Marketing Tips

Selling Your Brand: Author Website

Independent publishing demands an effort on the author’s part to self-promote. The task may seem daunting, as many of the tasks involved in self-publishing can, but thanks to the power of the Internet, you can promote yourself online with minimal effort. One of the most potent is the author website.

Creating and maintaining a website dedicated to your work can have a multitude of benefits and uses. Get your name out there on the web, and provide interested and potential readers a location to learn more about you and your work with an author website. The following list provides some basics about creating a website, the content you should include, and the benefits.

1. Hosting and Domain

The first step in creating an author website is actually locating the site on the web. There are a variety of low cost services like WordPress or Wix that can be used to create a simple website. These services, among many others on across the web, offer template and layout tools to help you design the page and keep it looking fresh and up to date. Remember, fashion and standards on the web are always evolving, so keep up to date on the latest trends in web layout and adjust your site accordingly. You don’t want your site to look like something from 2002. You’ll want to purchase a domain, preferably something using your name (like www.firstnamelastname.com) or something including the word “author” alongside your name. This is key for discover-ability and indexing in Google searches and will help potential readers find you.With your site domain ready and a service selected, the next step will be actually building your author website.

One very interesting new tool currently available to authors is TitlePager. The service is low cost ($12/month) and provides software to directly import your book’s information into a website template. For authors less interested in learning the ins and outs of website design, TitlePager is a good alternative to consider.

2. Design and Layout

Your website should have a few “pages” to segment information and help your readers find the information they need quickly and easily. Most websites will use a navigation bar along the top of the page to guide visitors. For an example, look at the navigation bar at the top of the Lulu Blog:


You’ll see Home, About Lulu Self-Publishing, Commentary, and Guidelines for Guest Posting. Each of these links lead to a unique page on the blog website. For your author site, you’ll want a home page, a page listing your books with sale information, a page with personal information about you,  and possibly a separate page for posting blog style articles.

Think about your audience when designing the site. Starting out, you won’t likely have the following of the world’s most well known authors, so you may want to avoid a site that is packed and busy like this one. A good example of a modern, clean layout that still has a lot of content like this site, shows how you can uses distinct pages for specific information, while keeping the front page interesting and inviting. Again, these are highly successful authors, who likely have a rather large budget for creating and maintaining their author pages. Look to these examples for ways you might pick and choose elements to emulate that fit your particular needs.

As the owner of your site, you have a tremendous amount of flexibility, and you should do some research to see how other authors build their sites for inspiration. The key elements will be the attractive home page, the succinct book’s page, and the about page. Consider your genre, the quantity of books you have or will be publishing, and the target audience when you are planning your website. For example, if you have accompanying video content, you might want a “videos” page to house this material. Or if your work is non-fiction and uses a number of references, you may want to make reference links and citation information available on a page of your website.

Another good idea for your author website is to include a subscription option and social media links. You want anyone who lands on your page to share on Facebook and Twitter, and capturing emails through a subscription box provides a way into their inbox, allowing for some direct email marketing and building a mailing list to promote events and new publications. Don’t underestimate the power of a mailing list. The ability to directly connect with potential customers is a tremendous asset.

3. Content

We touched on this above, but the most important piece of an author website will be the content. Is the layout appealing? Are the images relevant? Can visitor’s easily find and buy your books? Keep those questions in mind when working on the layout of your website. You’ll want the pages to be simple but appealing, and avoid cluttered or “busy” pages in favor of simplicity. Readers are coming to your site because they followed a link you provided or because they came across you while searching. Either way, they will likely already be interested in your content, and your site’s goal is to assure them that they should buy your book.

It’s not a bad idea to include a link to your Lulu Author Spotlight, along with direct links to your books. Many author websites will also include some publishing industry news or a feed of news from their favorite publishing industry sites. This kind of content will reward users for returning to your site, which can eventually lead to purchases of your back list. And it helps ensure they notice new works as they come available.

