Excerpted from: 90+ Days of Promoting Your Book Online
IF YOU’RE JUST TUNING IN, please start on PART 1 HERE.
When you see a + next to any specific day in the book, it indicates an ongoing marketing activity, one that you’ll need to perform repeatedly while you continue to promote your book. Please refer to the chapter titled “AFTER 90 DAYS: YOUR BOOK’S DAILY MARKETING PLAN” for a recommend schedule of these ongoing marketing activities.
If you already have your own website, you might be tempted to skip to the next chapter. Please don’t because there are a few nuggets below.
If your book was traditionally published, you need to have your own website where you can publish your own writing, create your own marketing, correspond with readers, and more. Do not allow your publisher to be responsible for, or in any way whatsoever have control over your website. You should direct all potential readers to your website first, not your publisher’s.
If your book is self-published, it is imperative that you not fall for the “author’s website” your publisher may try to upsell you on. You must have a website with your own website address (“URL” or Uniform Resource Locator) that you own and control. It doesn’t matter whether your website is only one page or several. You must have one. We don’t care how great your publisher makes their “book page,” or “author page,” or “author site” or whatever they call it sound. You must own it outright, and have current and future control over the pages to which you are referring all future buyers in all your press and marketing efforts. Why? Here’s an example:
Andy Author published his book with a self-publishing company. Sure, he’d read lots of bad comments about the company online but they were one of the biggest so, really, what could go wrong? He paid them over $1,500 to publish his book, and then let them talk him into buying one of their “author websites” for another few hundred, plus a $30 monthly website hosting fee.
Andy was an effective self-promoting author. Once his book was published, he participated in online interviews, radio shows, and even landed a couple of local television appearances. He started to get noticed and people were buying his book. Because of his marketing prowess, literally hundreds of websites mentioned his publisher’s “Author Website” address. Unfortunately, he started hearing from readers that they were receiving books with upside-down pages, broken binding, and more. The complaints were starting to hurt Andy’s reputation, and reviewers were even mentioning the poor quality of his books in their book reviews. Furthermore, he didn’t believe his publisher was reporting all the sales of his book, nor paying all the royalties due.
Andy’s book was good but his publisher was not. He had to get out. He terminated his contract, and hired a publisher with a better reputation to produce his book. The problem was that people were still seeing his old publisher’s “Author Website” address (URL) in all that press he’d generated over the previous months. And, guess what the publisher had done with that URL? They were redirecting it to another book, published by them, that was on the same subject as Andy’s! Poor Andy checked his contract and discovered that, despite that he’d paid them to create that “Author Website,” they did indeed own and have complete control over it. All his past online marketing efforts were now making money for another author and his old publisher.
Even if Andy had landed a traditional contract, and parted on good terms with the self-publishing company, or even if he’d terminated his contract because they had defaulted on the contract for any reason at all, he’d still have lost complete control over the “Author Website” that he paid for!
What Andy should have done from the very beginning was purchase his own URL, something like AuthorAndySmith.com. (We suggest authors try to purchase their name if they can so they aren’t limited on the topics of their future books. For example, Angela owns AngelaHoy.com. See more hints about names in Richard’s section, which follows.) Had Andy purchased his own domain name, and referred everyone to that URL when performing his marketing tasks, he could have simply changed the link for the “buy me” button on his own website to the new publisher’s page, or to Amazon.com, or to BarnesandNoble.com, or to wherever he chose to send his readers on any particular day.
If you don’t have your own website, get one now. You can pick out your own domain and get a website at a very reasonable rate using the site http://www.WordPress.com (more about this later in the chapter). You could even have your own website up and running by the end of the day. As soon as you do, start using that domain name in all your marketing efforts. You can then simply put a “buy me” button on your new website, and direct that link to your book’s page on your publisher’s site, or to a specific online bookstore, or wherever else you want your readers to buy your book on any particular day. And, you can change that link anytime you want, especially if you change publishers someday, if one store in particular is running a promotion, if you want to start selling the book yourself, or even if you get a traditional contract in the future.
What about those free websites or those nifty free blogging sites? If another company owns the URL, you not only don’t have control over it but that company could terminate your “site” for any reason, and could even go out of business, among other things. Imagine spending months or years creating content on a site that just vanishes one day. So, again, buy and manage your own URL.
There are lots of books on the market about how to create a website. But remember, you don’t need a huge website with multiple pages, graphics, and lots of (annoying) bells and whistles. You really just need a few marketing pages, and most importantly, control over the “buy me” link!
WARNING: When I landed a traditional contract with a co-author years ago, we purchased a domain name that complemented the title of the book. Richard then started building the website while we waited for the book to hit the market. Later, the publisher told us we needed to turn that website over to them. Yeah, right! That was not part of the original contract and the website belonged to us. We believe the traditional publisher knew we were going to be sending potential readers to our own website instead of theirs and they wanted control of the site where buyers were going to buy the books. We’re also certain other traditional publishers have tried to claim ownership of individual author websites over the years, too, so be careful! If it’s not in your contract, they can’t take it away from you. If you are offered a contract that demands control over your website, either don’t sign the contract at all or make sure they delete that clause before you agree to sign.
