15 Ways to Promote Optimally
by Patricia L. Fry
Are you promoting your book
on the Web? I mean, are you really using the Web to gain exposure and sales?
Sure, the book is listed at Amazon.com, and maybe you have a Web site, but what
else are you doing online to attract an audience?
I challenge you to become
proactive. Express your adventurous side. Go where you have not gone before.
You may discover ways to minimize that stack of books in storage and maximize
your bank account.
your site a valuable marketing tool.
Start by examining your Web site. Is it all that it can be? Do your site
statistics indicate that people are visiting, or is traffic sparse? Does your
site appear on the first few pages of a Google search when you use your
strongest keywords? If not, you need to make it easier and more enjoyable for
people to find it and use it.
in a merchant account. Are you set
up to sell your book from your site? I dragged my feet for a long time before
signing up for a merchant account, which proved to be an extremely worthwhile
expense. I have had the account for exactly three years now, and every month
sales have been between $100 and $500—far more than the fee. As an added
bonus, I can now accept credit card sales at book festivals and conferences.
That’s probably responsible for another $4,000 or so in sales over the
buying easy. Identify the purpose
of your site—to sell books—and make it easy for visitors to
purchase in the way they prefer. Besides having your book available for credit
card purchase, offer a link to your Amazon page, and provide your mailing
address for people who prefer to pay by check.
your books through several sites.
I sell mine at my site and the usual major online bookstore sites (Amazon,
B&N, Borders, etc.), but also through several smaller sites for especially
useful content. Offer articles,
information, resources, and links of interest to your particular customer. And
add to your site often. The more content you have, the more there is for the
search engines to register. And the more you have going on, the more your
customers will want to visit.
your credibility. Use your site as
a way to validate your level of expertise. Add clips and links anytime an
interview, article, or review about you or your book is published. Post news of
awards you receive and of upcoming speaking engagements.
about your site. Promote it with
business cards and other handouts. Include the URL in your sig along with a
list of some of the site’s features and benefits. Tell appropriate newsletters
and forums when you have added something new or when you are running a special,
a contest, or a series of online classes.
a free e-newsletter. Whether you
publish historical fiction, young adult novels, fantasy, or nonfiction, you can
extend your reach by producing an e-newsletter. This is your opportunity to
communicate with customers and potential customers regularly. It’s like taking
all the marvelous aspects of your site straight to customers instead of waiting
for them to visit. Use your e-newsletter to entertain and inform, to make
announcements, and to make friends.
through other sites. Study sites
related to your book. Visiting to see what others are doing is a start, but you
need to find ways to participate. After all, your customers and potential
customers are visiting these sites too. How can you get involved with them? Let
me count the ways:
hooked up. Ask Webmasters from
popular relevant sites to link to your site. Since they may want a reciprocal
link, make sure that you believe in what these other sites offer. If you think
a site is a good match that provides appropriate services and information, list
it in the resources or recommended sites section at your site
for a review or recommendation.
Locate sites that recommend and/or review books in your genre or on your topic.
I suggest spending a few hours every week seeking out new sites and requesting
reviews and recommendations.
For fiction, look for general
review sites, literary sites, and sites related to your story’s theme and
setting. Maybe your book is a romance novel set in Atlanta and your main
character has diabetes, flies small planes, owns an Abyssinian cat, and runs a
rescue center for elephants. Consider sites focusing on the state of Georgia,
diabetes, aviation, elephants, Abyssinian cats, and wild animal rescue.
Of course, once you’ve arranged
for coverage on another site, add this information to your site along with a link.
an interview. While you’re
studying related sites, check to see whether they post interviews with authors
or experts. Use “interviews” sections to see if you would be a good candidate.
Then contact the appropriate people and dazzle them with your qualifications
with other sites’ visitors. Many
sites have forums and chat rooms where like-minded people can discuss issues.
Some are free; some aren’t. Sign up for the ones that appeal to you and share
your knowledge while incidentally promoting your book. I also recommend opening
up to what others can teach you. When it’s not appropriate to mention your
book, you can still use your descriptive sig.
articles elsewhere. If you notice
articles posted at a relevant site, look for submission guidelines; if there
aren’t any, ask the site owner or director if you can submit a piece. Tack on
your bio, including the name of your book and ordering information, at the end
of your article.
advantage of existing newsletters.
Many site owners publish print or electronic newsletters whose editors are
usually hungry for informative submissions. Read back issues of the newsletter,
create appropriate articles, and follow submission guidelines.
Also use newsletters to announce
your activities. If you’re going to lead a workshop on a cruise ship in June,
send this information to all pertinent newsletters ahead of time. If you’re
donating a portion of sales to a charity during the month of May, get more
coverage by sending this announcement to every newsletter on your list.
Always Be in Research Mode
Use the Internet and Web sites
related to your topic or genre to get new ideas for articles or companion books
for your audience. Whatever your subject is—gardening, beauty tips,
dieting, nutrition, investing, negotiating, aging, pet care, bird-watching, or
anything else—you should be able to find more than 100 related sites, and
maybe you’ll find thousands. Many of these will welcome—and
spread—information about your book.
Patricia Fry is the
president of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network,
www.spawn.org) and the author of 25 books, including <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book.
To learn more, visit www.matilijapress.com/rightway.html. Follow Patricia’s
informative publishing blog at www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog.