The Book Publicity Blog

News, Tips, Trends and Miscellany for Book Publicists

DIY Book Promotion and Publicity

As a publicist at a large publishing house, my inclination has always been (and possibly will always be) that authors should more or less leave book promotion to the experts: book publicists (either in-house or those with book PR / PR firms). Publicists keep on top of the latest news, know how to craft pitches and press materials, work to establish — and maintain — contacts with the media, and have access to vast media databases. That having been said, I realize authors are playing a greater role in marketing and promoting their books — not to mention those authors who self publish — and there are, in fact, some sites / tools that specifically cater to those striking it out on their own (and which are pretty handy for book publicists too)!

Here are a few; feel free to add your own in the comments.

Events:

Booktour.com: As the name implies, the site lists author events around the country. It boasts several features I think helps set it apart from other event listing sites (and this is why I use the site religiously):

  1. Events listed on Booktour.com are automatically fed to many online calendars and also the Author Page on Amazon. In other words, when I spend time entering event information on Booktour.com, I know those details will not only be emailed to subscribers (a fairly typical feature for most such sites), but will also go to dozens of sites on the web.
  2. Booktour.com offers a widget that authors can grab for their websites. Instead of painstakingly updating the events section each time an additional event is booked or a time or venue is changed, an author simply needs to drop in a line of code on their website and if the publicist is using Booktour.com, the events will automatically update.
  3. Booktour.com also offers various other events and media services that authors might find helpful.

Maestro Market: You can think of Maestro Market as an online speakers bureau. However, unlike most speakers bureaus / lecture agencies which will only take on well-known clients, anyone can sign up to be a “Maestro.” They key is to properly tag yourself so that you can be found by people seeking speakers / experts. The site is currently in beta and should be relaunching later this year.

Square: a small device that plugs in to your iPhone / iPad / iPod Touch / Android phone that enables you to accept credit card payments. You open an account on their website and download the app, they mail you the device (for free) and you’re good to go. They take 2.75 percent of each transaction. I haven’t had an occasion to use this, but it seems like it would come in pretty handy for authors selling books at events (or for booksellers who don’t want to lug around a credit card machine).

Media:

Google Alerts: You can sign up for Google Alerts for free, even if you don’t have a Google / Gmail account (although, given the amount of free services Google provides from email to document sharing to e-commerce, I’m not sure why you wouldn’t have an account)! The alerts allow you to track any online mentions of a name, title, term, phrase, etc. Set up one for your name so you can see when / where you’re mentioned and, if applicable, set up one for any topics or phrases that pertain to your book so you’re aware of what the media is covering and where you might fit in.

HARO / Reporter Connection: Both sites allow you to sign up as a source, i.e., author (or as a journalist if you’re looking for a source). Once you’re in their databases, reporters looking for an expert in your field will be able to find you. As a book publicist, I find these sites useful because I get to see numerous reporter queries so I can suggest one of my authors if their field of expertise is a good fit.

Who’s tried these sites? What do you think? Any others you like?

June 9, 2011 Posted by | Book Tour, Events, Media Monitoring, Online Marketing | 13 Comments

Deals of the day

I think the brain fuzz is lifting, so here I am with the first non-NPR Books post in ages.  As you are all too aware, we — authors, publishers and booksellers alike — have been racking our brains trying to figure out how we can use existing, emerging and evolving social networks and other websites to promote and sell books.  So it was only a matter of time, I suppose, before someone jumped on Groupon.

Groupon, of course, is the site du jour: Google is supposedly chomping at the bit to acquire it, although some have questioned whether businesses can actually make money with it.  (Although don’t ask me about the numbers because math never was my forte.)  You may use Groupon, or any one of a slew of similar sites including BuyWithMe, LivingSocial, Yipit and Zozi. (Clearly not people we would want coming up with our book titles.)  Or, if you’re like me, you might have bought a Groupon(s) but never used it.  Then it expired and you lost the money.

This morning, Shelf Awareness ran a piece about a handful of independent bookstores taking issue with a large publishing house’s use of Groupon: in typical Groupon fashion, the house offered consumers 50 percent off their purchases.  The stores were out of sorts because they felt this cut them out of the picture (since no bricks-and-mortar store can afford to offer such steep discounts).

Personally, I’ve cooled on these “daily deal” sites.  Having signed up for what appears to be all of them several months ago, I’m now inundated daily with AMAZING DEALS!  Every day!!  Who knew I possessed the ability to ignore so many discounts?  Or that bargain shopping could be so hard?  (Although I do think interest-specific sites like Zozi — geared toward active consumers — can be slightly more effective in keeping users’ clicking.)

