Marketing & Promotion
Websites & Blogs
Today, authors need a good website or blog to establish themselves in the industry and compete on a level
playing field with other authors, and the time to establish one is before any books are published. Your
website/blog is an extension of you and what you represent. It’s your online promotional brochure.

Websites

For those of you who have never created a website and think you don’t have the skills to create one, think again.
It's not that hard. I started out using Yahoo Site Solution to create mine, and then upgraded to Yahoo Site Builder
(what you see here). But there are numerous other templates available. Just Google “free website design” and
you’ll see tons of site design tools.

But if you truly can’t handle designing your own website, or don’t have the time, you can always hire it done. Be
prepared to pay a minimum of $1,000 for a very basic site.

Before creating a website, you’ll need a domain name. Domain registration is cheap and easy. I used
https://www.namecheap.com/, but there are many others. Most web hosts offer domain registration as well.

Put thought into the name of your website. Choose one that identifies you and your books, one that is easy to
remember, spell, and type. You can find other tips for choosing a good domain name here
http://www.
thesitewizard.com/archive/domainname.shtml as well as on many other sites.

You will also need a web host in order to post your website on the Internet. I use
Yahoo, but there are numerous
others. My advice is to find one that offers 24/7 tech support. There is nothing more frustrating than being in the
middle of developing a website page, running into a problem, and having no resource for help. I have found
Yahoo to be extremely customer service oriented.
Things to Include on Your Website

  • A “Home” page that welcomes people to your site and gives them an overview of what’s inside
  • Your bio, including a photo of yourself
  • Your contact information
  • A synopsis of your book and cover of your book if published
  • Testimonials
  • Links to other sites you think may be of interest to your audience
  • Some sort of “freebie” whether a sample of your work, writing advice, sharing your expertise, links to related sites, etc.
  • The right keywords in the page titles, tags, and contents of your page
  • Where to buy your book

With respect to the last bullet point, consider adding a PayPal page to your website so people can order directly from you. This means
you'll have to ship your book to the purchaser yourself, but you can usually enjoy a higher royalty by eliminating the middleman. I opened
an account with
www.usps.com so I am able to create a mailing label that includes postage, making it easy to drop the purchased
books in the nearest mailbox without going to a post office.

Promote your website as often as you can. Include the URL on your business cards, stationery, and social media pages. Include it in
your bio and e-mail signature block. Whenever you give someone your contact information, include your website URL.

Here is an article that talks about how to create and then boost interest in your website.
http://writetodone.com/creating-author-websites/

Blogs

You have to blog nowadays. (If you've checked out my photo to see how old I am, you know this statement didn't exactly roll off my
tongue.) In my day…well, never mind. Today people blog. They read blogs, and they follow blogs. Blog, blog, blog.

It’s relatively easy to create a blog--there are numerous templates from which to choose. When I created my blog, I chose
WordPress,
but I believe there are easier templates to use. Here's a link to a site that talks about several of them.
http://designscrazed.org/best-free-
blogger-templates/.

For me, there’s nothing worse than a cluttered blog where you have to sift through a lot of erroneous stuff looking for what’s meaningful
to you. Another pet peeve I have is to see typos in blogs. Blogs should be well-thought-out and proofread. Otherwise, you risk losing
credibility with your audience.

People aren't going to spend time reading or following a blog that doesn't interest them, so the lesson here is to create material that is
of interest to those who you want as followers. Sounds like a simple concept, but it really isn't. It takes a lot of thought to get it right.
Focus on providing your readers with free worthwhile informational content, even if it means commenting on other peoples’ blogs or
directing them to other sites.  It’s okay to have fun, too. Don't be afraid to do something a little crazy once in awhile. People love freebies,
and free eBooks are a great giveaway since they don’t cost you anything. People also love tips, quizzes, checklists, top ten lists, and
"Did you know" posts.

Conducting polls can generate great discussion on your blog. I've seen authors post things like:

  • Choose which cover you like best.
  • Tell us about your all-time favorite character in a book.
  • What makes you keep turning the pages?
  • Join my e-mail subscriber list for a chance to win ___.

It’s one thing to create and maintain a meaningful blog, but it’s quite another thing to draw people to it and then become your followers.  
Including the right keywords will help. Asking questions can also result in some lively discussions and keep viewers coming back.  I
saw on one person’s blog, “Make me smile today…leave a comment or question.”

Don’t forget to include other links on your blog. Make it easy for readers to see what else you have to offer, including the link to buy your
books.

Blog sites need to be consistently updated with new material. Once to twice weekly appears to be an acceptable frequency. Too few
posts and you’ll appear stale. Too many may cause an overdose for your audience. Review your old posts and if they are out-of-date,
update them and re-post.

Remember, promoting your books should be secondary on your blog. If you do a good job with the rest of it, book sales will follow.

Like websites, blogs take time to catch on. Don’t get discouraged the first year.

Here are eight author blogs I follow:

I mentioned that I had created a blog using WordPress. That was true. But I don't have one now. I discovered I am not a blogger and
didn't like doing it. So after maintaining it for one year, I apologized to my faithful few followers and shut it down. Fortunately, I'm in a
position where I don't have to do something I don't enjoy. I hope you are too.


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