Posts Tagged ‘weblog’
Adding a blog to an author website can be a huge help in terms of search engine optimization, driving traffic to the website and getting readers to return to your site on a regular basis. But I’m often asked the question: “What should I blog about?”
For non-fiction authors, the answer is pretty easy. Blog about what you write your books about. If you’re an author of political books, blog about politics. If you write about fashion, blog about fashion. Pretty simple, right? After all, you know that it’s already of interest to your readers and your opinion is valued.
But it’s a little bit harder to figure out exactly what a fiction author should be blogging about. After all, if your book is a murder mystery, then do you blog about murder? Probably not …
With that in mind, here are a few ideas of what fiction authors could post blog entries about:
- Their work on their next book (writer’s block, dreaming about writing, etc…)
- Questions that readers are asking them about their previous book
- Reviews on other books in a similar genre
- Guest posts by other authors
- Book signings and/or readings
- Author conferences or workshops they go to
Remember, the people visiting your website love your work. And they probably respect your opinions, too. So don’t be afraid to share your thoughts about life, other readings, other authors, etc…
And don’t forget to keep your blog current, too! There’s nothing worse than building a blog and letting it sit, untouched, for months.
Hope all this helps!
Many authors I speak to say they don’t need an author website: they already have a blog. And vice versa. But here’s why they’re wrong!
A blog by itself…
Well, it generally doesn’t sell any books. And why? Because the book doesn’t get the position that it should on the homepage. A blog will always feature the most recent entry in the most prominent spot. Which means that the first thing someone sees when they arrive on your site is your most recent blog post (and maybe the few before that). Those posts may be about the next book you’re working on, your opinion on a news story related to your book, or just a funny blurb about your trip to the supermarket yesterday. But that’s not selling your book! Every author website should have a static homepage that includes a large photo of the book cover, a tantalizing description of the book, and links to learn more, read an excerpt, read reviews, and/or buy the book. Without that, you’re missing your opportunity to get potential readers exposed to your book.
A website by itself…
Doesn’t really draw people back on a regular basis. It can work for an author whose goal is just selling one particular title. Once that book is sold, it doesn’t matter if the reader comes back again. But most websites are author websites, which means that it’s in the author’s best interest to have readers keep coming back, sign up for newsletters and/or RSS feeds, and stay in touch. This is invaluable in terms of getting reader feedback, interacting with readers, and making sure that people who like your writing will hear about your next book as soon as it’s available. Keeping a blog keeps your site new and fresh, and allows readers to post comments on your writing, which gives your author website two invaluable qualities: interactivity and frequency of updates. A website without a blog can often look … well … static.
When we build websites for authors, we always recommend a static homepage (often with one box that can be updated regularly with news/events) AND a blog that’s integrated into the site. This provides your site with the 1-2 punch it needs to sell your books — both current and future!
You probably built your author website because you were trying to promote your first book. And, if you were smart, you built it around yourself as an author. That way, when you got future books published, you could easily promote those on the website as well.
But what do you do between books? Do you just let your website sit there? Dormant until you have a new book to announce? Of course not! Here are a few ways to keep your website active — and interactive — while you’re working on your second, third or fourth book…
- Chronicle your bookwriting. One really interesting idea is to let fans follow the progress of your next book while you’re working on it. You could regularly post updates on what percentage of the book is completed, discuss your publishing efforts, or blog about the ups and downs of working on a new book.
- Blog, blog, blog. I know I really push blogging, but it can do wonders for an author website. This is especially valuable for a non-fiction writer. If you have a particular subject that you have interest in or knowledge of, blog about it! It could be women’s issues, politics, animal rights… whatever. People who are fans of your writing want to read what you have to say.
- Write short stories. This one is more appropriate for fiction writers. Keep your readers satisfied and returning for more by posting free short stories on your website. As a fan once said about her favorite author site, “I spent hours reading those stories. They keep me sane between her books.”
- Don’t forget about announcements and events. Doing any speaking engagements? Winning any awards? Make sure to update your website with this type of information. And every time your previous book hits a sales goal, announce that, too. Don’t think of it as bragging. Think of it as keeping your readers informed.
Do you have any other ideas about how to keep an author website active between titles? Share them with us here!
And if you’re ready to discuss building your author website, contact us today and take advantage of our free consultation!
When you look at other authors who write in your genre or on the same subject matter, you very well may view them as competition. But the purpose of this post is to convince you that those authors aren’t your competitors. They’re your potential allies.