But what do you think?  Can we use these sites to get more books to more readers?  And is it more effective for the publishing houses or for individual bookstores to offer the discounts?  Have you used a Groupon (or other similar deal) at a bookstore?  Would you?

December 2, 2010 Posted by | Online Marketing | 6 Comments

How do you track online “buzz”?

These past couple months have been incredibly busy, so I haven’t posted except on Fridays, when I do the NPR Books Watch wrap ups in which I list the books / authors that have been covered on the national NPR (National Public Radio) shows.  Book publicists — and anyone in the business of book promotion — know what a national NPR hit means, which is to say sales.  And typically lots of them.

One of the reasons why I hit upon doing the NPR Books Watch is because it’s easy enough (if time consuming) to look up book stories on the NPR Books page and then check sales rankings on Amazon.  In fact, Amazon is the quickest and most accessible way for anyone to get a snap shot of book sales (although you’d need to take the numbers with a grain of salt since they only reflect online sales rankings — not sales, per se — on one site).

But the truth is that a lot of what we do as book publicists is generate “buzz” — in other words, our efforts may not translate into immediate sales, even if down the line people end up buying more books.  Which brings me to the topic of this post.

The other day, I attended a Publishing Point talk with Martha Stewart Executive Vice President Gail Horwood and she shared a few simple tools the folks over at Martha Stewart use track (online) buzz:

Click throughs.  Link trackers like bit.ly or applications like HootSuite enable you to see how many people have clicked a link.

# of Friends/followers on sites like Facebook and Twitter

# of Comments on Facebook / blog / website posts

—  Retweets and @replies (if you use  Twitter)

How do you track buzz?  (I know the above doesn’t include web analytics applications like Google Analytics, but that’s the topic of another post …)

July 6, 2010 Posted by | Online Marketing, Social Networking | | 8 Comments

When should an author begin setting up social networking profiles / blogs / websites?

Yesterday I spoke at an AAR / Association of Authors’ Representatives panel together with Connor Raus (who runs digital advertising agency CRKWD) about understanding social media and how to use it effectively — as you know, a favorite topic of mine here on The Book Publicity Blog.  I don’t have time to summarize the entire panel here (and you don’t have time to read a summary of the entire panel), but I did want to tackle the issue of timing, a common question among book publicists, authors, agents and others in the publishing industry, and one that we discussed last night: in order to most effectively promote a book, when do you begin setting up social networking profiles / blogs / websites?

It occurred to me that creating an online author platform — aforementioned social networking profiles, blogs and websites — is much like training for a marathon.  (Unfortunately, the marathon analogy only came to me during my shower last night — historically, my good ideas have all arisen near water — rather than during the panel, but fortunately, I now have the opportunity to share this with you now.)

If you have ever run a marathon — or if you know someone who has — you (may) know that typically, runners train between two and six months for the race.  Of course, it depends on your fitness level, how much you’ve been running, what your time goal is (if any), but the majority of runners will end up training between two and six months.  Which, coincidentally, is about how long before a book’s publication many would suggest authors start developing a web presence.

You may be thinking that if one can get into good enough shape to run 26.2 miles in six months, then imagine how much better shape one would be in if one trained (blogged / networked) for a year!  Except for the crazy ones, however, no marathoner does this (running, that is).  The reason is simple: there are only so many 5 a.m. 20-milers you can run weekly before completely burning out.  Likewise, (most) authors find it is simply not feasible to generate an unlimited number of blog posts or tweets or status updates for time eternal.

Just to be clear, I’m not discouraging an author from starting to blog a year before a book comes out — after all, unlike with marathoning, blogging and social networking is unlikely to result in injury (one hopes) — but I am saying that realistically, given the vast number of personal and professional commitments we all have, most authors probably will end up tapering their online activities after a few months.

That was my epiphany for the day.  What do you think?

April 29, 2010 Posted by | Online Marketing | , | 17 Comments

Creating author platforms

“Creating Author Platforms” is … the name of the course I’ll be teaching this summer at NYU’s Center for Publishing!  It’s a weekly, evening, six-week course starting in mid-June.  Here’s the course description:

A successful online platform is one of the key selling tools for a book.  Learn the primary elements of reaching and engaging your target audience online through a robust website, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, e-newsletters, blogs, and online events.  Discuss what it takes to “go viral” and how online publicity and careful Web positioning can help you create interest in your books that can translate into strong sales.  Both book publishers and authors interested in self-publishing may benefit from this course.