Another activity to consider is blogging. Keeping a blog and updating it regularly (as in, at least once a week) will provide a flow of content to drive readers back to your site, and gives you a great reason to make use of that mailing list you’re building. The goal is to give anyone who comes to the site, or follows you on social media, a reason to keep coming back.

4. Benefits

Your website will be the primary tool in developing yourself as a brand. It will serve as a location for your various marketing efforts to point to, a destination for those finding you on social media to learn more (and hopefully make a purchase), and yet another way for you to show your authoring skills. Think about the website as a project, similar to writing a book.

An author website gives you a means to connect with readers and potential readers, a way to display your skills and work (maybe you offer excerpts free or teasers for a new book), and a central location for your brand. As a self-published author, the key to success will be branding yourself. Highly acclaimed authors are read as much because of their brand as their quality. Your website allows you to promote your own brand, and when coupled with high quality writing, is the best way to grow your readership.

Marketing and promoting your book can be an arduous job. Take the first step to promoting yourself and building your author brand. Create an author website and start selling your book today!

 


 

 

Getting Global with your Book

Self-publishing is a tremendous boon to the general writing public. From printing and binding a family history, to crafting a lavish work of fiction, to a manual or text book companion to your work or teaching career–print on demand and self-publishing have opened up a new world of possibilities.

Lulu employees, at book fairs and conferences, over the phone with our customers, and even just talking with our friends, are greeted roundly with astonishment when we reveal that anyone can not only publish for free, but can also put their book online for sale for free as well. You could publish a book today, and in less than two months time that book would be available for sale on retail sites around the world.

“Really? Free?”

You would not believe how many times I’ve heard those two words. They’re most often followed by ‘What’s the catch?’ or something similar.

There is no catch. Lulu publishing is completely free. And accessing our distribution network is completely free.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

I’m not going to lie to you; it is a bit more complicated than it sounds. It’s still free! But you will have to comply with distribution requirements, format your files to specification, and take the reins for editing and designing your book. This is self-publishing after all.

If you’re ready to take on the challenge and want to get your book out there to the world, Lulu’s GlobalReach distribution service is the perfect tool for you. Free listing on major book retail sites, free publishing tools, a free ISBN. And you’ll be able to take advantage of Lulu’s high quality print on demand network to earn the best returns in the industry.

 

Keywords: Get your Self-Published Book noticed

Marketing your book is tricky business. Here at Lulu, we appreciate that many of our authors are not marketing experts, but still would like to amplify their sales. The Internet makes it easy to list your book and for readers to perform searches among the many books out there. The trick for authors is to make their book stand out from all the noise, to distinguish itself so that readers can find your book when they search.

How do potential readers find content?

Almost all content online is found through searches. Authors must align their book with the common search terms a reader might use. To do this, you’ll need to use ‘Keywords.’

Keywords are search terms users will type into a search engine (like Google) to find something. A reader might want a book about healthy eating for women over forty, so they would search something like:

“books, healthy diet, women over forty”

The resulting search will be thousands of books that have utilized these keywords.

Now you’ll have to decide which keywords to use for your book. This can be a challenge, but we can recommend a three part strategy to help narrow down the keyword options. First, sit down and write out as many words as you can think of associated with your book. At this stage, anything that comes to mind if fine.

With this list completed, the second step will be going on some retail sites and book review sites (like Goodreads) and search reviews for books similar to yours. Look at the words readers are using to describe these books and make a list.

In the third step, ask your beta readers (or if your book is already published, any reader) for their list of words they would use to describe your book, and/or any terms they might have searched if they were in the market for a book similar to yours.

Any words that fall on all of these lists will of course be good to use. Create a refined list with all the words that span the three lists, as well as any other words you think might be highly valued for your readers. This last part will take a bit of guess work and intuition on your part. It’s not an exact science, but aim for quantity over quality.

