Whether your publisher is handling your marketing or you are flying solo, you need to use the internet to further any and all marketing and publicity efforts. The problem is there are so many avenues you can take, that it is easy to become confused and overwhelmed.
You can spend serious amounts of cash buying books on internet marketing, or hiring marketing experts, which, depending on your goals and your wallet, you may do. But before you spend one dime, let’s look at the some of the things you can do yourself that involved little to no money, just time.
Because seeing is believing, I am going to use two well-known writers as examples. The first, William Hazelgrove, is a literary author of four novels. His latest book, Rocket Man, was published in December of 2009, and it is the techniques he is using to promote the book on the Internet that we will be examining.
The second author is J.A. Konrath, who writes Lt. Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels thrillers, with the latest, Cherry Bomb, being released July 2009. Mr. Konrath uses many different techniques to market his work, which makes him another great example for author marketing.
Your Home on the Web
First, let’s look at websites and blogs. There is no doubt that you must have one or both, preferably while you are writing, and most definitely way before you approach a publishing house.
Bill Hazelgrove’s website is basic, just listing his work, articles of interest, and links to where else on the web you can find him. He dedicates a page each to “The Attic” (Hazelgrove is well-known for being the author who writes from Hemingway’s Attic), his books, his blog, and essays that he writes for PageOneLit, a literary newsletter as well as other media outlets. Hazelgroves site has no glitz or bells and whistles, it speaks to those who are interested in him and his work, and I suspect it is self-built, meaning he didn’t spend a fortune hiring a professional company to design and build it.
J.A. Konrath’s website is also simple and clean, with pages dedicated to his bio, news, a discussion forum, his blog, buying links, give-aways, photos, a great guide for newbie writers that covers everything from writing to publishing with a large section dedicated to marketing, and his alter-ego Jack Kilborn. Mr. Konrath did not build the site himself, electing instead to use a design group named AuthorPromo to handle design and development.
Each of these sites are revolve around the author and their work, and have lots of links to other places on the web where you can find out more about them, or interact with them directly and indirectly. You can not succeed on the internet without a home. Consider your site or blog the hub of a wheel from which all other links and activities connect. Keep your home up to date and fresh, and reward your visitors richly, as each and every one is a potential loyal reader.
Using Media Outlets for Promotion
Hazelwood uses article directories and media outlets to promote his name and his work. eZineArticles.com is an easy way to get exposure. You will notice if you visit Hazelwood’s article section that his essays are not about Rocket Man, but instead cover news, politics, technology, arts and entertainment, and book marketing. These are his thoughts, and they offer a good way to allow his readers to get an inside look at the man. Should his article readers enjoy his thoughts, there is every chance they will follow the links in his bio to his website, where they will find his books available for sale.
eZineArticles is but one article directory on the internet. There are hundreds of others, and you can choose whichever you like the best. Just make sure you choose a well-known directory that does not want ownership of your content, and that can potentially supply you with a steady stream of readers.
Hazelgrove also uses SpeakWithoutInterruption (where he is also an editor) to promote his articles and ideas. SWI is an international magazine that promotes different writers and their views. You will notice at the top of the article there is a hyperlinked photo of Hazelwood that connects to his website, as well as a mention of his book in his bio. There is also a really neat tool at the bottom of all his posts called ShareThis. By incorporating a ShareThis button, Hazelwood’s readers can share any article they enjoy with their peers on wide variety of social media sites, as well as through email and text messaging. This is a fine way to garner user generated exposure, as well as introduce yourself to a new readership!
Konrath uses different mediums to reach readers. By using Squidoo, Konrath is able to reach out to potential readers that may not have found their way to his niche yet. His lens revolves around his books, but also includes links to other places where a reader can get to know more about him and his books. Squidoo pages are easy to set up and use and you can create as many new lenses as you want, say, one for each book you write.
