Why All Authors Should Build an Email List

Every author web site has a “contact” page. It usually includes information on how to contact the author’s publisher, agent, etc… It may even include an email address where the author himself can be contacted. But here’s why it SHOULDN’T.

If you allow a site visitor to simply send you an email, you aren’t taking full advantage of the contact you’re making with them. You may or may not get their full name, which you might want to use later. And, more importantly, you won’t have the rights to send them an email newsletter down the line.

Instead, an author contact page should include a contact form. You can see examples of this on all of our SmartAuthorSites.com client websites (e.g. http://www.thelossofcertainty.com/contact.html).

By requiring that people contact you via this form, you’re collecting any information you might want about your readers (full name, location, etc…). More importantly, you also have the chance to add a simple line at the bottom of the submission form which, unless the site visitor un-checks it, gives you the legal right to add their email address to your mailing list.

This is HUGE! It allows you to start building an email list of people who are interested in your book, your writing, etc… This is like a ready-made marketing list (which some people would pay a lot of money for). It allows you to send out a simple email to everyone on that list when you have news you want to share (i.e. an interview coming up) or a new book coming out. Such a mailing list puts the ball in your court. Rather than people having to come to your website to learn about what’s going on with you, you can now reach out to them. This can help exponentially in terms of promoting yourself and selling your book.

Maintaining an email list is quick and easy. It’s as simple as keeping an Excel file with all the contact information. It’s something that you can do on your own, or our production team can do for you, should you build a site through us. Ditto with the actual email newsletters. You could send out simple text newsletters through your personal email address, or you could send out fancy, designed, HTML newsletters through us for as little as 2 cents per recipient.

No matter what you decide to do with your list (and even if you don’t know what you’ll do with it), make sure to start building one. There’s nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain.

Ready to get started? Contact us today to start discussing your writer website!

How to Make the Press Interested in You and Your Book

Another marketing tip for authors from Michael Volkin…

I can’t believe the number of authors I hear on the radio that get stumped by questions the host asks about their own book. Here is a tip that will not only make you sound better on the radio, but will make it easy on the press to want to pick you to interview as opposed to the hundreds of other books all competing for air time.

Write about 12-15 questions you would like the radio show host to ask you while on the air.  After the questions are written, copy them onto a separate document and write the answers to those questions.   Now you have two documents, one with questions and one with questions and answers.  The one with questions will go to the radio show host (or other press) and the one with the answers will be your copy to have on standby during the interview.  On the document with questions, put in parenthesis after each question how long the answer will take. For example: How long did it take you to write the book (answer takes 1 minute 30 seconds). This will greatly help the radio show host know how long each answer should take and helps the producer know long the interview will last.

Picture 50 books on a producers table, 49 of them are just authors looking for an interview.  The host will have to read the books, develop the questions and make a timeframe for the interview.  The other one is yours, with a list of questions and an exact time frame of the interview length.  You are doing the work for them and they are more than likely going to pick your book out of the bunch.

To get some radio interviews right now, go to www.BlogTalkRadio.com and contact some of the hosts with your new list of questions and watch your book sales take off.

For more tips and tricks on how to sell a ton of books, go to Michael Volkin’s new website SellaTonofBooks.com and purchase Social Networking for Authors-Untapped Possibilities for Wealth.

Authors: To Blog or Not to Blog?

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…

Don’t forget to contact us for a free consultation on how to make a blog work for your writer website!

Use FriendFeed to Find a Ton of Customers

This is our first (of many) social networking tips from Michael Volkin. More details on him below…

FriendFeed.com is a website that in one place aggregates your friend’s (or potential customer’s) streams from across different social sites. In other words, from one user, you can view real-time updates from Twitter posts, Facebook updates and tons of other websites.  FriendFeed can be an extremely useful website for finding your target audience and selling books, but be careful of its addictive nature.  FriendFeed can easily give you information overload and you could get lost for hours clicking away at the vast amount of information.

To sell books on FriendFeed, simply create an account.  Once your account has been created, log in and click Browse/edit groups (bottom right side of the page).  Here, you can search for groups where your target audience may be.  For example, if your book is on sailboats, look for a boating club, or sailboat enthusiast group.  Join the group and start communicating with potential customers instantly.

Link up with me on FriendFeed and I’ll show you how to sell more books.  Log in, click “browse/edit friends” in the middle of the page on the right hand side. Then, click “find/invite friends”, and in the text box type mvolkin.  Once my picture pops up, simply click “subscribe”

For more tips and tricks on how to sell a ton of books, go to Michael Volkin’s new website SellaTonofBooks.com and purchase Social Networking for Authors-Untapped Possibilities for Wealth

A Common Author Sin

Most authors know that they need to build a writer website in order to properly promote themselves and their books. But too many authors build a website and then don’t bother to tell people about it. Big mistake!

Get your domain name out there. Get people to link to your site. Here are some really simple ways to spread the word about your book website.

  • Put the URL on the book jacket
  • Print out business cards that mention your site
  • Tell people at speaking engagements/book signings to visit your site
  • Put your URL in the signature line on all your emails
  • Mention your site whenever possible on message boards and blogs
  • Always make sure that any articles that include your byline also include a link to your site
  • Mention your site in any interviews, media, etc..
  • Reach out to other relevant author sites and propose linking to one another

See how simple (and affordable) this is? Not only will this reach the people who are looking at your blogs, articles, etc… but these links are also a large part of Google’s ranking system. The  more links to your site that you have, the higher you rank in SEO.

Interesting (though outdated) News

Here are some of the relevant author news stories that we had on the SmartAuthorSites.com website before we launched this blog. Some of it is still very relevant, so you might want to check it out. We will be adding links to and commentary on  new and interesting news stories from the NY Times, Publishers Weekly, etc… going forward. Enjoy!

HarperCollins Wants to Be Your Friend
New York Observer

See the Web Site, Buy the Book
New York Times

Author Websites: Separating Fact (a.k.a. Nonfiction) from Fiction
SmartAuthorSites.com

Author…Promote Thyself
Publishers Weekly

8 Keys to a Successful Author Website
SmartAuthorSites.com

Crossover Dreams: Turning Free Web Work Into Real Book Sales
New York Times

The Author Will Take Q.’s Now
New York Times

The Greatest Mystery: Making a Best Seller
New York Times

To Meet the Author, Right Click
Times Online

Way Cool: Marketing and the Internet
Publishers Weekly

One-Fifth of Readers Visit Pub/Author Sites
Publishers Weekly

Welcome, Authors!

Welcome to the new SmartAuthorSites.com blog! Here, we will keep you updated on the latest news regarding author websites, online marketing for authors, and how to turn your book into a bestseller through a comprehensive online strategy. We’ll also let you know what’s going on within SmartAuthorSites.com as we continue to grow and expand the company in exciting ways. We hope you check back regularly!