February 13, 2008
ONLINE BOOK MARKETING THAT WORKS - Part IV: Cozying Up to Sites With a Good Google Ranking | printable version
During Week I, we talked about sad assumptions and irrational expectations new authors usually have about book sales. We then discussed the dire need for an author to have his OWN website (not a URL controlled by someone else) and a periodical (ezine/blog) to market their book.
During Week II, we discussed how important it is to offer a free excerpt of your book. We also shared URLs to "free article" websites where you can post your excerpt as an "article."
Last week, we talked about posting your free book excerpt on FreeBookExcerpts.com, a free service for everyone, including book lovers. Authors can post excerpts and readers discuss them.
This week, we're going to expand our online marketing reach. We're going to cozy up to websites, zines and blogs that have good Google rankings!
I am always interested in publishing book excerpts and articles for readers of WritersWeekly.com (who are writers). If anyone sends me a book excerpt from a writing-related book that matches our editorial vision, I'll not only publish it, along with their bio and links to their website/blog/ezine/book, but I'll pay them for it as well. Likewise, if somebody submits an query letter who is the author of a writing-related book, and if it matches our needs, I'll publish it, pay them, and will publish links to their website/blog/ezine/book. Since I'm an Amazon affiliate, I'm also interested in posting links to Amazon where I can earn a bit of affiliate income.
Now, I'm not saying that all websites/ezines will pay you for your contribution. While some do, many don't, especially if they know you're promoting your book in the process. And, while I don't advocate writing for free, I do advocate distributing reprinted editorial content that can get you free advertising, like book excerpts.
So, remember that excerpt you wrote/formatted during PART II of this series? Let's see where else we can get that published and let's see if we can get some people to link to your book on Amazon!
What are the top five key words somebody might use who is looking for a book like yours? You need to make a list of these.
Just when you thought my self-promotion couldn't get any more subtle (ha ha), I've decided to use one of my books, QUERY LETTERS THAT WORKED! Real Queries That Landed $2K+ Writing Assignments, as an example for this exercise.
If I were a writer looking for tips on how to write a query letter, what key words would I use in Google? Probably these:
Okay, google your top key word/phrase. When I googled query letter, this is what popped up:
Oooh! I am IN LUCK! This is a blog that allows readers to post comments under the featured article. I could easily post a professional comment about the article here, instantly, and sign my name like this:
Angela Hoy, Author
QUERY LETTERS THAT WORKED! Real Queries That Landed $2K+ Writing Assignments
Anybody reading my comment and signature could easily find my book for sale online at a variety of online bookstores.
Whoo hoo! Another blog that allows instant comments! Remember, I am welcome to comment as long as my comments are valuable to readers ad not over-the-top promotional. If you are too promotional, your comments will be perceived as spam and you will get flamed to Kingdom Come. That's why I always only mention my book title in my signature.
3. A really old article on query letters
This page was last updated three years ago and gives bad advice from the get-go (write the book first and query later - it should be the other way around). I don't want to align myself with a page that gives bad advice so I'll skip this one.
Ooh! This is a good one, too. Not only is it a good article on query letters, but at the end it has this section: "Still need more advice about how to write a stellar query letter? We recommend buying the following books..."
The books they list are all linking to Amazon and the owner of agentquery.com is earning affiliate income on those sales. So, I'm going to write to the website owner and ask them if they'll add my book to their list, since it's also available on Amazon. I'll send them the book title, a very short description, and the Amazon link. Cool beans!
Here's the email I just sent to them:
I'm mentioning your site in WritersWeekly.com this week in an article for
my series on online book marketing.
I was wondering if you'd be interested in adding one of my books as one of
your Amazon affiliate links?
On this page:
You have this at the bottom:
Still need more advice about how to write a stellar query letter? We recommend buying the following books:
My book is:
QUERY LETTERS THAT WORKED! Real queries that landed $2K+ writing assignments
The Amazon page is:
You could add your Amazon affiliate link to the end of that.
The list price of the book is $28.73 so the affiliate income isn't too shabby. :)
Have a beautiful day!
5. A really old page, dated 1998, and the website hasn't been updated in eons. While the article isn't bad, the page it too old and I think contacting the author might be a waste of time so I'll move on.
Ah, this is a highly-respected website run by Moira Allen. I could send Moira an email offering her these options:
a. She could run an excerpt of my book for free in her ezine/on her website
b. She could add the electronic version of my ebook to her online bookstore because she sells ebooks - she would pay me royalties
c. She could add links on her site to Amazon.com and earn affiliate income if she wants
I might also offer Moira an article on query letters because she is a paying market for writers. I would, of course, promote my book in my bio that would appear at the end of the article.
