Marketing a Nonfiction Book: Using Your Website to Enhance the Journey

journeyI’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it: marketing a nonfiction book is totally different from marketing fiction. In the latter, your story takes people into a fictional world that gives them a break from their daily life. In the former, you’re most likely educating people on something that will help them enhance their daily life. That’s true no matter what type of nonfiction you write: whether your book is about a war that happened hundreds of years ago, tips on home decor, or a way for people to find meaning and purpose through spirituality.

In essence, your nonfiction book provides a lesson to you readers. By the time they’re done reading it, they’ve been through a journey that has taught them something they didn’t know before. And, hopefully, that’s a journey they’re happy they took.

With that in mind, here are some interesting ways to use your website to further enhance that journey (and hopefully, increase the number of people buying your book). Depending on the subject matter of your book, one of these ideas might work better than others.

  1. Serial blog posts. You can use the material in your book (or come up with additional material) to use blog posts to help people along the way. So, for example, if your book is about how to reinvent your career midlife, you could write one blog post each week about the specific steps you have to take to get there. For example, the first post could be a brief explanation of how to do a self assessment to determine what you’re good at. The second could be full of resume-writing tips. The third about how to build a strong LinkedIn profile, etc… And by getting interested readers to your site regularly, you’re able to promote your book wherever appropriate.
  2. Weekly emails. This is building on the serial blog post idea. In this case, let’s say you write a book about getting organized. Allow your readers to sign up for your “Organization boot camp.” Each week, you would send them a separate email (these would all be pre-written, of course) with specific tips on what they could do that week in order to meet their personal organization goals. And it goes without saying … each email would tell them that they could get more detailed information from your book, along with a link to purchase it.
  3. Chapter-by-chapter discussion guides. What better way to sweeten the pot for a potential reader than to tell them that after they have purchased the book, they can come back to your site at the end of each chapter for a downloadable discussion guide that will help them better understand what they’ve absorbed. So if your book is about, say the Great Depression, the discussion guide that you offer will allow them to go on the site after reading chapter 1, and ask/answer a few questions that will help them have an even better understanding of what caused the Great Depression before moving on to the next chapter.
  4. Podcasts/videos. To say podcasts and videos are popular today would be an understatement. They are the most popular forms of media out there. So maybe you want your weekly lesson plan to be in video or podcast format instead of a written email. Maybe you want your chapter discussion guides to be actual discussions between you and another expert, talking through the most interesting things you covered in that chapter. Maybe you’re even debating the subject. Take about a great way to reinforce a concept and make the reading experience even more satisfying!
  5. Ask the expert features. People love being able to ask a question of an expert. And if you’re a nonfiction author … well, you’re an expert. After reading your book, people might have questions that are gnawing away at them, like, “How do I know if renovating my kitchen will really be worth it?” or “What would really happen if our country really embraced libertarianism, as you recommend?” By providing them with an avenue to ask you these questions – and get responses in real time – you are offering a truly satisfying journey. That can be done via a live expert chat, or simply exchanging comments via Facebook or your blog.

Embrace the fact that people will be in a new and better place in their lives after reading your book. Then, you can start to figure out which of these ideas – or others – will truly make the journey more satisfying. And yes. Like it or not, it is a journey.

What’s Your Author Brand?

brandingLike it or not, today’s author also has to be a marketer. And what is it that you are marketing? Well, it’s your brand.

But what exactly is your author brand? What are your options? What’s going to stick in everyone’s mind after they’ve visited your site?

Here are four directions that I’ve seen authors go in terms of their branding, and examples of each one. I hope this sparks ideas for you!

1. Yourself. This is probably the case for 75% of the authors that I work with. Their brand is … well … themselves.

This is most relevant for authors who want to become household names (hello, Stephen King!) and hope to write multiple books in a specific genre. For a nonfiction author, your self-focused brand might also include any consulting or speaking you hope to do on the same topic.