So why would you want to take the course?  Sure, it’s a lot of what I blog about, but it’ll be hands on.  In other words, if you have been bookmarking my posts telling yourself that you’ll check back to set up your Facebook profile / Twitter account / blog but never got around to it (yes, I know how that works — I do it too) and if you’re in NYC, now you can have yours truly walk you through the steps!

For course details and to enroll , visit NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies site.

April 6, 2010 Posted by | Online Marketing | 7 Comments

The WNBA’s online book promotion panel

Last week’s AAP / Association of American Publishers and WNBA / Women’s National Book Association Book Marketing Online panel offered some interesting takeaways for book promotion.  I’m not going to summarize all the issues raised here (for the complete Twitter roundup of the panel, check #wnba318 or watch the video at moderator @SueGreenbergPR’s Book Buzz site), but here are a few:

Panelists emphasized that although it might seem ideal to Facebook and tweet and blog and maintain a website, the reality is that most busy authors simply don’t have the time, the desire (or perhaps the expertise) to be involved in a myriad of online activities.  So the smart thing to do when you’re pressed for time is pick one (or more) platforms and start building followers in that community, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or a blog.  (Keep in mind, though, that interacting with online fans need not be a time suck.  Panelist and author @abbystokes pointed out that she tweets for 15 minutes in the morning and evening without interrupting her writing and teaching time.)

Also keep in mind that quality can be more important than quantity when it comes to followers on Facebook or Twitter — you want followers who are interested and engaged, not just people who accept a fan request and then never bother to check the page.  Also, use social media to listen as well as talk.

Location-based social networks like Foursquare, Gowalla and Whrrl could one day be used — assuming they catch on — to build author tours and to promote books by offering badges / pins, etc.  (I just suggested to Foursquare that they add a “Book Nerd” badge, which I thought would be fun and in the spirit of the “game” — we’ll see how that one works out.)  At the very least, these LBS networks can definitely help us book peeps find one other during BEA, so sign up, folks.  At this point Foursquare seems to be the most popular service with Gowalla a distant second.  (Only one of my 500 Facebook friends is on Whrrl and I can’t find an obvious way to import my Twitter or Gmail contacts — not that it doesn’t exist, just that it’s not obvious — so that gets my thumbs down.)

In case you’d like to find out more about the panelists and their blogs, here’s the 411:

— Fauzia Burke, President of FSB Associates, Book Marketing on the Web

@FSBAssociates

http://www.fsbassociates.com

 

— Peter Costanzo, Director of Online Marketing, Perseus Books Group

@PeterCostanzo

http://bookcurrents.blogspot.com

 

— Andrea Fleck-Nisbet, Digital/Online Sales & Marketing Director, Workman Publishing

@WorkmanPub

http://www.workman.com/blog/

— Ron Hogan, Director of E-Marketing Strategy, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

@ronhogan

http://www.beatrice.com

— Kelly Leonard, Executive Director, Online Marketing, Hachette Book Group

@KellyLeonard

www.HachetteBookGroup.com

–Kate Rados, Director of Digital Initiatives, Chelsea Green Publishing

@katerados

http://www.thenewsleekness.com/

 

— Abby Stokes, teacher, author of Is This Thing On?

@abbystokes

http://abbyandme.com/ (Includes links to blogs and sites mentioned during the panel)

— Organizer/Moderator: Susannah Greenberg, Susannah Greenberg Public Relations

@SueGreenbergPR

http://bookbuzz.com

— A/V: Yen Cheong

@yodiwan

The Book Publicity Blog (https://yodiwan.wordpress.com)

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Were you at the panel / did you watch online?  What did you find most interesting?

March 23, 2010 Posted by | Online Marketing | 3 Comments

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.)

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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:

1) searchability

2) linkability

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

4) access

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.

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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?

January 28, 2010 Posted by | Online Marketing | | 10 Comments

Book tours for the 21st century

Book tours really hit big shortly after Jacqueline Susann drove across the country to promote her hit Valley of the Dolls.  Today, some authors still draw large crowds while on traditional book tours; a lot of others, not so much.

As a book publicist, I do hope that bookstore events thrive (and I continue to schedule bookstore events with authors) but realistically, there are fewer events — and, unfortunately, stores — than there were before, so I think it’s important that we try new ways to get readers to stores.  Enter the virtual book tour.

