Book Marketing on the Internet: Sites for Writers

A. F. Stewart is a writer of fantasy stories and poetry. Stewart has been writing for several years, periodically interrupted by those pesky events called life. Stewart has three published books: one volume of poetry, a short story collection and a non-fiction booklet about action movies. All are currently available at Lulu.com. Stewart graciously shares what she has learned about book marketing sites: 

A comparison of the three social sites I have joined (Squidoo is not included, because we all know it is just wonderful), and list the most useful aspects I’ve found:

1- MySpace:

THE GOOD:
-Lets you categorize both your page and your blog posts under a writing category.
-Comes with a blog that can be used for promotion or posting online writing, or both.
-Fairly easy to post links, banners, widgets and other promotional tools to your page.
-Excellent place to connect with other writers, editors, writing services, etc. Just beware of scams(that is a hazard on any social networking site).
-Easy to find new friends and contacts, and groups; their search is excellent.
-Easy to maintain, without annoyance.
THE BAD:
-Spam mail. My advice just delete it.
-Occasional glitches in the profile editor.
-They have had problems with profile hacking (although I have never had a problem)

2- Gather.com:

THE GOOD:
-Easy set up and has a nice profile page.
-Promotes publishing articles, pictures, videos, and your articles get on Google.
-Excellent network of authors, unpublished writers, and writers who are dabbling. You can give and get useful feedback and advice.
-Great place to establish a list of articles, and get a voice on the internet, or do a little shameless promotion.
-Great writing groups you can join.
THE BAD:
-sporadic glitches in the article editor, and in other features.
-occasional lack of interest in articles. My advice: Use the spotlight feature for your post.
-A limited help section.

3- Facebook:

THE GOOD:
-If you are an author you can (if fact should) create a fan page as well as your profile page. On the fan page you should post links to your books and sites, add widgets, and interact with your fans. You can also send out updates when you add to your fan page.
– Many writing groups to join, or create your own.
THE BAD:
-Annoying applications
-Not easy to find new friends, or preview profiles.
-Glitches galore
-Cannot realistically post articles or stories.

I also recommend joining Twitter, Stumble, and the bookmark site Del.icio.us.

SITES SPECIFICALLY FOR WRITERS: 

A list of websites designed to showcase authors and writers

Here is a list of good sites where writers and authors can publish profiles, samples of their work, and their books.

1- AuthorsDen :
An excellent place to put your author profile and post books; it gets you a link on Google.
Features both a free subscription and a paid upgraded subscription. The free subscription is limited, but not overly and the paid upgrade has three levels; the Bronze being quite reasonable at $40/yr.

2- WritersCafe.org: A wonderful site for writers to post their books, writing samples and their profile. They encourage feedback between their members, and it’s free to join.

3- WritersNet: It’s free to join, and you can post a profile and your books. The site also lists editors, agents, publishers and writing resources.

4- Nothing Binding: It’s free to join, and you get a personal profile page. There are also writer’s groups you can join, and media add-ons you can purchase.

5- Ebooks Cafe: It’s free to join. It allows you to post a short profile and your books to the site.

6- Self Publishers Place: A relatively new site where self published authors can post their book information. Free to use, and there is a writers discussion forum.

Review Sites 

A list of book review sites. Many list independently or small press published books, and some offer promotional or editing services.

Rebecca’s Reads
A book review and publicity service serving the reading audience, authors, publishers, publicists and buyers/sellers.
The Compulsive Reader
Reviews of books by some of the hottest writers working today, exclusive author interviews, literary news and criticism.
The Midwest Book Review
The Midwest Book Review is an organization of volunteers committed to promoting literacy, library usage, and small press publishing. The Midwest Book Review gives priority consideration to small press publishers, self-published authors, and academic presses.
The Muse Book Reviews
The Muse Book Reviews reviews a variety of books and accepts books from self-published authors, traditional or POD published authors.
Armchair Interviews
Features book reviews and author interviews, with helpful articles and links.
Bitten by Books
A site featuring paranormal fiction. Has reviews, interviews, contests, etc.
Welcome to Scribe & Quill ~ The site for all writers!
Writer’s resource that includes articles for writers, writing courses, book reviews and news and information for writers of all genres.
Reader Views
Book reviews of all genres. Also provide editing and publicity services, literary awards, contests and book giveaway.
New Mystery Reader Magazine
Introducing a new mystery magazine featuring information on new mystery releases. Includes mystery book reviews of new mystery releases, mystery short stories, and recommendations.
Road to Romance
Romantic and Women’s Fiction: For Readers and Writers of Romantic and Women’s Fiction Books
BookLoons
Your corner bookstore in the global village with book reviews across genres, columns and contests, and sections for teen books and children’s books. 