For a self-branded site, your name would be both the URL and “title” at the header of your site. Your photo would also be prominent, and the site design should clearly reflect your personality and the genre you’re writing in.

Goals of an author-branded site would be to build followers (email sign-ups, likes, people “following” you, return visitors) so that people who like your first book will then be aware of your upcoming books, and you have a way to continue communicating with them as each future book comes to fruition.

See examples of author-branded sites that we’ve built at:

2. Your book. Maybe you were inspired to write this one book. It could be a biography. It could be your story of survival through a crisis. Maybe it’s a collection of stories you put together. But if your plan is to write this one book — and only one book — then it makes sense for the book to be the brand. After all, the goal is to sell the book, right? It’s not to build a legion of fans.

In a case of a book site, the site title and URL should reflect the book title, and the book cover should be front and center in the design. In addition, the site’s look and feel should directly resemble the book cover. After all, the site is an extension of the book in these cases, so it makes all the sense in the world to carry the colors and graphics from the book cover into the book-focused website.

The goal of a book-branded site is simple: sell the book. This type of site should should have “buy the book” buttons everywhere, and primarily should serve to whet people’s appetite until they make the purchase.

See examples of book-branded sites:

3. Your series. Let’s say that you want to be the next JK Rowling. You’ve just finished your first Harry Potter-like book, and plan to write the rest of the series over the next few years.

This site, in many ways, would be a hybrid of the two above. The title/URL should be the same as the name of the book series. The design should also be very closely tied to the book covers, and contain any color schemes, images or fonts that will run through the entire series. But the goals of this site would be closer to that of an author-focused brand. After all, not only do you want people to buy the first book, but you want to make sure you retain their attention for the future books. Collecting email addresses/subscribers/followers is key, because that’s the best way to make sure that you catch their attention again when the next book of the series is out.

See examples of series-branded sites at:

4. Your cause. Maybe your brand is much bigger than yourself or your book. Maybe you are trying to start a movement or build a new product line. That movement could be spiritual in nature, it could be political, or it could be a service that you offer. Regardless, in these instances, you and the book are only pieces of the puzzle. The true goal is bigger than both of you.

For sites like these, a uniquely-designed logo is key. That logo needs to have a catchy title — and picking a name for your brand is not something to take lightly — and should be something that will hopefully be recognizable to a wide audience in the future. Think nonprofit, like Autism Speaks, or for-profit, like, H&R Block. Sure those are big examples, but they’re good role models.

Front and center in your site design should be your mission and why people should be interested. This can be done in images, video and/or text … or all of the above. The book can be featured prominently in the design, but it should be viewed as a supporting item to boost the message, not the end all and be all.

The beauty of a cause-based site is that it can grow as much as you want it to. Plan to sell t-shirts and bracelets that advance the mission? That will fit nicely into the brand. Want to start a petition on your site, sell your services, or build an online community for people to connect on the issue? That also is an easy addition. All of it ties into the goal of your book and your website; you and the book are just part of the supporting cast, if you will.

Here are some examples of cause-based websites

See how different your website will be depending on which type of branding you decide to go with? Choose wisely … it will make a big difference in the success of your book, your website, and ultimately, your brand.

One Author Social Media Campaign Gets Creative

legacy-of-kings-twitter-campaignSocial media is an important key to an author’s success. That’s especially true for fiction authors, since most readers don’t find their next read by searching on Google; they find it after they’re exposed to it through their social circles. Hence, the need for an author social media campaign.

But one of the challenges many authors have is figuring out how to tie the theme of their book in to Facebook or Twitter. For example, what should the writer of a mystery/romance book tweet about to gain traction?

Well, here’s a creative idea, just launched by Harlequin Teen. It’s a Twitter campaign for Legacy of Kings, the first book in Eleanor Herman’s new YA series.

Here’s a blurb from Publishers Weekly about it.

Bryn Collier, digital marketing manager at the publisher, said she created the technology with a freelance developer over the course of a few weeks. The “bot,” as Collier referred to the oracle, will respond to the hashtag #asklegacyofkings with one of 100 statements. The idea, she said, is that readers can tweet a question to @HarlequinTeen with the hashtag—sent examples include “Will I achieve my goal of going to college abroad?” and “Will the guy I love ever love me back?”—to receive a “prediction” written by Herman.

The promotion, which launched on Monday, ties into the theme of the historical fantasy series, called Blood of Gods and Royals. One of the main characters in the books, Kat, is on a mission to kill the queen in order to avenge her mother, who was an oracle.

Herman, an adult author who is breaking into the YA space with the series, is also a historian. Collier said that the author relied on her knowledge of Greek history to create a digital oracle that “channels the [Greek] gods and goddesses” as well as “other prolific thinkers.” The responses therefore include tidbits like this one, credited to Athena: ‘It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.’ There is also this nugget, from Poseiden: ‘Journeys that start out rough often end in smooth sailing.’

In other words, this YA novel ties into Greek history. The twitter campaign takes advantage of a readers’ interest in sci-fi, Greek history, gods and goddesses, etc… to let them have their questions answered with wise words of wisdom. Brilliant!

So how can you do something similar? While you may not have the budget of a publisher to build a database like this, you can use this type of idea as a jumping off point. For example, if you’re a fiction writer, maybe the main character of your book series can answer questions about her life on twitter via a hashtag. Or if you’re a nonfiction writer, maybe you, the author, can respond to reader questions that tap into your expertise through a twitter chat?

This type of example is one all authors can follow — both those who are self-publishing and otherwise — to figure out what resonates with their readership and build a successful social networking campaign around it.

Happy Tweeting!

Author Wisdom: What I Wished I’d Known Sooner

author-tic-tac-toeI stumbled across this really interesting converstaion on LinkedIn. The question was posed to authors: “What’s the one biggest surprise or thing you wish someone would have told you about the authoring or publishing process?”

Here are highlights from some of the responses:

—–

You’re not just an author, you’re a marketing expert and a full-time promoter of your work. Writing the book is the easy part; selling it is a full time job and that job is now yours. If you know that going into it, and you educate yourself well, it’s great fun. If you don’t realize it ahead of time you’re in for a shock.
Susan Veness

This is such a great question and my mind is reeling with things I’d like to share, having been a professional cover designer for over 25 years ….new authors don’t realize that spine width drives that attention-grabbing factor, and that they can manipulate the book’s interior to arrive at a page count that increases perceived value. The ideal page count for a healthy minimal spine width of about a half-inch is 200+.
Kathi Dunn

If you’re going to be commission the photographer or illustrator yourself, make sure you have a robust, clear agreement ideally assigning copyright, or at the very least an exclusive right to publish in all formats without a time limit. You also need clear written (non-exclusive) permission to use any pre-existing material, text or illustrations, that falls outside fair usage allowances, again in all formats and without time limits. Permissions aren’t sexy but if you don’t get them right they can really bite you in the backside. Good luck with it all, look forward to seeing the result!
Alison Jones

That publishing one or two books is quite an accomplishment and you should be proud, but don’t quit your day job: there usually isn’t much money in books anymore.
Shawn Tassone, MD, PhD(c)

That 99% of the work would be the marketing of the book…. i thought it was all about writers block and empty screens.
Jeff Smith

As someone who helps authors build online presences for themselves, I find that the thing that surprises authors the most is the fact that they really need to build a brand — whether that brand is their name, their book title, their series, or their business name (of which their book is one piece). That brand has to be able to be summed up in one sentence and have a logo/color scheme. It’s difficult to take something as complicated as a writer or book and make it easily digestible, but that’s exactly what authors need to keep in mind all along the way.
— Me

———–

What surprised you? What do you wish you’d known sooner? Share your own author wisdom below!

Should I Be Running a Paid Social Ad Campaign?

paid-ad-campaign-scaleI get this question from authors all the time. I’ve even seen recent conversations about it on LinkedIn. Here’s the primary question: “Should I be running a paid social ad campaign — like Google Adwords, Facebook ads, or Amazon ads — to increase awareness about my book?”

And the answer? Well, that’s almost always a resounding “no.”

Why Not?

Any time you invest money in something — especially advertising — what you’re looking for is a good ROI, or return on investment. In other words, you want to make sure you get more money back than you put in. That’s a pretty basic concept.

And yet, when it comes to authors investing in paid advertising campaigns, the ROI generally doesn’t add up.

Here’s why: If you sold jewelery, for example, and your margin of profit on each piece of jewelry sold was $500, you’d be more than willing to invest a fair amount in advertising in the hopes that you sold just one piece of jewelry. As long as you spent less than $500, you’d have a good ROI.

But when you sell books, the numbers are drastically different. As one LinkedIn user by tne name of Richard Milton breaks it down in regards to Amazon’s ad campaigns:

As the most efficient book retailer in the world, Amazon knows perfectly well (but don’t tell you the advertiser) that the industry standard click through rate is 0.1 per cent (one visitor in a thousand will click your ad) and the highest industry standard conversion rate (Amazon’s own) is 4%. This means that if 25,000 people see your ad, 25 of them will click on it and 1 will buy your book.

The average cost per click on Amazon currently for fiction is around $0.60 – $0.65.

Unless you are a megastar author or your book is a runaway best-seller, this means that you will spend more than receive.

I have found the same soft of logic to be true in relation to Google Ad campaigns and the like.

Let’s Do the Math

Here are the basic numbers that I saw when I was looking at these types of campaigns for authors…

Let’s say you’re spending 75 cents per click on your Google Adwords campaign, and you’ve capped your budget at $500/month. That means you get 667 clicks a month.

If you have a conversion rate of 5% — which would actually be relatively good — that means that 33 of the 667 visitors will have bought your book that month.

Now, let’s say you yourself make $3 per copy sold (and that would be a lot less for Kindle versions of your book). You would be bringing in $99 that month, significantly less than the $500 you invested.

Is It Ever Worth the Money?

I’m not one to be making grand statements that something does or doesn’t work for everyone. If you happen to write a great book about a topic that is extremely popular, it’s possible that you could make money off of these types of campaigns. After all, if your conversion rate is a lot higher than the 5% cited above (more like 25%), you would at least break even.

But based on everything I’ve seen, heard and read, I have yet to find one author for whom this is the case.

As another author in a similar LinkedIn conversation added: “Unlikely. I tried it for a while but got nowhere with it.”

So What Can I Do? 

I highly recommend authors use many of the free promotional online tools. These include:

  • Search engine optimization
  • Creating Facebook/Twitter profiles
  • Starting a blog
  • Reaching out to other sites about guest blogging

Here’s a recent post I wrote about free (or almost-free) ways to market your book. All you need to invest is time.

Happy promoting!

5 Free or Almost-Free Ways to Market Your Book

free-ways-to-market-your-bookWe build websites for authors. And no, we don’t build them for free. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t provide authors with lots of ideas about other ways they can market their books at little to no cost.

Based on what I’ve heard from authors in the decade I’ve been doing this, here are five ideas for free or almost-free ways ways to market your book.

1. Facebook and Twitter. If you haven’t done so already, create your own professional profile on Facebook. Make sure it’s completely separate from your personal Facebook profile.  Same thing with Twitter. Then use those platforms to post teasers about your book, share news about its release, and send traffic to your blog, YouTube page, etc… (more on that below).

2. A virtual book launch party. Celebrate the launch of your book by hosting a virtual book launch party. Here’s a great read on how to plan such a party, who to invite, and how to make it a can’t miss event. Again, the cost is minimal, and the potential benefit is plenty.

