Raising the Curtain

by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley

These days, many authors focus more time on self-promotion through social media than on marketing their books. It’s not necessarily a bad idea, but with all the social media hype, it can be easy to forget about the fundamentals.

With strong marketing, writers can build up thousands of followers on Twitter, hold weekly hangouts on Google Plus, and receive hundreds of likes for a cute cat photograph on their Facebook pages. However, the time and effort to drum up a huge audience is wasted if writers lose sight of their primary goal: selling books.

Last month, I spent time looking at a variety of authors’ sites, specifically to find out more about their books. I was horrified to discover that some of our best and brightest create excitement within a target audience, then never tell their audience where to find their books.

Some writers become so involved in keeping up with the latest trends in social media that the most basic tasks, like updating websites, get pushed to the wayside. But if you have a published book, then the one promotional web page you truly need is a book page.

While you may love to post to your blog to announce all your exciting news, posts gets buried within a week. Meanwhile, a month, a year, a decade later, there are still people who are excited that they’ve just discovered a new author, people who will never find that post we wrote in a happy haze before moving on to the next manuscript.

Keep every book page front and center. Tell your audience that you’d love them to buy the book, and include where and how much. Yes, I’ve heard arguments against this. Some authors worry that it crosses the line into crass self-publicity: one shouldn’t mention a price nor incite people to sully themselves and buy art. Others worry that linking to online bookstores devalues the book-and-mortar stores. And one author told me directly that he didn’t see the point: “Everyone uses Amazon anyway so if people want the book, they’ll just go and search for it there.”

From a customer perspective, this isn’t good service. If people are interested in a book, if they want to buy it, why should they have to search for it? Offer instant gratification links to favorite bookstores or online shops. Consider linking to the book on review sites such as Goodreads or LibraryThing.

It seems so simple, and yet sometimes, it’s the simple things that are ignored. Scanning through a sampling of author’s book pages for this article, I found pages with only a cover image and no text, pages without purchase information, pages without any contact details, and even a page that never mentioned the author’s name.

The fix? Check-lists. A simple list of everything that a book page should include takes seconds to glance over and ensures we are not missing anything obvious.

  • Author name
  • Book name
  • Cover image
  • Blurb
  • Where to Buy
  • Contact details
  • ISBN
  • Excerpt
  • Reviews

Create a simple page including plain text to make sure that copy-and-paste and search engines work. Or even easier: link to the book on Amazon or Goodreads so that readers have somewhere to find out more. Just remember, other websites can change without notice, so if you are relying on another site to promote your book, you need to check your links regularly.

I believe every website should include a link to a book page, whether it’s an author’s website, a blog, LiveJournal, Facebook page, Pinterest profile — every website! It doesn’t have to be fancy, just as long as it gives our audience enough information to become our fans.

There are millions of readers are out there, endlessly searching for good books to read. As authors, isn’t it our job to make it easy for them?

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Sylvia Spruck Wrigley is a marketing professional with an emphasis on Internet promotions. She’s worked with online communities since 1989. In 1994, she took on the role of Online Marketing Manager at Demon Internet, probably the first in the UK to hold such a position. Since then, she has continued to focus on innovative approaches backed by solid tracking and reporting. She also writes fairy tales when she thinks she can get away with it.

 

4 Responses

  1. C. J. Mills

    Helpful, since I’m coming into learning about marketing my books after ten years with no sales. Especially helpful since the writers I know best are going the social media route, and I’d wondered about the effectiveness of that.

  2. Ibukun

    This is very helpful. Self promotion is not easy.. through blogging many have used this technique but your detailed explanation is a great checklist to use.