This is the website of author Tara K Harper. While at first glance this might not seem like such a good connection, on further surfing, I discovered that she has a pretty neat site! In fact, if you're a fiction author, check it out! She answers such interesting questions from her readers like "How did you get published?" and "What does it cost the publisher to produce a book?"
I'm impressed enough to consider writing to her. I can offer her a mention in my publication, WritersWeekly.com, and ask her if she'd be interesting in adding a short blurb about my book to her web page about queries above.
This is another respected website for writers. I might email them and ask if they'd be interested in adding an affiliate link to my book's Amazon page to their page at the URL above. I'm also tickled to discover they have a very active message board! I can instantly join and start participating in discussions. As long as I am a valued participant, offering professional advice without a promotional push, and only include my book title in my signature, nobody is going to accuse me of spamming the board.
Ah, a Wikipedia page! I go there and find three links to other sites at the bottom. The top one is a blog that allows comments to be posted! Jackpot!
The second and third ones are ones I already found above on Google.
10 and 11. Hmmm. These are two books on Amazon about Query Letters and they're popping up above my book's Amazon listing on google. Why? I need to revise my search words on Amazon! Yes, revising your book's description on Amazon to be more attractive to google is online marketing! I'm going to go to the two book pages that are popping up and see what their keywords are on Amazon. If I pull up the Amazon page for these books, in my browser I can click View and then Page Source. Next to "meta name="keywords" content=" I can now see what keywords and phrases those books are listed under on Amazon. I need to revise my keywords so my book's Amazon.com page will pop up higher in Amazon!
Not to worry, fiction authors. There are plenty of fun googling activities for you to do like this, too!
Unfortunately, I haven't written any novels (I'm saving that for retirement). But, I can use another novelist as an example. Scott Rose is a respected journalist and the author of the mystery, Death in Hawaii. The very basic words that somebody (perhaps a vacationer?) might Google for a novel like this, which is set in Hawaii, might be:
Remember, you should come up with five words/phrases. But, for this article, I'm only going to do one.
When I search for fiction hawaii on Google, here's what pops up at the top:
While this website is cheesy, it does have the top google page for the keywords searched and it has a list of Hawaii-related novels. The links are pointing to the site's Amazon affiliate links so, if I were Scott, I would contact this website and ask them to add my book to their page. (See 4. in the non-fiction section above for a sample email for asking sites to add your book to their Amazon listing of books).
This is a page of Hawaii-based fiction created by "Aziam" on Amazon.com. If I were Scott, I would contact "Aziam" by clicking on his name at the top of that page and ask if he'd like a review copy of my book and if he'd like to add my book to his Amazon list.
3. The third result is a library page. While it's tempting to email the library to see if they'll buy a copy, doing so would be spam. Skip that.
This is an online bookstore that has an Ingram account. On further checking, Scott's book is already listed on this site. But, why didn't his book pop up with two others that resulted from the link above? Scott should investigate the keywords appearing on those other two book pages and consider changing his. See 10. and 11. under non-fiction above for how to do that.
This is a blog and it allows comments so, if I were Scott, I would post a professional (or humorous) comment and my signature would be:
Scott Rose, Author
Death in Hawaii
6., 7. and 8. http://www2.hawaii.edu/speccoll/hawaiilocal.html
These are all library pages. Libraries usually only buy one or two books and the chances they'll do that are pretty slim. Some authors actually send libraries free copies in the hopes of increasing their visibility. However, I don't recommend doing that so, once again, we'll skip these.
A ha! There's a link to a Hawaii bookstores on this page...but it's not really a bookstore. The site is http://www.johann-sandra.com/hawaii/books. When you click on a book, it takes you to the website owner's Amazon affiliate links. So, I would definitely contact the owner and ask them to add my book to their website. Again, see 4. under non-fiction above.
This is a book list for children. Scott's book is not for children. Skip this one.
Okay... this is a page about deaths resulting from rat urine on soda cans. I'm wracking my brain to come up with a promotional idea for this but, well, I just can't. So, while the page was interesting, I'm gonna have to skip it.
Hmm! A book review for a Hawaii-related novel by Michael Egan in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin! I would definitely email Michael a very short note about Death in Hawaii and ask him if I can send him a print copy for review. Sending review copies without asking permission can result in a waste of money (printing and postage costs). Asking permission first means you won't be paying to send copies to a reviewer who may just chunk the book, but also increases your chances of actually getting a review from the reviewer who does express initial interest.
Next week, we'll start looking specifically for websites and ezines with lots of traffic/readership to see if they're publishers/owners will be interested in some mutual back-scratching.
Until then, get Googlin'!