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Word of Mouth in an Online World

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by Brian Schwartz, SelfPublish.org

At the end of the day, what sells books today is the same as it was 100 years ago. It’s simply word-of-mouth. We tend to read what our friends recommend to us. What has changed is the way we communicate. Before the internet, to succeed as a self-published author, you had to drive across the country and promote your book wherever you could find readers. Wayne Dyer did this with his first book, as did Jack Canfield. Many authors followed and the hard work eventually paid off.

Today, the internet has changed the way authors are promoting themselves. The days of going to bookstores and libraries is no longer the most effective way to reach the larger number of people. Gas prices are high, bandwidth is cheap. The vast majority of our population is glued to their mobile devices, which monopolizes their attention. Did you know that as much as 35% of all internet traffic is now on Facebook?

On February 10, 2016 at 10AM PDT, on the IBPA webinar entitled Creating Killer Online Author Profiles, I will share with your examples of authors effectively promoting themselves. The tools they use are available to all of us. Most are free, requiring little more than an investment of your time.

A helpful analogy that I will use is the idea of breadcrumbs. The game of internet marketing is all about leaving breadcrumbs leading back to your loaf of bread (your book). The more breadcrumbs you leave, the more people will find your book. But you want to leave breadcrumbs where people are likely to find them (high traffic sites).

The #1 rule: Never be more than a click away from a sale (sale being defined as a specific desired result)

You could literally spend the rest of your days trying to get yourself listed on every marketplace, review site, and blog out there, and you’d hardly scratch the surface. But when you accept that the 80/20 rule is just as valid on the web as it is everywhere else, you’ll see that 80% of all traffic tends to go to just 20% of the sites. So the most effective use of your time is to focus on the 20% of the sites that contain 80% of the traffic. Perhaps guesswork comes into predicting the sites that will be in the top 20% in the future, but I would argue that the sites at the top of the heap today will probably be at the top tomorrow.

If I provided you a list of 100 websites where you could promote yourself, only 20 of them would truly be worth your time. As a first step in your marketing plan, here are the top 20 sites you should be most concerned about being discovered on:

1. Google
2. Facebook
3. Youtube
4. Amazon
5. Yahoo
6. Wikipedia
7. Twitter
8. LinkedIN
9. WordPress
10. Reedit
11. Instagram
12. Pinterest
13. Tumblr
14. Imgur
15. Medium
16. Flipkart (India’s version of Amazon) and Baidu (China’s version of google)
17. Quora
18. Google+
19. Goodreads
20. Flickr

Regardless of where you are discovered online, what’s vital is that your readers ultimately find their way back a page that results in an action on the part of the reader. That may be a sale, but it may also be a signup, a comment, or a like. Something tangible that engages the reader.

Once you established on an online presence, you can begin to expand your strategy by worrying less about the twenty websites that 80% of the world frequents – but instead start to focus on the top 5 websites your specific readers visit. It will be evident by the level of reader engagement.

To your success,
Brian Schwartz, SelfPublish.org

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