What Authors Should Read: November in Review

what authors should read

Photo credit: Foter.com / CC0

Another month has come and gone (and we are in the midst of the holiday season). We did a lot of posting and sharing in November — both of our own content and of other sites’ interesting articles, blog posts and more.

In case you missed any of it, here’s a summary of what authors should read to stay on top of industry trends.

What Authors Should Read From November

1. Is Passion for Your Book Enough? Include These 10 Hot Selling Points
Knowing these before you write your book will make all of your copy more organized, succinct, easy to read and engaging.
Book Coaching, November 5, 2016

2. Author Website Templates: 5 Things You Need to Know
So you want to build an author website. Here’s what you need to know about selecting and utilizing the right author website templates.
Smart Author Sites, November 7, 2016

3. Guest Blog Post: Author Website Tips
This article offering author website tips is our second guest post from Irish children’s book author Avril O’Reilly, who I met when she took one of my book marketing courses.
Build Book Buzz, November 16, 2016

4. Social Media Marketing Evolves
As social media platforms get more crowded, indie authors are recalibrating their marketing efforts.
Publishers Weekly, November 18, 2016

5. 4 Steps to Selling More Books with Less Social Media
Traditionally and self-published authors use Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to help sell books. But should they be doing that?
Digital Book World, November 28, 2016

Happy reading!

selling books online

Selling Books Online: 5 Things You Need to Know

selling books onlineOkay, you’ve written your first novel and you’re interested in selling books online … so how do you actually go about that?

Here are five basic tenets to help you get started selling books online…

1. It’s not that difficult to get a book listed on Amazon. Even if you didn’t publish your book through Amazon, that doesn’t mean you can’t sell it there. It just takes a few easy steps to create your Amazon page and sell your book. Here are some instructions from Amazon’s Author Central on how to do that. And the nice part about selling through them is that you don’t have to worry about collecting money, distribution, etc… It’s all pretty simple.

2. There are other options for selling books online. Let’s say you don’t want people to have to go through Amazon to buy your book. Maybe you want to keep 100% of the profits. Or maybe you want to incentivize people to buy it directly from you by, say, offering a signed copy of the book to your buyers. In that case, there are several simple ways to sell the book yourself, assuming you have an on-site platform already. The simplest and most efficient way is via PayPal. This will allow you to create a product page, set prices for the book (and for shipping) and then easily embed that “buy” button on your author website. If you want to get even more sophisticated (or if you plan to sell more than just a book — say, your book and corresponding t-shirts, hats, etc…), you can set up your own online shopping cart. That takes a bit more work to build, but it would allow people to do all their shopping right there on your website. You can learn more about these various options in our post on how to sell books through your author website.

3. … but if you do, be aware of tax implications.
This is an important message for those of you who plan to sell the books yourselves. Talk to a financial professional in your state before beginning this venture! Find out about sales tax in your local area and what you’re required to charge buyers. The last thing you want is to get in trouble with the authorities.

4. Have a firm marketing plan in place. Just having a way to sell your book (or even having it listed on Amazon) is not what’s going to actually sell your book; just like setting up a lemonade stand on your street isn’t going to sell much lemonade. In order to successfully begin your venture of selling books online, you need to follow these basic steps: 1) Identify your audience; 2) Figure out how to reach that audience; 3) Drive them to where the book is sold; 4) Incentivize purchasing it. Now, those four steps sound pretty simple, but they’re not. If you’re not a marketing person at heart, I recommend you talk to someone who has some background in this. Even if he or she is just serving as a consultant for a short time, that consultation can help you firm up those plans and kick off your campaign. For example, if your book is a romance novel, you might be able to determine that your audience is female, ages 30-60, they spend a lot of time on Facebook and Pinterest, and could be driven to your site via paid ads on Facebook and/or viral pins. Once they get to your site, you might then want to offer them some kind of discount/donation to a charity for buying your book, or a cool bracelet if they recommend it to their book club. This is just one very specific example, but it’s a good idea of the detail involved in doing this right.

5. Make good decisions about selling print books, ebooks or both. Books aren’t just books anymore. Nowadays, you could sell your book in print (hardcover/softcover), an e-book, a PDF, etc… Again, this ladders back up to knowing your audience and how they prefer to read. A younger audience may prefer Kindle, while an older audience wants to hold the book. Genre matters as well. Now, you could certain decide to go with all of these options and offer your book however someone wants to read it. But be aware that each one is an investment in time and money, so choose wisely.

Selling books online may be easy in theory (technology does wonders, doesn’t it?), but it requires a lot of time, thought and planning to do it right. If you want help with any of these steps, you’re always welcome to reach out to us for a free consultation.

Good luck and happy bookselling.

author page deidre havrelock

Your Author Page: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

So you’ve decided to build an author website. Among other things, that website will include an author page.

First, let’s define what an author page is. In it’s simplest terms, it’s the section of your website in which you would include information about yourself — like where you’re from, what your background is, why you write, etc…

But an author page can be much more than that. In this post, I explore a few different approaches to a successful author page, and examples of people who have done interesting things with theirs.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Creating Your Author Page

author page ig hughes1. Should I write it in the first person or the third person?
This may seem like a silly question. After all, a whopping majority of bios are written in the third person. But not everyone’s is. In fact, some might argue that an author page that has a bio written in the first person is a bit warmer and more welcoming than the traditional bio. After all, you might feel like “Judy Adams” is really talking to you if she says, “I have the most adorable little puppy dog named Larry,” as opposed to reading a sentence like, “Jane lives with her husband and puppy.” It’s really a personal preference thing, and obviously would not be applicable to someone who wants to maintain a more business/professional writer profile.

See examples of a few author bios written in the first person:

author page alison kartevold2. Should I include a photo? If so, what kind?
Yes, you should include a photo. Obviously, there are people who — for whatever reason — really don’t want their picture out there. And that’s fine. But know that your readers are going to want to see a picture (or multiple pictures) of you on your author page. As far as what type of picture to include, I’ve seen all sorts. Some of them are casual. Some of them are more professional. In general, I lean toward recommending that an author have some professional photos taken for this purpose. After all, this is an impression on your readers and you want it to be a good one.

See a few examples of good author photos:

3. What kind of information about myself can (or should) I share?
Again, this is a personal preference thing. It also depends on the genre of your writing. For example, if you’re writing a book chock full of financial advice, then you want to use your author page to talk about your background in finance and what makes you qualified to write such a book. A different type of nonfiction author — say, one who writes about history — would want to talk about what made them interested in history in the first place, why they felt compelled to write this book and retell a story, etc…

A fiction author, on the other hand, probably has less to talk about as it relates specifically to the subject matter of the book. So her bio might be a little more personal, like what novels she likes to read, her hobbies, where she grew up, if any of the characters in her book are based on real-life people, etc…

Here are a few in particular that I like:

author page deidre havrelock4. Should I format it like an interview?
I’ve seen a few authors go this direction with their bio. And I think it’s an interesting one, so I’m including it here. It allows the author to tell his story in the form of questions and answers, instead of a traditional bio.

See two examples here:

5. What else can I do on my author page that’s unique?
I’ve seen author pages include “10 things you don’t know about me.” I’ve seen others that include video of an author talking about him/herself, comic strips, the author’s life in chapters and more. Think outside the box about how you can really connect with your audience and stay true to your brand. Then get creative!

See examples of a few such authors who really “got creative” with their author page:

Hopefully a few of these will spark ideas for you. But if I had one word of advice about building your author bio page it would be this: make your author page your own. Make sure the format and the photos reflect who you are. Your readers will appreciate it.

sell books

How to Sell Books Through Your Author Website

It’s one of the primary reasons an author creates a website: to sell books. And yet, these same authors still seem to be confused about some of the logistics of how to sell books. Here are some frequently asked questions.

sell booksCan I include links to Amazon, B&N, etc… to sell books?

Linking out to Amazon, B&N, your publisher — or any other sites that sells your book — is incredibly easy. In fact, we often recommend that authors include links to ALL the sites that sell their books (so as not to appear to favor one seller over another). All you have to do is choose the text and/or icons that you want to serve as links, and then use the handy dandy link feature in WordPress to make sure each one goes to the right place. Voila!

Can I sell books myself?

Absolutely. There are a variety of ways to do this — some easier than others. The simplest is to create a PayPal account. PayPal will then allow you to set a price for the book, a shipping charge, and a tax percentage. You then get an embed code from PayPal that you can put on your site. Once someone clicks on that “buy” link, they make the payment through PayPal, you get notification via email, and then you can take care of shipping it to the buyer.