With your keyword list in hand, what you’ll want to do is integrate the keywords into your blurb/synopsis. Readers will perform searches, and because your keywords were thoughtfully chosen and added to you book description, they’ll find your listing coming up in the search results, ultimately leading to a sale. Apart from using the right keywords to draw in readers, you’ll also need to craft a compelling blurb. Weave in the keywords as they make sense, and if need be write new material to incorporate keywords you deem too valuable to exclude. Check out this post for some advice on synopsis writing for self-published authors – Writing your blurb/synopsis

Conscientious and careful application of keywords can do wonders to boost the discoverability of your book. Help your readers, grow your sales, and enjoy the success a little bit of market research and keyword application can bring!

 

Lulu as a Business Partner

As you may well know, Lulu has been the go-to print on demand, self-publishing platform since 2002.

Yet there’s one misconception we run into time and again. Many hear terms like ‘self-publish,’ ‘indie-publish,’ or ‘print on demand’ and envision a fraught author, hunched over their laptop, tapping out their masterpiece. That’s a common perception, and its not entirely inaccurate.

The idea that self-publishing is reserved for fiction authors is just plain wrong. People need books for a variety of reasons. Everyone with information they need to solidify and make accessible has use for books. Authors are not just story tellers. They are information entrepreneurs, they are business owners, experts in their fields, educators, trainers, travelers, cooks, entertainers, storytellers, journalists…this list could go on. I’ll stop short and get to the point.

Lulu is more than a publisher for fiction writers. We’re a print partner, ready to help your business, big or small, with a range of printing needs.

Whether you’re a business owner, or work in human resources, or a motivated entrepreneur, or a public speaker, or…I’m listing again. If you’ve got information you need to share to further your career or to make your business run smoothly, we’re ready to be your partner.

Here’s an example: Imagine you’ve developed a product. It’s a new take on an old idea, and something you know adherents of the old idea will love. You’ve got a market for this product, and you’re transitioning from development to entrepreneurial business person. You’re going to sell this product, and as you prepare to go to market, you also have to establish instructions. Customers will not be happy with your amazing product if they receive it and can’t turn it on!

But manuals aren’t cheap either. If you went with a more traditional printing method, you’d have to order a set quantity of the instructions and have them inserted into the packaging for your product. Not only does this cause you to incur another production cost, you’ll have an instruction manual that can only be updated by getting a new print run.

What if you could make the manual available without including it? Users who need or want the manual can order it (even a digital version if you wanted). The investment goes from substantial (making and printing a number of manuals and including them with each product) to negligible (just the cost to create the manual file). In fact, Lulu already has authors who do just this:

Raymarine UK Limited – Lulu Store

Raymarine makes and sells marine electronics for a wide range of nautical and boating uses. Their electronics require set up and training to use correctly. Rather than investing in pre-printed manuals, Raymarine has their manuals on the Lulu Bookstore, and users who need a manual can come to us and have one printed.

Manuals and instructional material can be important for internal use as well. Does your business use a training manual? Imagine being able to update the manual periodically with ease, and printing out only the most recent version for your new employees. Imagine the cost savings of having only the manuals you need at the ready, rather than stocking a number of them on hand.

Our print on demand tools allow Lulu to be an adaptable, quick means of printing exactly what you need when you need it. Here are some of the many ways a book can be useful for a business or entrepreneur:

  • Manuals/Instructions
  • Internal training
  • Reporting material
  • Advertising tool to promote your knowledge/product
  • Product catalog
  • Education material (custom text books, curriculum specific material, work books)

For years now Lulu has been a dependable business partner for professionals and companies with all kinds of printing needs. We’re ready to help you and your business with easy to use, fast, affordable, and high quality printed products.

Author Press Kit: How You Market You

J_K__Rowling

Example from an author we all know.

Who is your favorite living author? Have you ever visited their website? If you wanted to know more about them, where would you click? What would you expect to see on that page?

