Guest Expert: Phyllis Zimbler Miller
Thanks to the online marketing opportunities made available by the Internet, authors with little or no marketing budgets can level the playing field with authors who have huge marketing budgets.
Yet before authors can truly take advantage of online marketing opportunities, these authors need a home base that they can totally control themselves.
While it is an excellent part of an online book marketing plan to have your book on sites such as freado.com, you need one place where you can publish whatever material you want about your book. (This includes a place to post book signings.)
A WordPress website provides this opportunity as well as providing a blogging platform.
Let’s start by clarifying what we are talking about. WordPress.com is a hosted blogging platform on which you can have a blog. But you do not control this site and must abide by the WordPress.com blogging rules.
WordPress.org (known simply as WordPress) is a self-hosted blogging platform that can also be a website with static pages. Once your WordPress site is up you can totally control it, adding pages and posts with a couple of clicks. (Yes, there is a learning curve just as there was when you started using Word.)
Now if you are a writer you should definitely be blogging. You want to showcase your writing as well as have an opportunity to interact with fans when they leave comments on your blog posts. In addition, search engines love fresh content, and blogging two or three times a week provides this fresh content.
And, yes, at first it appears that nonfiction authors have the upper hand in blogging. These authors can blog about their nonfiction topics and even easily publish excerpts of their books as posts.
But truly there are numerous topics about which fiction writers can blog. For example, these topics can be related to the main subject area of your novel. (I blog on military-related topics at www.mrslieutenant.blogspot.com in connection with my novel “Mrs. Lieutenant.”)
Some fiction writers blog about writing in general or share excerpts of their fiction writing on their blogs. If you would like more blogging ideas for fiction writers, see the free report that Carolyn Howard-Johnson and I wrote at www.fictionmarketing.com
Here are some important elements to have on your book author website:
- Make it clear the moment someone lands on your website whether your book is fiction or nonfiction and whether it is upcoming or already published.
- If published, make it really easy to spot the “buy” button (this button or link should be “above the fold” – before a person has to scroll down your home page).
- Include prominently displayed links to your social media profiles such as on Twitter and Facebook so fans can connect with you online besides at your website.
- Include a photo of the cover of your book.
- Include downloadable book discussion guidelines – yes, make it easy for book clubs to read your book.
- Include an excerpt of your book.
- Offer reviews of your book.
- Provide information about you the author.
- Feature an email opt-in box to capture email addresses.
When considering how to get a WordPress website that will work for you, be aware that there are WordPress websites and then there are WordPress websites.
What I mean by this is that there is a wide range of prices for getting a WordPress website up and running. Unsuspecting authors can get what they consider are great-looking sites, but these sites may not be search engine optimized. In other words, the sites may not have been set up to attract the search engines.
My company Miller Mosaic Power Marketing has established a collaboration with Doron Orenstein of Magnetic Webworks in which Doron builds search-engine optimized WordPress websites. (See http://budurl.com/ultrapro )
For each website that Doron builds he gives the website owner a $50 gift certificate to Kiva.org . Plus each website owner gets ongoing access to how-to videos created by my company to help people effectively use their WordPress website.
And when should you have a book author website?
The sooner the better. Yes, the optimum time to have the website and start blogging is way before your book is published. You want to use the lead time to create strong relationships with potential fans so they will be eagerly awaiting the publication of your book.
Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of the novel www.MrsLieutenant.com and has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is a co-founder of the social media marketing company www.MillerMosaicPowerMarketing.com You can download her FREE report “Twitter, Facebook and Your Website: A Beginning Blueprint for Harnessing the Power of 3” at www.millermosaicpowerof3.com