Book Marketing, Author Publicity, Branding

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Marketing Your Book With Articles

There are literally millions of web sites on the Internet, and many of them are looking for fresh content every single day. Many web site operators write their own content, but others get their content from services which provide articles. Most of these services are advertiser supported, but others charge a subscription to the web site operators that use the content. These content provider services actually present a good opportunity for authors to showcase their talents as writers, and to promote their books.

For the past few months, I have been experimenting with a service called Ezine Articles. I post some of my blog posts to the site as articles, and these articles include links back to this blog. Each article includes a short bio about me, and the fact that I am writing a book for authors about marketing and promoting books. Not only does this drive more traffic to this blog, but it also helps me build credibility. In turn, these articles have been picked up and used by other web sites and blogs, each providing links back to this blog. If an article is picked up by a large number of web sites and blogs, that provides more exposure for me, this blog, and my upcoming book.

These content provider services cover a wide range of topics, not just book marketing. Of course, these services work best for authors who write non-fiction and can write with authority about their chosen topic, but some authors write and post book reviews of other books, all while linking to their blog or web site which promotes their own book. I'm sure you can see the benefit of "getting your name out there" on the Internet by providing articles featuring your writing skills and promoting your own web site, blog and book.

Other content providers include:

Associated Content
Examiner (competitive, you must go through a trial period before they will hire you to be a "guide")
eHow (featuring "how to" articles

Some of these sites even pay you to provide articles for them. Granted, the pay is usually based upon page views, and the pay is small, but since you would be writing to promote yourself the pay is just an added bonus. The pay at can be good, but unlike the other sites you can't just open an account and start writing. They must hire you after a trial period of writing, and a small percentage of writers are hired.

I haven't submitted many articles to Ezine Articles, but my articles have been picked up by several other blogs and web sites, driven traffic to this blog and have routinely been among the most-viewed and most-published articles in the "book marketing" category at Ezine. If I dedicated more time to it, I'm sure the results would be even better.

If you are looking for a way of creating a larger presence for yourself online, article marketing could be a good option for you.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Guest Post: Leveraging Fellow Authors to Build Buzz

Leveraging Fellow Authors to Build Buzz

Leveraging Fellow Authors to Build Buzz

By Irene Watson

No one understands the need and desire to promote your book like another author. Rather than see other authors as competition, authors can leverage each other by cross-promoting each other's books. Doing so creates a win-win situation for both authors as well as for readers who will discover even more books they would like to read.

The ways authors can help each other to promote their books is countless, but here are a few ideas for starters.

Book Reviews. Trade books with fellow authors and then write book reviews for each other. Post the reviews on your blog, Amazon, and anywhere else you can.

Link Websites. Provide a link on your website to other great authors, especially ones writing in your genre. Ask them to link back to you. Create cross traffic for each other.

Host Authors as Guests. Do you have a blog, an Internet radio show, or even a newspaper column? Feature other authors as guests. Help them build buzz about their books and ask them to reciprocate. No only will you get promoted to a new audience, but your own audience will think you're a nice guy to be promoting other people's books rather than your own (which in turn only helps to promote your own books.)

Share Book Signing Space. Book signings can be dull events if no one shows up, and nothing is worse than sitting in a bookstore by yourself waiting for someone to buy your book. The more authors at a book signing, the more people likely to attend. Ask the bookstore if you can sign with another author, especially if he or she has a new book out. Then if nothing else, you can visit with each other and share writing and marketing ideas while you wait for book buyers to come.

Split Show Costs. If you're going to do book signings together, why not do book fairs and art and craft shows together? Split the cost of your booth, and then you'll have someone to help set up and tear down and watch the booth when you need a break.

Cross Sell Each Other's Books. Are there two book fairs on opposite sides of the state on the same day? You can't go to both, or can you? You can go west and your author friend can go east; you can bring her books with you and she can take yours east so you sell each other's books.

