Guest Blogger: Sue Brower from Zondervan
Internet Marketing for Authors
I can only be described as “technology challenged” when it comes to the latest and greatest on the Internet. Yet, I know that the Internet offers a multitude of ways to promote your books and to develop a community of fans. It’s more than just gathering email addresses for a newsletter, it’s a way for the reader to get to know you and engage with you beyond the words on the printed page. Spooky, isn’t it?
There are many Internet applications that help you, the writer, to establish a fan base and promote your books. I’m only going to touch on a few of them.
Blogging can be a terrific way to attract an audience or it can be a useful tool for procrastination. It all depends on what you have to say. Rachelle does a great job of discussing the pros and cons of blogging on her Oct. 7 posting. I want to discuss your blog content. I love Rachelle’s blog. It imparts information and provides a means for discussing critical questions regarding the profession and craft of writing. She shares her opinions and encourages dialog. Her blog is worth my valuable time to read on a consistent basis. Can you say the same for yours?
My pet peeve is to see an author turn valuable blog space into a book review site. I know, if you promote Jane Doe’s books to your fans, she will promote your book to her fans. The “blog tour” has become a key component on most marketing plans. I just get frustrated when I want to want to learn more about a favorite author and instead find a commercial for someone else’s book. Do you realize you are spending your precious writing time promoting other people’s books? AND, you’ve lost an opportunity to dialog with your reader when they have proactively sought you out? Think about who you want your audience to be and how you want to interact with them, then blog accordingly.
Websites are an absolute necessity for every author. If you are not adept at creating your own page, it’s worth the money to hire it done by a professional. The most successful example of an author website I can give you for developing an online fan community is Karen Kingsbury’s. Hers is the ultimate in community, and a good role model for any author. But if you’re a newer author, you won’t want to start that big. Keep it simple and easy to navigate like new author Amy Clipston’s website. Make frequent changes so that your fans are interested in coming back consistently. Instead of writing a blog, spend the time to keep the content on your website fresh. What to put on your website? I like to see more about my favorite characters, or an inside look at how the author gets their ideas for their books. Pictures of settings, recipes, character back story, anything extra will add value to the reading experience and encourage your fans to come to the website to interact with you and other fans.
Facebook is a great way to keep fans up-to-date on the latest news about your books. You can set up a “personal” page or a “celebrity” page, join groups of similar themes, and it takes much less time than either a website or blogging. This is a great place for directing folks to your website for more information, building relationships, announcing your books. And this can be done before you ever sell your book. Facebook is my personal favorite because I understand it best. There are other social networking sites that work well also.
Just don’t let yourself get caught up in too many Internet activities. It’s easy to just justify putting off the writing in order to work on blogs and websites. “I’m promoting my book!” Let me remind you that if you haven’t finished your book, there is not book to promote.
Sue Brower is Editorial Director for Fiction at Zondervan. She loves reading and she can’t believe she gets paid to do it all day!