Creating a Website:
So, you want to create a website to promote your book! Everyone is doing it, right? Can’t be too complicated! It can be easy and quick if you know the process. Or, it can be beyond any task you want to tackle. No problem, either scenario has an answer.
First of all, if you know the process, you probably have no need to read further. We do recommend that you create a website to help promote your book.
If you fall into the second “beyond me” category, the easiest answer is to hire someone else to do it for you. A quick internet search for “create a website” yields over 500 million results.
There are sites that will charge you for the service, and there are sites that will tell you how to create a website on your own.
Some pointers: You need not be a “techie” or learn any type of complicated codes. You should know there are three main steps to creating a website:
- Get a domain name
- Choose a web host
- Create the website
Simply having a website will not ensure success. Ask yourself, “Who do I want to visit my site? What do I do to keep them coming back?" Why not supplement your website with a blog?
A blog designed to market your book should provide commentary or news about your book, or to be most effective, about the subject of your book. Try to include images, links to similar blogs, web pages, and even videos along with your running text. The most successful blogs allow readers to post comments in an interactive format.
Some tips for maintaining a healthy blog:
- Take responsibility not just for your own words, but for the comments you allow on your blog.
- Label your tolerance level for abusive comments.
- Consider eliminating anonymous comments.
- Ignore the trolls.
- If you know someone who is behaving badly, tell them so.
- Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say in person.
Podcasts are similarly popular vehicles for distributing information. In today’s world of immense amounts of publicly accessible information, why not find your audience and convert curiosity into book sales?
These days, most authors have cultivated social media presences to market their work. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are ideal platforms for marketing: they allow you to network by sending messages to your followers, posting information in your personal profile, joining other networks, etc. You can post text and images, videos, etc. You can restrict or allow access as desired. Privacy has been an issue in some cases, so be aware of this potential problem. Each of these platforms have easy-to-follow instructions for setting up your account.
Specific Book Promotional Websites:
An online service that allows users to catalog their books, LibraryThing offers free accounts for 200 titles; paid accounts allow unlimited entries. The site uses Amazon and libraries that allow open access to their collections. Amazon holds a stake in this company.
A social network for readers, where users can leave reviews, compare reading lists, and find new titles. Goodreads was created with backing from MySpace.
These sites, and similar social networks for readers and writers, will primarily offer opportunities for promotion by word of mouth, and might result in positive endorsements. However, please understand these are essentially online book clubs where readers discuss books they have read. Getting them to read yours will be the goal.
Endorsements, Reviews, and Jacket Blurbs:
Endorsements are statements from individuals about your book (as opposed to jacket blurbs and reviews—see below). You can obtain these in several ways. The easiest is to assemble them from your social networking. When a reader posts on your blog about how they enjoyed your book and why, ask if you can quote them in your promotional material.
The term Reviews is used by UNT Press to refer to only book reviews received by those in the media who regularly print or post reviews. These are obtained by UNT Press as a result of sending out review copies of the final book. The main purpose of this type of a review is to reach the readers of the reviewer’s outlet as this increases sales. For example, a book about the history of World War II might be reviewed in the Journal of Military History and the academics who read that journal will purchase the book, or perhaps adopt it for classroom usage. A collection of poems might be reviewed by Foreword Magazine, widely read by librarians, and added to the library’s acquisitions. A book could be reviewed by a newspaper or magazine and boost sales significantly. Excerpts from these types of reviews are often posted by UNT Press on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.
Jacket blurbs are endorsements solicited by the publisher for use on the jacket of the book. The author can usually assist with these by suggesting members for their peer group for UNT Press to contact. These are called “blurbs”. In addition to appearing on the jacket, they are printed on the press releases and posted online on the UNT Press site (http://www.unt.edu/untpress), the Texas A&M University Press site (http://www.tamupress.com), and submitted to the Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com) and Barnes & Noble.com (http://www.barnesandnoble.com) sites to be posted there as well.
Social Networking by University Presses
Most university presses engage in some kind of social networking. These presses use the electronic world to “put a face on the press,” respond to comments and questions, and encourage interaction with readers. Presses also use social media to interact with journalists and reviewers, keep up with publishing news, and promote book events.
Social media does not replace traditional book marketing and promotion; rather, social media enhances those efforts. These same principles can be applied to your own social networking. Your Facebook page, with your profile, photos, info, and wall posts can “put a face” on you as an author. You can respond to Tweets, and talk about your book on LibraryThing.
Finally, you must not become so entangled in promoting your last book that you do not have time to write your next one. And you must not forget to keep a box of books in your trunk, offer to speak at your local library, and continue to promote in traditional ways.