The Best Author Facebook Page I’ve Ever Seen

This speaks for itself. Check it out: http://www.facebook.com/TheHungerGames

Kudos to whomever at Scholastic built this. I would have no idea how to do this myself, but I’m sure going to start doing some research into it. This would be an amazing way to give an author’s Facebook presence their own look and feel, and integrate links to the website, places to buy the book, etc…  right into the design.

What do you think? Are you as impressed as I am? Please share your thoughts!

Another Reason for Authors to Use Facebook

You know how the Neilsen ratings have long-been the main source of data on TV viewership? Well, Neilsen also ranks website activities. They can tell you which websites are getting the most traffic on any given day, week, or month.

And new information from Neilsen suggests that social networking has completely taken over as the primary way that people spend their time online. In fact, Neilsen says that the three most popular websites in the entire world are:

  1. Facebook
  2. Youtube
  3. Wikipedia

Is there a pattern here? Yes! All of those sites are populated by user-generated content. It’s Web 2.0, which seems to make every website writer and editor cringe.

But there’s more to it than just that. Do you notice what’s missing from that list? It’s Google! What was once the “hub” of all of the internet now sits below some social networking sites on this list. In fact, the Internet and Marketing Report says that Neilen’s ratings shows Facebook getting four times more traffic than Google. Get that? Four times more!

Now this doesn’t mean that authors should ditch their websites and their search engine optimization projects for Facebook. But it does mean that keeping a regular presence on Facebook can make a huge difference in terms of self-promotion and book sales. If that’s where the people are spending their time, then you’d better not miss the boat!

Why Email Newsletters Are Still Important

I had a funny conversation with my 14-year-old step-daughter recently. I asked her to email me a photo that she’d taken. She looked at me like I was insane. Her plan was just to upload her pictures to Facebook. In fact, she told me that she never sends emails. She doesn’t even know how to attach a document to an email. Boy did that make me feel old.

In today’s world of Web 2.0, we’re moving away from contact via email and into a world of Facebook, Twitter and text messages. Which is why fewer and fewer authors are using email to communicate with their fans. Instead, they’re just posting on Facebook or Tweeting.

But is that really a good idea? Has Facebook become a more effective means of communication than email? Some recent research indicates that’s not the case. Now this doesn’t mean that you SHOULDN’T use Facebook and Twitter, but it does mean that the good old-fashioned email newsletter shouldn’t be neglected.

In an issue of Internet and Marketing Report, it was reported that businesses who contact their customers — or potential customers — via email get a return on investment (ROI) of $43.62 per dollar spent. The numbers don’t lie. Email still pays off!

Here are just a few ways that authors like you can use email newsletters to your benefit:

  • Promote radio/TV appearances
  • Announce the release of your next book
  • Provide special offers/discounts to “members”
  • Run contests

By putting these things in a newsletter — instead of on Facebook or in a Tweet — you are putting the information you want to convey right in your readers inbox. This newsletter can be designed as you like, read as you like, and be as long or short as you may like (flexibility you don’t get through social networking). And, as the numbers say, there is still some serious financial benefit to sending those e-newsletters.

What do you think? Have you found email communication to be effective in promoting yourself or your books? Share your thoughts!

Faces, Faces, Faces!

I was reading one of my favorite work-related newsletters the other day: The Internet and Marketing Report.

I came across an interesting tidbit from a marketing professional about the power of actually showing people’s faces on your website. It’s a suggestion that I took to heart.

Take a look at our homepage now: www.SmartAuthorSites.com. Instead of a list of our latest clients, we now have their names and faces. We’ve also added a face next to each testimonial on the site. And, yes, I finally gave in and included my face as well.

It’s hard to believe I never thought of this sooner. But it really does seem to make a difference. A name is so much more powerful with a face next to it. A testimonial from a client has more punch when you can see who’s saying it.

With that in mind, here are a few ways that authors can use this idea to their advantage as well…

  • Put photos next to reviewer names
  • ALWAYS include photos next to book testimonials (when possible, of course)
  • Embed a Facebook widget that shows the faces of your Facebook fans
  • Include a picture of yourself wherever it’s appropriate on the site
  • If you have other people involved in your book (an illustrator, a publicist), get their pictures in there, too
  • Include photos of you meeting fans at book signings

Web 2.0 is one of faces, faces, faces. Just look at Facebook or Twitter and you’ll see them everywhere. So it only makes sense to incorporate this idea into websites as well.

What do you think about all the faces on our site now? Am I missing any ideas for other ways authors can add faces to their sites? Please share your thoughts!

3 Reasons Why an Author Website Really Helps Sell Books

There’s been some buzz in the industry this past week regarding an informal survey about why people choose to buy their books. In summary, the survey reveals that:

  • The most common reasons why someone will buy a book is because they like the author and/or because it was recommended by a friend
  • A good book review is also quite influential
  • Hardly anyone will decide to buy a new book because of an author website, blog, advertising, or social networking

So the natural question to ask in response is this: “Is an author website really worth it?” The purpose of this blog entry is for me to answer that question for you … with a resounding YES. Here are three reasons why:

1. Word of mouth has to start somewhere. The odds that your book will become the next Harry Potter is small. But it’s even smaller if you DON’T do the marketing yourself. Sure, you can’t create all the buzz yourself. But you have to start somewhere. Use your author website, blog and social networking to get the word out there. Once you get the ball rolling, who knows where it will go!

2. Help your readers stay in the loop. Let’s say that your first book was released last year, and your second book is due out in a few months. So just how are the people who are already fond of your writing going to hear about it? Unless you’re Stephen King, there aren’t going to be public proclamations about your new book release. That’s where your website and social networking are crucial. By getting fans of your first book to come to the website, to sign up for your newsletter, and to check out your blog regularly, you can make sure they know about your second book. And hopefully your third and fourth as well.

3. Get your book reviewed. Just last week, I was organizing a blog tour for an author I work with. I contacted a variety of blogs and websites recommending that they visit her website to learn more about her book. Then I suggested that they review her book, or allow her to guest blog on their websites. As a result, we already have four websites that will either be reviewing her book and/or having her write for their site in the next month. Without having built a website of her own, how would we be able to inform these bloggers about the author or her book? How would we get the book reviewed by their sites? And, ultimately, how would those who would buy the book because they were impressed by the review ever get reached?

So, in my humble opinion, the survey was a bit incomplete. Because it only touches on the last step that happens before people buy a book — be it a review, a release of a second book, or having the book discussed at the water cooler. It completely ignores what an author needs to do to make those things happen. An an author website, blog, and/or social networking profiles are pretty much essential in getting there.

Ready to speak with us about developing an author website? Contact us today for a free consultation!

Author Websites to Get Your Book Published

I’ve worked with authors at a variety of stages of publishing. Some have just completed their first manuscript and are trying to find a publisher. Some have chosen to self-publish. Others are working with a publishing house and awaiting publication of their book. And some have multiple books published by multiple publishing companies. But almost all authors I work with have one thing in common … they’re working on their next book.

And that means that nearly all authors need to have a website that will appeal to agents and publishers — as well as the general public.

I was reading a blog entry the other day from Fiction Groupie. In it, she discusses a conversation with an agent to whom she had sent a query:

“She said a website shows that the writer is already taking that portion of the career seriously. (And having no online presence at all is getting to the point of being a deal breaker for her.) She also sends her clients’ website information with their submissions to publishers to show that the author is already out there building a name.”

This is something I’ve been saying for a long time. An author website can be very, very helpful in getting your book published. As Fiction Groupie goes on to say, “I think it goes back to that old adage of ‘dress for the job you want, not the one you have.'”

So this leads to the next question. Just what should an author website include so that it appeals to publishers? Here are my suggestions:

  1. Easy contact info. You don’t want an agent or publisher to have to work hard to find your contact information. Even if that means you have a special email address specifically for publishing professionals. Always make it easy to find.
  2. Manuscript excerpts and/or Table of Contents. You want publishers to be able to read segments of your book and really get a feel for the voice. Make it easy for them to read a portion and see what a great writer you are.
  3. Marketing tools. Include links to your Facebook profile and your Twitter account. Have a newsletter sign-up box in a prominent spot on the site. All of these things send a message that you understand the intricacies of marketing and have already begun the work yourself.
  4. Photos and/or video: Think a writer just has to know how to write? Think again! Just like in the music industry, talent in and of itself isn’t enough. Equally important is appearance, poise, and personality. So allow agents and publishers to see how engaging you are, how fun you are, and what a good public speaker you can be. All of these things make you more marketable in the industry.

Am I missing anything? Did your website help you get published? Please share your ideas and experiences!

And if you want to speak with us about developing your own author website, contact us today for a free consultation!

6 Tips for Promoting Your Book and Website Through Facebook

Practically everyone over the age of 15 is on Facebook. Which makes it an incredible opportunity to promote your book. Think of it as a newspaper that everyone is reading … and you can advertise for free in it!

But just how to do that can be a little more challenging than you think.

Facebook can be a bit intimidating for those out of high school. It’s huge, it’s fast-moving, and the functionality and privacy settings seem to change monthly. And, most challenging of all, there are no “directions.” You just have to figure it out.

With that in mind, here are the steps authors should take to promote themselves and their books on Facebook….

1. Create a profile. If you already have a personal profile on Facebook (that you use for personal reasons), then create a separate, professional profile for you and/or your book. It may be a pain to have two profiles, but it’s worth it. You want to have one that’s focused on your career. And you don’t want the general public looking at pictures of your kids!

2. Start friending people. This is the primary way that people will find you on Facebook, so it’s really important that you start adding friends. Start with your list of personal friends. Then browse the friends of your friends and invite all of them to friend you. All “friending” means is that your notes will show up on their homepage and vice versa. When your Facebook profile is for marketing purposes, the more friends the better!

3. Post, post, post. It’s easy to create a Facebook profile and then never touch it again. But that would be a huge mistake. It’s important that your name stay right in front of all your Facebook friends. And the only way to do that is to keep posting on Facebook. Your posts will then show up on all your “friends'” homepages, along with links to your Facebook profile. Again, it’s free exposure! Posts can be as simple as “Working on my next novel now” to announcing your book’s sales milestones.

4. Sync up your blog with your Facebook profile. There’s a nifty feature within your Facebook profile called “Notes.” I would tell you where to find this, but it seems to change all the time. But if you can find it, there will be a place where you can enter the URL of your blog’s RSS feed. It sounds complicated, but it’s pretty easy if you can find it. This is something I do for clients all the time. Once it’s set up, any blog post that you publish will automatically populate in Facebook. This is a HUGE time-saver. These posts will show up on your profile AND on the homepage of all of your friends, just like if you posted it on Facebook yourself. One caveat on this, though … your blog posts don’t show up immediately. There’s a delay of a few hours. And unless you know exactly when it posts, it may be pushed down on your homepage pretty quickly. How quickly depends on how many friends you have an how often they post. But rest assured, some people will see it!

5. Join groups. Find the Facebook groups that are filled with people who are interested in your subject matter. Join those groups, invite those group members to “friend” you, and join the group conversations whenever possible.

6. Don’t forget about links! Within your Facebook profile, make sure to include links to your website, links to buy your book, etc… After all, that’s the whole purpose of it! You don’t want people to be interested in you and your book, but have no idea where to find out more about it!

Have you found Facebook to be an effective marketing tool for you and your book? Do you use any cool features or widgets that aren’t mentioned here? Share your thoughts! And don’t forget to contact us for your free consultation about building and/or marketing your author website!

Marketing a Fiction Book vs. Marketing a Nonfiction Book

There are lots of companies that say they can market your book online. And maybe they can. But what they fail to tell you is that there’s not one standard formula that works for all authors. Marketing a teen horror novel is very, very different from trying to sell copies of a self-help book about finding your soul mate. Very different audiences.

I could spend hours writing about how reaching tweens and teens requires more social networking, while reaching 60-somethings is more effectively done through search engines, but I won’t bother. Instead, the purpose of this post is to talk about the specific differences between marketing fiction books and non-fiction books.

These two categories of books are completely separate beasts. Let’s start with why people read them. Someone generally reads a non-fiction book to boost their knowledge on something. To learn more on a subject. That same person would probably read a novel because they find it relaxing. Or entertaining. Or they like the rush. Or the humor. You get the drift.

Here’s the point: What prompts someone to buy a fiction book is completely different from what prompts someone to buy a non-fiction book. Let’s start with those motivations and see how that brings us back to the marketing side of things.

What they Have in Common
There’s one thing that works for every type of book. It’s every author’s dream. It’s “buzz” or word of mouth. Your friends are all talking about this book. It’s the topic of conversation at the water cooler. So you have to buy it. It could be a biography or a fantasy. Doesn’t matter. If it’s popular, you need to read it to stay in the loop.

But tell the truth — what are the odds that your book will become cooler talk? If it does, then great! But if it doesn’t, you need to find other ways to reach potential readers. And that’s where marketing comes in.

Promoting a Non-Fiction Book
In some ways, it’s actually a lot easier to do the marketing for a non-fiction book. That’s because there are a wealth of potential readers out there who are looking for information on your particular subject at any given moment. They’re surfing the web, Googling terms, finding websites that cover the subject matter.

All you have to do is get your book in their face just as they’re doing the looking! True, that’s easier said than done. But a good place to start is with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or Google Adwords. It also can involve reaching out to websites that cover the same subject and getting your book plugged as a resource. As a nonfiction author, people are actually looking for you … you just have to make sure they find you.

Promoting a Fiction Book
This is a little more tricky. Because chances are that your potential readers have never heard of you. Or your characters. They’re not necessarily looking for your book. Instead, you have to make sure your book finds them … and wins them over.

This is where the search engine strategy goes out the window. No one actually goes on Google and searches for “good novels.” That’s just not how people choose their reading materials. Instead, they’re likely to choose a book because it’s on this month’s book club list. Or it’s recommended on their favorite social networking site.

