In a recent online marketing workshop, I discussed the need to take advantage of online opportunities. Some of these ventures may require costs, while others are free. I will layout both options further down. The most important factor with online promotion is time management. You don’t want to start too early, but you certainly don’t want to wait until the last minute.
I've been working with authors for about ten years on the web and graphic design front. It's amazing to me how many authors seek me for design services right before or after their book has been released. The days of getting by without an online presence have clearly been over for several years now. Whether you are an author or a business person, you can't afford not to be web savvy.
Now I don't know too many authors who have a tremendous amount of free time to devote to marketing. Most of us don't live as hermits. Some may still work nine to five jobs. Even if you do have the opportunity to write full-time, I've noticed many authors supplement their income by providing services like editing, teaching or design work. Plus there are even more important priorities such as taking care of your family. You also may have obligations to church or volunteer work. Managing your time is essential.
Whether you are a published author or an aspiring writer, let's pretend the ink is dry on your contract and you have received word of your book release date. In nine months, your baby is going to be placed on bookshelves nationwide. Should you sit around and daydream about your bestseller? Not! Now is the time to get down to business to increase your odds of selling your book well in the marketplace.
What is this Going to Cost?
DO NOT think for one minute your book will sell itself. Do your research. Research should technically start while you’re writing the book. This will help alleviate some pain and disappointment later.
As you make note of costs, start a notebook or a spreadsheet for your budget. Whether you received an advance from a traditional publisher or you have saved money for self-publishing, you need to set aside money. Money talks and you need to know what you have to work with for marketing.
Some services you need to research as far as costs are:
a. Publicists/PR Service – You many need some help with the marketing. Ask around for references and don’t be afraid to ask hard questions about services provided. Will they write and send press releases for your? Do they offer eblasts services?
b. Website – Without a doubt you need a Website. I urge you to secure the domain name you desire as early as possible. It’s also a smart idea to pay a few years in advance. You will save time by not having to worry about “annoying” renewal notices.
If you want to hire a professional to design your site, you should plan to have your site online at least six months or more before your book is released. This will allow you time to promote the site and generate a mailing list for interested readers.
c. Online Ads – You will want to research the costs of placing banner ads and/or sending eblasts through book promotion companies. Before you plop down your money, make sure to ask if you can get any statistical data like the number of hits or banner clicks. This will help you plan better for your next book campaign.
It’s also probably a good idea to plan to use these services three times. The number three seems to be the charm with people picking up on your advertisement. So, if you choose banner ad placement on a literary site, plan for at least three months.
Don’t be scared to look for ad placement on websites other than literary or book sites. If domestic violence is in your book, remember October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. See if you can get your ad on a specialty site or included as a feature. Think ahead on how to get the most from your online ad campaigns. Don’t just blindly throw your money away.
d. Handouts/Mailings (Postcards, Flyers) – Print promotion is important, so I definitely want to be sure to mention it. Look for unique ways to spend your money. Most readers can always use a bookmark. Be sure your print and web design branding match.
What Can I Do for Free?
Okay, by now your head may be spinning with how much you are going to have to budget for marketing. Remember I’m just discussing online costs – so don’t forget your offline costs.
What can I do for free? Well, there’s a ton of stuff you can do online, but I’m going to recommend the easiest and that’s social networking. The key word is TIME.
I can try to explain Social Networking, but this video is more fun to watch.http://www.tywebbin.com/next/2007/06/what-is-social-networking/
You are probably already familiar with several types of social networks.
· Twitter.com (micro-blogging or status update)
· Ning.com (There are a ton of specialty Ning sites)
· YouTube.com (Video-based)
· Utterli.com (Audio-based)
· Snapvine.com (Audio-based)
I could go on, but the point of this article was not to overwhelm you. You can easily sign-up for a ton of social networks and never really use them effectively. My recommendation. Choose five (I already bolded them above) and spend quality time within each social network. This may mean spending one hour five days a week or spending a Sunday afternoon. However you can fit it into your schedule, make time.
That means don’t just drop into say, “Hey, I have a book coming out. Buy it now!” Most people might call that spam. Find at least two networks you are most comfortable with and spent time developing relationships. Share your experiences with people you may never meet in person, but who may read your book. These are your potential INFUENCERS. Remember the number one form of advertisement of all time (and it’s free) is word of mouth.
I hope I have given you some food for thought as you put together your book marketing plan. Take advantage of the huge opportunities online, but be sure to do it efficiently and most of all have fun.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tyora Moody is a writer and web developer. The owner of Tywebbin Creations is also a social network enthusiast. You can find her online at two of her favorite networks, Facebook and Twitter. For more marketing tips and ideas, be sure to stop by the NEXT LEVEL Marketing blog at http://www.tywebbin.com/next.