Tips for Writing and Marketing a Book That’s Sells

author_on_computerWriting a book is a huge undertaking. Marketing a book is an even harder one.

Think about it: There are thousands of books published by publishing houses each year. And how many books are self-published? It’s pretty much that number squared.

So how do you become one of the few authors whose books really sell? Even more importantly: How do you ensure that you will at least make enough money to offset the expenses of becoming a published author?

Well, to be honest, the odds of doing either are small. But thankfully, it’s not like playing the lottery. There are actual, concrete things you can do to increase the odds that your book will sell. Based on my experience, here are some suggestions…

Before you start writing…

Fiction authors: Have a niche audience in mind.
There are a million mystery writers out there. Ditto for children’s book writers, self-help writers, etc… So start by thinking about how your book is uniquely different from all the others in the industry. Is it about a specific place or time in history (which can bring in people who have a special interest in those subjects)? Does it combine two genres that often don’t go together (like spirituality and mystery, for example)? Figure out what makes your story different from the norm, and make sure you stick to it as your writing the book.

Nonfiction authors: Assess the market.
Make sure you’re writing about what people are looking for. If your specialty is career services, for example, you don’t want to write a book about changing careers in a time where unemployment is sky-high. In that type of market, you’d be much better off writing a book about how to write the perfect resume or what to say in a job interview. That’s what people are looking for, so the market is there waiting for you. Take the time to figure out what the needs/interests are before delving in.

While you’re writing…

It’s never too early to start thinking about marketing a book. While you’re writing it is as good a time as any. Start talking about your book to friends, family and colleagues. Start building an author website and a social media presence.

One of the best things you can do is start a blog. It may sound like a boatload of work to be blogging while you’re also writing your book, but it’s never too early to start building a following.

Most importantly, start collecting email addresses! Even if it’s just friends and family at the beginning, you want to have a ready-made list of people to announce your book to as soon as it’s available.

While you’re publishing/getting published…

Now’s the time to really start ramping up your marketing efforts. You want to be at the pique of your marketing and campaigning several months before your book becomes available. Those efforts should include:

  • Planning a book launch promotion strategy
  • Sending copies of it to reviewers and bloggers
  • Holding contests on your website
  • Actively promoting your book release date on your website and on social media
  • Blogging like crazy
  • Forming relationships with others who have written similar books and/or speak to your target audience
  • Creating author presences on GoodReads and Amazon
  • Connecting with book clubs that might be interested in your book

And most importantly .. reaching out to that niche audience I mentioned.

How do I do that?

Well, that depends on your audience. But here are a few examples.

If you wrote a book about real estate law, for example, you’d want to be targeting real estate attorneys, investors, etc… You’d want to advertise in publications that they read, get your book reviewed by or testimonials written from people in the field, and offer to blog for free on sites that industry insiders read regularly.

On the other hand, if you wrote a novel that takes place in Martha’s Vineyard, you’d want to focus a lot of your attention on that individual area. You should reach out personally to every bookstore owner in the area and make sure they’re carrying your book. You could offer to do speeches at the local community centers, or visit the local book clubs for discussion.

You get the idea … The more specific your nice audience is, the more likely you’ll be able to get your book to stand out from the rest.

Good luck!


Do you have other ideas about how to get your book to sell? Share them below!


Vlogging for Authors: Why a Video Presence is a Great Way to Connect (Part 1)

In this two-part guide, I will discuss the benefits of vlogging for authors and show you how to start your own video channel on YouTube to connect with your readers! Stay tuned. Part 2 will be posted a week from today.

Do you have an author blog, but are struggling to find new ways to connect with your visitors? Are you frustrated with the lack of comments and readers your blog receives?

Maybe it’s time to put things in motion!

Vlogging (otherwise known as video-blogging) is still a relatively new concept, and the vast majority of our authors do not make use of it’s potentially-vast power.

In fact, there are many ways in which vlogging can actually be superior to the old-fashioned medium of words on a computer screen.

Benefits of Vlogging over Blogging

1. It is more personal

This one is pretty obvious, but it can pay very large dividends quickly. It is often difficult to get a sense of an author’s personality when it’s just letters on a screen, even with very frequent blog posts. You an only connect with your readers so much if they can’t actually see you.

A video blog is another level of connection between you and your readers. It’s a great way to convey emotion, humor, and insight, and even use visual tricks to keep your followers much more engaged.

2. It can look professional

If you have a good web camera and video-editing software (which comes with almost all computers today) you can put together some nice-looking videos that can help you come off as engaged, professional and even “state of the art.”

Let’s say you’ve written some great books on leadership and innovation, like our client Soren Kaplan. If you give weekly or monthly business tips delivered on video and you put time, effort and thought into keeping the quality of those videos fresh and original, you can bet that they will eventually draw interest.

3. It offers another great way to track metrics and traffic: YouTube

Using YouTube for storage of your video blogs is optional, but we strongly recommend it. When your videos live on YouTube, you can easily embed them on your vlog.

You read that right… your videos can then be found BOTH on your website AND on YouTube. If someone searches “great business ideas” and happens to land on your video on YouTube, watches your video there, and sees that you have a website and a book, you may very well have a new follower (and reader). Imagine gaining a wealth of new followers and eventually vlogging weekly, with readers commenting on your YouTube channel and your blog. Wouldn’t that be nice? It’s very possible!

YouTube is just another way you can be discovered, and their great built-in analytics help you target your videos to specific audiences.

Closing Thoughts

Starting to feel lost? Fear not!

In Part 2 of this series we will be talking about how to get started vlogging from a technical perspective. I will walk you through a step-by-step process of setting up a YouTube account launching your vlogging career!


5 Ways to Make Your Author Website Interactive

interactive-gears“Interactive” is a buzz word in today’s online world. Author websites are no exception.

So what is interactivity, exactly? Well, let’s start with a few definitions:

  • (of two people or things) influencing or having an effect on each other
  • designed to respond to the actions, commands, etc., of a user
  • involving the actions or input of a user; especially : of, relating to, or being a two-way electronic communication system (as a telephone, cable television, or a computer) that involves a user’s orders (as for information or merchandise) or responses (as to a poll)

In other words, an “interactive” website is one where it’s not just you, the creator of the site, who’s doing the talking. It’s a conversation between you and the users of the site, with user experiences changing depending on what they do, and what other users are doing.

You can certainly understand why people enjoy an interactive site. After all, it means that a user has some level of participation in the site and can really play a role in where it goes. With that in mind, here are five ways that an author can make his or her site interactive.

1. Encourage comments. This is the easiest — and most common — type of interactivity on websites. Every site that’s built in WordPress or a similar blogging tool will come pre-built with commenting features. This means that on any page of the site, or in any blog post, someone who is reading it can respond and post a comment. Other readers can then respond to the first comment, or to the post/page in general. I always encourage authors to end blog posts with questions for readers, or with blurbs encouraging them to post their thoughts on the issue at hand. This is interactivity at its most basic.

2. Run polls. Another fun little widget that you can include on your author website is a poll. Come up with a daily/weekly/monthly poll question related to your book’s subject matter. Then just post it on the site and voila! Readers will be asked to vote, and they will be able to see how other people voted. Not sure what to poll about? Here’s an example. Let’s say that you wrote your first book of a series, and it ends in a bit of a cliffhanger. Run a poll on your site asking readers to guess how things are going to turn out in book number two.

3. Have contests. People love contests. Actually, I should rephrase that. People love winning contests. So do something simple, like raffling off a free autographed copy of your book, or offering to do a live Skype chat with a book club to talk about your book. Encourage people to enter the contest by doing something simple; like giving you an email address. The give away is minimal for you, and you’ll get a whole lot out of doing it.

4. Solicit personal stories and ideas. I read a post on LinkedIn this morning about this. A woman who is writing a children’s book about a beloved dog said this: “Since the books target young children, do you think an interactive website where adoptive dog families are encouraged to share stories and photos would be an effective way to build loyal readers and drive sales?” My answer? Absolutely! In cases like this, when you allow people to post their own pictures/stories online, they’re likely to share those pages with friends, which will only increase your traffic further. It’s a win-win.

