much. But think of all the people that you email on a regular basis. How many of them know about your website? Make sure that your email signature contains your name, your book title(s) and the URL of your website. You’d be surprised just how much traffic this could bring you.
5. Reach out. There are probably dozens of other websites out there that cover similar topics as you. Why not reach out to them about some sort of cross-promotion? Maybe you can each include a link to one another on the site. Maybe you can each write a guest blog post on the other’s site? The opportunities are endless, depending on the subject matter you cover. If someone else has the ready-made audience that you want, then see how you can finagle your way into their world!
Finally, my last piece of advice: set up and monitor your Google Analytics account. This will tell you how many people visited your site, which pages they visited and how long they stayed. Without this information, you’re working blindly when you try to analyze what’s working and what’s not. After all, why spend your time doing all the things above if you have no idea how effective they are?
If you want help with any of these strategies, contact us at Smart Author Sites. We’ll be happy to help!
I chimed in to a discussion on LinkedIn last week with this very same title: Is An Author’s Platform Now A Prerequisite?
Little did I know just how much commentary there was going to end up being.
A few people had commented before I found the post, saying that they felt an author platform was important. One of my favorite responses was from Ian Miller, who said, “You don’t need a platform to, write, but you need one to attract readers.”
I then chimed in with the following:
I agree with most of the comments here. That doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to get published without an author platform, but it means that you’re starting with a great disadvantage if you don’t have one. Put yourself in the position of a publisher: if you’re deciding between two or three authors, which one would you choose to publish? The one who has shown that he or she knows how to market books and has already built a following, or the one who hasn’t?
There have probably been 20 responses to my comment, mostly in agreement. But I thought I would give you some of the excerpts so that you can decide for yourself:
Beverly Bistransky • @Karen, Yes and No. I think the connection between the writer/author and editing publisher have quite a bit to do with who they choose to deal. At least the better publishers etiquette if you will, know that this is just as important as the author already having a current following especially if the author is changing their subject demeanor.
Elly Taylor • And, as I’m just finding now, there is a lot of platform building to be done between being published and achieving commercial success. In hindsight, I could have done more while waiting for the book to be published, especially as far as social media is concerned.
Nancy Root Miller • Karin sums it up nicely. I am in the process of researching agents and publishers for my cookbook. Nearly every one asks for details on your platform: what social media do you use, do you have a blog and/or website, do you teach, are you a regular guest on television or radio. If you’re a terrific writer without a “platform” and you’re lucky, you may be able to find a publisher or editor who will take a risk on you anyway. You’ll increase your chances if you participate in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (!), Pinterest, and so on.
Sean Concannon • A unique proposal, and demonstrated ability to write are just as important in getting published as having a platform. With a high quality project, and a strong platform, you are almost certain to get published. If you have a high quality project to sell, and no platform or very little in the way of a platform, it’s worth getting started. A strategy for nurturing your platform will make your project more attractive to potential agents, who will know that they can use the quality of your project in combination with the potential of your platform to sell your proposal to a publisher.
Tannera Kane • I recommend authors develop a platform before publication. ONe can always adjust the platform after publication if one aspect of marketing doesn’t work.
Brad Windhauser • Today, I think a writer needs a platform more importantly, an author needs to figure out how to construct a sensible platform. How can you attract an audience that compliments your work? I have a traditional website where people can find samples of my work, etc. I plug away on Twitter. I have FB. along with four other writer friends, I started a group blog (5writers.com), a blog site we use to discuss writing. Since it’s a group blog, the burden of posting is spread out–and we all benefit from the attention each writer brings. I also started my own blog project (BibleProjectBlog.com) where, as a gay author, I chronicle my reading of the Bible for the first time. Since I don’t openly court “Christian” readers, I’m using this blog to develop my voice and expose my style to a new audience (hopefully).
Allison Bruning • I think its especially important nowadays for authors to build a platform. There are so many books in the market it’s easy for a new author to get lost in the sea. But if they can work on making their presence known throughout the social networks and various writing oppurtunities out there then they may be able to drive traffic towards the fans they have acquired.