Talk Each Other Up. Once you get your foot in the door at a few bookstores, tell them about your friend's books and how great they are. Bookstores will appreciate your opinion in helping them to find other good books to stock.

Provide References for Each Other. Are you asked to give a talk at the library, but you have a conflicting engagement? Give your fellow author's name as an alternative. Ask him to return the favor later.

Pass Out Each Other's Promotional Materials. Get yourself a bumper sticker with your website on it. Then give one to your author friends and put their bumper stickers on your car. When you sell one of your books, stick one of their bookmarkers in it to promote their books and have them do the same for you.

Share Knowledge and Build Friendships. The best part of allying yourself with other authors is the knowledge you will share and the friendships you will build. Two heads are better than one, and selling books is not easy. You can learn from each other's mistakes and successes, have fun, and build buzz for your books at the same time.

Share Agents, Publishers, and PR. If you build a strong alliance with another author and he gets his book picked up by a major publisher or he finds a good literary agent, it can mean a foot in the door for you as well. Success is often connected to whom you know, and no alliance is a waste of time. Networking is really just about making friends. Help your friends and they'll help you. And always be happy for them when they succeed.

I'm sure you can think of many more ways to help your fellow authors and to get them to help you. Have regular brainstorming sessions with your author friends. Start out by writing book reviews for each other to see who follows through-those authors who do are the ones with whom you want to build strong relationships. There are lots of authors out there willing to help each other promote their books, and you can never have too many friends in the publishing world.

Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Five Things You Need on Your Web Site

These days, it is essential that authors have a web presence to promote themselves and their books. I have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of author web sites over the years. Some were built by professionals, while others were built by the authors themselves. There are some very good author web sites online. There are also some very bad ones.

This post isn't going to deal with the aesthetics of an author web site, but it should look good and like it was built by a professional, even if it wasn't. Instead, I'm going to cover the five things that every author should make sure they have on their web site from a marketing point of view.

1. Contact information. I'm surprised by the number of web sites I see that have no means of contacting the author. What if a member of the media, a book reviewer or a movie producer wanted to get in touch with the author? Without some kind of contact info, such as an email address or a contact form, authors could be missing out on some great opportunities.

2. Schedule of Events. Authors have a prime platform to promote their upcoming speaking engagements and book signing events: their own web site. Yet, many fail to have a schedule of upcoming events, or they don't keep it updated. How will your readers find your events?

3. Author Bio. Readers want to know something about the author. Every author web site should have an "About the Author" page which describes the author's background, their other writings, their education, etc. This page should include a photo of the author.

4. Excerpt. Give your readers a taste of the latest book you are promoting. Include a sample chapter or two. If readers like that, they will buy the rest of the book.

5. A Way to Purchase the Book! After all that promoting, you want your readers to be able to buy your book. You can either sell signed copies directly and accept payments via an online payment site such as Paypal, or you could just link to your book's listing on Amazon. However you decide to do it, give your web site readers a way to purchase the book, and make it easy to find.

There are plenty of other things you can put on your web site, of course, but make sure that you at least include these five things. Your readers will thank you!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Has This Blog Helped You?

As I plan the posts for this blog, I sometimes pause and wonder to myself, "I wonder if anyone is actually USING any of information?" The question comes up as a matter of curiosity, and also as a means of trying to serve my readers better.

Every now and then, I do receive an email from a reader who thanks me for the information, such as this comment which was recently left here:

"Terry, I happened to stumble across your blog because I Googled “Tate Publishing” as I have recently submitted a manuscript. I have to say that the tips you provide on your blog are absolutely, 100%, nothing-short-of wonderful. In one evening I read through, and took notes on pretty much all of the posts to your blog. I actually debated for about a week as to whether or not to post a comment (I was concerned that it might be misconstrued as me looking for some way to tip the scales in my favor), however, tonight, I decided to throw caution to the wind because regardless of whether or not Tate chooses to publish my book, I have to give credit where credit is due. Specifically, I have set up two different Google Alerts and as a result of those alerts, in a time period of 10 days, I have amassed a list of about 17 solid, bloggers/media contacts, that are interested in the niche market to which my book would appeal. I am all about working hard, however, my day job has taught me the value of working smart and due to the time constraints of my day job, I will need to hit the market hard in the least time consuming manner possible. The time that is saved by having Google do the work of finding the market for me is invaluable. Additionally, I am now a loyal subscriber and have already recommended your site to a friend."