5. Let visitors impact your next book. This is a little outside the box, but I’ve seen it work brilliantly. Start a conversation on your site about your next book. Tell people that you’re creating a main character who is going to X, Y and Z. Then ask them what they think the name of such a character should be. Or give them three names to choose from and see which one they like best. It doesn’t always have to be a character name that you’re letting visitors choose; this is just one good example of how to allow your readers to really participate in the book and the website. Think about what would work for you, and use your website as an interactive vehicle to make it happen.

Do you have other ideas of ways to make your author website interactive? Share them with us.

See? We’re interactive, too :)


How Often Should Authors Blog?

This is easily one of the most commonly-asked questions when I’m discussing social media and blogging with a new client. And the answer isn’t as simple as it may seem.

Whether or not you have an author website, this question is pertinent to anyone who has an online presence; so non-authors, feel free to read on!

The case against blogging too often

One common misconception is that you can never really blog “too much,” as more information online is always better, right? This actually isn’t always the case.

Let’s say you have just released your new thriller noir, “The Great Treasure of Niagara Falls.” You put together a great marketing package, have us build a popular author website, and become active on the social networking scene. Blogging comes naturally to you, and you make a vow to write a new entry every single day.

After a couple of months, your book sales are much better than you anticipated, you have quite a few blog followers, and your fans demand a book sequel. Happily, you begin to work on penning the second book in what will be come a series with “The Overworked Janitor of Niagara Falls.” You have promised your fans a hard deadline of the book release date.

However, coming up with a blog entry every single day proves to be a challenge. You didn’t take into consideration how difficult it could be to blog AND write your sequel. Your blog starts to suffer, the timeline of your new book release date gets pushed back and you are now blogging every few days. And then every week… and then once a month.

This starts to look bad to your readers, who are wondering if you are disappearing. They lose interest in your blog, which may reflect badly on your book sales and online image. Your blogging career is going over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

To make a long story short, you do not want to bite off more than you can chew when it comes to blogging. If you are an author, keep in mind that blogging is writing — and serious blogging can be just as involved and time-consuming as writing a book. It is easy to get burned out, which can have a negative effect on your online presence, and ultimately your sales.

Building consistency in the blogging world takes a lot of time, so make sure you can actually keep up with the frequency goals you have set for yourself.

The case against not blogging enough

Each time you write a new blog post, you are doing the following:

  • Creating a brand new web page and a new URL for the search engines to discover. This will increase your website traffic for different keywords.
  • Adding to the information on your website, which over time keeps people on the site
  • Building your audience, readership, and fanbase
  • Encouraging discussion in the comments feed below the new entry

If you do not blog very often, you will never be able to generate a long list of subscribers and keep visitors coming back for more. After all, how is it possible to become a loyal reader of a blog that only gets updated every few months? This is like subscribing to the New York Times and having it only show up on holidays. (At least your blog is free.)

One of the worst things you can do is start out blogging fairly consistently and then fade away … and ultimately stop altogether. This makes it look like your website is out of date, the information is not as valid, you are not doing well professionally, the website isn’t being updated, you didn’t pay the internet bill, or any combination of the above.

Also, some writers start out blogging very passionately, and then when they do not gain readers right away, they lose interest. It is important to be patient! It can often take between 50-70 blog posts before you start to build an audience, and it is uncommon to have loyal visitors to a website with fewer than 30 posts.

The key words to blogging are consistency and persistence!

Great! … So how often should I blog?

Now that I’ve given you the negative aspects of both extremes it is time to answer the main question!

In general, it is wise to pick a frequency that you feel you can meet without burning out and make it a goal to stick to it. Anywhere from weekly to a few times a week is usually good. Less than twice a month isn’t really consistent enough, unless you remove the dates from each blog post… but then why blog at all? More than once a day is probably too much, unless you have guest bloggers or have endless energy for blogging.

It is important to keep in mind that blogging can be a fun, informal way to connect with your visitors and keep them engaged. There isn’t an absolute rule as to how often to keep your blog updated, but the advice above should help give you some general guidelines.

Good luck!