Book Marketing Tips From A. F. Stewart

A. F. Stewart is a writer of fantasy stories and poetry. Stewart has been writing for several years, periodically interrupted by those pesky events called life. Stewart has three published books: one volume of poetry, a short story collection and a non-fiction booklet about action movies. All are currently available at Lulu.com.

Here’s what Stewart has learned (the hard way):

A quick how-to guide on book marketing, for those who have no funds for professionals.

The Must Have Items:

1. A Website
2. A Press Kit (online and/or for mailing out)
3. A Media Kit for individual books
4. A Press Release

* A Website:

Find a webhost. There are free hosts out there, (Geocities and Bravenet, for instance, and of course Squidoo), as well as inexpensive ones. Just make sure they are reputable.

You will have to decide whether you are going to use CSS or HTML; either way it is a good idea to become familiar with both forms. (Just use Google, there are a lot of tutorials out there). I recommend CSS, it is more confusing to edit, but it gives a nicer website.
As for editing, it can be done in notepad.

Use a website template. It will make creating a website far easier. Some webhosts provide you with free templates, but there are other places to find them as well.

Meta tags. Use them: title, description, keywords. They can be useful for search engines, and they don’t hurt.

Add webtools. Whether you get from your webhost or another source, they are handy things. You can add a newsletter, forms (for surveys, contest entries, etc.), a guestbook, a message forum, polls.

Add your books to your site. Post pictures and weblinks so people can see and buy your books, or if you can, use a widget (Some publishers have widgets that link to your books). Also add any links to reviews or other sites that have your book info. Put book excerpts on your site, plus any book freebies such as brochures, flyers, media kits, etc. And list any future books; you never know who will be interested.

A link page. Now you can add one or not, but I’ve found a lot of free directories want a reciprocal link, and it makes it easier if your links are on one page. Also, you may wish to offer a link exchange with other writing sites, or other authors.

To see what I’ve done go here:
Afallon Website
Enter Afallon

* A Press Kit:

This is for promoting yourself as an author. You will need:

* A short Biography of yourself, written in the third person.
* A good quality photo of yourself. (Although I did use an icon in my online press kit.)
* A list of your books, with all their information and a good synopsis. Also including any good reviews won’t hurt.
* A list of any awards or accolades, if you have any.
* A list of your writer’s groups
* A contact list; email, websites. (If you are mailing a press kit, you may wish to include a phone number.)
* For an online press kit, add a link to your blog.
* Freebies such as flyers, brochures. (Hard copy for mailing , downloadable for the online kit). And if you are mailing your kits out, throw in a business card.

You can have a separate site for your online press kit, or simply make it a page of your website.

To see what I’ve done go here:
My Press Kit

* A Media Kit:

I use this as a press kit for each book. I include:

* A fancy cover page. A pretty design, with the name of the book, my name, the date and where I published.
* A cover sheet. It includes a short descriptive blurb about the book, and a list of the media kit’s contents.
* A photo of the book cover
* A fact sheet on the book. It includes a description of the book, the publisher, where it is available, the price and the product details. (such as copyright, page length, binding, etc.)
* Any book reviews
* An Excerpt from the book
* An sample author interview, in the form of a Q and A. (This is only for the online version.)
* The book’s press release

You can find my media kits on my website or at my online press kit.

* A Press Release:

I use the free online press release services like Sanepr and PRlog. You will need a press release for each book, and you can also send out releases for book events, the launch of your website, for winning awards, etc.

