Posts Tagged ‘blogging’
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.
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.
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!