I usually write my blog posts late at night, after what has already been a long but productive day at work, so these kinds of comments really make my day. It got me wondering if there were any similar stories like this out there.

So, if you are an author who has put the advice from this blog to use, I'd love to hear from you. Have you used the tips and advice from this blog? If so, how has it paid off for you? Has it helped make your marketing efforts easier, or resulted in increased sales for your book? Please leave a comment here at the end of this post. You never know...I just might use you as an endorsement when MY book is ready!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Great Example of Authors Targeting Their Book's Niche Audience

Chances are, you have never heard of the book Hell Hawks!: The Untold Story of the American Fliers Who Savaged Hitler's Wehrmachtby Robert F. Dorr and Thomas Jones. It's definitely a niche book, probably of interest mainly to aviation enthusiasts and World War II history buffs. It has also sold more than 24,000 copies in less than two years. Incredibly, half of those sales have been made at one bookstore. That's right: one store.

According to Publisher's Weekly, that bookstore is located in the Udvar-Hazy Center in Washington D.C., which is affiliated with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. The items that can't be displayed at the main center are located at the Udvar-Hazy Center.

Dorr's first book signing at the center's bookstore sold about 12 copies, but since then he has done 330 more signings at the same store. Talk about targeting a book's niche market! The bookstore at the center typically orders about 1,000 copies of Hell Hawks! each month, and Dorr sells about 120 copies at each signing.

According to the PW article: "Dorr attributes his success to his strategy of "engaging people, getting them interested." He greets store customers, introducing himself by name, before discussing the book, and scrupulously avoids small talk that may distract him or the customer from the book. "The instant I decide the person is not interested, I move on," he added."

There are a number of lessons authors can learn from Dorr:

1. Targeting a book's niche audience is critical.
2. A book doesn't have to be available in every bookstore in the country to be successful. A few targeted stores which fit a book's niche will do.
3. Authors must be intimately involved in pushing their book.
4. Every author has to start somewhere. Even if the first few signings don't sell a lot of copies, don't give up.
5. Authors must engage customers at book signings. Just sitting at a table and waiting for customers to come to you will not cut it.

Be sure to check out the original Publisher's Weekly article.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Should Authors Use a Pen Name?

The use of a pen name may not seem like a marketing issue for authors, but it really is. I have worked with authors who have used pen names, and I have always found it to be a big barrier when it comes to effectively marketing their book.

The reason for this is simple: when you are trying to market your book through your platform...friends, family, co-workers, people who enjoy your writing in general...they don't know you by your pen name. They know you as you. If, all of a sudden, you use a completely different name, how will the community members of your platform find you unless you tell them, and doesn't that defeat the purpose of using a pen name in the first place? For example, if you wanted your college alumni newsletter to mention the fact you have published a book, they aren't going to know you by your pen name, and your classmates won't know who you are, either.

Very few of the authors I have spoken to who have decided to use pen names have changed their names for a good reason. They just thought it was something authors were supposed to do. There are times to use a pen name, but they are few and far between.

Using a pen name makes sense if:

1. Your book would cause embarrassment for your friends or family. Perhaps your book is about a very sensitive subject that would bring ridicule or embarrassment to the people in your life, such as substance or sexual abuse.

2. You're in the Witness Protection Program. OK, that might be a little extreme, but if you have a REALLY good reason for keeping your true identity a secret, such as to protect your life, family, job, etc., it might be worth considering a pen name.

