Saturday, July 9, 2011

Top 5 Online Marketing Tools For Authors

Many authors ask me: When and how should I start promoting my book? The first part of the answer ("when") is yesterday. As with any product--and yes, a book is a product!--it's unwise to start promoting/marketing after the product releases. Here's the second part of the answer ("how"): Prior to publication, I'd say about 3-6 months before the release date (maybe even a year if you're really serious), you should already be actively utilizing these TOP 5 Online Marketing Tools For Authors (notice how I said "should." There are exceptions to every rule, of course, and some authors can certainly find success even if they begin promoting/marketing after the release, although it'll be more difficult):
  1. Author website/blog - I remember launching my website/blog back in 2007, two years before the release of my bestselling novel Unconventional. This gave me plenty of time to get acquainted with my site and learn the ins and outs. Ultimately, you want to use all of your other online tools to drive traffic to your site/blog.
  2. Facebook - Read this post--Facebook For Authors by Cindy Ratzlaff--to understand the personal profile, the fan page, and the benefits of using the leading social network as an author. Over 600 million people use Facebook nowadays, so it's not a tool you can ignore! Facebook ads are also highly effective for recruiting fans/selling your titles. FB ads allow you to target just about anyone based on interests, age, gender, location, etc.
  3. - I'm a huge advocate for this, the #1 social networking site for book lovers. This site, from an author's perspective, is all about targeted marketing and networking. You can network with tons of fans from your genre; include your book in Goodreads' giveaway program (which they promote to their members for you!); customize your author profile after signing up for the free Goodreads Author Program; launch a targeted ad campaign with self-serve advertising; and more!
  4. LibraryThing - Much like Goodreads, you can run a giveaway on (LT), but I feel the LT giveaway program is superior. Here's why: You can give away e-book downloads, which cost you absolutely nothing but help you gain readers and reviews.
  5. Twitter - Technically a microblogging site, Twitter limits each post (i.e. tweet) to 140 characters, thus encouraging short bursts of info. This is an ideal place to quickly network and form relationships with other like-minded individuals, help them and they'll help you (through "retweets," etc.), share the behind the scenes moments of your life (not so "behind the scenes" anymore), spread some of your links, etc. Amazingly, you can do all of this on the go. Just install a Twitter app on your cell phone. Twitter does offer a Twitter 101 "course" at their site. Check it out if you're trying to figure out how to get started.
Remember, you're only going to find success in publishing if you self-promote like all the other successful, entrepreneurial self-published authors out there. You can't expect the book to sell itself. That won't happen.

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