9 Creative Ways for Authors to Help One Another

handshakeThere are thousands — if not millions — of authors out there trying to make a name for themselves. Most of them have very little in terms of publicity agents, marketing experience, etc… So they’re basically fighting an uphill battle.

That’s why so many authors are looking for ways to connect with other authors, and potentially help one another. With that in mind, here are nine creative ways that authors can team up to help promote one another’s books, author websites, etc…

1. Share, share, share. Are other authors posting blog entries? Tweeting? Pass on what you’re reading of theirs to your friends, readers, etc… If they do the same for you, you can increase your reach exponentially.

2. Like one another. Clicking on a Facebook “Like” button is so simple. And yet, doing so really does help to spread the word. So swap “like”s. What’s there to lose?

3. Guest blog post for one another. Do you have a blog? Does your friend, an author, have a blog? Why not write a guest post for his or her site, and vice versa. Not only will this breathe some fresh life into your own blog, but it will get your writing out to a new group of readers.

4. Review one another’s books. Post a review/recommendation of another author’s book on your site. Have him or her do the same for you. If you speak to a similar audience, you’re exposing a whole new crop of readers to a book they may not have heard of otherwise.

5. Interview one another. Use one of your blog posts to interview your author friend about his her book, writing habits, publishing lessons learned, marketing techniques used, etc… Again, it’s a great way to get new faces in front of an existing readership.

6. Offer special deals/giveaways. Why not consider providing a special deal or giveaway to people who came to your site through your friend’s author site or social media page? Any incentive that will get people to buy your book or give you their email address is a good thing.

7. Consider doing group tours. Not actual tours, of course: virtual tours. But by teaming up, you can offer book clubs, libraries, schools, etc… the opportunity to double the attendance by featuring two authors (and triple, if three of you get together).

8. Promote each other through other forms of social media. Do you have a GoodReads account? Make sure to cross-promote there as well. Ditto if you follow people on Twitter, highlight book covers on Pinterest, etc…

9. Create a group blog. This is a little harder to do, but it’s not unheard of. Get a group of authors together and create an author blog site. Agree to each post, say, once a week. The more posts you have, the more you will become a can’t miss destination for other authors. Then, make sure each of your books/websites get fair promotion.

One last caveat … as much as your friend may be your friend, make sure that you’re not wasting your time cross promoting with him or her. In other words, if you have 100,000 followers on your blog and your friend has 5,000, it may not be worth your time for you to “help” one another. Always ask potential authors for information on their following before deciding whether it makes sense to proceed. If the two of you are in the same ballpark, then it’s probably a good arrangement.

Looking for additional advice on selling or marketing your book? Contact us today at Smart Author Sites for a free consultation!

4 Reasons a Reader Will Become a Follower

One of the best things an author can do through an online presence — be it a website or social networking  — is build followers. This becomes your ready-made marketing list — people you can pitch your book to, inform of your next book, and share your success stories. How many followers you have can make the difference between a publisher considering your book, or tossing it aside.

With that in mind, just how is an author supposed to start building this list? How do you get people to sign up for your newsletter, follow your Tweets, or become a Facebook fan? According to a survey by ExactTarget, here are the things that motivated readers to join your group or sign up to follow you (from most popular to least popular):

  1. Discounts, special offers, or freebies
  2. The desire to “support” you or your business
  3. Wanting to stay informed on what you’re doing
  4. To get updates on future books/products

What’s interesting about these statistics is that the main reason an author wants followers is for #4, while the main reason the followers sign up is for #1. That just goes to show you that, as much as you want to talk about your next book in your tweets/posts/newsletters (and you should!), you also need to sweeten the pot a bit with special offers and discounts. For instance, if you’re selling the book yourself, offer a 5% discount in these updates. Or you can consider other “special” deals for members, like the opportunity to ask you a question of their choice. Remember, you have to offer something to get something. And, as the research shows, what followers want is “stuff!”

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!

It’s Never Too Early for An Author Website (Right From An Editor’s Mouth)

In previous blog posts, I’ve discussed why it’s never too early to get your author website and online presence going. In fact, I’ve claimed that having those pieces in place can actually help you get published, because it gives you a leg up over the competition. And now I have an editor backing me up.

Book editor Jevon Bolden, in her blog “Embrace the Impossible,” recently blogged a post titled 6 Days and 40 Manuscripts Later: Musings of an Editor Reviewing Submissions. Here’s an excerpt …

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Writers should work on building an audience before submitting to publishers. Saying that you could market your book through social media once we decide to publish doesn’t tell us much. Basically you want the publishing company to invest in something that has no proven record of return—no perceived or anticipated value. That’s not fair. You wouldn’t invest in some random idea for a new company that may show up on the NYSE and it may perform enough to provided an ROI. You’d want to be able to see that the marketplace will patronize that company and that they will meet a consumer’s felt need. You’d want to see some paperwork, maybe a market analysis and a business plan. Yes? The same goes for a publisher. In determining if there is an audience waiting for something from you, we use our market knowledge based on past results. And our knowledge tells us that if we publish a book from someone with no audience, it will tank and cause us to lose money. You have to provide an argument to back up your claims that this book is something people will want to read else we will not take the risk.

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There’s plenty more that she shares in her blog post, but this is what really had me grinning. Because it’s rewarding to have an editor back up what I’ve been telling clients for years.

Publishers no longer take responsibility for marketing the majority of their books. That responsibility now sits solely in the hands of the authors themselves. And if you can show a publisher that you know how to market yourself — and have already started marketing yourself — it can be the deciding factor in whether a publisher decides to go with your book or someone else’s. So build that website. Start blogging. Tie those in to your Twitter and Facebook accounts. Build a mailing list.

Like I always say (and Jevon says, too), it’s never too early!

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

7 Easy (and Free) Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Author Website

So your author web site is launched. Congratulations! But the work is just beginning. Because what good is a website if no one is visiting it?

Here are some simple ways to ensure that your website gets looked at…

  1. Amass a list of contacts. It should include as many people as possible — anyone you may have worked with, talked to about your book, etc… Send a mass email to your all of them letting them know about your new website and encouraging them to visit it.
  2. Use social networks to promote your website. Tweet about it. Include it on your Facebook profile and tout in in Facebook posts as much as possible. Include it on your LinkedIn page.
  3. Add your URL to your email signature. Make sure that every email you send not only includes your name in the signature, but also a link to your website.
  4. Always mention your site at appearances. Are you doing book signings? Or speaking engagements? Make sure to mention your website and let people know what they can find there.
  5. Become involved in blogs. Find other blogs in the same genre as your website. Then start posting comments and getting involved in the conversations. Link back to your site whenever appropriate.
  6. Create your own video. Videos can go viral! So grab a little camera and make a brief (3 minutes or less) video about your book. Make sure to mention your website in the video. Then upload it to YouTube and send it around to friends.
  7. Add your URL to all bylines. If you write any articles on the web, make sure to include your site address in the byline.

Have any other ideas that have worked for you? Please share them here!

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!