3. Your real name is not marketable. You would have to have a name with 13 consonants in a row to really qualify for this one, but if your name is not pronounceable by the average person on the street, you might consider a pen name. Otherwise, the name your parents gave you will work just fine.

4. You want to disguise your gender. This little trick is mostly used by men who write romance novels. For some reason, women prefer to read romances written by other women, not some 50-year-old guy wearing a flannel shirt and smoking cigars.

Stephen King wrote four novels under a pen name, Richard Bachman. It wasn't his idea. At the time, his publisher felt that readers wouldn't purchase more than one novel per year from the same writer. Pearl Grey changed his name to Zane Grey, because he felt readers wouldn't buy a Western novel from a guy named Pearl (he was probably right).

For the most part, the use of a pen name has struck me as being more of a vanity issue than anything...sort of like getting a license plate which spells something cute. It might seem like a good idea at the time, but most people don't get it.

Marketing a book is difficult enough. Why make it harder by disguising your accomplishment of authoring a book?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Google Alerts: A Publicist's Secret Weapon

Have you ever wondered how some authors and publicists are able to leverage breaking news events to their advantage and use them to snag more attention and publicity for their books? What do these people do...spend all of their time online?

Well, maybe. Or, they could be using the publicist's secret weapon: Google Alerts.

I personally use Google alerts on a daily basis. Any time a web site or a news outlet mentions my name or the words "Tate Publishing," I am immediately alerted to it, and those alerts are sent directly to my email, along with the links to the sites or articles which mention those key words.

It is very easy to set up a Google alert. Just go to the Google Alerts site, and enter the search term for which you want alerts. For example, if you have written a book about recovering from drug addiction, you might enter "drug addiction" or "drug recovery." You can also specify how many emails you want to receive in a day, how many links you want included in your emails and to which email address you want the alerts sent.

So what can you do with this information?

Keep track of new coverage about your book's topic. If it's an ongoing story, you can contact the reporter and offer yourself up as an expert on the topic. They may use you as a go-to source for follow-up stories.

Leave comments on the blogs or news sites covering your book's topic. You can leave a relevant comment or excerpt from your book, along with a link to your web site or blog. There is often a space for your own site in the comments form.

Build your own media list. You can use Google alerts to identify the reporters, web sites or blogs who write most often about your book's topic and cultivate ongoing relationships with them for additional coverage.

Build your "In The Media" section of your own web site. If you find sites which have mentioned you or your book, you can include links to those sites on your own web site. Showing your web site visitors that other sites or blogs are talking about your and your book builds credibility.

Find out who is covering your "competitors" and how they are getting coverage. There are more than likely books that are somewhat similar to yours in the marketplace. Are they getting more coverage than your book? Who is covering them, and why? Are they using an angle to get news coverage that you haven't thought of? What works in one media market may work in yours.

These are just a few examples, but there are many uses for Google Alerts. Once you see how often you and your book are mentioned, and what sites write about your book's topic, you can use that knowledge to expand awareness of your book even more. Google Alerts is a great tool for gathering knowledge, and knowledge is power!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Guest Post: It's All Relative - Family Members Expect Free Books From Authors

It's All Relative - Family Members Expect Free Books From Authors

It's All Relative - Family Members Expect Free Books From Authors

By Irene Watson

Authors think of their books as being like their children, and while authors can often be thick-skinned enough to deal with critics and reviewers they don't know, they need to be toughest when it comes to dealing with criticism and responses from family members and friends. Just what should an author's expectations be for support from those he or she knows?

Let's face it. Publishing your book has been a top priority for you. You've spent a long time working on that book and now you've seen your dream brought to fulfillment. But remember, your dream is not Aunt Milly's dream, or even your best friend's dream. They might be happy for you, but your book is not a major event for them.

I'll say up front that the best advice I can give you is to have no expectations concerning excitement or support from family and friends. Do not coerce people into reading your book, and don't expect anyone to do anything to promote it. Let people know your book is being published and that now you have to figure out how to promote it; then if they offer help, take them up on the offer. If they don't, don't badger them. In the long run, you'll have less hurt feelings and disappointment.