Facebook is an obvious application to utilize for a virtual event given that it’s free, easy to use and a lot of bookstores, authors and readers already use it, but the downside, of course, is that you can’t see or hear the author.  Virtual author events could be conducted via Ning, Skype, Twitter or other applications too.  A virtual event could be a stop on a book blog tour in which the publicist has made arrangements for the blogger’s local bookstore to sell signed copies of the author’s book.  Or it might be a book club gathering at which an author is Skyped in.  Here are some examples:

— Back in July, Barnes & Noble hosted its first Facebook “event” with an author, with author and readers trading comments on B&N’s wall and they recently hosted one for Sophie Kinsella.  (I tried something similar with an author last month.  We did tour him, but the Facebook chat gave still more readers a chance to interact with him.)

Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists hosts Tweet the Author sessions with clients.

— Sometimes, the “new” way of touring is sort of like the “old” way but with a 2.0 twist: Stephen Elliott, the founder of theRumpus.net whose memoir The Adderall Diaries: A Memoir of Moods, Murder and Masochism, is just out from Graywolf, has been going on a reading tour (as in, reading in people’s living rooms) to about 20 cities in addition to where Graywolf was sending him.

The tricky part of the virtual book tour is making sure there’s a bookselling component to the event in addition to the conversation part of it.  This may mean having a bookstore host the virtual event on its Facebook page.  Or it may mean that a store makes some sort of arrangement with an author to make sure books (preferably signed) are for sale.

What do you think about the virtual book tour?  Would you “attend” a virtual event with an author in whom you were interested?  What kind of events do you envision?  As a bookstore, would you host a virtual event?

October 1, 2009 Posted by | Book Tour, Online Marketing | | 19 Comments

How book publicists can be Trust Agents

Back when I started The Book Publicity Blog about a year and a half ago, I looked around to find interesting and informative marketing / PR / social networking blogs from which I could draw information that would be of use to book publicists.  Every so often, I’d link to Chris Brogan’s blog, which provided a trove of handy information.

Imagine my surprise and delight when Brogan’s publicist, @cincindypat, asked if I’d be open to a guest post from him.  (Brogan is now also the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling co-author of Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust.)  Who better to talk about how to successfully publicize a book?  Voila.

***

As you struggle to survive the attention wars, finding ways to connect your authors to valuable audiences has changed. This isn’t easy. Working with bloggers isn’t the same as traditional journalists, but connecting with journalists isn’t all it used to be, either. Getting mainstream coverage is more and more difficult. Budgets are tight. What’s a book publicist to do?

I’m writing this from a strange perspective. My book, Trust Agents reached the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal lists within two days of release. We speak about trust and how to use online tools to build relationships using new tools and new channels, and in the process, we had two publicists helping us as well. So, I have two sides of the coin in mind when I write this, or maybe three. I write it as an author, as a professional blogger, and as someone thinking on how the publicist might develop their efforts. Here’s what I have for you.

Find The Audience You Need – The easiest way to start on this is to grow bigger ears. Use tools like Alltop.com and Technorati.com to find who’s writing in the space your author is trying to reach. Don’t be swayed by big numbers, but instead, pay attention to the people who might connect with the work, and get to know them. Don’t reach out yet. We have more to do.

Do Your Homework – Use sites like Compete.com to find out if the bloggers you’ve picked have a decent audience. Check their blogs for numbers of comments and level of engagement overall. Determine whether the blogger has done book reviews in the past (though don’t let this sway you).

Comments Come First – Leave comments about other posts over a week or so. Make them relevant, and never pitch your author at these points. Just connect on posts that make sense. Don’t ever hide that you’re a professional publicist. This is the art of building relationships before you need anything. It sounds like work. It is work. And yet, the yield is much better.

Break the Big Lie – Want to earn my respect forever? Acknowledge that there are other books from other publishers that are well done and/or that complement your author’s work. Stun people with your grasp of the real world. I say this with a bit of sarcasm, but realize that media makers like bloggers and podcasters know that there are other books out there, and we’ve maybe even read them before.

Build Non-Book Relationships With People – By getting to know people on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on Twitter, on blogs, you’ve got to talk about non-book things from time to time. This is part of the whole relationship-building experience we’ve written about in Trust Agents. People don’t want to hang out with promoters. They want to spend time on online social networks with friends who interact with them, ask them questions, and talk about things beyond their business interests. It’s not wrong to talk about your author or authors. It’s wrong to make that the primary thrust of what you talk about.

This all adds up. Over time, it’s connecting in these human-shaped ways that will make all the difference in the world. People connect with those they know and who make them feel comfortable. Earning trust before you need something for business is a fast track to getting the kinds of coverage your authors deserve. This is how we’re seeing it done. There’s more to it than just showing up and typing, but these are some of the ways I feel you’ll be able to do business in the new social space. I hope they work for you.