There are far more complicated systems as well, but most authors start with the basic PayPal function. If you want more detail on your options, check out this blog post on the various ways to sell books.

How do I know if someone has bought my book through my site?

This is actually more complicated than it sounds. Obviously, if you’re selling the book yourself via PayPal, you know if someone has purchased it. But tracking that purchase can be a lot more complicated when it’s simply someone coming to your site, clicking a link to Amazon and then making the purchase.

My recommendation is that you set up an Amazon Affiliate account. This will allow you to put a specific tracking code on your links. Not only does this let you see who has gone from your site to directly to purchase your book on Amazon, but it also actually gives you a small percentage of the sale price as a commission! That’s a win-win.

What kinds of incentives can I offer on my website to sell books?

If you plan to sell the book yourself, there are a variety of incentives you can offer for someone to make the purchase. Since you’ll be doing the actual packaging and shipping, you might opt to include a “bonus” gift along with the book. That could be a printable discussion guide, some swag that relates to the book … or whatever else you can come up with. I’ve also worked with authors who autograph each and every copy of the book that someone buys through them. So if it ever becomes a bestseller….

Incentives are more challenging when you’re not the one selling the book. But if anyone has found a successful idea, please share it with us!

How do I get people to my website in the first place so that they’ll buy my book?

It’s true. People actually have to arrive on your website before they can decide to buy your book through your website. And there are professionals who make careers out of telling authors how to drive traffic to their site, so it’s not exactly a science that i can explain in a few sentences.

But here are some strategies (and more info on each one) that we have found to be successful for authors:

Any last tips on how to sell books through my author website?

Yes! Make it easy for a visitor to your site to buy the book. Don’t make people click around in order to figure out how to make the purchase. Have a “buy” link on each and every page. Make sure it’s clear and prominent. It’s a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often I see that happen.

Happy book sales!

good author reads for august

August Round-Up: 5 Good Author Reads

Happy September, everyone. I can’t believe it’s time to bid adieu to summer! But all good things must come to an end. Including the month of August. In case you missed it, here are five good author reads from the month that you might have missed.

good author reads for augustGood Author Reads from August

1. Trade Journals: The Book Publicist’s Secret Weapon
“Trade journals offer book-selling, career-building opportunities for authors of both nonfiction and fiction. What are they and what can you expect?
Build Book Buzz | August 2, 2016

2. 5 Mistakes Authors Make With Their Websites
I have already discussed the importance of the way your present your book and how you can market it better. However I have started to note a problematic trend- that of the bad website.
LinkedIn | August 5, 2016

3. DIY: How to Price a Self-Published E-Book
Setting a book’s price requires some creativity on the part of the author, a careful consideration of the book’s potential audience, and an assessment of what the author hopes to accomplish with the book.
Publishers Weekly | August 5, 2016

4. Author Website Load Time: 7 Things You Sh
ould Know

What’s my website load time? How do I speed it up? To help you get answers, here are seven things you need to know about website load time.
Smart Author Sites | August 24, 2016

5. Six-figure Book Promotion Strategies for Authors
In this interview, the author of over 100 books in niche genres covers effective book promotion strategies, the Amazon Algorithm and much more.
Written Word Media | August 25, 2016

Do you have other good author reads to share? Please post them in our comments box below!

kids reading books: children's authors

6 Tips for Children’s Authors

kids reading books: children's authorsChildren’s authors face some unique challenges. While authors of books about religion or history — or even a romance novelist — have a ready-made audience of people interested in that genre, children’s authors have more of an uphill battle. They need to identify their target audience and convince them that this book is the right one for their kids.

So how should children’s authors get their books out there and in the hands (and minds) of the right people? Here are six strategies to try.

Children’s Authors: 6 Things to Keep in Mind When Marketing Your Books

1. Word of mouth is key. There’s no one out there searching Google for “great kids books.” It just doesn’t happen. So how does a children’s book make it onto the bestseller list? The key is usually word of mouth. In other words, one child reads the book and loves it. Her mom is sitting at the playground the next day and starts talking to her friend about the great book that her daughter read the night before. That’s the beginning of what is ultimately a long chain of conversations about this “book my child loves.” So start by getting your book into the hands of as many parents as possible. Give out free copies. Offer a special deal for your e-book. The more kids that can read it, the more parents that can talk about it.

2. Talk to multiple audiences. Who buys children’s books? Well, parents buy children’s books. Teachers add children’s books to their curriculum. Librarians make children’s book purchases. And, of course, you’ve got the kid who comes home from school and says, “Mommy … will you PLEASE buy me that book that little Timmy was reading?” In other words, children’s authors need to sell their books to multiple audiences. You, of course, want kids to love it. You also want to convince parents that it includes a good lesson for their child. And you want teachers and librarians to know that it’s a great book that will help their kids read (and maybe learn other things along the way). In other words, you need to position your book to each of these audiences uniquely, and possibly even dedicate specific flyers, social media messages, or pages on your website accordingly.

3. Think about events. An event can be many things. It can be a speaking engagement at the public library or local school. It can be a book reading and signing at a bookstore. Or an event can be a fun gathering at the local park or rec center. Maybe you invite kids there with lots of food, snacks and activities. Maybe you create life-like versions of your characters and have the kids interact with them. You can think as big or as small as possible, but actually having the opportunity to interact with parents and children will help you build a loyal fan following. You can find examples of great children’s authors’ events on the Children’s Book Council “Kid Lit” page.

4. Join a children’s book community. There are various organizations out there full of children’s authors (and sellers!) For example, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) boasts more than 22,000 members, and has various regional chapters that hold conferences throughout the year. Conferences like these — and others — allow writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, and agents to meet and get to know one another. Connect with professionals in the industry, and get a chance to schmooze with top children’s book publishers.

5. Make the online experience fun and interactive. Remember: your book is for kids. That means it needs to be fun. So make your children’s author website or social media presence just that. Examples of ways to do this can include:

  • A social media campaign in which you ask users to submit cute photos of kids reading your book
  • An online poll in which you allow readers (parents and kids alike) to choose the name of a character in your next book
  • A fun crossword puzzle that uses the names of characters/places in your book
  • A kids’ writing contest, in which kids can submit their own book reviews, recommended additions to your story, etc…

These are just a few ideas of ways to bring your story into an interactive online experience. Get creative and come up with your own.

6. Think big (and yes, I know that’s the name of a popular children’s book). What makes your book different and unique? How can you market it to your audience? Publishers Weekly recently cited a few good examples of authors who did just that. In promoting his children’s book about little league baseball, The Hometown All Stars, Kevin Christofora sold copies of it in bulk to a local little league team, which they could then re-sell to parents at full price as part of a fundraising effort. Laura Barta, author of My China Travel Journal, actually founded a toy company and included the book as a learning tool in a larger set of educational materials about China that also includes “color story cards for reading comprehension, a fabric play mat, and standup puzzle pieces.”

Get your book in front of as many kids, parents and teachers as possible, and let the word spread!

Author Website Technology: 5 Must-Have Features

author website technologyJust like everything else, author website technology is changing rapidly. So what are the latest must-haves on your author website? Whether you’re just building your site, or you have an older site that needs some updating, here are five features that we highly recommend for authors.

Author Website Technology Musts

1. Newsletter sign-up functionality. What’s the best way to get someone to come back to your site multiple times? It’s by collecting their email address, so that you can continue to keep in touch with them. I’ve written extensively about strategies for compelling readers to sign up for your newsletter; but from a tech perspective, you actually need a way for them to do that. There are various types of author website technology that allow newsletter sign-ups, from simple and free WordPress plug-ins that collect/maintain the list to more advanced options (which often involve a fee) like Mail Chimp. But regardless of which type of service meets your needs, you won’t want to have an author website without a way to properly build your email list.

2. SEO plug-in. I write extensively about SEO strategies — from how to form blog posts to keyword research strategies. But, once again, it’s the author website technology that has to be in place to make it work. There are a variety of plug-ins that WordPress offers for SEO — from the simple to the more advanced. My personal preference is called Yoast. It allows you to enter the preferred keyword for each page on your site and then guides you on how to make sure to properly incorporate it in the appropriate places. This makes a huge difference in how your site places on search results.