Here are a few considerations regarding dealing with family and friends and their reactions when your book is published. I've collected several of the examples from different authors I know.

Buying Your Book

One author I know tells me that when he told his best friend his book was going to be published and it would cost "$25.95" his friend replied, "That's a pretty big burden to put on all your family and friends." The author of course gave his best friend a free copy, but he also realized that the cost of giving free copies away was not going to help him any. He limited free copies to his parents, siblings, and a few friends who had previously read parts of the manuscript.

While several friends and family members bought this author's book, he heard many others tell him, "I can't afford it." After watching those same people going out to eat and spending money on several other non-necessities, it's clear to him that it's not the price that keeps them away. They are just using the cost as an excuse when they simply have no desire to read his book. As authors, we have to remember that everyone is not a reader, and everyone may not be interested in the topics of our books. Bottom line: don't expect people to buy your book.

Giving Away Books

If you really want people to read your book, you might decide that you will just give copies away to your family and friends-especially those people who "can't afford it."

I've heard many authors complain that they give copies of their books to people who never read the books. Even brothers, sisters, and parents don't always read the book.

We have to remember that reading a book is a big time-commitment, but again, if people don't read the book, or don't express interest in reading it, there's no point in giving books away.

One author I know has published several novels. He gave away quite a few the first time. By the third book, he had cut down the number he gave away to about just a half-dozen people. He found that the friends he no longer gave free books to did not even ask him for a free book-they simply were uninterested. He has also quit sending gifts when these people have babies or embark on their third marriages.

As for the "I can't afford it" people, the best thing to do is to let them know they can check out the book at the library. I suspect most of them won't.

People Reading Your Book

Believe it or not, more books get purchased than are ever read, by a huge percentage. Another author I know has a cousin who has bought all five of his books, but she's never read a single one.

People who get free books do not necessarily read them-in fact, I suspect many people are less likely to read the books because they got the books for free-therefore, the value of the book appears to be less to them.

And always be prepared for negative criticism. You will have many people tell you they enjoy your book, but then there will be the ones who will say something like, "I found seven typos in it"-that will be the only feedback they give you. Ignore these people. Just respond with, "Thanks for telling me" and move on.

However, if someone points out good and bad things about the book, you may want to pay attention. You always want to learn how to improve as a writer.

And then there are the people who will just be plain jealous-even, and perhaps especially siblings. Even if out of kindness, you give these people free copies, do you really care whether or not they like your book? Authors are the last people who should let others' negativity affect them.

Book Reviews

Even if people read your book, it is unlikely they will do anything beyond that. Make a point when someone tells you he or she read and liked your book to ask the person to post a book review on Amazon and to tell other people about it. The truth is that most people won't think about how they can help an author unless it is pointed out to them.

If people ask for a free book and you feel inclined to give one to them, then make the stipulation that you only give away free books to people who promise to write a book review for you.

Exchanging books and reviews with other authors is a great idea for helping each other; however, many authors I know have found that even other authors are unlikely to reciprocate. I know an author who has written a couple of dozen different reviews for authors he knows, and yet, he has only had one or two of those authors ever reciprocate. Nevertheless, every time he writes a review, as long as his name and his book are attached to it, he still builds buzz for his own book.

In short, the lower you keep your expectations for a response from family and friends, the less disappointment you will have. Celebrate when a loved one does buy, read, or review your book, but don't spend too much time worrying about why Uncle Joe has let your book gather dust for two years.

Plenty of readers are out there beyond your friends and family members. Remember, no man is a prophet in his own town. Similarly, few authors achieve celebrity status among those they know, but the greater world of readers may be waiting to embrace you as a favorite author.

Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views, where avid readers can find reviews of recently published books as well as read interviews with authors. Her team also provides author publicity and a variety of other services specific to writing and publishing books.

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