Chris Brogan is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling co-author of Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust. He writes about social media and how human business works at chrisbrogan.com.

September 23, 2009 Posted by | Online Marketing, Social Networking | 8 Comments

What to include on author websites

Ann from McGraw-Hill suggested a while back that I post about author websites.  You know (or can guess) what basics should be on an author website, but here are a few items that you may not have considered:

Publishing house: The house doesn’t much matter to the average reader, but many journalists and organizations looking for guest speakers will make note of this.  Make sure you know (and list) the imprint that published your book as well as the publishing house.  If you’re an author and don’t know what an imprint is, ask!

Contact information for yourself: If you wanted complete privacy, you probably shouldn’t have written the book (or you should have gone the John Twelve Hawks path of anonymity, but we all know how well that one worked).  You need to give readers a way to get in touch with you.  Many authors create separate email accounts for this purpose.  If you’re into the social networking scene, include information for your profiles, but keep in mind that not all readers use these networks and they will appreciate being able to contact you via plain vanilla email.  Depending on the book you’ve written and its target demographic, you may want to consider opening a post office box and including that address.  If you want, include a phone number, but I can’t recall the last time I saw an author list a phone number on a website (or perhaps I just blocked it out).

Contact information for a publicist and / or lecture agent: Useful for journalists and organizations looking for guest speakers.  It helps if you clarify that the publicist contact is for media requests only.  I ask authors to post my email address but not my phone number because I will inevitably need background information from random journalists and bloggers who find their way to me from an author’s website and it’s impossible to provide that information in a phone call.

Contact information for your literary agent: Agent Stuart Krichevsky points out that rights and other inquiries can come to literary agents via author websites.  No point in losing out on an opportunity simply because someone couldn’t locate your agent.

A media room: If you have the capability to do so, consider storing hi-resolution (300 dpi) images of yourself and your book cover on your website that bloggers and journalists can download.  If you are using a professional author photograph, check to make sure you aren’t violating the terms of the contract by allowing the photo to be downloaded by anyone and their cousin.  (You may need to use a snapshot taken by a family member or friend for this purpose.)  Consider uploading a variety of photos (head shot, full length with different backgrounds) to provide some choice for journalists.  In any case, make sure to include a credit lines for photos.  Make it clear that people can download the images.  Many journalists also like using brief (under 1000 word) excerpts from books.  You can consider posting a short excerpt on your site, but prior to doing so, you will want to check in with the publishing house or your literary agent — if serial rights to your book have been sold / are being worked out, you don’t want to jettison the deal by giving out the information for free.

Additional information about yourself and the book(s): Consider including additional information about yourself (extended bio, Q&A) or about the book (how you came to write the book, research process, etc.)

Permalinks: A permalink is an address for a specific page of your site.  So www.authorwebsite.com would be the home page and www.authorwebsite.com/events would be the permalink for the author tour and www.authorwebsite.com/media would be the permalink to interviews and reviews.  Some sites are built entirely under one URL, making it impossible for online journalists to link to any one section of a site.  This isn’t 1994.  You need permalinks.

Buy links: When you link to an online retailer, make sure to spread the wealth.  At my publishing house, we ask authors to link to at least Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders and Indiebound (which represents most independent bookstores).  Some authors also link to Powells, an independent bookstore in Portland that also runs a large mail-order business.  Ebook militant Mike Cane reminds us to also include buy links to ebook editions (and not simply to the Kindle and Sony eReader editions of the ebook).  The same could also apply to the audiobook.  Since we’re now up to, oh, about a dozen buy links, I think you’d probably have to break them down the purchase options into print, ebook and audio editions and then from there readers can click through to the retailer of their choice.  I know this seems cumbersome, but a) there are a heck of a lot of retailers out there selling your book and you should give them each a fair shake and b) there are a lot of readers out there wanting to experience your book in a lot of formats.

A community / discussion function: If you anticipate (or hope to build) a community of readers who will want to discuss your book, consider using a site like Ning or FiledBy that allows readers to connect.  Author websites can be built with either application (for free, although there are, of course, paid premium options), or you can integrate the sites into existing author websites.

For more information about author websites, check out What not to have on your book website.  If you have the money, go ahead and set up a really gorgeous website (go easy on the audio and flash, though — it doesn’t matter how great your site looks if it takes so long to load that people give up on it) but keep in mind that people also want information — content.  Substance is as important as style.

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What do you like to see (or not see) on author websites?

July 8, 2009 Posted by | Online Marketing | | 50 Comments