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Author Success Story: Clare O’Donohue

clare o'donohueClare O’Donohue is a published author with multiple book series under her belt. She’s also a savvy marketer of her own work; Clare regularly gets over 500 visitors to her website, ClareODonohue.com, every month.

So how does she do it? Here’s what she had to say…

Who built your website? How was the experience?
I’ve had three websites since I started. The first was built by a friend and I did that because I thought it would be cheaper, which it didn’t really turn out to be because it took her so long and I paid her by the hour. Plus I didn’t really like it. Then I had godaddy. It was okay, nothing special or personal and I was limited in the number of pages. Then after doing a lot of research I chose Smart Author Sites for my current website. I like that they specialize in authors because I didn’t need to explain what I needed – they already knew. They were able to offer suggestions based on their experiences that made my site better. It was fast, adaptable to my changing needs, and a great value for the money.

Which social networking sites do you regularly participate in? Facebook? Twitter? GoodReads? LinkedIn? Any others?
I use Facebook and Twitter mostly, though I have a presence on GoodReads. I still have a day job, so I keep LinkedIn for that.

How many online followers do you have? How many pageviews have you gotten on your website?
I have about 3,400 Facebook friends between my personal and book sites. And I had just over 500 visits to my website in December alone. I’m pretty excited about that. Half the battle, maybe 90% of it, is just getting people to have heard of you; so when 500 people visited my site in a single month I knew that lots of new folks were checking me out..

Has your online presence (be it through a website or social networking profiles) increased your visibility/book sales?
Absolutely. People expect a website – that’s where they go to find out about the next release or to send an email. If you don’t have one, it’s like not have a phone in the regular world. No one can reach you. Facebook is the way for me to maintain contact with a large group, but a website is an absolute must.

What is your “secret” to achieving this success? Were there any tricks or creative ideas (i.e. a contest) that you used?

I’ve done all sorts of things. One of my most successful was having a character-naming contest. If you wanted your name in my book, you had to get friends to vote for you. It was a fun way to get people who are already fans to spread the word to her friends.  I’ve also given away books, guest blogged, had other authors blog on my site… there isn’t one secret (at least that I know) it’s doing lots of things, being part of the larger community of writers, keeping an on-going presence on social media, and of course, constantly creating new books. I’ve also branched out to writing e-only stories, which is another way to generate new readers because the price point is so much lower than a full novel.

Is there anything you would do differently if you were starting over again?
I’d start with a more professional website so I didn’t have to keep changing it. In an effort to save money, I cost myself more. I also would have gotten involved in the mystery community sooner, as this is a valuable resource and great friendships. And I would have taken more control of the marketing and publicity. I love my publisher and the publicist they assigned me, but the truth is no one will harder for you than you.

How and where do you promote your website? Is the URL on business cards? Your email signature?
My website is on business cards, bookmarks, the back jacket of my books, bathroom walls in men’s rooms….anywhere I can put it.

Final words of wisdom for any new authors wondering how to get started….
In terms of an online presence, first check out lots of author websites to help you decide what you like and don’t like. Join all the social media sites you think you will keep up with. I joined lots of sites, and realized there were some  I rarely go to because I only have so much time. I’ve pared down my social media to a few places and I post frequently. That helps you stay connected and create a base of “early adopters” who will help spread the word. In the off-line world, join professional organizations and get involved in them. The best way to get blurbs, be asked to guest blog, get recommendations for everything from building a website to the best writer conventions, is by connecting with other writers. Plus no one knows what you’re going through like another writer.

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