3. Social networking integration. Maybe you have a strong author presence on Facebook. Or Twitter. Maybe LinkedIn is more appropriate for your writing. You probably have an author profile on Amazon, or a page on GoodReads. And if video is your thing, then you may have a YouTube channel. All of these are social networking channels, and whichever ones you’re involved in need to be prominently displayed on your site. Whether you go with simple social networking buttons in the top right corner, or you have fully-embedded widgets from your most active profiles, make sure those are visible. So if a reader who is very active on Facebook comes to your site, she can easily find your Facebook page and become a fan or follower.

4. “Buy the book” links. It’s such a no-brainer, ad yet it’s frequently forgotten. Make it easy for people to buy your book! If you prefer to sell copies yourself, there are easy ways to integrate a PayPal buy button on your site. But most authors simply choose to offer links to buy the book through Amazon, B&N etc… Give buyers as many options as possible (since just about everyone has a preference) and make it a prominent, easy click.

5. Mobile-friendly design. This is one of the most important pieces in author website technology today. I’ve written full pieces about the whats and hows of mobile-friendly design, but here’s the gist: more than half of today’s internet users are browsing on their phones or tablets. In addition, Google is punishing sites that are not mobile-friendly by having them fall lower on the search results pages. All of this adds up to one basic rule: Make sure your author website is in a design format that adjusts for mobile devices. It’s that simple. The majority of current WordPress themes are mobile-friendly, so it’s simply a matter of selecting the right one, checking it on your mobile device, and running a simple mobile-friendly test on Google.

Don’t let today’s author website technology leave you in the dust. Make sure you have these five features in place on your author website.

amazon books publishing

Amazon Books: 10 Things You Need to Know

amazon books publishingBoy how times have changed. Today, self-published Amazon books are some of the best-selling books out there. If you’re considering self-publishing through Amazon, here’s are 10 things you need to know.

Amazon Books: What You Need to Know

1. CreateSpace/Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) are the names of the self-publishing companies run by Amazon. CreateSpace is the one in which you would publish a book in print; KDP is for Kindle versions of your book. Speaking of which….

2. You can decide if you want Kindle, print or both when you publish through Amazon books. Publishing on Kindle is totally free. Publishing in print requires actually printing the book (which isn’t free), but since it’s print on demand, you would really only eat that cost when your book is ordered online.

3. Amazon will allow you to create an author profile page. Do it! When you publish your book through Amazon, you will have the opportunity to create an author profile page with your photo, bio, genre, keywords, etc… Make sure you do this, as it can make a difference in the number of books you sell.

4. Yes, you can easily link from your author website to buy the book on Amazon. I get this question from authors all the time … if you build me an author website, can you link to Amazon so people can buy the book? Yes. Absolutely we can.

5. You can set your own price. Yes, when you self publish through Amazon, you can decide how much your book costs. Offer your e-book for only 99 cents if you want to increase readership. Or decide that $3.99 is a fair price. It’s your call.

6. You control the whole process from start to finish and retain all the rights to your book. Unlike going through a traditional publishing house, you are in charge of what your book is titled, what the cover looks like, etc… Best of all, you retain the rights to your book and can even sell it to a publisher later.

7. The percent of your sales that you collect may vary. It’s basically either 70% or 35%, depending on your pricing, your location, etc… Check out the Amazon guidelines to understand which bucket you would fit into. Either way, it’s a lot more than what you’d keep through a traditional publisher.

8. You can take advantage of Amazon books promotions. I’ve spoken with many authors who have found that taking advantage of one of Amazon’s many promotions — like giving away your book for free for up to 5 days — made a huge difference in exposure. Other promotions include earning money when people borrow your book, the Matchbook program (which offers the free Kindle version with a hardcopy) and the Kindle Countdown Deals.

9. Publishing is free, but you may still need to pay for various services. It doesn’t cost you a penny to self-publish through Amazon (except the printing of purchased books). But what doesn’t come with self-publishing through Amazon is the services you usually get through a traditional publisher — editing, book cover design and any marketing services. And these aren’t areas you want to cut corners in, so make sure you set aside some budget to get professionals to help you in these areas.

10. Don’t forget to start building reviews. Once your book is available on Amazon, people can start posting reviews of it. And you want them to! Ideally, you’ll want to readers themselves to be raving about your book in a review on the book’s page. But before that happens, you can ask friends and fans to get that conversation started. Having reviews posted can make a world of difference for a prospective reader.