James Hockey • I think we are falling into the error of comparing apples with pears. Elly’s case above demonstrates the classic route forward for non-fiction where there is a manifest social need whether it be parenting or home electrics.
Fiction on the other hand is very different and without building a platform the author is likely to die the death of total invisibility.
Beverly Bistransky • The subject also in itself can end up being the platform. For example: a disorder that is rarely ever talked about. If it is well written and touches the audience in a tangible way, it will be its own platform, the subject disease that is.
Reynold Conger • In spite of all the articles about platforms, I still do not understand what a platform is. Obviously a good publicity campaign helps the sales of a book, but does this need a platform?
Gaurav Bhatnagar • Coming to the answer on the original post from @Gemma, yes, indeed, it’s required. Problem is not with book discovery or authors discovery… Today’s book lovers are much aware on what they want to read than ever. A platform can give an author a boost to their books, an enhancement to their knowledge, increased fan base, new friends helping each other and so on.
There are about 20 more comments in the conversation, but I’m going to stop there. The general consensus? “Yes, authors do need a platform to sell books.” That platform can manifest itself in various ways — an author website, a blog, a presence on social media, etc.. — but every author needs to be doing something. Just writing isn’t enough to be a professional writer any more.
I joined a conversation on LinkedIn about how to add followers to your blog. One person responded with one of the most insightful quotes I have ever read in a social media setting. Here is what Shauntelle Hamlett had to say…
It’s important to remember that even blogging is “social” media… and people (readers) turn to blogs because they want a more personal interaction with the person that their following. So, as you create posts, remember to mix it up… people (readers) enjoy slice of life interaction as well as posts about your stories. I think that is sometimes hard for writer’s to understand because we tend to use the web as a tool… when we read, we’re often researching for inspiration or ideas or to solve a particular problem.
Your readers, on the other hand, are probably seeking to connect… especially if your core audience are women. They are seeking an opportunity to relate… to see that you understand their lives, their fears, their dreams… in a way, you should think of your blog as your online reality television show. Of course, you probably don’t want to attract the same fans as The Real Housewives of Atlanta or Jersey Shore (or maybe you do…), but you want to use similar tactics of providing a space where your fans feel they are getting an inside view of your life, your writing process, your character’s lives…
Do with this as you wish. I think it’s a wonderful approach to blogging! You go, Shauntelle!
I was reading my trusty “Internet and Marketing Report” this past weekend, and came across an article about 9 “can’t-afford-to-forget” elements on any website looking to sell something. An author website is no exception.
With that in mind, here’s what they had listed, along with my author-slanted twist on each one.
1. Descriptive headline. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You’ve got three seconds to catch someone’s attention. Make sure you take advantage of those three seconds with a headline that tells people what they will get out of your book and your website.
2. Brief benefits copy. People are more likely to buy your book if you can tell them what they will get out of it. For a nonfiction author, this may mean “information on… that you can’t find anywhere else.” For a fiction author, it may be something like, “laugh and cry at the same time.”
3. Above-the-fold call to action. For those of you not familiar with these terms, let me define. “Above the fold,” means what someone sees on your site without having to scroll down. “Call to action” refers to a specific direction on what to do. So, an “above-the-fold call to action” is a specific action — be it “buy the book” or “sign up for the newsletter” — that you’re encouraging someone to do immediately upon arrival.
4. Features. Once you’ve sucked someone in with the “benefits” of the book, now you have to tell them about the “features” of the book. For example, how long is it? How many chapters? What formats do you sell it in?
5. Success indicators. Make sure to include excerpts from rave reviews of the book, testimonials from professionals, etc…
6. Supporting image. Use a picture (and not a stock image) to sell your book and your website. Maybe it’s a powerful book cover. Maybe it’s a photo of you. Whatever it is, make sure it conveys something.
7. Resource center. According to Internet and Marketing Report, about 96% of website visitors won’t be ready to buy anything right away. So make sure you give them a place they can spend some time on the site, learn more, and come back to regularly.
8. Content offer. The best thing you can do is collect a visitor’s email address. But how do you get them to give that to you? You offer them a bonus for doing so, like a downloadable white paper or a list of secrets behind the book.