3. A blog. I’ve written many, many posts before about the importance of an author blog. In short, a blog is one of the best ways to attract an audience and expose potential readers to your book. Hook people with your blog, then present your book to them. And those “people” can be readers … or they can be agents or publishers. As another writer recently shared on LinkedIn: “E L James who wrote 50 shades of Grey had a blog for two years and each month had a new chapter she ended up with over 200,000 followers before the book was published.”

4. Video, video, video. Video is only becoming more and more popular. Check out this post on why video is practically becoming a must for today’s author. And while video can be very expensive (if you hire a top-notch production company), it can also be free. Equally free is the YouTube channel that you can use to share your video and get the word out about your book. Think about this: YouTube is now the second most-used search engine after Google. Without video, you are excluding yourself from the second largest search engine.

5. Guest blogging. Almost every blogger would love to have someone in their genre offer to write a guest post for them. I know I would. It’s free work that someone else is willing to do for you. Plus, a guest blogger is often willing to share that post with their audience, thus driving more traffic to your site. So consider bringing guest bloggers on to your blog. And, even more importantly, offer to guest blog for other bloggers in your genre. It can just be a short post about your subject matter, with a reference to your book. You can even offer a copy as a prize drawing. Again, it’s a great (and free) way to introduce your book to a new (and engaged) audience.

Do you have other ideas about free ways to market your book? Share them below!

5 Creative Ways to Use a Book’s Call to Action Page

eBook-Call-to-ActionI stumbled across a conversation on LinkedIn today about a “call to action” page in a book. Now, I know a lot about calls to action on a website (sections of a site that direct you to take a specific action, like buy the book or sign up for the email list), but I haven’t heard of such things in print before.

Here’s what I learned: the last page of your book is the perfect place to put a call to action. In other words, now that someone has read your whole book (and hopefully enjoyed it), it’s the time to encourage them to do something else.

Here are five things you can encourage people to do in your book’s call to action page.

1. Visit your website. This is a no-brainer. Use the last page of your book to give people the URL of your author website and explain what they can find there. Examples of things you can say include: “Enjoy this book? Learn more about [subject matter] via my blog at yourname.com/blog” (great for nonfiction authors), or “Find bonus material from the book! Download a discussion guide, read book secrets, and more. Visit yourname.com” (a good idea for novelists).

2. Purchase your previous books. If someone likes this book, chances are they’d like any other book you’ve written as well. This call to action page at the end is a great chance to list your previous books, display covers, and include any relevant information on where the books can be purchased (your site, Amazon, etc…).

3. Contact you for speaking engagements. Do you do any speaking on the subject matter that you wrote about? Then consider mentioning that on your call to action page, along with a specific way readers can contact you if they’re interested.

4. Review the book. There’s nothing that sells books like good reviews. So take this opportunity to ask the readers who have enjoyed your book to share their thoughts. Direct them to go to Amazon, GoodReads, etc… and post their own review.

5. Recommend the book via social media. This is another great way to get the word out. Direct your readers on exactly what you’d like them to do — maybe that’s following you on Facebook, tweeting about your book, and/or “liking” your author website.

Now, these are just five ideas. You might have more (and feel free to share those). But regardless of which of these calls to action you choose to use, here are a few guidelines that may be helpful…

  •  Be specific. Make things as simple and easy for your readers as possible. Include URLs, and give specific direction. In other words, don’t just tell someone to visit your site. Tell them the URL of your site. And instead of just asking people to review your book, tell them exactly what they have to do to get a review posted on Amazon.
  • Narrow a user’s options. While all five of these are good ideas for a call to action page, you definitely wouldn’t want to ask people to do all five. The very definition of a call to action is to clearly direct people to take an action. In other words, recommending five different actions would most likely be a confusing experience for users. Asking them to do one or two seems simpler to tackle.
  • Make it about them. Make it clear to your users that by taking this call to action, there will be some benefit for them. Maybe that’s the free downloads you offer. Maybe it’s a donation that is made for copies of your book that are purchased. Try not to present these calls to action as a favor to you; instead, make it a way for your user to feel like they’re doing something, accomplishing something and/or getting something.