Yes, social networking — and really “getting yourself out there” is necessary to market a fiction book. It’s only when someone stumbles upon your book and is so enamored that they have to read it that they will actually buy your book. So contact groups or educators that you think would benefit from using your book. Recommend your book to bloggers and book club leaders. Get it out there in front of as many people as possible.

Is it more work? Yes. But the rewards are plentiful. Because unless you’re a former U.S. President writing an autobiography, or a famous journalist writing an expose about a celebrity, your non-fiction book isn’t likely to become a bestseller. But anyone can become the next Nora Roberts or J.K. Rowling. The right book and the right marketing can get you there.

Ready to talk to us about marketing your book online? Click here to take advantage of our free consultation!

Marketing a teen horror novel is very, very different from trying to sell copies of a self-help book about finding your soul mate.

Social Networking Sites for Authors: What Works?

Authors: I need your help!

You’d be amazed how many social networking sites there are out there for authors and their readers. I certainly was…

As part of a marketing project for a client, I spent some time this week scouring the web for such sites. Many of them are very similar in how they function — they’re essentially Facebook for book lovers and book writers.

So do these sites work? Are they effective? You tell me!

Here’s the list of sites I amassed this week:

  • GoodReads.com
  • LibraryThing.com
  • BookBlogs.Ning.com
  • WeRead.com
  • FiledBy.com
  • RedRoom.com
  • AuthorsDen.com
  • Shelfari.com

Have any of you used these sites? Have you found them to be effective in creating a buzz for your books or attracting new readers? Have they been worth your time? Which ones have you found to be the most effective?

Please share your thoughts … I’d love to be able to advise my clients in the future on which ones are worth investing the time in.

Thanks!

Author Website … Author Blog … Facebook … Twitter: What’s the Point?

It used to be that a publisher promoted an author’s book. If an author wanted to do more, they hired a PR person who made phone calls and sent out copies of the book for review.

How times have changed! Now, an author has to do nearly all of their publicity themselves! After all, you can’t exactly hire someone to tweet for you.

In 2010, it’s practically taboo for an author not to have a website, a blog, a Facebook profile and a Twitter account. That’s among other things, too. But the purpose of this blog post is to give you a brief overview of these four marketing tools and the purpose of each one.

1. An author website: This is what I do for a living, so I could write for days about this. But to make a long story short, the purpose of the website is to give yourself an online presence. People who read your book or hear about you from a friend need to have a place they can go to learn a bit more about you, see a list of books you’ve written, and get some special features … like book outtakes. The author website is essentially like an encyclopedia of your work. Just a bit more interesting.

2. An author blog: Every author should be blogging. And the blog should be closely tied in to the website. The purpose of the blog is to keep your site fresh and updated. Authors should blog at least once a week. The subject matter really depends on what kind of writer you are. Nonfiction authors should blog about the subject matter of their books. Fiction authors should get more creative and blog about their characters. Or about their writing for the next book. But a blog is your chance to interact with readers, let them know what’s on your mind, and give them a place to post comments.

3. Facebook: There are many social networking sites. Some specifically for authors (which I will blog about another time). But Facebook is the one that will get you the most visibility, since nearly everyone under the age of 60 (and some over, too) are on it. Create a Facebook profile or group. “Friend” people you know, and invite friends of friends to join. Make sure to include a link to your Facebook profile on your website and blog. You can also have your blog entries automatically feed in, so that whenever you post a new entry, it shows up on your Facebook profile without you doing a thing.

4. Twitter: You’ve probably heard of “tweeting.” You may even follow other people’s tweets. But for those of you who don’t know, Twitter (and its posts, called tweets) is a way for people to stay updated on what you’re doing. Tweets are short messages (less than 140 characters) that go from you to everyone on your list. They’re a quick way to let people know what you’re doing, or share a new feature/blog entry on your website. Individual tweets can be as simple as “Going to meet with my agent now.” Other tweets serve to link to something bigger, such as a new blog entry you’ve posted. Again, this can be automated so that the first 140 characters of your blog entry automatically go out to everyone in a Tweet. As with Facebook, you should have links to follow you on Twitter on your website and blog. Many people receive these tweets on their phone or other mobile device, so they can stay updated even when they’re not by the computer.

Whew! That’s a lot of information. But I hope you got the basics of it. All four of these things serve a different purpose. And the key is to properly integrate all of them, so that people who find your blog will come to your website. Website visitors will friend you on Facebook. Everyone will receive your tweets! And all of it toward the ultimate goal … selling your book, and maybe even getting the next one published.

Ready to talk to us about building an online presence for yourself? Contact us today for a free consultation!