Online marketing for authors is much like online marketing for any business or brand. Social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook are effective for connecting and engaging with your community, while traditional methods, such as word of mouth (in particular reviews) are what lead to sales.
In general, social media is best for building up your audience, influencing a sale (through likes and reviews), increasing awareness of titles and positioning yourself as an expert. Email and discoverability through search are best for driving sales.
So how do authors build an online platform to sell books?
5 Steps to Building an Author Platform Online
1. Website & Blog
Set up a website and blog. WordPress is a popular publishing platform that is fairly easy to use. You’ll want to hire someone to set up and design your website for you. Your website is your homebase and should have everything someone needs to know to buy your book and write about you. Your website should include:
- Contact information
- Books and links to buy
- Author Bio
- Photos of events
- Links to press mentions
- Blog: Make sure to post regularly (create an editorial calendar to help with writer’s blog) and include sharable content—such as videos, previews, and excerpts. Write about your titles, events and topics related to your titles. Chris Brogan also has a good tip: Write a blog post that lists all the places someone can buy your book. (Also: How long should my blog post be?)
- Media Resources: A media resources page is meant to make it easy for bloggers and journalists to write about you and your books. This page should include all the background information and pictures necessary to review your book as well as a link to request a review copy.
- Links to other places to find you online—for example, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.
2. Email Newsletter
Once you have a blog, create an email newsletter. Add a newsletter sign up link on your site so that readers can subscribe to receive updates in their inboxes. Email newsletters are one of the best ways to drive sales. People have signed up to hear from you and are receptive to your message. Make it easy for them to buy by including buy links directly in your newsletters. For more help, read our 5 Essential Email Marketing Tips.
3. Social Networking & Outreach
Once you have a website and email newsletter set up, start connecting with your readers on social networks. Use social networking tools to drive traffic to your site and build and engage your community. Here are best practices for building an audience on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
4. Ask for Reviews
Once all of the pieces are set up for you to connect with your audience (website and blog, email newsletter, and social media presence) focus on building reviews. Reviews are important for discoverability and act as social proof or reinforcement that your book is worth buying. Reviews are especially important for new authors who don’t have other titles or an established fan base. Solicit reviews from family, friends and social media fans and offer review copies to influential readers. Here is our YouTube video tip on how to ask for reviews.
Make the best use of your marketing time by ensuring you are putting effort into the right areas. Plan, measure, improve:
- Set up Google Alerts to monitor mentions of your name, book titles and keywords related to your titles.
- Use Hootsuite for managing your social networks and set up search streams for keyword search phrases related to your book.
- Make any really important links you are sharing via social media trackable with a URL shortener, such as Hootsuite’s Ow.ly or bitly so that you know exactly how many people click on your links.
- Use Google Analytics to monitor your website traffic. Once Google Analytics is set up, make sure to use annotations and set up goal tracking.
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