We continue our Author Success Story series by featuring William Yenner, author of American Guru. His website, AmericanGuru.net, receives over 5,000 visitors per month. Here’s how he did it…
Who built your website? How was the experience?
Built by Smart Author Sites, I was happy with the result. Especially liked the way the overall design worked out, the top banner and the buttons to all the important sections.
Which social networking sites do you regularly participate in?
I am on Facebook. I used my book cover instead of my photo. However, FB has not been an important part of my online presence.
How many online followers do you have? How many pageviews have you gotten on your website?
According to stats from my web hosting, my monthly visitor totals has been in the range of 5,000 to 8,000 per month since the site began in Fall of 2009.
How has your online presence increased your visibility/book sales?
This is hard to measure exactly, but I think most of my readers were first introduced to my book via something on the internet, most likely my book site: http://americanguru.net and the book is also listed on Amazon.
What is your “secret” to achieving this success? Were there any tricks or creative ideas (i.e. a contest) that you used?
The key to the interest in my book, I feel, is both the general interest in the subject matter, and the quality of reporting and analysis provided by the book. The book is about a very controversial spiritual teacher and his organization, and reveals, in a lot of detail, many examples of physical, emotional and financial abuse. Some strongly disagree with my thesis, and that “heat” adds to the general interest in the book.
Is there anything you would do differently if you were starting over again?
I spent quite a bit on a legal vetting of the manuscript, which in hindsight was a waste of money. Here’s all I needed to know about the legal angle: scrupulously tell the truth, be very careful to double and triple check facts, and in that there is the best protection from liability. No lawyer can do that for you.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned in the process of building your online presence as an author?
Just staying with it, following up any opportunities for conversation, welcome disagreements, be “out there” without being a pest, carry on calmly, send appreciations to anyone who contributes to the conversation. My website contains a “News and Reviews” section to which I frequently add new articles, so there is something to attract people back over and over again.
How and where do you promote your website? Is the URL on business cards? Your email signature?
The URL is on the book, and it’s on a few other sites which cover this topic, and the book has also been mentioned in a few media stories. All of these are also posted and mentioned on my site. I’ve also generated a list of about 800 names of people interested in the topic and every few months I send out a newsletter. I have a business card with the book cover on it, along with the URL, which makes a great hand out whenever I mention the book to someone. I have also given away a number of free copies to people in a field of work that is related.
Final words of wisdom for any new authors wondering how to get started….
Write about something you believe in, give all the effort needed to turn out a good manuscript, stand behind what you’ve written and carry on with following up.