9. Social media icons. This is practically a requirement in 2012. People want to know that you’re up-to-date and responsive. Having places for people to friend or follow you on Facebook and Twitter sends that message.
See? An author is just like any other website owner. Follow these nine guidelines and you will have an author website that helps accomplish your goals.
I’m a huge fan of Google Alerts. And, apparently, I’m not the only one.
For those of you who are not familiar with Google Alerts, it’s a handy-dandy system that Google offers, through which you can receive email notifications whenever a particular search term is used on a website. So, for example, every time someone writes about “author websites,” I am notified, and provided a link to read the article.
There are tons of blog entries out there explaining all the reasons to sign up for Google Alerts. Here are four that I think are especially helpful to authors.
1. Ideas for blog entries. How do you think I come up with all my ideas on what to blog about? Sure, some of them are from work with clients and some are from news in the industry. But a large percentage of them are from Google Alerts. I receive those emails and I get to read all about what other people are saying regarding author websites. I may agree with what I read, or I may disagree with what I read. Either way, it’s fodder for my blog entries. The same can be true for authors. Sign up for Google Alerts and be notified whenever someone mentions the subject matter of your book, Voila! You’ll now have something to blog about.
2. Staying on top of conversations about you. Chances are that, at some point, another website is going to reference you, your website, or your book. And when that happens, you want to know! You can then go and read what’s being said about you, and respond. When I mention an author in a blog entry, that author often posts a comment in response, thanking me for my kind words. If I happened to say something negative — which rarely happens — the author who signed up for Google Alerts would have the opportunity to rebut my claim. Either way, by signing up for Google Alerts, you will be aware of what’s being said about you and when.
3. Following your competition. What are other authors in your genre doing to promote their books? Sign up for Google Alerts and you can stay on top of their latest marketing efforts, website updates, etc… See what’s working for them and copy it!
4. Taking advantage of PR opportunities. According to Sherrie Wilkolaski of Infinity Publishing (a partner company of Smart Author Sites), “Using Google Alerts to get you better synced up with your local media and writers communities is a wonderful way to put yourself ‘in the know’ and keep you out in front of the completion and giving you a greater chance to be called on as the local author expert.” In addition, Sherrie adds, “It is typical to find other authors, bloggers and media personalities posting via their own sites and social media networks for authors to interview for future articles, interviews, etc. It’s usually first come, first served so if you are positioning yourself as an expert in your field or genre, set-up Google Alerts to notify you. ”
Signing up for Google Alerts is quick and easy. Simply go to http://www.google.com/alerts and specify the keywords you’re targeting, how often you want to be updated, and the email address you want the updates to go to. Voila!
And, as always, if you’re looking to discuss developing or upgrading your author website, contact us today for a free consultation!
I came across an article in my trusted Internet and Marketing Report magazine. In it, the manager of Brand Marketing for Gap clothing, Samantha Willems, was asked how to create good Facebook content and boost engagement.
Her answers were good, but what struck me was that they’re relevant to far more than Facebook. Follow these guidelines for just about everything you create content for — your blog, your tweets, etc…
Here’s an overview of her recommendations (in my own words, of course), customized a bit for authors…
1. Create a schedule … and then be flexible. Plan your posts in advance by creating the equivalent of an editorial calendar, but be ready to act if something newsworthy happens related to the subject matter of your content. Then post on that stuff ASAP.
2. Use multimedia. Text isn’t enough any more. Try to make your contributions a blend of audio, video, questions, and straight text.
3. Interact. I tell this to clients all the time. Your blog (or Facebook or Twitter) is not like an editorial column in a newspaper. It’s a conversation, and you’re making a mistake if you don’t treat it as such. Respond to comments and questions. Engage with your readers. If you don’t make them feel involved, then they’re not likely to come back regularly.
4. Treat readers as friends. Don’t make your content too marketing-centric. Nobody likes that … on any platform. Instead, remember that the web is one huge world of friends communicating with one another. Their voices are just as important as your voice. So treat your readers with the same respect that you would want to be treated.
See what I mean? Samantha is right about this being the best way to create compelling Facebook content. But what she didn’t mention is that these golden rules should be followed on every platform.
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.