Digital Book World: Get Noticed! How to Earn Attention for Every Book
Mere hours after the iUnicorn announcement yesterday, I spoke on the “Get Noticed! How to Earn Attention for Every Book” Panel at Digital Book World together with online marketing / promotion pros @chapmanchapman, @debbiestier and @PeterCostanzo. @katerados did a terrific job moderating. At first I thought I’d try to summarize the panel, but then I realized this post would be more like a book. (And besides, you can see the recap at #dwbpr.)
So I thought I’d pick a couple questions that came up in the Q&A session after the panel that are pretty applicable to most of us, whether you’re a book publicist, an author, a literary agent or anyone else in the publishing industry. (The following is an amalgam of what we all said plus some commentary from yours truly.)
How do you drive traffic to author websites and social networking profiles?
If you’re going to take the time to set up these sites, you want to make darn well sure that you’re going to get the eyeballs. Traffic to an author website is comprised (mostly) of two components:
Searchability: How do you find most websites? How did you find this blog? Probably via a search engine. If you Google the term “book publicity,” for example, what do you find (in the number 1 spot, I might add)? Why, moi! So by dint of The Book Publicity Blog coming up in the top spot of a search of “book publicity,” I’m getting traffic. Now, getting to the top spot isn’t so easy — those of you who know about SEO / Search Engine Optimization will know why I’m gloating — but one really easy way to improve the searchability of a site is to make sure that the book’s title and author name appear in text on the home page and also throughout the site. (By “in text” I mean not in a picture file like a JPEG or PDF — or, God forbid, flash — because search engines are not able to “pick out” the words and therefore have no reason to list the site in a search of the author’s name or the book title.)
Linkability: The other way many people find websites is because another site they follow linked to it. Getting those incoming links is also tricky (and involves a lot of research, communication and networking), but again, one easy way to try to increase incoming links is by making sure a site includes permalinks. A permalink is a unique URL for a page, so this post, for example, has a different URL from the home page which has a different URL from the Contact page, etc. Bloggers want to be able to link to one specific page; they don’t want to send readers to a home page and leave them trawling through a site for additional information.
Traffic to a Facebook or Twitter profile, on the other hand, is all about the friend / fan / follower list since obviously the more people who see your status updates / Tweets, the more people will potentially click through to your profile. Just keep in mind that quality matters as much as quantity — if an influential person, i.e., someone with a lot of followers, links to / retweets you, your traffic will spike.
How do you make something go viral?
Sure, “viral” has a nice ring to it (as long as pigs aren’t involved), but how exactly do we go about getting something to spread like wildfire? While the following factors are not mandatory, they sure give you a leg up.
1) great content
2) an author platform
3) relationships with online big mouths
Great content: Pretty self explanatory (but if it’s not, take a look at this book trailer, “The Amputee Rap.” I know a lot of folks have cooled on book trailers, but I defy you to not laugh at this one.)
Author platform: How connected is the author, both online and in real life? Does an author have a following online on Facebook? Goodreads? Twitter? Do they write a popular blog? Send out a newletter? Have a highly trafficked website? Do they have a recognizable name?
Relationships: It helps if the author or publicist has good relationships with people with a lot of influence online and can get them to link to / blog about / retweet information.
Access: Think about how we stop a virus from spreading, by washing our hands, for example. Passwords / logins are the online equivalent of hand washing. So think dirty.
I didn’t have time to attend other panels — I really wish I had because I know I missed out on a lot — but Digital Book World has compiled coverage of their panels. I didn’t see links there to some of my favorite blogs (probably because the bloggers were speaking on panels and haven’t yet had a chance to post), so in the coming days, I’ll also be keeping a close eye on Booksquare, Follow the Reader, Richard Nash and The New Sleekness.
Did you attend DBW (IRL or virtually)? What caught your eye?