15 Quick Tips About Websites for Authors

check-markI’ve been building author websites for nearly a decade now. I’ve seen the best — and the worst — of websites for authors. With that in mind, here are 15 things you need to know about what to do (and what not to do) when you’re building yourself an author website.

  1. Having an author website can help you get published. The larger the following you have before reaching out to a publisher, the more likely that publisher is going to invest time and money in you.
  2. Author websites MUST be mobile-friendly. It’s 2014, and every author website needs to be visible on mobile devices, including both tablets/iPads and smartphones/iPhones.
  3. The best thing an author can do on his or her website is blog, blog, blog. The worst thing an author can do is build a blog and then not keep it current. After all, if an author isn’t paying attention to the site, why should a visitor?
  4. The design of an author website should convey the genre of the book(s). For example, a romance author should have a website that’s romantic in nature; it shouldn’t be so cookie-cutter that it looks similar to that of a children’s book author or a nonfiction author.
  5. An author website is part of an author’s brand. Before building an author website, you need to have a very clear idea of your overall brand and message. And that message should clearly come across when someone arrives on the site, in the form of a tagline or something similar.
  6. The average amount of time someone spends on a website? Three seconds. Make sure your author website is strong enough to take advantage of those three seconds and really grab a reader’s attention.
  7. Too many authors forget to collect email addresses. There is no good reason an author shouldn’t use his or her website to build an email list. Even if there isn’t going to be a traditional newsletter, that email list can turn out to be invaluable when there’s a new book to announce.
  8. Book authors aren’t always copywriters. Writing the text for an author website is a very different beast from writing a book. If you have a history of writing marketing copy, great. If not, then have someone who does work with you on writing the copy for your website.
  9. Be wary of too much design. The design of a website is important. Too much design can make the site hard to use or unfriendly to the search engines. Trust the experts to find the right balance between design and functionality.
  10. Author websites can interact well with social media. Some people might tell you that if you have a Facebook presence, you don’t need a website … or vice versa. Don’t believe them. Use your website to build followers on social media (by embedding links and widgets). Then use social media to drive traffic to your website, where you can really sell your brand.
  11. Building an author website doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get traffic to it. You know that saying, “If you build it, they will come?” Not true for author websites. Building a website is the first step. Getting traffic there is a whole other ballgame.
  12. An author needs to decide early on: is it a book website or an author websiteIs the goal of the site to sell the current book? Or is it to build a following for the author? Ensuring that the brand and the message is clear from the beginning is essential.
  13. Every page needs a “buy the book” link. How is that website ultimately going to pay for itself? By selling books, of course. With that in mind, don’t make it difficult for people to buy your book from the site. Include “buy the book” links everywhere the book cover appears.
  14. When it comes to SEO, time is your best friend. A new author website isn’t going to show up on Google search results right away. It can take weeks for it to appear at all. And then, it can take months (as well as some SEO strategies) to start climbing up the search results ladder. Patience is key.
  15. Author websites need to address all audiences. It’s not just readers that visit these sites. There are agents, publishers, media, book club organizers, etc… who may wind up there. Make sure they each can find exactly what they’re looking for quickly and easily.

Whew! Those are my 15 quick tips on websites for authors. If you have any of your own recommendations to add, please do!


3 Cool WordPress Publishing Tricks You May Not Know About

Authors who make frequent use of WordPress’ blogging system know that publishing their posts isn’t always an exact science. Nor should it be; after all, you are a writer, not a web developer!

However, no matter how skilled you may grow while working with WordPress it is very easy to overlook some of the best features about blogging with this fantastic content management system.

Anyone who knows WordPress basics learns how to write a blog post and then click the magic blue “Publish” button to make the post live. This is one of the very first things you will learn how to do when you start blogging. However, this is far from the end of the story.

Below is a guide on how to take advantage of a few useful publishing tricks with your WordPress site!

1. Not another second (of guessing!)

Have you ever published a great new blog post only to find that the formatting looks weird once it goes live? How embarrassing. It happens all too often, doesn’t it?

There is hope for you, however. If you look on the top-right hand corner of the “Publish” box there is a wonderful button called “Preview.” Go ahead — press it. A new tab will open and show you a preview of what the post will look like without needing to even make it live!

