How to maintain a web presence
Thanks Helen for having me back again. I love visiting Straight from Hel because Helen always provides very useful and interesting tips for new authors and writers, especially for self-published authors like myself.
I’ve three books released from January last year. My last book Bargain with the Devil reached top 50 best-selling historical romances in Amazon USA. It was a Pride and Prejudice retelling so JA’s name helped the sales. But I’m still amazed with the result since I self published it and didn’t manage to get any physical bookshops to stock the book. All the marketing was done online.
Today, I’d like to share my experience in promoting my books on the Internet with you.
1. Join forums
If you write romance, join some romance fan fiction forums and post some of your short stories for free there. If you write mystery, join the mystery ones. You will get readers to notice your work.
I actually did the reverse. I started out as a fan fiction writer before I turned into self-publishing. The forum I frequent, http://meryton.com/aha is a Jane Austen fan fiction site. It has over 5000 members and I post my short stories there. Each story will get around 1500 hits. So I have a circle of fans from there who love my stories and I’m thrilled that they are willing to buy my books.
But be active! Don’t just visit the forums only when you have a book release. Join and visit the forums as often as you can and with a supporting attitude.
2. Create a blog
You can create a blog within minutes by joining Google blog or Wordpress. It’s a bit better than having a website because your daily or weekly update can be fed to your author page on Amazon, Goodreads, Shelfari, etc.
Google search engine will rank your blog higher when there is update. From experience, the update on my website didn’t get picked up that easily by Google search than from my blog.
I’m happy that I joined the Blog Book Tour yahoo group last May. Dani, Helen and other buddies provided heaps of tips to improve my blog. Here are a few tricks I learned:
• Post at least two or three times a week. If you can post daily, that’s even better.3. Organise a Blog Book Tour
• Write short posts; say around 300 to 500 words. It’s about getting noticed on the Internet. If you tend to write long, break it up into several posts.
• Have a focus with your blog. For example, mine is about spicy stories. Or if you choose not to have a focus, show readers you’re a “human”, by writing your likes and dislikes, your hobbies and interests. Readers like to buy books from authors whom they know more personally, not from a publicist or a marketing machine.
• Have photos (make sure you cite the source) and internal links.
• A good heading will get more search (e.g. Mr. Darcy is A Single Man or Colin Firth is A Single Man, are headings I used to talk about Colin Firth’s latest movies).
• Put a site meter there. Make sure it shows you where the referrals come from. For example, I check my referral at http://sitemeter.com every week and note down some of the key words used by readers who searched and reached my blog. They include steamy stories, quotes about love, vibrators (shocking?!), etc. Then I will write more posts about them in future.
• Don’t be discouraged by low traffic or response. As long as you have visitors, even one or two per week, they still help your sales.
• Comment on other blogs as often as you can and make sure you put your blog address as your siggie. I comment on Jane Austen sites very often (because that’s my interest) and I got a lot of people clicking back to my blog from my siggie.
I had no clue what a BBT was before I joined the yahoo group. With my first book, I searched for book reviewer websites and begged for a review. The result was tiring, time consuming and unsuccessful.
But I learned many tricks from the yahoo group:
• It’s easier to get blog hosts to agree to guest posts and giveaways than getting them to review a book, because blog hosts are snowed in with book review requests too.I can definitely tell you that BBT helps my book sales because sales for Really Angelic only picked up after the BBT started.
• Aim high and get blogs with higher traffic, like 100 visitors a day. Writing guest posts take time and you should aim high so that your time is best rewarded. I managed to get 10 high traffic stops on my last book tour. This time with my latest novel Really Angelic, it’s easier to get the BBT organised because I’ve established rapports with the previous 10 hosts (just one hasn’t replied and another on maternity leave). I had time to approach others and secured three more hosts.
• Look for blog hosts outside of your genre. For example, I managed to secure a stop at a high traffic relationship advice blog for Really Angelic BBT.
• Write relevant guest posts for your hosts. It’s about appealing to the readers of your blog hosts, not just about promoting your books. So for Helen, I write about tips useful for writers. For Julie Lomoe’s Musings Mysterioso, Julie writes psychological mystery so my guest post in her blog is about the psychological relationship of mother and daughter
4. Join Twitter and Facebook
I’m less eloquent with these two social networking tools but there are still visits from people who visit my Twitter and Facebook pages.
I hope the above information helps your next book promotion. Last time when I had my stop here with Helen, I was overseas. But this time, I’ll glue to the computer and reply to your comments sooner (just allow me time for my beauty sleep as I’m from Australia!)
Please share your experience on promoting your books or yourself online here. I’ll give out a copy of Really Angelic: Pride and Prejudice with a paranormal twist to one of the commenters. Thanks Helen for having me here again. You can visit my blog at http://steamydarcy.blogspot.com
Thank you, Enid!
Super information. The panel I was on this past weekend at the Story Circle Network national conference was called Getting Published and it was the definite consensus of the panel that today writers have to get out on the Internet and promote themselves and their book - and they need to set up their platform before the book is published. Enid has given us all some really valuable tips on how to do that.
Visit the comment section and leave her a note or ask a question. And don’t forget the book giveaway.