by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban
Today, I have invited Shelli Johannes-Wells to join me.
Shelli is a YA/MG writer who runs a wonderful marketing blog for authors “Market my Words” (www.faeriality.blogspot.com) I highly recommend.
Shelli has, kindly, agreed to answer my questions about the best strategies for authors to promote their books. Her answers were so thorough and insightful, I have decided to share them with you, my readers, in two posts, so you can digest them at leisure.
Please read on.
CFE. As an author with no previous experience on sales, I am baffled by the marketing part of the business. So I was somehow relieved when someone as knowledgeable as Alvina Ling, Executive Editor at Little Brown (Young Readers) said in answer to your question “what do you feel is most important in promoting books? What doesn’t seem to work?
“To be honest, the longer I’m in the business, the more clueless I am about what works and what doesn’t. It really seems like a crap shoot to me. I know this isn’t a great answer–but it’s the truth!”
Do you agree with Ms. Ling’s answer?
SJW. I think a lot of people do not know how to organize so they do just throw stuff out there. I think you can organize your marketing so it is relevant, not too expensive and very targeted. I’ll say this – if you don’t do anything, you can be sure it won’t work. But if you do everything and it’s just random, it’s not worth the time either. It needs to be to the point and specific.
CFE. Even if it’s hard to guess what works or not when promoting your book, what steps would you recommend to an author whose book has already being released?
SJW. First, I think every author needs a web presence. That should be first and can be done way before you get published.
The author needs to organize and write down 3-5 target audiences. Not just teens, schools, bookstores and libraries. But really think about who they are targeting. The niche’s their book touches.
Then I think the author needs to come up with a plan of attack for each target audience and decide what will reach them in the most effective way.
CFE. I have heard an author must have a blog. So my question is, what can the author do, in the way of advertising, to increase the traffic to his/her site?
SJW. Actually I DON’T think a blog is a must for everyone. Web site – I would say yes. But anything after that needs to be what the author feels comfortable with and it needs to be purposeful. If you start a blog and only post once a month, it’s a waste of time if networking is what you want out of it.
Now, if you do have a blog and want to increase traffic – you need to think of it as relationship building and go out and meet people. Kinda like – you wont get a date if you dont talk to guys. Does that make sense. A few easy ways to build traffic are: post regularly, visit others and comment, and have short posts that are timely. Don’t plug yourself all the time. Do it to meet others and they will come 🙂 Of course – you can always read up on SEO optimization and making sure your blogs are listed in places like STUMBLEUPON or technorati.
CFE. What is more productive in your opinion, running contests on your blog or commenting on other authors/possible readers blogs? Other suggestions.
SJW. Any of it. To me, if you are genuine and give back, people come by. Show your voice, run contests, meet your followers and your blog will grow over time. It does take time. Just like Rome, no blog was built overnight (wow am I profound or what today? :L)
To be continued…