This is very useful for long blog posts with multiple images, or if you would rather see how your post will look on your site without publishing. True, many of you have probably discovered this handy shortcut, but if you have not it is well worth checking out!

No more live, messy posts. Now you can make multiple revisions to the layout before publishing your eventual masterpiece.

2. You shall not pass!

Okay, you have a great new blog post written, and it looks great in preview mode. Let’s say, however, that you would rather not share your blog post with the whole world just yet. Maybe you have a sneak preview of your next book that you would like to only share with “beta readers” for now. Or perhaps you want to put up amazing new pictures of your Dachshund, but feel this isn’t appropriate for your general readers.

Whatever the reason, the good news is that it is actually very easy to password-protect your blog posts. In that same magic “Publish” window we showed you earlier, you can click to edit the “Visibility” button, Then click the circle next to “Password protected”. Finally, you can set a password for the blog post.

The result? Once you publish this post, the only people who will be able to read it are those who know the password. Handy, no?

3. Auto-posting: How to blog in your sleep

Everyone needs a break now and then, right?

Let’s say that you are traveling to a tropical island that has no internet connection (You poor soul.) However, you have a loyal readership that has come to expect a post from you every other day.

What will you do? You don’t need to make your readers wait a week for you to return to the land of the connected. Instead, you can write all the entries at once and then auto-post them!

It is possible to write any number of blog posts at once, and instead of publishing them, schedule them to go live at a date and time of your choosing.

To work this bit of magic, simply return to that “publish” window, and under the “Publish immediately” text change the date and time, then click the blue button which will now say “Schedule.” Simple, no? Congratulations! Your blog post will automatically appear live on the exact date and time you set.

Final thoughts

Some of these surprising WordPress tricks for authors can really help you not only manage your blogging schedule a bit better, but also improve the quality of your posts. Stay tuned for more ideas to come!


Should You Create Separate Websites for Separate Books?

bookI stumbled across a conversation on LinkedIn this morning about whether or not authors should build separate websites to promote their individual books. There were a slew of responses — some from authors and some from experts — advising people in different ways. Here are some of the highlights:

I think it’s a good idea of the book titles are brief and easy for others to remember. But then I suggest that the domain name just be set up to forward to a page on your main website that’s dedicated to that book title alone.
Lynette Smith

My advice is that your website should be in your name. Even if you publish multiple books with multiple publishers, you need a site in your name. Bring all the information under one umbrella site and redirect the other URLs of the other titles. This is essential for a strong personal brand strategy.
Fauzia Burke

An immediate advantage that I see [to multiple websites] is that it gets you additional exposure on the Internet by adding another site touting you and your product. Obviously, this increases the chance that you and your product are discovered and that your author platform might grow as people link to you (don’t forget to put a link back to your website and blogs in a couple places on the site).
Bob Lucas, BS, MA, MA, CPLP

So, clearly, people have different opinions on this. But, if it’s worth anything, here is my two cents…

In 95% of instances, authors should have one website.

Here’s why…

  • An author needs to build his or her brand. Having a website that brings all of his or her work together in one place, and under one larger message, helps to form and advance that brand. I always recommend that authors have a tagline that summarizes the point of their writings. That tagline should be able to bring all of his or her books together in a cohesive way.
  • It helps with cross-promotion. A reader who is interested in one book by an author is likely to be interested in other books by that author. Think about it: if you read a book you enjoy, and then go to the author’s website to learn more about him or her, wouldn’t you then want easy access to a list of every book that author has written? Wouldn’t you then be interested in buying those other books? Of course you would.
  • One site can have more than one domain name pointing to it. Many authors really want to have their book title as their domain name. The good news is that they can … even if they have all their books on one website. You see, you can purchase the domain names for each of your book titles, and have each title simply point to the page on the website that focuses on that book. Voila! Two birds with one stone.

There are some rare instances, however, in which I do recommend that an author build a separate site for a new book.

Let’s say, for example, that an author is a novelist. He has been writing novels for years, is known as a novelist, and wants to continue to be a novelist. Then, let’s say, this author’s father recently passed away from cancer. He decided to write a book about his father’s final days, in an effort to help other people going through a similar situation. Hopefully, he will never go through something like that again, and will never be writing another book on the subject.