Now think about your website or blog. If a journalist, blogger, production manager, or agent wanted to know more about you, where would they find the information? How are you selling yourself as a writer or subject matter expert? How are you telling the story of you?

If you are new to publishing, you may not have even thought about needing an “About” page on your website. If you have one, it probably has a few fun facts about you, some pictures of your family and maybe an homage to your faithful pet. This information may be meaningful to you, but will it get you an interview or a speaking engagement? If not, perhaps it’s time to re-work your “About the Author” page to serve as an author press kit.

“Who has the time for that?” you may ask. In truth, it’s likely you already have most of the information needed to create an effective press kit. You just didn’t know you needed one. An effective press kit includes:

Author Biography and Contact Information

Lulu recommends authors have multiple versions of their bios for use in article submissions, guest posts, and interviews. Your press kit bio should be about 200 words focusing on what makes you interesting and your areas of expertise. Don’t forget to include a head shot and your (or your publicist’s) email, phone, and social media contact info.

Press_Kit_author_photo_jpg

In addition to contact information, always include a clear, professional head shot with your bio.

 

Specific information about your book(s)
List the title, topic, genre and intended audience for your book as well as a succinct summary (no spoilers).  If you are writing nonfiction include your credentials or personal experience relevant to the topic.

Press Coverage
Show your press-worthiness. Include excerpts from reviews, transcripts from interviews, links to press releases, blogs and articles written about your work. List awards, nominations, and recognitions your work has received. Your press kit is not the place for humility.

Press Kit Newsroom1

Busy reporters are always looking for compelling local stories. A well-written press kit makes it easier for them to meet their deadline.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers)
If your goal is to schedule newspaper, radio, or television interviews, include a list of frequently asked questions and answers about you and your book. The more upfront information you provide, the easier it is for a journalist to prepare a story. Your answers should be personal, conversational, and quotable. FAQs and answers also provide jumping off points for further questions:

  • What lead you to writing?
  • How does your early (or current) life influence your writing?
  • What is your inspiration for developing these characters / writing on this topic?
  • How does the story mirror your own experiences?
  • Why did you choose to self-publish your work?
  • What are you working on now?

    Press Kit Radio Interview

    “You’ve probably answered this question a thousand times, but I just have to ask….”

Excerpts

Fiction authors should include a few meaningful sections that artfully demonstrate their writing style or provide character insight. Nonfiction writers should include a PDF of the first few chapters of their book.

Upcoming Events
Do you have a book signing event scheduled? Are you attending or speaking at a conference? Are you appearing on TV or radio? Let the world know where you will be and how to contact you during the event. If you choose to include an “events” section on your press kit page, it is imperative you keep it up to date. You may also choose to update this section with pictures from the events or links to print articles and interviews (audio / video).

Press Kit Reporter

“I saw you were going to be in town. Will you have time for an interview?”

 

Sell Sheet
If you are selling books directly from your website or through social media, you should also include your product and price lists for hardcover and paperback versions as well as wholesale bulk pricing for bookstores.

Remember, your author press kit does not have to be fancy. Keep the format, font and layout simple and easy to read. Start with material you already have and add to the page as you build your reputation online, in print, and through broadcast media. Remember this content is how you sell yourself and your work, so proofread, proofread, and proofread again to make sure it is error-free. A professional looking press kit page will help get you the publicity you need for publishing success.

Press Kit paparrazi

The publicity you deserve!

Additional Resources

How to Write a Killer Author Bio

Guest Blogging: How to Build Your Online Reputation

Five Hours to Success

 

Blogging Your Way to Success

Earlier this month we posted a blog with some advice about Facebook’s potential as a marketing tool. And make no mistake, Facebook will be your best friend when it comes to marketing your book. But Facebook only works if you have a continual stream of content to offer. Yes you can (and should) share coupons and the store links to your book from Lulu. And yes you can share a variety of industry news relevant to you and other authors like you.

