Simple Ways to Promote Online
by Penny Sansevieri
Changes happen nonstop on the Internet, but you probably can’t afford a department, or even a full-time person, dedicated to reading all the geek stuff and keeping up. Here are seven ideas even a one-book publisher can use to take advantage of what the Internet currently offers.
A blog is a great way to keep your site fresh (search engines love sites that are updated often) and a great way to reach your readers. If you don’t have a blog or haven’t blogged in a while, plan now to blog at least twice a week. Don’t know what to blog about? Here are some suggestions:
Talk about trends in your subject area and/or in the publishing industry.
Review related books, which will pay off partly in terms of networking with other people in your market.
If your book is fiction or features colorful people, blog “in character”; readers love this.
Develop a new book on your blog by asking for reader feedback on aspects of the story you have in mind.
Chime in on a hot industry issue or controversy.
Comment on other blogs or feature them on your blog.
Interview appropriate people.
Talk about any elephant in the room: if you see a looming issue that’s being ignored—or denied—in your market, bring it up and offer your insights.
Don’t despair if you aren’t getting people to comment on your posts. It takes a while to get folks to provide feedback, but the more you can tap into issues your readers care about, the more comments you’ll see popping up.
Whether it’s articles, audio, or video, there’s a home for it on the Net. Consider article syndication as a way to start pushing content online, using these basic guidelines:
Remember that you won’t get paid for the articles, book excerpts, or tip sheets that you post. They’re promotional tools designed for others to use. What could be better?
Posted content must be helpful, not obviously self-promotional. The more helpful the content, the more likely it is to be used. Yes, you can mention your book, but I recommend confining any and all promotion of it to the author bio.
Titles are important. Remember that a title must be descriptive. Don’t make people guess what you’ve written about. If they have to guess, your pieces won’t be as popular as they could be.
Article word counts should be between 500 and 2,000. Generally the most popular pieces are around 1,000 words.
Don’t forget to post an author bio and Web site address.
Also, and very important, get everything edited before you post. Once you send content out, you can never get it back.
Online promotion is fundamentally about participating. Think of the Internet as one big cocktail party. Strike up a conversation with someone you’d like to get to know better.
To do that, first go to Technorati.com and find the top five blogs in your market. Then watch them for a week or so, and when you’re comfortable with what they’re talking about and the angles of their messages, start posting comments and offering your own insights into their postings.
Since bloggers love comments, you’ll be accomplishing two things by participating: you’re doing some virtual networking (aka cyberschmoozing) and promoting via the link to your site, since it’s listed as part of your post every time you comment.
Conduct Your Own Blog Tour
After you’ve done some virtual networking and gotten to know some folks in your industry, you’ll want to contact them about guest-blogging opportunities. Guest blogging is pretty simple: you post an article or a Q&A on a site as a guest blogger for a specified period (often a day or a week), and you respond to comments that come in during that period.
Also, be ready to host a blog tour. Bloggers who have had you as a guest will sometimes want you to return the favor by hosting them or someone associated with their site on your blog; unless the content is really off-topic from your site, I recommend that you consider it.
Try a Blog Carnival
If you’ve been blogging for a while but haven’t yet participated in a blog carnival, head on over to blogcarnival.com and get started. It’s super easy. Just find a category/topic that you can speak to—maybe one you’ve already blogged on—and submit material for consideration. These carnivals are great for virtual networking and for getting more content online.
Watch What Happens
Have you set up a Google Alert on yourself? If you haven’t, you should. How else will you know what people are saying about you online? Google Alerts provide a simple way to monitor the cyberchatter and get in touch with folks who mention you and your book.
You can also go to Technorati.com, plug in your name, your company name, or your book title. Then look at what you pull up and subscribe to the syndication feed of the search (just hit the RSS button and it’ll automatically subscribe you to that feed).
Keep It Going
Once you have your feeds all ready to go, you’ll want to promote all the good stuff. How can you do that? Well, first off, offer a cyber–thank you to whoever mentioned you or your book or otherwise featured you on their sites. Next, link to their sites from your blog. And finally, use social-bookmarking accounts to bookmark these postings for enhanced exposure.
If you haven’t already created an account at Digg.com, Stumbledupon.com, and/or Delicious.com, do that now (it takes just a few minutes). Then follow the instructions to bookmark a blog post or page on selected sites. When you use these public bookmarking systems, you will help create interest in the sites you choose and possibly drive traffic to them, and of course the site owners and bloggers will love you for that.
There’s a lot more you can do online. In fact, the possibilities are endless. But I’ve found that the confused mind doesn’t take action, so the simpler you keep things, the more you’ll do. If only one recommendation on this list appeals to you, that’s great. Keep in mind that doing one more thing this week than you did last week keeps you moving forward and helps you continue to create marketing momentum for your book.
Penny C. Sansevieri is CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. Her company develops Internet book-marketing campaigns, and she is the author of five books, including Red Hot Internet Publicity, which Sourcebooks will rerelease in fall 2009. AME’s Virtual Author Tour™ works with social-networking sites, microblogs, blogs, book videos, and relevant sites to push an author’s message into the virtual community. To learn more, visit amarketingexpert.com. To subscribe to a free e-zine, send a blank email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.