In a case like that, I might recommend that he build a second site for this new book. Why? A few reasons.

  • It’s a completely different audience. You, a reader, may be a fan of novels; but what are the odds you also happen to have a family member on their deathbed?
  • The new book can be SEO magic. There are many people (sadly enough) who go to Google and search for terms related to losing a loved one. By building an entire site dedicated to that book — and optimizing  the domain name for the title — the traffic numbers will be significantly higher than if the book simply has a page on the author site.
  • The design needs to fit with the book. A novelist is likely to have a website that clearly conveys the genre of the books; be it mystery, romance, etc… A much more serious book, like the one described here, just wouldn’t look right in that design.

As you can see, this last instance is sort of unusual. But it does happen. That’s why I won’t make a grand proclamation that authors should always keep all their books on one site. Still, that is the right move in most instances.

If you want to take advantage of our free consultation (and get personal advice as to whether or not you should build book websites or an author website), please reach out. We’ll be happy to talk with you!



5 Reasons We Redesigned Smart Author Sites (and You Should Consider Doing the Same)

smartauthorsitesIf you have visited our website before, you’ll probably notice something different this week. It’s … well … everything.

Last week, we launched the new Smart Author Sites website. Our business is no different from before. The services we provide and information conveyed on the site is no different from before. But the design and functionality of the site? That’s drastically different.

With that in mind, here’s why we decided to redesign the site, and why many authors should consider redesigning their sites as well.

1. Age. Our last site was designed about five years ago. That’s like 35 dog years. Just about every website needs to be redesigned twice a decade. It was just time for us. Is it time for you, too?

2. WordPress functionality. When we first built Smart Author Sites, we built the site in flat HTML. Then we added the blog, which was in WordPress. But the rest of the site was still in code. WordPress offers a wealth of features, from SEO functionality to social networking tools to easy-to-use contact forms. Our new site will be easier to use — both for us and for you, the user — now that it’s in WordPress. If you still have a site in flat HTML, you’d be amazed how different the experience would be if you have it rebuilt in WordPress.

3. Mobile version. It’s 2014. More and more people are foregoing their computers and accessing the web via mobile devices (tablets or smartphones). Our new web design is mobile-friendly: people viewing it on an iPhone, for example, will have just as good an experience as someone visiting it with a full-screen monitor. Maybe you’re even viewing this on a mobile device right now. If your author website isn’t mobile friendly yet, it’s time for you to make the switch.

4. Updated layout/design. Remember when we talked about age? Well, things change a lot in five years. Imagine walking into a house that hasn’t been updated in 20 years. Will it look dated? Of course! Websites are no different. Our new site includes rotating slides on the homepage (which is hot in 2014) and a portfolio of sites that can expand or contract, depending on how much someone wants to scroll.  It’s like we just renovated our kitchen with modern appliances.

5. Knowing what works. We had five years worth of data to look at on our old site. We know which pages people frequented the most, which pages made people leave, etc… This information allowed us to redesign the site focusing solely on the things that people seem most interested in, and weeding out the information that was unnecessary. Do you know what’s working on your current site? What have you done to optimize it?

If you have an author website that needs some work, reach out to us for a free consultation. We can make your site as beautiful as ours (not to toot our own horn, or anything).


5 Things You Need BEFORE You Build an Author Website

checklistI admit it. I was wrong. I have told you in previous blog posts that it’s never too early to build an author website. Well … it’s time for a mea culpa.

I recently was working with an author who clearly had a lot of work to do before she was ready to build a site. She wasn’t really clear yet on her message, her goals, etc…

With that in mind, I present … the five things you need before you build an author website.

1. A goal for your website. What do you want your website to be? A place where people come to learn more about you? A way for people to sign up for your newsletters/updates? A resource for people who want to learn more about the information you convey in the book? Until you know what you want the website to be, there’s no point in building one.

2. A brand. What is your website selling? Is it the book? Is it you? And if it is you, what is it that makes you so interesting? All of this falls under your brand. And whether the brand is built around a business name, a book or series title, or your name, that brand needs to be in place before you build a website to compliment it.

3. An idea about your future. Is your first book going to be your one and only book? Do you plan on turning it into a series? Are you going to write other books? Having some idea of this (without being able to predict the future, of course) is so important. If your book is the first of a series, you need to build a site that can incorporate a whole series. If you plan to write completely separate books in the future, you need to build a site that can encompass different books in different genres. If your book is a stand-alone, then you definitely don’t need an author site; you need a book site. Having some idea about this is crucial before investing in a website.

4. A book cover (or at least an idea for one). Imagine this. You build a beautiful, flowery website that’s pink and purple and perfectly feminine. Then you get your book cover and it’s dark and mysterious. See anything wrong here? Your website design should match your book cover. It doesn’t have to match exactly, but they shouldn’t be distinctly different in look and feel. That’s just a confusing message to visitors.

5. An idea of your audience. Who does your book appeal to? Is it parents of young children? Fans of mystery/suspense stories? Professionals in a certain field? The purpose of your site is to sell your work to a specific audience; unless you know who that audience is off the bat, you will be wasting your time and money building a site that may or may not hit the target.

In the case of my most recent client, she really needed to hire a consultant who would have helped her nail down her goals, her message, her brand and her audience. Don’t make the same mistake.


8 Secrets to an Effective Author Email Campaign

email-keysYou know that email is an important marketing tool for selling your books. But how much do you really know about how to use it effectively? Here’s what you need to know about common email mistakes, and what you can do to maximize your email efforts.

1. Offer incentives for signing up. There’s a reason you hesitate to give out your email address to every Tom, Dick and Harry who asks for it. After all, if you did, you’d be getting hundreds of emails each day, many of which would be trying to sell you Viagra or SPAMming you with promotions from a restaurant you would never eat at. No, you only give out your email address when there’s a good reason for doing so; like a free giveaway or a discount at your favorite store. So in order to build your email list, think about what kinds of incentives you could offer your readers. Maybe it’s a downloadable discussion guide, or a discount off the subscription to your weekly audio podcast.

2. Make it clear that you won’t share email addresses. Sure, you know that you’d never sell your email list. But that doesn’t mean that everyone else knows you won’t share their email addresses. It’s such a simple thing; guaranteeing the security of the information people share with you. And yet, it can make the difference between someone giving you their address and not doing so.

3. Be clear about what people are signing up for. So you’re asking people to sign up for your e-mail alerts. But are you telling them what to expect? Do they know if they’re going to receive weekly updates? A monthly newsletter? Automatic alerts whenever you post a blog entry? Make sure you’re very clear about the frequency and the content of these emails. People will only sign up if they know what they’re signing up for.

3. Offer quality in your emails. This is so key … do NOT send out emails that are purely promotional. That’s a sure-fire way to turn off your audience. Instead, use your emails as an opportunity to share valuable information with your readers; something that they will appreciate. This will ensure that they open your future emails … and maybe actually respond to your promotions.

5. Always offer a call to action! Speaking of promotion; always make it easy for people to take action after reading your emails. Maybe that action is to “Like” you on Facebook. Maybe it’s to buy a copy of your latest book. Whatever your goal is in sending your email, make sure that you make it as easy as possible for the readers to actually do it.

6. Provide opt-outs. This is a legal requirement, so there’s no flexibility here. You MUST give people a way to opt out of your emails. If you don’t you may be reported … and then you’ll never be able to send an email again.

7. Don’t abuse your list. Don’t you hate it when you receive those daily emails from a clothing company or flower service? I mean, sure you like their stuff, but sometimes it’s just too much. They’re “abusing” their lists. And you should avoid making the same mistake. Only send out emails that are full of quality information. Put yourself in the position of a recipient; would you want to read this? Or is it just fluff? If it’s not important, don’t send it.

8. Provide share options. Let’s say you put together the perfect email to go to your readers. And let’s say one of those readers has a BFF that she thinks would love your email. Make sure you offer every recipient the option to share the email with friends. After all, the more the merrier!

Do you have any additional recommendations for a successful email campaign? Share them with us!