Did you print a call to action page in your book? Share what worked (and didn’t work) in the comments box below.

4 Ways to Get Your Book in the Hands of Book Clubs

book_clubThere’s nothing better for a new author than finding out that their book has been picked up by a book club. Not only does that mean his or her book will be read (and discussed) by everyone in the club, but it means that there’s some buzz starting to surround the book. Hopefully everyone in the book club will like the book, tell their friends, and so on.

But just how does an author increase his or her likelihood of being selected by a book club? Here are a few ways, courtesy of our author friends on LinkedIn…

1. Find — and reach out to — the right book clubs.

“Finding book clubs that will review your particular book/genre is a time consuming task – but worth it. The only caveat I have is to be aware that some ‘book clubs,’ and some ‘book reviewers,” are fronts for selling the books you send them for review. As to legitimate book clubs and book reviewers, I’ve been told that your book’s website is where (book clubs, in particular, look up info about the author, etc. On my website for a forthcoming book (Sweetie’s Song – A love story) I added a few press releases. Based on website traffic, this seems to have helped.”
James Ignizio

“There are plenty of book clubs online. Make a list of the one’s interested in in your genre and send out emails and invite them to read and review your book. You might want to send a synopsis or a few sample chapters, but only if you get a response.”
Winfred Cook

2. Create author profiles on various sites.

“Do you have your book available through Amazon? If so, do you have an Amazon home page? I put my books on Amazon and have received positive feedback. Book clubs view your home page usually before they view your books. We learn what makes you click just from viewing your writing style – kind of a test drive.”
Bob Bryan

“DVW Book Club is a great place who will put your bookcover and your book description up on there website for free. It’s a great place. ”
Charliann Roberts

“As far as fb and Amazon are concerned, both are good to be on. The more exposure you can create, the better. On fb you will want to get connected with other like-minded authors who share your interests, beliefs, etc. The goal is to make your name and book(s) known to the public. It is a lot of work and it never ends. Success will only come by having a plan (purpose), working the plan, and sticking to it. You may have to tweek the methods you use from time to time, but that comes from time and experience.”
Jim Hughes

3. Apply for as many reviews and awards as possible.

“Even with glowing reviews, as I have on my latest book, Wayfarers, it’s only the beginning. I even thought with the finalist award in the Indie Excellence Book Award, for my first book Uncle Otto, that they would be beating down the door, not. Don’t misunderstand me, it helps but I think the more reviews you get, ie; bookclubs, the better.”
Winfred Cook

4. Get creative with bonus materials and free stuff.

“A couple of tips you might consider are: 1) send a copy to the Library Journal to review, 2) Write a discussion guide for your book to be sent to book discussion groups, many prominent writers are doing that now, and 3) if you know any librarians, give them a copy to review. The objective is to have them submit it, not to you, but to Amazon or Barnes & Noble, etc. where it will do some good.”
Roy Alonzo

“Re: Does anyone ever give bulk discounts for book clubs? Sure. I did it with a Bartending book, for bulk orders (over 10 copies). The book had a cover price of $18.95 and I sold it for $15. That said, I’m not sure I would do it if the cover price was $9.95 or less. Unless it was a large quantity. It depends on your margins.”
Roy Alonzo

 

Did you get your book picked up by a book club? What worked? Share your advice in the comments box below!

10 FAQs About Author Blogs

blogBlogging is something that I recommend nearly all authors do. But many of the people I speak with are unsure about how to start blogging, what to blog about, or why blogs may be helpful to them. With that in mind, here are 10 questions I frequently get about author blogs (and my responses, of course).

