Monday, January 7, 2013

Quick, Dirty Book Marketing: Stuff that's Worked for Me

Here's a quick overview of book marketing strategy based on things that have worked for me during the last six months. This article also suggests easy-to-use Web-based tools and a warning for users of Google's Feedburner blog subscription tool.

A key goal of book marketing is to drive people to your blog or Web site, and then get them to leave an e-mail address. Here's why: Remember all those Facebook friends and likes, Twitter followers, and Linked In connections you've spent hours collecting? They're not your friends, they are Facebook's friends.

If a social media platform -- for example Facebook -- changes its rules and want to charge you to reach your hard-earned connections, you're screwed. If the social media company closes it's doors, you're screwed. More on why Facebook sucks.

I) Blogging

1) Choosing a platform

For most people the choice boils down to WordPress or Blogger.
- Blogger is simpler
- WordPress is more powerful, meaning there are more cool things you can do with it.

Both platforms will allow you to create a blog that looks, feels, and behaves like a Web site. This blog was created with Blogger.

2) Content, Frequency, Length

a) Content: 
- For Non-fiction writers this is easier: Focus on current events, offer tips, respond to reader comments. 
- For Fiction writers: Pick some themes and topics mentioned in your book and treat them the same way a non-fiction writer does. So, If your book involves an exotic location, write about that location. If your characters are single, write about single life. 
- Should writers blog about writing? There's a lot of conflicting opinions. Some experts claim you'll be diluting your audience and that writers don't buy books. Other experts, say that's hogwash. Try it and see if you get any clicks.

*Include a piece of art at the top of your blog! Posts will look more professional and be more attractive when you promote you links on Facebook, Linked In, and other sites. A good place to find free art: Creative Commons. A word on attribution: you want to give credit to artists. I've been grabbing the attributions and posting them at the end of my blogs.

*Be sure the first paragraph or your blog summarizes the content: When you post links to your blog, some social media sites will include the first graph. If that graph is cutesy, clever, and confusing, you'll lose readership.

b) Frequency
I was blogging weekly and it was too much work. Now, I'm blogging three times a month, which feels about right -- and my traffic has remained about the same.

c) Length
Some experts recommend no more than 250 words. I've been doing up to 750. Length doesn't seem to affect my traffic.

3) Capturing E-Mails 


You want people who like your blog to sign up or subscribe. Suggestions for increasing sign ups:

a) Use a tool such as Feedburner, which does the following:
- Creates a sign-up box that lets readers add their e-mail or subscribe via RSS feed.
- Many people hate Feedburner because it doesn't offer any tech support -- like many free tools from Google, including Blogger, you're on your own. (For tech support, I always search on the problem I'm having and often other people have had similar problems and come up with answers. For example, I recently searched on: "Why does my Feedburner count fluctuate?" and found reams of answers.

b) Post a sign-up box at the end of each blog post. (See end of this post for how I do it.)

*NOTE: There are rumors that Google may shut down Feedburner. Here's what you can do to move your subscribers to alternatives to FeedBurner.

4) Include Google Ads?

If you are getting some traffic, say more than 3,000 page views a month, consider using Google ads. I just starting posting Google ads on this  blog. The ads are in the upper right-hand corner and at the bottom of the page. The ads have not hurt my traffic and I earned $10 last month. I suspect that earnings will go up as Google starts posting more relevant ads.


SEO involves several steps:
- Determining the best Google-friendly keyword phrases that will make your blog posts easy to find.
- Inserting them into your headlines and first paragraph of your posts.
- Including those keywords in your blog description. (Blogger provides a Search Description box that you can fill out for each post.)

Humorous, useful pieces on Keyword phrases and SEO

More than you need to know about SEO

III) Driving Traffic by Posting Links

This is a key reason you are bothering with social media: To post links that drive people to your blog.
Facebook and Linked In have groups of people with similar interests. Linked In and Facebook allow you to search for groups by topic and will tell you how many members are in each group.
*Before signing up for a group: consider the number of members, then visit the group to how active those members are: If there are only a few posts from the same person or the posts are two weeks old, skip it.
*Linked In limits the number of groups you can join to 50. Posting links to 50 groups takes me about a 1.5 hours, but it generates 75% of my traffic.

IV) Managing E-mails

You have a lists of people in your personal and business e-mail. Any of them interested in your writing? If you have more than 50, you won't be able to e-mail them all at once from a typical e-mail program, like say, Yahoo! Mail.

For managing large groups of e-mails and for creating periodic e-mail blasts and e-mail newsletters use an e-mail management service. I've been using Mailchimp and, so far, have no complaints.

More on managing e-mail addresses and newsletters.

V) Offline Book Marketing

1) Public Readings

You don't have to be a big name author -- or even have a book -- to do public readings. I've been reading from my as-yet unfinished book at poetry slams (my book isn't poetry), story slams (I won one), a smut slam (don't ask), and public libraries (libraries in Boston pay readers.)

The key to giving public readings: Make sure you collect e-mail addresses from people at the reading. Add these people manually to Mailchimp or your e-mail management program.

Note: I'm an idiot, I've given more than 50 readings and didn't bother collecting e-mails until last month. Don't make the same mistake!


2) More on Public Readings 


I once gave a reading at a store that sells travel gear (My novel includes a lot of travel scenes.) I am going to approach other stores related to other themes in my book:
- Humorous erotica: I'm going to pitch readings to lingerie shops, wine stores, stores that sell sex toys, sex conferences.
- More travel: I am gong to create a (PG-rated) presentation about my trip around the world and weave in readings from my book. I'll pitch hostels, hotels, and more stores that sell travel gear.
- Dating and single life: I have a lot of dating scenes in my book, I just need to find stores that cater to singles. This could also include wine stores, fancy restaurants, and singles clubs.


3) A-B-C: Always Be Closing


If someone asks you what you do, mention your book. If they seem interested ask if they want to be on your mailing list. If they had you a business card, be sure to ask them: "Is this the best e-mail for personal e-mail or information on my book?"

Had Enough Book Marketing?

- Vicodin, Klonopin, or Heineken: What do unemployed writers have for breakfast?


- Humorous Erotica: The Online Date that Went a Little too Well *

*Content Warning: This piece contains adult language, adult situations, and more adult language.

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Attribution for Book image at top of post: "This file is from the Open Clip Art Library, which released it explicitly into the public domain, using the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication."