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Bio-Logical: What Your Author Bio Should Say About You

“[Your Name Here] did more to change the style of English prose than any other writer in the twentieth century….”

Okay, you’re not Ernest Hemingway. Yet, as a nonfiction author, your bio is essential to connecting with your readership.

Whether it appears on the back cover of your book, your website’s “About” page, or Amazon Author Central, your author bio establishes you as the person uniquely qualified to write your book. It can reveal a glimpse of you as a person—and may even spark a beautiful relationship with your audience, the press, and the influencers you most want to endorse your masterwork.

Marc Miller, who wrote Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers, says of his author bio, “It shows that I’ve walked the talk. I’ve made so many career transitions myself. It shows I have compassion.”

Cleverly, Miller included a short bio on his book cover and a more fleshed-out version in an “About the Author” page inside.

What goes into your author bio? It depends. If your book is a how-to or thought leadership piece, you’ll want your bio to establish your credentials and expertise. If it’s a memoir, your bio will tell why you are worth reading about.

Regardless of its primary goal, though, your bio should include these essentials:

  • Brief description of your work or life experiences that qualify you to write this book
  • Previously published books
  • Related awards
  • Publications that feature your work
  • Website/blog URL
  • Professionally shot photo
  • Your locale

Literary publicist Stephanie Barko suggests that you keep your bio’s word count low but use other cues to underpin your message. Match the tone of the bio to your personality and your book. Are you a humorous, fun-loving person writing about a light-hearted topic? A breezy bio carries the day. Even your head shot can speak volumes about you. Barko uses a series of animated poses that illustrate her lively, dynamic manner of expression.

Many accomplished writers are stumped when faced with writing their own bios. Barko says, “If you’re really scratching your head, have someone else write your bio.”

Miller concurs, commenting, “Most people are lousy at seeing themselves as others see them. They’re lousy at bragging about themselves, too! Construct a base outline, and hand it over to someone who knows you and writes well. By listening to you, this person can pick up themes and stories you’d never get to on your own.”

Barko observes that readership comes from increasingly varied sources. Help those readers find you by sharing a little bit of who you are through your author bio.

 

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A longtime professional writer with a knack for storytelling, Julie Wickert has been communicating complex concepts to humans for more than 18 years. Julie started her writing career as a stand-up, face-to-face trainer (teaching technical drawing at a community college), so she is exceptionally sensitive to focusing on “what’s in it for me” for a given audience. She has written everything from the story of a family heirloom and its protective power on the battle fronts of four generations, to product briefs about industrial washing machines. A hometown Austin girl, Julie enjoys volunteering for several nonprofits around town (one of which is building an orphanage in Nicaragua), and hanging out with the dogs and men of her household. Visit her at TrueStoryCommuncation.com.

Career Pivot Named to Forbes Top 100 List

Nothing thrills us more than seeing our clients and friends succeed. Such is the case with Marc Miller, author of Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers.

Marc’s website, Career Pivot, was recently named to the Forbes list of The Top 100 Websites For Your Career. The second annual listing compiles websites recommended by over 2,000 readers and includes such names as LinkedIn, Monster, Simply Hired, Salary.com and USAJobs to name only a few.

CareerPivot is a career design firm for Baby Boomers who want a change, but know you can’t just leap from one life to another. They work with you to design a strategy of manageable pivots toward a career you can grow with, one that will fulfill you for decades.

Book Elves congratulates Marc on his well-deserved recognition. We look forward to seeing what is next for this Book Elves client and author. Marc’s book, Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers, is available on Amazon.com.

 

How Social Media Can Give You R.E.A.C.H.

By: Joey McGirr

I’m often asked to illustrate the value of online social networks and with so many analogies to pull from it’s hard to find a consistent message for all scenarios. We have created a simple explanation used within our organization that answers our basic questions when working with any client. We have found this works well in all scenarios. Whether you’re an Architect, Realtor or an Author – This acrostic will work for you.

We call it R.E.A.C.H.

R = Reason: What is your REASON for using various online social networks? Your reason is your “WHY”. If your reason is not strong enough for you to keep at it until it eventually works, then you need to stop right here. Nothing you start will ever be perfect right out the gate. That is why we evaluate your Why right from the start.