  1. What’s the benefit of blogging?
    I’ve written more posts about this than I care to remember. A few examples of them include: Why and How Authors Should be Blogging and Why You Need an Author Website and a Blog. But the short answer is that a successful blog is the primary way to drive traffic to your website. Sure, there are people who you will hand a business card out to. There will also be people who wind up on your website because they heard your name or your book title and started browsing. But how will you attract new people? That’s where blogging properly can come it. It can attract people who never knew you existed before, and wouldn’t unless you had started blogging. Your blog entry on a topic of interest to them will show up on their search results. And voila! You’ve found a future reader.
  1. What tools do I need to set up a blog?
    If you don’t have an author website already, you can sign up for a free blog service like WordPress or BlogSpot. But if you do have a site like the ones we build, blogging functionality is built in. It’s free and easy.
  1. How often should I blog?
    That can differ from person to person. I personally like to blog once a week. If you only want to commit to every other week, that’s okay too. Even once a month is okay, although not ideal. What you don’t want is a blog on your site that hasn’t been updated in a few months — or even worse — years. That sends a message to users that you’re not paying attention to your blog … so why should they?
  1. How long should a blog entry be?
    This can also vary from person to person. It can be as short as a few paragraphs (just your musings or sharing an anecdote), or as long as a featured article (1500 words or more). In general, though, I have found 500 words to be about the sweet spot for blog entries.
  1. How do I know what to blog about?
    You need to decide on a theme for your blog. And that can depend on your personality, your goals for the blog, etc… For example, if you are a comedic writer, then you should blog humorously. That will help you build a following of people who really appreciate your sense of humor. If you, on the other hand, write a book about religion, you should blog about religion. In that instance, you can get ideas for individual blog posts from questions that readers pose to you, news on religion, or Google Alerts (one of my favorite ways to be inspired).If you’re a fiction author, figuring out a blog theme is a little more complicated. But basic ideas can inlclude blogging about being a writer, blogging about your characters, or using the blog to offer bonus material that users wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere (book outtakes, for example).
  1. What are blog categories?
    WordPress offers a dandy little feature called blog categories. It allows you to categorize all of your blog entries, so that people who are interested in one specific topic an easily see everything you’ve written on that topic. On the right hand side of this site, for example, you see our blog categories: author marketing tips, a successful author website, author trends, tech advice, etc… Every blog entry that we post goes into one or more of these categories. So someone visiting the site who is only interested in marketing advice, for example, but not information on how to set up a good email client, can view everything categorized as author marketing tips.
  1. How long do blogs live on?
    Blogs live forever (unless you specifically decide to take them down). There is no limit to the number of blog entries you can post, so there’s no good reason to ever delete old ones. You may be surprised to find out that a blog entry you posted two years ago may still be getting a lot of traffic today. If it works, why change it or remove it?
  1. Can I include images in blogs?
    Yes, it’s very easy to scan in a photo and post it as part of a blog entry. If you build your author website through us, we will have a tutorial with you to show you how to do just that.
  1. How do I know if people are reading my blog?
    Every author (and blogger) should sign up for a free account with Google Analytics. By simply installing a plug-in on your blog and entering your Google Analytics ID there, you can then log in any time and see which of your blog entries are being viewed the most. Looking at Google Analytics can be very encouraging for authors like you, because it’s very easy to get discouraged when you notice that hardly anyone is commenting on your blog entries. You may then be very surprised to find out that hundreds of people actually visited and read that blog entry. That’s what you can learn from Google Analytics.
  1. How can I integrate my blog with Facebook and Twitter?
    Blogging and social networking can go hand in hand. Here are a few ways to integrate the two:

    • Make sure that every blog entry you post has a way for people to share it and/or like it via Facebook and Twitter.
    • Promote each of your blog entries via social networking; this can be done by synching up your blog with Facebook and Twitter (so that every blog post automatically turns into a Facebook post and Tweet), or by customizing and posting your message manually for each particular audience.
    • Include Facebook and/or Twitter widgets on your blog, so that people can have multiple ways to follow you.

