I’m going to give you what I think is a must-do list, keeping in mind a self-published author who has a limited amount of money to spend on marketing.
First, let me tell you what I think you should no longer be spending money on: bookmarks and postcards.
I mistakenly spent money on this in the spring of 2008 for my novel “Mrs. Lieutenant” because this is what my Jewish holiday book co-author and I had done in 1992.
In 1992 it made sense when we sent postcards to Jewish organizations throughout the United States.
In 2008 I unexpectedly learned about online book marketing when “Mrs. Lieutenant” was a semi-finalist in the first Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition. That’s when I realized how much cheaper and more efficient it was to use online marketing. (And I still have all those postcards and bookmarks I purchased for the novel.)
One offline item still worth having is business cards with the URL of the book author website. You want something to hand out when you talk to people in person. But I think it is better to hand out something that people are still used to getting rather than hand out a postcard that they probably don’t know what to do with.
And now we come to what I consider the most essential element of all book author marketing – the foundation for everything else:
An effective book author website that you control yourself (see below). In addition, this is a website that is NOT built to win a design contest (please, no Flash) but is built to be user friendly and search engine friendly and attract people to your book.
I walked away from the first website for “Mrs. Lieutenant” because, each time I wanted a new page added, I had to wait for the webmaster to do this – and pay him for his time. (Yes, it is fair to pay him for his time.)
I wanted to be able to do this for myself.
And just when I wanted to be able to do this, some smart people had figured out how to use WordPress blogging software to create websites with static pages as well as a blog section.
The co-founder of my company (and my younger daughter) Yael Miller taught herself how to build WordPress websites and then built a www.mrslieutenant.com WordPress website. (She also built a WordPress website for her own Middle Grade novel project – see www.hurricanehoodoo.com)
While you probably don’t want to spend the time to learn how to set up your own self-hosted WordPress site, once it is set up and you have learned to do such simple tasks as clicking the button that says “add page” – you are in control of your own site.
Of course on that site you have, at the minimum, a link to the book’s Amazon sales page and questions for book club discussion. (Yes, write these questions.)
Plus now you have a URL to use throughout the online universe to encourage people to visit your book author website and learn more about your book.
For example, if you leave a comment on someone’s blog post, you can put the URL of your website underneath your name at the end of the comment. Be sure to include the http:// because some sites require this in order to make the link hot.
And now this link can be used on your Twitter profile, your Facebook personal profile, a Facebook (business) Page, your LinkedIn personal profile, and your YouTube channel (where you upload a 1-2 minute video of you talking about your book).
All of these sites are important for interacting with your prospective book fans. But you don’t have to start participating on all of them all at once. You can add a new social media site to your repertoire one at a time.
Do take advantage of the free options at www.BookBuzzr.com – a company I’ve been connected to (NOT financially) for two years. Starting in January BookBuzzr (see @BookBuzzr on Twitter) has been offering free social media webinars for authors. You’ll find good book author marketing content on the company blog at www.bookbuzzr.com/blog/
Finally, as you are a writer, I would highly recommend you yourself blog.
While nonfiction authors appear to have an easier time finding a topic on which to blog (whatever their book is about), fiction authors (hey, you are on Joylene’s blog right now) have numerous topics on which to blog.
Author Carolyn Howard-Johnson and I have written a free report on ideas for blogging if you are a fiction writer. You can get the report at www.FictionMarketing.com (yet again a WordPress website built by Yael).
I’ve covered a great deal of information in this guest post. Just take it slowly and be willing to learn as you go along. (I did say on a BookBuzzr panel about Twitter to NOT wait until your book comes out to start harnessing social media opportunities. Instead start now making online relationships.)
And if you get the free report that Carolyn and I wrote, you’ll be on the Miller Mosaic email list. You’ll get about one email a week from me with information that can help you use social media to market your books.
The most important thing? Start now doing something from the above “list” that will get you in front of your prospective book fans.
Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) is the co-founder of the social media marketing company Miller Mosaic, LLC. The company also builds WordPress websites for clients – see www.millermosaicllc.com/call-to-action-websites – and Phyllis is working on the novel “Lt. Commander Mollie Sanders” (see www.MollieSanders.com – yet another WordPress book author website built by Yael).