For a how-to on writing a press release go here:

Press release tips
OR
Write a proper press release

A Sell Sheet 

(also called a tip sheet)

A sell sheet is a cross between a flyer and a fact sheet. It is usually one page, designed to catch the eye and promote your product, in this case your book.
It can be used for promotion at events, sent to bookstores/libraries, or added to press kits.
It most often consists of:
The book title and book cover thumbnail
Book Facts
Book Synopsis
Reviews
Marketing strategy such as book tours, appearances, book signings, advertising, etc.
Contact and buying information
Author Biography

You can have your sell sheet designed for you, or you can attempt your own using Microsoft Word or Powerpoint. I recommend using Microsoft Office Powerpoint.

How To Advertise Yourself as an Author

A. F. Stewart is a writer of fantasy stories and poetry. Stewart has been writing for several years, periodically interrupted by those pesky events called life. Stewart has three published books: one volume of poetry, a short story collection and a non-fiction booklet about action movies. All are currently available at Lulu.com 

Here are Stewart’s free or cheap marketing wisdoms for marketing a book online:

1. Get a Website: An essential selling tool. You can sell your books directly from the site via links, or you can set up a store of your own. (It can be done, there are helpful sites that show you how).
There are plenty of free, or inexpensive hosting sites that you can use for your site. I went with Bravenet.com; you get some nice free website add-ons, such as hit counter, guestbook, email forms, etc. If you would like a look at my site here it is: Afallon Website

2. Get an Online Press Kit: You need to sell yourself and your book. This is an excellent way to do it. Create a bio, book list, post your reviews, press releases and any other promotional stuff.

3. Join the online social networking: Get your presence as an author out on the World Wide Web. Join Squidoo, MySpace, Facebook, Gather.com, AuthorsDen, or any other writing form that suits your needs.

4. Promotional freebies: It is not to difficult to create your own brochures or flyers, (using a program such as Powerpoint), that you can make available for a free download. And a definite must is a downloadable Media Kit for your book.

5. Book Trailer: You can get a professionally done book trailer, (if you look there are inexpensive options) or do your own. Windows Movie Maker can be use to make an interesting promo with some imagination.

6. Write Articles: Excellent way to spread your name as a writer. There are plenty of places to post them for free.

7. Get a Blog: Write your opinions, your experiences, post excerpts from your books, write online stories, whatever.

Trying to market your books, and make a name for yourself as an author can be tough, especially if you self-publish. And it can be expensive, if you listen to all the big marketing companies. They are loads of sites that try to sell you on their new and improved, breakthrough system, guaranteed to get you sales or bring traffic to your website. Maybe they can, but they usually cost hundreds of dollars.
So, I went looking for free advertising. And, yes you can find it, but you get what you pay for. I tried some of the free classifieds, the ads where you put code in your website, places where you can add banners, the advertising forums; basically a waste of time. Skip the freebie advertising.
Now for the free stuff that does seem to work.

Advertising your Website:

1. Put the URL in as many places as you can: on your blog, social networking sites, press releases, emails, media kits, website guestbooks, generally anything that goes public. And don’t forget to put it in your books.

2. Get in the search engines. Submit to Google, Yahoo, DMOZ, etc. Submit manually or use free search engine submission. Just keep in mind the free search engine submission sites also have pay versions and will try to sell you on those. Free bulk submission is easier, but I have found free manual submissions work better.

3. Get indexed by Google and Yahoo. You have to be indexed to use their helpful website monitoring tools.

4. Get Links. One useful way is link exchange. Link Market is an excellent free link exchange site, and you can pick and choose who goes on your site. And do not put just any link on your website, make sure they relate to your site in some way.

5. Submit your URL to free directories. You will have to this manually, but get it out there. Do a Search, and find those directories. There are several niche directories to which you can add your website.

6. Advertise your website with a free press release. Tell the world that you exist, and what you are all about. If you would like to see an example, my press release can be viewed here: Press Release

7. Hold a contest. I’ve created several contests and posted all on Grandma Jam’s Sweepstakes Guide to advertise. I got interest, and website traffic.
My Contest Page

8. Join webrings. Find rings that pertain to your website and join. It gets you on Google.

9. Join one of those online bookmark sites, and add your own website. I’ve joined del.icio.us and Stumble.

And if you have a special site, or preview page, for your book, make certain to list it in the directories and search engines as well. Also add to your online bookmarks.