E = Engage: Once we establish your Why, we move on to the “WHERE”. What is/are the best tool(s)/channel(s) for engaging your specific audience?  From your audience’s perspective, what is attractive and engaging enough about YOU to break through today’s information overload? Each channel is a noisy corridor of information. Be very specific and strategic about where you engage your audience.

A = Audience: Speaking of the audience, or “WHO”, who are you trying to REACH? What are their motives for responding? What is the quality of connection you have with them? Are they influential? Can you leverage your Audience? Will they buy your next book? Can you continue to grow your Audience through effective online networking?

C = Content: “WHAT” will your message be? As a writer, you should have developed a keen understanding of human communication through the written word. However, several Authors have done quite well to communicate through pictures and video. How can you get your audience interested in you through information/education? When will you have the best advantage for your content to be seen? How much of your paid content should be given away for free in an attempt to grow your Audience?

H = HOW: The most critical component is “HOW”. Once you really know why you’re networking online, where and who you’re network is, when to use the best tools and what to say, the only question that should remain (if you don’t already know) is HOW?

We have been testing this material out and it’s proven to be very effective. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Brad Closson for sparking the genius of the R.E.A.C.H. model.  At the end of the day, the real value of online social media networks is the REACH that it gives you.  What practical way can you see yourself using R.E.A.C.H. in your efforts to become everything you were intended to become?

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Joey is a Southern California native Austin transplant, who loves helping people and making a difference. He is an entrepreneur. He enjoys getting around people who want to make a difference in the community they live. He has a strong affinity for movers and shakers and tends to stay pretty busy. He’s a personal branding enthusiast. He thinks there are just as many new ideas and perspectives as there are people on the planet and he wants to hear them all. He’s passionate about what makes us all different and how we can use those differences to come back together, larger than the sum of our parts. Learn more about Joey and his many endeavors at JoeyMcGirr.com. He is also the founder and CEO of McGirr Enterprises.

How to Talk So Your Target Audience Will Listen

By: Jenny Magic

Struggling with what to say on your blog or social media sites? Have you made all the “new product” announcements but you’re still lacking followers and fans? Here are a few tips.

Turn off your “radio voice”

Have you ever listened to NPR radio announcers and imagined them walking around their normal lives talking like that? “Honey, we’re out of mustard” in that deep, formal baritone? Not only would it seem awkward and fake, but it would also be pretty distracting.

The same is true for content marketing, and we’re seeing companies of all sizes struggle with this as online media evolves. Traditional, one-way media channels like television, radio and print are more suited to the formal tones of broadcast. In the old days, a credible, omniscient, father-figure advised you on your consumer choices.

Times have changed.  Social media is conversation, and a “radio voice” sticks out like a sore thumb.

Turn off the formality and talk to your audience as individuals.  Have a regular conversation with them. Not only will your message sound more authentic, but the conversational tone will encourage a conversational response.

As an example, if you were marketing your restaurant, you could say that you specialize in “Combining local seasonal ingre­di­ents with an infinite spec­trum of flavors from around the globe as the basis for our culi­nary philos­ophy.” I took that almost verbatim from a restaurant website.

But to “turn off the radio voice,” you might try the style of one of my favorite Austin, Texas spots, Magnolia Cafe, and use more casual language and a little personality: “Welcome to Magnolia Cafe! Fresh food cooked with passion in a comfortable setting, kind of like your favorite aunt’s giant kitchen, if she had one. Open 24/8.”

If you use language and tone like your readers would use in everyday language, your message is more likely to be heard, remembered and repeated.

“Hey you!” Talk to them directly

Have you ever been at a noisy coffee shop – ignoring all the talking around you – when someone says your name?  Your ears perk up, and suddenly you’re looking around and listening to find out if it is a coincidence or if someone you know is trying to get your attention.

You weren’t listening until you thought someone was talking directly to you.

The same thing is true in every communication situation, especially in the cluttered world of the Internet. As users visit websites and search for products and services, they tend to ignore general messages that could be targeted at anyone. Instead, they hone in on the messages that seem designed for them.

That’s why shampoo ads don’t just say, “Get clean hair!” but instead have messages like, “Hey there, do you have dry/ frizzy/ unmanageable hair? Have we got the shampoo for you!”

Information that tries to be helpful to everyone is likely too generic to be interesting to anyone.

The more you can say, “Hey, you!” to your target audience, the more likely they will listen to what you say next.  Much like the person saying your name in the coffee shop to get your attention, using descriptors in your marketing messages that your audience will recognize in themselves will get their attention.

So instead of just posting blog tips about “10 Things Every Business Owner Should Know,” consider addressing a very specific issue: “Having Trouble Finding the Right WordPress Plugins? Top 10 Plugins for Small Businesses.” If someone has recently fought that battle, your headline will jump off the page for them.

Get to know them

Consider what you don’t know about your target audience, their goals, desires and habits, and ASK. Ask about things that aren’t directly relevant to selling your product or service. Ask the kind of “get to know you” questions you would ask in a real life introduction.  Choose topics that are interesting for your market research, but also ask the questions because you just want to know your audience better. Companies that use social media to show they understand and care about the audience they serve are the ones that get attention, get fans, and get passed along because they’re trying to make a genuine connection rather than just sell.

You could ask which blogs or Twitter users they think are the best in a certain category. You might have them rank the top events or conferences in your field, or get their opinions on your next product or logo update like Simple Shoes did.

Zappos recently posted on Facebook, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood debuted on this day back in 1968. We know you have the theme song in your head now. What was your favorite television show growing up?” Not at all related to selling shoes, but 165 fans took the time to give Zappos their answer.

Even if your intention is just fostering interaction, you’ll often get valuable insights to help you build out your target audience persona.

Any communication book will tell you that using simple language, talking about topics that interest your listener and asking questions are all key to building understanding and rapport. Don’t forget to apply the same principles to your marketing messages!

What other tips do you have to better connect with your audience?

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Jenny L. Magic (@JennyLMagic) is the founder and principal of Better Way to Say It, a content strategy company that has been helping clients identify their target audience and write content that captivates since 2008. Jenny speaks regularly at marketing events and workshops, and teaches courses in content marketing for the University of San Diego Institute for Sales and Business Development. She is a contributor to the Content Marketing Institute, VP of Development Association of Women in Communication, Austin, and her professional background includes Google Certified AdWords expertise, Inbound Marketing Professional Certification and a certificate in Direct Marketing from the DMA.


Book Elves Turns One: What Lies Ahead

By: Trish Lee

Wow, what a year! We have seen our first book cover published and selling on Amazon, by our client Marc Miller. We have completed the first draft on a major ghostwriting project, as well as finalizing the selection for a writer on an autobiography of a truly extraordinary man who has lived his life as a merchant marine, bar owner in Japan, several years as a Peace Corp volunteer in Africa and a sculptor. I can’t wait to finish that project! It will be quite an interesting read.

I want to take a minute to thank all who have made this possible. The only way we are able to make Book Elves Publishing so successful is through our partnerships with people who are truly experts in their fields. With the help of writers, graphic artists, marketing specialists, web designers and my fabulous assistant, Rachael Wilkins, we have been able to put together these projects to help our clients get their books written, edited, published and marketed. So “thank you” to all of our partners for making this possible.

We are excited to see what the next year has in store for us as we increase our national exposure. We have new partners we will be bringing on to offer even more exciting products to our clients, like video profiles and audiobooks. We will also be looking at expanding our Boot Camp to include participants online, making it easier to attend and receive the valuable information our partners offer for those do-it-yourselfers. Stay tuned to our website, Facebook page and newsletter for more details on these new offerings.

Finally, I want to thank our clients. It has been a joy to work with each of you, and I hope we will be able to continue to work on projects together in the future. You are what makes Book Elves Publishing possible. Looking forward to another eventful and prosperous year!

Four Book Platform Tips

By: Stephanie Barko | Literary Publicist

When authors create their book platform, they are defining a forum and following for their book in its first year of life.  This statement may include everything they want to do with the book, everywhere they want to tour it, and everyone they want enrolled in its message.

Platform is more than just a tagline or elevator pitch.  It can include endorsements, reviews and listings, plus the various elements of an author’s online media kit.  Platform also includes which forms of media are appropriate for your material and the specific outlets you intend to target.  Virtual tours and ground tours are part of this statement, as well as third party opportunities like genre conferences, book festivals, industry gatherings and book signing venues.

This article focuses on just four elements of platform that are critical to an author’s success in marketing a book:  Issues in the book, Endorsements & Reviews for the book, Social Networking by the author and the author’s Email List. Let’s look at each of these elements in more detail to see how they can strengthen a book platform.

Four Platform Tips

 1. List the Issues & Topics in your Book. Exploring the subject matter in your book could give it more universal appeal.  Make note of topics that may appeal to groups you may want to approach.  Document any date tie-ins and any issues the book references that may have media appeal.  Convert your list of issues and topics to keywords.  Doing this will maximize your page rank and traffic to your website, book blog and social networking profiles.

2. Target Endorsers and Reviewers. Make a list of people whose remarks would help sell your book.  Cut this list down to those you can contact.  After making your appeal, follow-up if remarks are not received in 30 days.  Target top Amazon reviewers for your genre, and never pay for a review.

3. Initialize Social Networking Profiles.   Successful marketing today takes both blogging and social media.  Use Klout to discover your social rank and how to improve it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and  Google+.  Allow Klout metrics to guide you in improving your reach and to keep up with which social sites rank best in a given year.

4.  Organize your Email List.  Identify and quantify your followings. There are your social followings, your blog following, your personal following, your newsletter opt-ins and more.  Create groups of actionable email and social lists from these followings.  Get curious about how your following prefers to be communicated with and find a way to deliver that format to them. 

In summary, know the issues and topics in your book.  Gather endorsers and reviewers so that you can demonstrate independent evaluations of your work.  Maintain social presences and a blog to establish your marketing effectiveness.  Mobilize your list.

To receive a free custom matrix that quantifies your following, subscribe to Stephanie’s blog, and leave her a comment so she knows you’ve stopped by from Book Elves. 

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Stephanie Barko is an Austin-based Literary Publicist whose award-winning clients include traditional publishers and their authors, small presses, and independently published writers. She promotes historical fiction & nonfiction, including history, business/career, memoir, self-help, spirituality and biography. She was a National Finalist in More Magazine’s Reinvention Story Competition, nominated by her peers as Book Publicist of the Year and voted Preditors & Editors Best Promotion Service. San Francisco Book Review publishes a column to which she contributes. Visit her website at StephanieBarko.com.


Thought Leadership as an Author-Positioning Strategy

Never before in history have we had the opportunities available to us today. We are in a new economy. The way we connect with others has shifted as a result of globalization available through technology. And, as a result, a key differentiator in writing a best seller is to become a bona fide thought leader.

Authors are often thought leaders but they don’t think of themselves that way. The reality is that, before anything physical can exist, it begins as a thought form. The thinker of the thought form – in this case, you as the writer – then takes action to solve problems, generate options and create opportunities (and revenues) through the written word.

Leadership, by definition, deliberately causes people to take a particular action. In the publishing business, your success depends on people taking a particular action that will solve their problem (buying your book) and, as a result, generate your revenues.

Thought leadership goes one step further by thinking ahead of the curve and anticipating what’s coming in your industry both to shape it and to provide innovative solutions. Think Tony Robbins, Tony Hsieh, Steve Jobs, Seth Godin,  Suze Orman, Deepak Chopra – these are the authors (and entrepreneurs) who are already playing the game before the rest of us even know there is one!

There are different “flavors” of thought leaders – change makers, revolutionaries, non-conformists, inventors, rebels, mavericks, innovators, pioneers, visionaries, etc. – and they each have something special to offer.

Thought leadership goes beyond being an expert because everybody is an expert these days. It goes beyond being an infopreneur because it’s more than making money from information. And it goes beyond being an authority because it’s about inciting significant affirmative change.

Instead, to be a thought leader, you need to lead a conversation, call out what’s on the horizon and translate it into more tangible terms through an actionable, practical system that people can use to get to their next best level. You architect the future through your writing.

Your actual industry or personal expertise is not in question here – it’s about how you’re accessing and communicating it on behalf of your community.

 

Three Key Actions To Position Yourself As A Thought Leader:

  1. Connect the dots in a new way. Help your readers to see what’s invisible to them using their current lens of perception by giving them a different frame of reference.
  2.  Put a new name on an existing meme. Just as an internet search is now called ‘Googling’ something, you can put a new name on the familiar to make it pop.
  3.  Articulate what’s already there using a fresh approach. With the billions of people now on the planet (and including those who have gone before us in history), it’s challenging to think a new thought. However, as Marcel Proust said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

All in all, as a writer, you have a special opportunity and, hopefully, compelling invitation to become a thought leader in your area of expertise. Your thoughts can literally change the future for the rest of us.

© 2013 Lynn M. Scheurell

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Making the most of human nature since 1998, Lynn M. Scheurell is an authority for high-potential entrepreneurs who desire to create intentional business success by connecting the dots between inner and outer beliefs and business expression. As a visionary pioneer, spiritual teacher for entrepreneurs and authority in the area of conscious business, she is a leading proponent that entrepreneuring is one’s highest calling made manifest through service and that one’s business is the ultimate tool for personal growth. Internationally known for her empowering and inclusive approach to conscious business, Lynn teaches entrepreneurs how to identify, align and express their true nature at every stage in business to accelerate results. Changing the world starts by understanding your motivations, inspirations and purpose; in other words, changing the world starts within you. Only then can you apply your intensity through strategic business models, systems and focused action to create conscious, and often dramatic, results. www.MyCreativeCatalyst.com

Book Marketing Beyond the Box: Easy Guerilla Marketing Techniques for Your Book

I recently attended a Book Elves Boot Camp workshop where Thomas Umstattd of Author Media presented 7 Secrets of Amazing Author Websites. I walked away with a wealth of new insight and inspiration, but one comment in particular that Thomas made resulted in a bit of an “aha” moment for me. He said, “Publishing companies have no idea who your readers are.”

Whether you are self-published or use a traditional publishing company, marketing your book ultimately rests on your shoulders. Yes, you can hire a marketing firm to assist, but if you are not presently in the financial position to do this, your book promotion campaign does not have to be a budget buster. A little creative mojo can give your book exposure a boost. Here are some guerilla marketing methods other authors have found tried and true:

Local Retail Look for local gift shops, book stores, restaurants and other retailers who will promote the “local author.” Ask about setting up a countertop or other display. Look for specialty retailers that pertain to your book genre or topic.

Non-traditional Book Signings In addition to the standard book store book signings, search out off-the-beaten-path locations for book signings – parks, diners, places of interest that inspired some part of your book like a character or a concept you wrote about.

Local library Donate a copy of your book to the local library. Take the time to introduce yourself as a local author and discuss the book’s topic with them; many libraries feature books by local authors.

Local Groups Use MeetUp to find and join local real-life groups that are centered around a common interest relevant to your book topic.

Local Media Interviews If your book topic is of interest to the general public, look into local radio, television and newspapers for interviews. Specifically look for radio shows or newspaper columns that relate to your genre or topic or lifestyle sections that might feature a local author. Send a press kit with info about you and your book. Your press kit should include a pitch about why your book will be of interest to their listeners, viewers or readers. If your book is non-fiction, what are the top 10 ideas from your book? What solution do you provide in your book? If it is fiction, what is the story behind the story?

Book Reviews Launch a book review campaign. Include positive reviews on your website and social media; use them to help you gain access to larger markets. Book reviews are more objective than advertising and often carry more weight when potential readers and readers are considering your book.

Advance Sales Identify a target market for your book and offer them a special discount for pre-orders. Some authors have actually pre-sold enough books to pay for the first printing.

Teach Others If you are comfortable speaking in front of others, and if your book topic is something that can translate into a class or workshop, search out teaching assignments or speaking engagements at conferences, community schools or other events. Publicity materials for these can include reference to your book.

Enter Competitions Enter your book in competitions. Look for contests that don’t require a high entry fee, niche contests related to your book genre or topic and those friendly to self-published books. There are awards for niche, editing, cover design, etc. Even if you don’t win, special mentions, nominations and other award levels still lend credibility to your book and can be used in marketing materials and press releases.

Trade Shows & Fairs Look for local events centered around your niche (auto repair-car shows; careers-job fairs, etc.) Use a game or drawing to gain interest in your booth. Use an eye-catching display. Be sure to follow up with all contacts made at the show in a timely manner.

Book Clubs Look for local book clubs (try using Meetup, Facebook or LinkedIn, as well as the local library). If your book topic fits, introduce yourself as a local author and offer to share your book. If they choose it, offer to join in when they discuss it.

Engage Your Network Generate an email campaign to your personal network, clubs or organizations that you belong to that relate to your book topic or genre. Let them know you have written a book, tell them a little about the book. Include a link to your website where they can learn more and/or purchase the book. Ask them to please forward the email to anyone they think might be interested in your book or in scheduling a speaking engagement or book signing.

Bring Your Book to Life Ask your friends, family and readers to take a picture of your book (or e-book on their e-reader) wherever they are (anywhere in the world). Have them email the pictures to you or post them on Facebook. You can add funny or informative captions about the book’s surroundings. You can create albums on your author or book’s Facebook page, Pinterest and your website. You can also post the pictures on your book’s Amazon page (Customer Images section just below the cover image). This is a fun way to show that your book is being read by all kinds of people all over the country (or around the world).

Share with Alumni Share the fact that you have written a book with high school and college classmates. You don’t want to pressure them to buy a copy, but some will buy it out of a sense of class pride (“the author’s an old friend of mine” kind of feeling).

These are just a few of the ways you can be your own street team in marketing your book. You are literally limited only by your imagination. Hopefully this will help get your creative juices flowing. Get creative. Have fun. You CAN do this!

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Rachael Wilkins creates custom graphic and written content to meet the online and print marketing needs of micro-businesses and organizations. She is the owner and Senior Consultant of Freestyle Business Solutions.

 

7 Tips for Using Social Media to Market Your Book

Social media is about relationships, and relationships are about communication. When using social media platforms to market your book, the idea is to build the kind of lasting connection with your fans and readers that will naturally lead to them telling others about you and your book. Be the person they want to hear from – not that guy who drones on endlessly about how his amazing book will change their life forever. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Know Your Audience. The first rule of thumb in developing a social media marketing plan is identifying your target reader and where their social media hangouts are. Are they fast-paced movers and shakers, on-the-go types who are likely to prefer the short and sweet world of Twitter? Are they relational types who can be found night and day on Facebook? Are they more serious business types who frequent the water cooler at LinkedIn? Once you know who your target audience is and where they hang out, you can focus more of your time and attention in that arena.

2. Encourage Interaction. Engage your online friends and fans with relevant content that invites and encourages conversation – ask questions, seek their opinion about something or take a poll.
 
3. Quality Trumps Quantity. A current television commercial opens with a man sitting with a group of young children asking them the question, “Who thinks that more is better than less?” The assumption, of course, is that more is always better than less – any kid knows that. But when it comes to promoting your book on social media, more is not always better; sometimes more is just more. According to a recent study by ExactTarget and CoTweet, more than four in five consumers have ended relationships with brands on Facebook, Twitter or e-mail, “because of irrelevant, too frequent or boring messages.” Don’t be that guy. Posting great content less frequently gives your readers something to look forward to.
 
4. Embrace the Group Dynamic. In addition to posting on your own social media profiles and pages, join Facebook and LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your topic or are welcoming of authors. Engage in existing group discussions or start your own. Post interesting content on the group pages, including the occasional link or reference to your book, website or blog. No high pressure sales here – just establish yourself as the go-to guy or gal in the area related to your book. Again, this is about building relationships.
 
5. Include Media. Sprinkle in occasional photos, videos and graphics to capture the attention of your friends and fans. If you create original graphics, be sure to include your website somewhere on the image itself so that if it is shared, people will know where it originated from – and perhaps visit your website to learn more about you and your book.

6. Keep it Brief. Post for the short attention span that most of us have.
 
7. Be Relevant. Your posts should be relevant to your readers. They don’t want to be hit every day with the social media equivalent of an infomercial pressuring them to buy your book. What they do want is interaction with someone who knows what they are talking about. Whatever your book topic is, establish yourself as an expert in that area with clear and concise content that engages your reader and they will want to hear more of what you have to say (which translates into them buying your book).

Remember – they call it social media for a reason. Relationship is the name of the game. Play to win.

