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- Online Marketing
Promoting yourself and your work on-line
involves just as much time and effort as the off-line
techniques, but it is a worthwhile step in contributing
to the overall awareness of you and your work. The main
advantage to promoting yourself online is that you have
the opportunity to begin creating a "brand-name"
for yourself, thus ensuring that readers are following
you as an author, and not just your book.
There are so many available options on the Internet these
days that it would be impossible for me to list them all,
but here are a few to get you started.
Create your own website. Or, if you don't know how to,
pay someone to create it for you. There are plenty of
servers and web-hosts around these days offering site-building
facilities that are fairly easy to master, so you don't
need to become a html-expert. Just click and drag the
bits around your page until it looks right, and you have
a basic page!
When you are designing your site, remember less is always
more. You want your site to appear professional, so take
care not to go too crazy with the bright colors and weird fonts. Also, keep
pictures and graphics to a minimum where possible. They
take ages to download, and a bored surfer will not wait
for a page that takes too long to appear. You are more
likely to lose a potential customer.
To get you started, here are a few servers providing free
web-page hosting as well as site-building facilities.
Bravenet.com - This is quite a helpful
service, offering tutorials and heaps of webmaster
freebies, lots of goodies to spice up any page, as well
as the free web space.
Homestead.com - Offers an easy,
interactive site-builder that will see your homepage up
and running in no time
Freeservers.com - although their
site building range is quick and easy, their advertising
banner is quite large and becomes very annoying.
Geocities.com - Easy to use,
easier to maintain, but remembering the long web-address
(URL) they give you can be tricky, and their pop-up
advertising can get annoying.
Of course, there are plenty of others around, but these
seem to have the simplest, quickest, most effective
systems for the beginner to master.
Create a signature for all your emails which includes a
link directly to your site. People see this every time
you email them, which is a much less invasive method of
promotion than actively sending them the URL.
This is the one I use for all email:
The online magazine for writers
Email friends and family. Tell them about your book, or
the impending publication of your next short story or
article. Do not be tempted to send this same information
to people you don't know. You could be accused of spam,
and that can damage a reputation.
Join online writer's communities, workshops and mailing
lists. This can be an invaluable way to 'meet' other
writers from all over the world who can share your
experiences and understand your needs. I actually met
Fiction Factor's assistant editor, Tina, in an online
Don't actively push your work to them - they won't
appreciate it. Try to become a member of the community.
Offer help where you can, and make friends. You might
even generate a few sales out of loyalty here, but only
if your methods are subtle. Let your email signature do
the promoting while you handle the friend-making.
Subscribe to newsgroups that discuss the topics or genre
of your book. Join in with the discussions and encourage
the other members to visit your site.
Produce your own newsletter. Fill it with content related
to your work, your specific genre, or the issues that
your book explores. Include links directing readers to
your site. Visitors should be given a choice whether or
not they wish to subscribe. This is called an "opt-in"
list - meaning that you cannot just add the addresses of
anyone you want into your mailing list.
Submit your website's URL to every search engine you can
think of. Don't rely on the free URL submitters that are
popping up everywhere. It may be beneficial to do it by
hand and do some homework on keywords and meta-tags. This
is not as tricky as it sounds, so don't be put off.
Approach other site-owners and ask if they will be
willing to display your link if you agree to also display
theirs on your site.
Reviews are a fertile source of sales. Approach some of
the online publications that deal with your type of work
and offer your book for review. Many publications have
enormous followings and membership numbers, so a good
review may boost your sales.
And the best form of online promotion is...
Contribute to online publications.
There are thousands of online publications available
these days. Writing an article or submitting a short
story will increase reader familiarity with your name and
your work. This means that you will be taking advantage
of another ezines advertising, and reaching that 'zine's
audience. This form of online advertising might also have
the benefit of paying you a few dollars for your words.
Most importantly, many publications include a contributor
bio, in which you have the opportunity to mention your
book or add your site's link. Use this opportunity well,
and watch your traffic climb!
I'm sure you can come up with plenty of other ideas to
promote your work online that I've missed. Be creative,
but most importantly, be professional about it.
Putting a link to your sales-page on a website, or
relying on people to randomly see your book on the shelf
during a casual visit to the local bookstore isn't going
to make your book a best-seller. And chances are all the
promotion in the world might not either.
But, by taking your marketing into your own hands, you
are guaranteeing that your sales are going to far out-weigh
anything a single title on a crowded bookshelf can
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