If your book is traditionally published, you need to be wary of what your publisher might try to do to sabotage your personal marketing efforts for their own gain. For example, they may make more money selling your book directly to readers than they do when you purchase copies at your author discount. Your own website, no matter what it’s called, is your property and they have no right to claim ownership of it just because you sold them your book. Of course, you should always read your contract in its entirety, and have your agent and/or attorney review it as well to ensure that no such website ownership or other ridiculous clauses exist.
So what exactly should you include on your website and what domain name should you choose?
What Am I Going To Put On My Website? by Richard Hoy
For authors, the website really serves as a way to build a readership to which they can later pitch their books, and future books. So how do you build a readership? Essentially, you want to create content people want to read, and you want them to come back on a regular basis. The easiest way to do this is to create your own online publication.
In later chapters, we’ll go into exactly how you develop content people want to read. But, for now, it’s important that you set up a website with the proper infrastructure to handle all the things you need to become a successful online publication.
It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the details of setting up a website. A successful site, though, needs to have at least these two capabilities:
1. A way to display both static information (the content that stays the same over time, like your contact information) and changing information (the articles people read).
2. A way to inform readers of updated information (when you post new articles) so they will come back on your timetable.
Rather than go on about the countless options, we recommend a simple, inexpensive website from http://www.WordPress.com.
The First Step: The Domain Name
Let’s take a step back from the website for a moment and talk about choosing a domain name, the address of your website. Many people new to website ownership pick domain names off the cuff, but that’s not the best way to go about it.
You want your domain name to have these qualities:
1. It should be easy to say.
Imagine how saying these website addresses in an interview, over the phone, or even in person can result in confusion:
2. It should be easy to spell.
Don’t use words in a name that people commonly misspell like: “accessories” or “conscientious.”
3.) It should not be confusing:
ExpertsExchange.com >> ExpertSexChange.com
TherapistFinder.com >> TheRapistFinder.com
PotsOfArt.com >> PotsoFart.com
Avoid Having the Domain You Want Taken Out From Under You
If you’ve ever searched for a domain name to buy on a website that sells them, this might have happened to you. You do the search to see what’s available but you decide to wait and think about it for a day. When you come back the next day, you discover the domain has been taken by someone else. This is not a coincidence. It is called Domain Name Front Running. The details of how this works are beyond the scope of this book. If you want to know more, search for “domain name front running” in your favorite search engine.
The bottom line, though, is you should be ready to buy the domain name when you search for it on a site that sells domain names.
An easy way to see whether a domain is taken that will help protect you from getting scammed by frontrunners is to type the domain name you want into your web browser, and see whether a website comes up. If a site does come up, the domain is not available. If you get an error message, there is a good chance the domain is still available (though it could still be taken).
Using this method, you can develop a list of your top three to five picks for a domain name.
Stick to domain names that end in “.com.” That is the form most people recognize. Also, if a .com name is taken and you choose .net instead, you run the risk of a trademark infringement lawsuit (and the loss of your website) later. You must choose your own original name that nobody else has ever used. Google any name or phrase you’re considering to see whether anyone else has a company, product or service by that name.
Buying a Website from WordPress.com
There are lots of options when buying website services. However, in our opinion, the most bang-for-your-buck is a software platform called WordPress. Originally WordPress entered the scene as free blogging software. Because it had to be installed on a web server to work, it was, for many years, something only computer nerds would use. (In fact, the raw software in all its technical glory is still available for free at WordPress.org if you feel daring.)
A few years back, the creators of WordPress realized that most people are not, in fact, computer nerds, and developed WordPress.com – a website hosting service for the rest of us based on the WordPress software. As with any service trying to make a buck, WordPress offers many bells and whistles you can buy à la carte. But, one nice thing they do offer is a bundle of services to get you started. You can see their offerings here:
Public Versus Private Domain Registration
When WordPress asks you to create an account, which they use as the official contact information associated with the domain, whatever you put in these blanks will be accessible to the public unless you pay an extra fee to keep it private. If you have an address and phone number you don’t mind making public, use it at this point to create the account. Otherwise, you’ll have an option to select the “private registration service.”
IMPORTANT: We do NOT recommend making your physical address public. No matter how obscure your book, or how small the potential audience, there is always the chance that some overzealous fan or reader might want, shall we say, face-to-face contact with you. This has happened to Angela on occasion and some contacts have been downright scary. We strongly recommend you provide only a P.O. Box if you choose to make your address public.
WordPress has a detailed explanation of public versus private domain registration HERE.
NEXT TIME: What type of content makes your website more visible to search engines? And, we’ll get started with Days 1-3 of 90+ Days of Promoting Your Book Online!
What’s a Book Marketing Cheat Sheet?
Read more columns by Angela HERE.
About The Author
Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).
WritersWeekly.com - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday.
BookLocker.com - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."
Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors.
PubPreppers.com - "We Prep, You Publish!" Print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish. Offers formatting and design services only, and then provides simple instructions for authors on where to sign up to have the print and ebook editions printed/listed/sold. Cut out the middle man. Keep 100% of what bookstores pay for your book!
Angela's POD Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.
Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)
See BookLocker's publishing packages HERE.
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BOOKLOCKER ON FACEBOOK - Provides links to free excerpts!
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Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!
Read More Of Angela's Articles HERE
Yes, online book promoting can be EASY and FUN! Let us show you how, from Day 1 through Day 90…and beyond!