 

 

Promote Your Book by Blogging

To blog or not to blog – that is the question. The answer? To blog, of course! You are a writer (or perhaps a writer in the making). Writing is what you do. Your blog is your own personal online podium. If you are serious about promoting your book, an author blog is almost a no-brainer. It is an excellent way to build an audience even before your book is published, establish yourself as an expert in your field and cross-pollinate with other bloggers as you promote each other to a wider shared audience.

You don’t necessarily need to post every day. Once or twice a week, every other week or even monthly is fine as long as you are posting relevant content and interacting with your readers when they comment on your posts. Find a schedule that fits in with your routine and stick with it. Many bloggers schedule their posts out days and weeks in advance, so they know exactly what they will post about and when. If you get hit with the writing bug and write several posts at one time, no problem. You can schedule them to post at certain dates and times in the future.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when using a blog to promote your book:

Use keywords. These are words and phrases that people would use to search on Google and other search engines when they want to know about something. For instance, if your book is about the Fourth of July, keywords might include things like, “patriotic,” “freedom,” “Independence Day” and such. The more relevant keywords you include in your posts, the better your search engine results.

Spell check and proofread. Or better yet, have someone do this for you. Getting another pair of eyes on your post before it goes live is generally a good idea – and it can save you the embarrassment of posting a typo or other minor goof that takes the reader’s attention away from your content.

Introduce yourself. Include an About Me page to let readers know who you are. This makes you more real and accessible to your readers.

Include media in your posts. Ours is a visual culture. Pictures and videos capture our attention much more quickly than even the most cleverly written headline. Capitalize on this by incorporating media into your blog using pictures, graphics, videos and podcasts. If you use pictures or graphics, be sure to use your own original images or get permission before using someone else’s. It’s best to not use images that unusually large, because large image files can keep your page from loading on some computers or slow down the load, causing the reader to become impatient and leave your blog. Use videos or podcasts to share book excerpts or a brief (one minute or less) introduction about you.

Invite guest bloggers. Reach out to other bloggers whose blogs are also of interest to your readers and invite them to post as a guest blogger on your blog. Be sure they include a link back to their own blog and encourage them to share a link to their guest post on their blog, which will expose their readers to your blog. Ask about guest blogging on their blogs as well, being sure to include a link to your blog. Cross-pollination benefits you both and exposes you both to a wider shared audience.

Keep it real. Relevant content is key for your blog. Talk about things your readers will find interesting and that will help to establish you as an expert. When people recognize you know what you are talking about, they will be more inclined to check out your book when presented with the opportunity.

Keep the conversation going. Allow comments on your blog posts so your readers can respond to what you have said. Be sure to check those comments and reply back in a timely fashion. Taking the time to hear what your readers have said and reply back to them goes a long way in building a lasting connection with them.

Incorporate your blog into your website. Experts recommend incorporating your blog into your website. Why? While websites are typically static with basic information and certain calls to action (buy this, sign up for that), blogs by nature are more fluid because they are updated more frequently and generate traffic with every new post. More traffic translates into boosted Google rankings. Business website with incorporated blogs generate 55% more traffic than site without a blog.

Have a call to action. Your blog should include specific calls to action throughout. These can include an email sign up list, an option to follow your blog via email or feed readers (such as Google Reader), an opportunity to follow you on social media sites and naturally, an option to purchase your book. These should reside somewhere in the sidebar of your blog. Inviting them to buy your book in the closing of every blog post will likely result in them feeling pressured and un-following you. You want to keep it in front of them but not in their face. Don’t forget to include social media share buttons on your pages and posts. This encourages readers to share your content with their friends and associates, expanding your exposure.

Use your blog to promote your pre-published book. Even while you are still in the pre-publishing phases of your book, you can begin to generate an interest in your book with your blog. If you are a fiction writer, you could tease your readers with hints about the characters they will meet in your book or the mystery or drama that will present itself. If you write non-fiction, talk about some of the issues you will address in your book and problems you will provide solutions for. If you are still in the development phase of your book project, you could even solicit questions or problems your readers might like you to consider addressing in your book. Perhaps they could win a free copy if their question is selected and used in your book.

Blogging is an essential part of your book marketing plan. Just remember – keep it simple, keep it brief and keep it relevant. Now, go forth and blog!