Do you have additional questions about blogging? Post them below and I’ll be happy to respond!

5 Ways to Go From an Author to an Authorpreneur

authorpreneurHave you heard the term authorpreneur? If not, it’s time that you did. Because in today’s world of publishing, just being an author isn’t enough.

In the old days, writers were just that: writers. They would write their books, and publishers would pay them a hefty advance. Then the publishers would be the businesspeople — printing the book, marketing the book, and selling the book — and the authors could work on their next manuscripts.

That is no longer the case. Today’s world of publishing is a lot fuzzier. Whether you are self-publishing or going through a publishing house, the only person running your business is you. So you’re no longer just a writer. You’re a writer and a business owner. Hence the term authorpreneur.

Here’s the official definition of the term “authorpreneur” from Urban Dictionary:

An author who creates a written product, participates in creating their own brand, and actively promotes that brand through a variety of outlets.

Here are seven steps you can take to turn yourself from a writer into a successful author in today’s complicated world of publishing. And unfortunately, yes: this does mean that you will need to invest a few of your own dollars.

1. Get an accountant. Remember: this is a business. You need to treat it as such. A professional accountant will help you determine which expenses are deductable (before you start spending the money), as well as how to keep all of your receipts and records in order. Many accounting firms offer a free consultation, so start with that. Feel free to also ask friends and relatives if there’s someone they recommend.

2.  Hire an editor, cover designer, printing company and/or distribution company. This is especially important if you are self-publishing. Here are some questions to ask yourself?

  • Who is going to edit your book? How about copyediting?
  • Do you have a cover designer in place?
  • How many books are you going to print? If someone buys 1000 copies, will those be pre-printed? Will it be print on demand? Who will ship them?
  • What about turning your book into an ebook? Do you have a plan in place for that?

Make sure you have all of these things lined up before your book is officially released. And don’t think that you can do all these things yourself. A writer is generally not an editor or a designer. These are very specific skills, and not areas you should skimp on. Hire the right people to make sure this process goes smoothly.

3. Create your online presence. An online presence is practically a requirement for today’s authors. Here are the steps required to get this done right.

  • Start with your author website. Make sure it looks clean, professional, and suits your brand. Also make sure that it has a clear goal — be it selling books, getting people to sign up for your mailing list, or increasing your exposure.
  • Create social networking presences on some combination of the following: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, GoodReads and Amazon. Make sure that all of them are kept up to date and include links to/promotions of your book and your website.
  • Enter the world of video! Create at least one unique video and upload it to YouTube. Read this previous post about why video is so important in today’s world.
  • Build an email list. Make sure you collect the email addresses of people visiting your site. This will come in handy down the line when you have new books or events to promote.

4. Print marketing materials. So you plan to do a lot of talking about your book. That’s great. But what are you going to give out to the people you’re talking to? It’s extremely important that you have printed materials on hand at all times so that you can physically hand people something they can take with them. Examples of good printed marketing materials for authors include:

  • Business cards (this is a must)
  • Bookmarks
  • Flyers
  • A discount promo code for purchasing online materials

5. Attend events and conferences. As much as today’s world of publishing is digital — and a large percentage of it is — nothing will ever replace the value of face time. Start in your local area, and drop by libraries, bookstores, schools, etc… Talk with them about arranging for book readings, signings or seminars. Then look on a national level, and find conferences for authors/publishers/agents in your genre. If you’re a nonfiction writer, you can also look to attend conferences on your specific subject matter. For example, if you’ve written a parenting book, you would do well to attend one of the many mom blogger conferences that take place nationwide. Just showing up, introducing yourself and handing out business cards can go a long way.

Being a small business owner isn’t easy. But start with these five steps and you’ll be on your way to authorpreneurship.