Konrath also has a Wikipedia page. Wiki’s rank very high in search engine results, and can potentially introduce Konrath to a huge amount of people. Wiki’s are not written by the person they are about, so you will need to enlist the help of someone should you decide to go this route.
If you visit Konrath’s blog, you will also see that he uses Amazon’s blog, Crimespace, Goodreads, RedRoom, and Shelfari to increase his exposure and introduce new people to his work. Some of the outlets he uses are specific to his genre, but there are many genre specific outlets, so no matter what you write you should find one if not several that will meet your needs.
The most important thing to take away from this review of media outlets is that each writer has included links to many, if not all of the outlets they are using. This creates a circle of exposure, allowing any visitor to one outlet, find you on many outlets.
If you don’t already have a Twitter, Facebook or MySpace account, get one. Now! These platforms are some of the most popular today and will allow you to reach out to millions of users. Millions.
Twitter is becoming extremely popular, and is very easy to use. Once you set up your account, you can use Twitter Search to find authors, writers, ghostwriters, agents, publishing houses. Also search for ‘readers’ and ‘booklovers’ as many people use these words in their profile, and are on twitter to get to know their favorite authors better.
Follow those who look interesting, and are tweeting about topics you enjoy. Use ‘listening’ tools like TweetBeep to track who is talking about you and your work, and reach out to them. Keep your fellow tweeters up to date on your writing progress, any publishing news you have and even any setbacks you experience. Unlike other social media outlets, Twitter gives real time feedback and results.
Facebook is a great way to promote your work and create relationships. Use Facebook to create a home base for your fans, interact with readers through updates and messages, and to promote your blog, twitter account and website. MySpace, like Facebook, is easy to setup and start creating connections. It works much the same way as Facebook, but generally reaches a younger audience. These social media outlets have chat and private message capabilities, but are generally not considered real-time. Whoever subscribes to your Facebook/MySpace page will get notifications when you update your page, and with each platform, your fans can comment on your updates. There are applications that extend the functionality of Facebook, like the Twitter application, that posts your tweets to Facebook account which will save time. TweetDeck is very useful for keeping up with conversations, and it now features a Facebook integration that allows you to update your status and see your friends updates as well.
How you use these tools will dictate your popularity. Your readers want to hear from you but they won’t stay loyal if you are just slinging your latest book release or review in their face. One of the most effective uses I have seen with Twitter is where an author talked about his day, wrote his daily completed word count in his tweet and counted down to the day of his book release. Something as simple as this made me follow him and keep track of his accomplishments. I felt kind of connected to him, knowing that he had days where he struggled for the words just as much as I do. Needless to say, I bought his book.
Konrath tends to submit funny one-liners to his tweeple and Facebook peers. He keeps us laughing, and interested, and of course up-to-date with his travels and work.
Hazelwood hooked me when he posted his video of Hemingway’s attic. I connected with him on some level and bought Rocket Man not long after seeing the video. Hazelwood doesn’t always use social media tool to the best of his ability, as he tends to post a ton of links at once which can be overwhelming. His links are almost always to his articles, with little to no actual personal messages. To me, his saving grace comes from the fact that he has twice answered me very quickly after I contacted him. In other words, he isn’t talking to his readers on a daily basis, but he does interact when called upon to do so, which is a great attribute, and one that will keep me as one of his loyal fans.
That’s another aspect of using the Internet to its fullest. When you use social media tools, your fans feel connected to you unless you do something to push them away. Keep your profiles updated with the latest happenings in your world, even if it just means tweeting about your son’s soccer game. We all want to know that our favorite writers are human and they deal with life just like we do, on a day to day basis. Keep it personal, invite us into your world so we can share in your accomplishments and get even more satisfaction out of purchasing your work.
Teresa Shaw is a full-time ghostwriter who works part-time as an internet and social media expert. She has helped companies small and large find their home on the web and make the best use of internet tools to gain exposure and increase popularity. Follow Teresa on Twitter @ http://twitter.com/tswriter and connect with her on Facebook.