First, when someone has an interest in a subject matter or genre, they don’t usually stick to one author or one book. They like to test the waters and read different viewpoints, different voices. So just because someone chooses to buy someone else’s book, doesn’t mean they won’t buy yours, too.
So that explains why other authors aren’t competition. Now it’s time to explain how they can actually be your allies.
In the world of internet marketing, there’s nothing more valuable than links to your website. Those links help in two different ways:
- They are found by people who are on other websites that cover a similar subject matter — essentially your target audience.
- They help improve your site’s placement on the search engines. The more links there are to your website, the more reputable the site appears to Google, Yahoo, etc…
What better place for a link to your website than from another author’s site? And that author may very well feel the same way.
Enter content sharing.
This can be done in a variety of ways. But the idea is the same. And it benefits both of you. You each offer some valuable site content for the other author’s website. That content, of course, includes a plug of your book and a link to your website. It enhances the site experience for readers who are already familiar with the site, and it helps them find a new author in a genre that’s of interest to them. A win-win.
Here are a few different forms of content sharing…
- Excerpts: This is the simplest way to do it. Just swap segments of your book with another author and offer each on the other one’s website.
- Articles: If you’re a non-fiction author, you may have already written a piece or two on your subject matter. Reach out to similar author websites and offer them the rights to publish your article free of charge (with a link, of course). And ask them for the same. Or write an original article that really suits the needs of the other author’s website.
- Guest Blogging: This is probably the option that I think is most valuable. Form a partnership with another author, and plan to regularly “guest blog” on each other’s websites. Guest blogging can be in the form of an interview with the author, a feature on the author, or just letting him or her post entries on your blog. This keeps both blogs updated, lively, and interesting. It’s great for authors who are sometimes at a loss as to what to blog about. And, again, it gets your name and website out there.
Want more ideas on how to drive traffic to your author website? Contact us for a free consultation!
I was asked a question by a client yesterday that I thought was worth answering in a blog post. After all, if one person has this question, the odds are more people do, too.
We are in the process of building her author website, and she knows she wants to interact with readers on the site. She’d heard about blogs. She’d heard about forums. But she wasn’t quite sure what the difference was or which one she should go with.
First, it’s important to explain that blogs and forums are very different things. Yes, they both involve interactivity, but in a completely different way.
A blog is about the author. Each blog post is written by the author. Site visitors can read the blog posts and comment on the blog posts (and the author can respond to those comments), but the author is really the one prompting the conversations in a blog. Site visitors can only post comments on the author’s entries (and the comments only appear with the author’s approval).
A forum is much more about the readers. Basically, it’s a free-for-all, where site visitors can start conversations and chat with one another, whether or not the author is participating in the conversation. Here’s an example of an author forum: http://www.jimbutcheronline.com/bb/
Now which one should an author have: a blog or a forum? Well, that depends. But I must confess that I’m much more likely to recommend a blog over a forum.
The benefits of a forum lie in the fact that the author doesn’t need to participate in it. It’s a place where readers can chat on their own. Discuss the book. Share their ideas. It’s much more of an open conversation.
But I’ve created forums for authors before, and each of them have hit a wall. There are two big reasons for this.
- It can be challenging to get a conversation started on a forum. And there’s nothing worse than a dead forum. Without a lot of traffic right off the bat, your forum will die a slow death.
- You have no control over the forum. Unlike a blog, you don’t get to review any posts before they appear on the site. Which means less responsibility for you, but also less control. I have honestly spent hours cleaning out author forums of pornography, inappropriate comments, etc…
So, in short, I personally favor the blog. Would I still build a forum for an author who wants one? Absolutely. But hopefully this entry helps clear things up a bit for authors who aren’t sure which way to go.
Ready to talk with us about developing your own author website? Contact us today for a free consultation!
Remember in the old days when authors used to go on book tours to promote their books? That’s sooooooo 20th century. Now, authors can accomplish the same goals without leaving their living rooms. Yes, book tours have morphed into blog tours.
So what’s a blog tour? It’s basically an author making the rounds among bloggers that speak to their target audience. Sometimes those are book bloggers (who are always reviewing the latest books). Sometimes those are bloggers who have a following in the subject matter of your book. For instance, if you wrote a book about real estate investing, then you might want to reach out to a real estate blogger. Either way, the whole point is reaching people who are potential readers of your book.
So what do you do on a blog tour? That depends. Some bloggers simply like to review books. In that case, you’d reach out to them and ask if they’d be interested in your book. If so, you’d send them a complimentary copy and hope they like it! Other bloggers like to do interviews, so they might post a blog entry to their readers introducing you and allowing people to submit questions to you about your book. Those Q&As would then appear as a blog entry on the date of your blog stop.
Some bloggers may ask you to guest blog for them. Others may want to have a contest offering your book as a prize. The options are endless.
But here’s a tip: try to vary what your blog tour covers. Because you might have people who follow you around from blog to blog, so it makes sense to offer them something new and different with each blog stop.
No matter what the blog tours involve, always promote each blog stop on your website’s events calendar, and always include links back to your website and/or to buy the book from each blog on your tour! After all, that’s your goal, right?
Here are a few other resources to help you learn more about blog tours…
So your author web site is launched. Congratulations! But the work is just beginning. Because what good is a website if no one is visiting it?
Here are some simple ways to ensure that your website gets looked at…
- Amass a list of contacts. It should include as many people as possible — anyone you may have worked with, talked to about your book, etc… Send a mass email to your all of them letting them know about your new website and encouraging them to visit it.
- Use social networks to promote your website. Tweet about it. Include it on your Facebook profile and tout in in Facebook posts as much as possible. Include it on your LinkedIn page.
- Add your URL to your email signature. Make sure that every email you send not only includes your name in the signature, but also a link to your website.
- Always mention your site at appearances. Are you doing book signings? Or speaking engagements? Make sure to mention your website and let people know what they can find there.
- Become involved in blogs. Find other blogs in the same genre as your website. Then start posting comments and getting involved in the conversations. Link back to your site whenever appropriate.
- Create your own video. Videos can go viral! So grab a little camera and make a brief (3 minutes or less) video about your book. Make sure to mention your website in the video. Then upload it to YouTube and send it around to friends.
- Add your URL to all bylines. If you write any articles on the web, make sure to include your site address in the byline.
Have any other ideas that have worked for you? Please share them here!
So many authors that I speak to have been told that they should be blogging. But they’re not exactly sure why, what they should be blogging about, or how it can help them sell books. And that’s exactly why blogging can be a complete failure.
The WORST thing an author can do is build a blog and then not update it. Sure an author might post a cute welcome message when the site launches, but that’s it. The blog sits there, idle, for months or years after that. And when people visit the website and they see a blog that hasn’t been touched, they immediately get the sense that the site is outdated. What could be of value? And they leave.
If you’re considering creating a blog, here’s what you need to know:
- Why blog? A blog is a great way to keep your site new and fresh, to allow readers (and potential readers) to communicate with you, and to highlight your expertise in a field. A blog is really a source of conversation — you’d post something and then your readers could respond. Not to mention that a blog can help tremendously in terms of search engine optimization. Your blog will generally rank highly on Google search results with minimal effort (assuming you use the right keywords and such). This will allow people with interest in your subject matter to wind up on your site, where you can then promote your book.
- What to blog about? Blogging is a very different beast depending on what kind of book you’ve written and whether or not you have an expertise in your field. If you’re a sex therapist, for instance, and have written a book on the subject, then it’s pretty easy to figure out what you should be blogging about. You could use your blog to answer questions that people submit about their sexual challenges, offer your commentary on news in your area of expertise, etc… People can visit your blog for free and if they like what you say and how you say it, then they’re likely to buy your book! The question of what to blog about can be a little more challenging for a nonfiction author or someone who isn’t an expert in a particular subject. That’s where you have to think outside the box. Should you blog about the challenges of being a writer? Should you blog about the characters in your book and how you envision their lives after the story ends? There are lots of interesting directions you can go in, and these are just some of the ideas that we at SmartAuthorSites.com offer in our free consultation to authors.
- Is anyone reading it? Too many authors that have created blogs — and actually keep them up — feel like they’re writing for nothing. Even if they get one or two comments on a post, they wonder, “Is this really worth my time?” The answer is a resounding YES! One of the things I highly recommend for an author website — especially the blog — is setting up a site traffic report where you’re regularly updated on how many people have visited your site and/or your blog. It will probably be a lot more than you think. For every one or two comments to a blog post, that blog might have been viewed by 50-100 people! That’s a lot of potential book buyers.
So are you convinced? Ready to start blogging? We thought so…