That’s not enough though. Your readers and potential readers need to have an investment in you as a person. They need to get to know you and your work before they will open their wallets and buy your book.

A Blog is the perfect means to do this (and much more in the long term). An Author Blog is a direct link to you, a way to advertise, advocate for, and create a connection to your work. The people who follow your social media presence need a reason to come back to you. This is how you build a following, and how that following then goes to work for you by drawing in their friends to your network.

Best of all, blogs are easy to do. You can find a wealth of free blogging sites across the web, such as WordPress, Weebly, or Blogger. These platforms allow you to quickly and easily create and maintain a blog.

Now all you need to do is start adding content. Here’s some ideas for posting:

  1. Look at what’s trending on Twitter (by hashtag), Instagram, or Facebook and write an opinion piece about the topic at hand. Remember to use your researching skills to back up your argument. Anything that ties back to the topics your book(s) focus on are a plus.
  2. Come up with a weekly feature. For example, maybe every Wednesday you interview an author about writing or his/her process. Or on Tuesdays you post a photo of your work area and write about your progress. Whatever it is, be consistent.
  3. What have you read recently that you loved or hated? What is your favorite book of all time? Why do you prefer one specific genre over another? Or do you no longer read at all, and why?
  4. What challenges or fears have you faced in life and overcome? Inspirational writing is always popular.
  5. Make a top 10 list. From nail colors to the best advice on book cover concepts; do your research and show off what you’ve found. Again, if you can tie this back to the content of your book(s), all the better.
  6. As writers, we love words, but appreciate the other fine arts, too. Don’t shy away from putting up a video you found on YouTube or a photo of your favorite coffee shop, carnival ride, or pet. These small glimpses into your life will be appreciated by your readers.
  7. What do you want to accomplish over the next year and how will you get there? Tell your readers so they can root for you. And remember to talk about your progress now and again.
  8. Still not inspired? Check out these interactive prompts that will get your mind churning.

Providing a consistent stream of content, even small pieces, gives you fodder for social media sharing, allowing you to continually grow your presence.

Every blog follow, every Facebook like, is a potential reader. And each reader can then tell their friends and family, expanding your network and making your book more and more successful!

Like, Follow, Share: What’s in it for me?

Every day we are asked by friends, acquaintances, and companies to Like, Follow or Share their page or post. It’s simple enough. It requires only a click. Lulu is no different. Like you, we are always happy to see new Likes, but what’s in it for you when you Like Lulu?

If you are a fan of innovative, independent authors, liking Lulu on Facebook will keep you in the know about new authors and daily discounts. But readers shouldn’t stop there. You should also Like your favorite author’s Facebook page and stay informed about their upcoming events and new releases. By creating a relationship with an author, you may get sneak peaks at future titles, covers or early chapters. Surely that’s worth the investment of a click.

If you are an author who published with Lulu, we recommend you not only Like our page, but also consider Following us as well. When you follow Lulu, you are assured of receiving the daily discount and other news, which you can then Share with your Facebook fans.

Periodically sharing Lulu discounts on Facebook gives you an excuse to reach out to your readers with a personalized message in addition to savings. If you are feeling especially generous, you can further entice new readers by supersizing the daily discount. You can easily change a 20% discount to 30% or offer 15% off your book when Lulu is offering free shipping. Click here to learn how.

 

Your target audience already loves books, discounts and Facebook. However, if you are trying to attract new readers, remember the “Rule of Seven” – on average, a person must see or hear your marketing message seven times before it actually registers. The more a person sees your book mentioned online, the more likely they are to take the next step – clicking to learn more which leads to purchases. So don’t be shy about sharing your story, your book, or those Lulu discounts.

Likewise, don’t be afraid to ask your fans to share with their friends. Word-of-mouth and social media are the two most popular means of discovering new books.

So, Like us today and Share us regularly. It only takes a few clicks to reach a worldwide audience.

I told three friends and they told three friends and so on….

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