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. According to an article in Publishers Weekly (April 24, 2006) a survey on the value of marketing pointed out, “The most effective way to promote a book was through the Internet.”
If you fall into the second “beyond me” category, the easiest answer is to hire someone else to do it for you. A quick search on the Internet of “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 web site:
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?
What is a “blog” – Wikipedia defines blog as “a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video.” When you create a blog website, there are several points of which you need to be aware.
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, along with your running text, images, links to similar blogs, web pages, and even videos. The most successful of blogs allow the readers to post comments in an interactive format.
Be aware! Your goal is to generate interest in your book. There is, however, a risk of having your blog labeled as a “fake blog” – one created by a company where fictional postings serve only to promote a product. Simple steps to avoid this are – first and foremost - do not post fake commentary! Allow others to post comments, keep to your topic, and resist the temptation to plug your book in every post. It is perfectly acceptable to have a permanent banner on your blog page promoting your book and providing links to purchase. Many bloggers will have a bio as part of the home page – be certain to mention the book here. Post an image of the book cover on the home page as well.
The popularity of blogging has given rise to another term: a “troll”. This is someone who posts offensive, inflammatory blogs with the intention of provoking. There now exists a Bloggers Code of Conduct:
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.
Take the conversation offline, and talk directly, or find an intermediary who can do so.
If you know someone who is behaving badly, tell them so.
Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say in person.
The Association of American University Presses (AAUP) publication, The Exchange (Winter 2006), suggests the launch of a blog in order to “form good old word of mouth publicity. Posting information about yourself and your book encourages lively discussions.”
Audio blogs or podcasting are also becoming popular 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?
Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter are social networking sites. They allow you to network with “friends” by sending messages to your “followers”, posting information in your personal profile, joining other networks, etc. You can post text (Twitter posts are 140 characters maximum – called “tweets”) 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 have easy to follow instructions for setting up your account.
SPECIFIC BOOK PROMOTIONAL WEBSITES:
An online service that allows users to catalog their books. Free account for 200 titles; paid account allows unlimited entries. The site uses Amazon and libraries that allow open access to their collections. Amazon holds a stake in this company.
This site allows members to build virtual bookshelves to “express themselves to their friends and to the world,” and discuss books with their “friends”. They rate books, interact with authors and participate in book groups. This site was acquired by Amazon.com in 2008.
This is a social network for readers, with a cataloging service that is similar to LibraryThing. Has backing from MySpace.
All of 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 basically online book clubs where readers discuss books they have read. Getting them to read yours will be the goal.
Positive Endorsements, Reviews, and Jacket Blurbs:
Positive 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 he enjoyed your book and why, ask him if you can quote him in your promo material; ask him to post it on Amazon.com and similar sites that post customer reviews.
It is possible to recruit “reviewers” to post reviews on Amazon, B&N, etc. First and foremost, ask your friends and relatives to post. UNT Press would not be able to send review copies to these contacts, but we can provide you with an electronic version of an excerpt from your book that you can use for this purpose. We discourage authors from sending out entire electronic copies of the book to anyone, as this can result in piracy. If a potential contact asks for a complete book in order to review it, you will first need to decide if they are a media reviewer. If they are, UNT Press can send them a review copy. If they, for example, only post on a website, they will probably not qualify for a review copy. In some cases, an author will purchase a few extra copies (at their author discount) to send out to these types of reviewers. It is also possible to find potential reviewers for your book by checking out books similar to yours to see who has reviewed that book. You can do this, for example, on Amazon.com. Find a book that is similar to yours by searching by subject. Scroll down to the customer reviews. Click on the name of the reviewer; this will bring up their profile. In many cases, they will provide their email. All you need do now is email them and tell them you saw their review of a book similar to yours, and ask if they would be interested in reviewing your book.
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.
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.
SOCIAL NETWORKING by UNIVERSITY PRESSES
An article posted by MIT Press (Social Networking: University Presses in a 140-character World, Colleen Lanick, Summer 2009,) states that most University Presses are using 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. Many use the sites to announce events, but the University of Arizona Press admits that the Twitter community “does not like marketing or self-promotion,” so they talk about their books, but also talk about publishing, local community concerns, especially if they are “connected to anything we publish.” Several presses are using this form of communications to interact with journalists and keep up with publishing news.
Lanick admits “it is doubtful that social media will replace traditional publicity and marketing efforts.” Rather, they enhance those efforts. These same principles can be applied to your 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.