Okay, so what have I forgotten here? What was your experience with self-publishing Amazon books? Share your experiences, opinions, little known facts, etc… in the comments box below.

What Do My Analytics Really Mean?

what do my analytics really meanYou’re an author. You have a website. And (if you’ve been properly advised) you have Google Analytics that allow you to regularly review your site traffic. But like many authors, you may be asking: “What do my analytics really mean?”

After all, when you log into Google Analytics, you’re likely to see a slew of numbers and terms you don’t know. And many authors are not exactly “numbers people” who naturally understand what all the tables, charts and digits represent. That’s okay.

Here are 10 specific things to look at in your Google Analytics, what they really mean, and what you should do as a result.

  1. Users (under “audience”): This is a pretty basic stat. It’s how many people visited your site in the time period you’re reviewing. “Users” is also subdivided into two segments: new visitors and returning visitors. So if 100 people visit your site in a given month, and half of them come twice, then you’d have 150 users, 100 new visitors and 50 returning visitors. Obviously, one of your primary goals in driving traffic to the site is to increase the number of users. Depending on your personal goals (selling books, building a fanbase, etc…) you may weigh new visitors more heavily than returning visitors, or vice versa.
  2. Pageviews (under “audience”): This is a pretty simple stat. It’s how many pages on your site were visited during that time period. So if you’re 150 visitors each visited an average of 2 pages each time they came, you’d have 300 pageviews. Again, the higher the better!
  3. Bounce rate (under “audience”): A “bounce” is considered a visit to your site in which only one page was viewed. So if someone came to your homepage, looked briefly at it and then decided, “nah, I was really looking for something else,” that would be considered a bounce. And your bounce rate is shown in percentages, so if, of your 150 visitors, 100 of them only looked at one page, your bounce rate would be 66%. As scary as this number may be, it’s actually not unprecedented. According to an article on GoRocketFuel.com, “As a rule of thumb, a bounce rate in the range of 26 to 40 percent is excellent. 41 to 55 percent is roughly average. 56 to 70 percent is higher than average, but may not be cause for alarm depending on the website. Anything over 70 percent is disappointing for everything outside of blogs, news, events, etc.”
  4. Mobile (under “audience”): Do you know what kind of device people are using to view your site? It’s important that you do. This stat will show you what percentage of your users are on desktop vs. mobile. If a large percentage is mobile, you will want to make sure that your site is mobile friendly.
  5. Geo (under “audience”): This cool feature will tell you which countries your visitors are coming from. Depending on the type of book you’ve written and where it’s available, this could be some very valuable information.
  6. Acquisition: This is a very, very important stat. It tells you where your visitors are coming from. And it’s broken down into three buckets: “organic” (which means people searching on Google/Yahoo/Bing and then clicking on a link to your site from search results; “referral,” which refers to links to your site from other sites (like Facebook, for example); and “direct” (which means people physically typing in the URL based on having read it or heard it somewhere).  There are marketing efforts that can be put in place to increase all three of these, like advanced search engine optimization for organic, outreach to other sites/bloggers for referral, and making sure to include your site URL on your book jacket (direct). This stat is how you will know which of your efforts are effective.
  7. Site content (under “behavior”): This tells you which pages on your site people actually visited. It will break down for you all the pages that were visited, how many people visited each one, and how much time they spent on each page. If you look at very little else in your analytics report, this one is super important, because it gives you an idea of where on your site people are going and how long they’re staying there.
  8. Landing pages (also under “behavior”): A landing page refers to the page that someone entered your site through. And while authors commonly assume that most people come into the site through the homepage (and often they do), you may look at these stats and be surprised to learn that a large percentage of users are coming in through a blog post or your author bio. This information is important because it allows you to recreate the user experience, arriving with a fresh eye on something other than your homepage. What do they see there? Are there links to other parts of the site? An easy way to see/buy your book? You may consider adjusting what’s on these pages if you discover that a large percentage of users are entering through them.
  9. Users flow (under audience): This is a super cool feature of Google Analytics. It allows you to physically view the flow that users went through on your site. This visual demonstration allows you to see the pages people entered your site through, and then where most of them went from there. For those of you who prefer to see your stats visually, this may really open your eyes about where people are on your site.
  10. Exit pages (under “behavior”): So a landing page is where people came into your site. An exit page is where people left. If you look at the user flow and exit pages and notice that it’s, for example, the “buy the book” page that is your biggest exit page, then it’s time for you to pay some extra attention to what’s on that page. What is it that is boring or frustrating users enough that it’s making them leave? Take a look at your largest exit page and try testing a change or two to it. Try changing the copy that’s on that page, or add a photo to make it more engaging. Most importantly, make sure there are links on the page that allow people to keep reading if they’re interested. Play around with it and see if you can identify one or two small changes that might lower your exit rate on this page.

Whew! Now, all of this isn’t to say that Google Analytics will ever be easy or come naturally to authors. But hopefully, you will now know what to look at and what it means. And if you have questions, feel free to contact us for additional help!

book website 2017

5 Things You’ll Want to Add to Your Book Website by 2017

book website 2017We’re only halfway through 2016. And yet, everyone’s eyes are on the future already. Based on all the conversations going on in the publishing and marketing worlds, here are five things that I hear each book website should have in the new year…

Book Website Technology Musts for 2017

  1. Podcasts. Content is still king. But audio content is … well, whatever is higher than king. Authors should consider repurposing some of their blog content or book content in the form of podcasts, or podcasting interviews/conversations with other authors or experts. Podcast listening grew 23% between 2015 and 2016. There’s reason to think it will grow even more in the coming year.
  2. Livestreaming. I’ve written many posts about the hows and whys of using video on your website. But suffice to say, if you’re not using it by the end of 2016, you’ll be missing out on a lot of site traffic — both to your site and your videos on YouTube, as YouTube is now the second biggest search engine (behind Google). But the latest trend goes beyond that … it’s about livestreaming video. According to Dave Kerpen of Likeable Local via HuffPost, “Apps such as Periscope, Meerkat and Blab will grow in popularity and create opportunities for marketers to cut through the ever-cluttered landscape.” Think about livestreaming your videos from conferences, book signings and more.
  3. Instant articles from Facebook. According to socialmediaweek.com, this relatively new feature allows you to immediately post any new content on your site — like blog entries — directly to Facebook. “Essentially, the company’s content management system interfaces directly with Facebook and can seamlessly publish new content as it is ready for release.” It’s currently only available to big publishers (like NY Times, etc…), but predictions are that anyone will be able to use it by the end of 2016. So next time you post a blog entry about, say, your commentary on last week’s Brexit vote and how it ties into your book, that would immediately appear on Facebook and be visible to all.
  4. An omni-channel experience. It’s quite a buzz word, right? Well, what it refers to is creating an experience for your readers on various channels at various stages of their journey. An example provided by conversionadvantage.com is one that Disney used:
    • Users book a trip online and then use the My Disney Experience tool to help them plan the whole trip from booking hotels, obtaining passes etc.
    • Once they arrive at the park, the app helps users locate attractions and waiting times.
    • But the experience gets better with their Magic Band which acts as a hotel room key, photo storage device for any pictures, and a food ordering tool.

    Think about how you can provide something similar for your users. Maybe their experience starts with them viewing your website. Then they buy the hard copy and read the book. Maybe you want to offer them an app that they can use while reading the book to track their growth/learnings/progress. Then maybe they can come back to the website and join an online community to share their thoughts. Think about all the different ways your book can touch a reader, and how you can offer, as they call it, an omni-channel experience.

  5. Personalized emails. I’ve been saying forever that it’s important for authors to collect email addresses. And that hasn’t changed. But it’s what you do with those email addresses that is changing. Instead of just putting everyone’s name on one big email list and sending out emails en masse, today’s emails are becoming more and more personalized. First, it’s helpful to actually use a person’s name in the email to make it clear that it’s customized for them. Also, ask users when they sign up what they’re looking to receive. Do they want news updates? Do they want to be pinged every time you post a new blog entry? Are they just looking for a monthly recap? Give them options and then bucket your lists so that people are receiving exactly what they’re looking for. Also make sure to collect users’ geographic information so that you can update the appropriate people if, say, you’re doing a radio interview in Philadelphia tomorrow. By collecting a user’s name, location and interests (in addition to their email address), you can ensure that their email experience is a satisfying one.

What other book website trends are you predicting for 2017? Share them with us.