Articles tagged "website"

Selling Your Brand: Author Website

5 min read

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!

 


 

 

Five Hours to Success: Sell More Books

3 min read

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You will spends months, maybe years writing, editing, and rewriting your book. When all of that is done, you can release your work into the world with just a few clicks on Lulu.com.  For some authors the work stops there, but successful authors know that’s when the real work begins. How will you make your book visible in a marketplace full of books? How will you get your book onto the bestseller lists? Where will you find the time and the money to market your book to your audience?

For most authors, marketing a new book will likely be more challenging than writing it.  To help you focus your efforts, we asked 4000 of our bestselling authors how many hours a week they spend marketing their books.

Lulu-Marketing-Your-Book-For-Holiday-Sales_pdf

The majority of best selling authors (61%) dedicated five hours or less to book marketing each week. 16% — about one out of every six — said they spent 5-10 hours a week on marketing tasks. Only 25% of these authors said they spend more than ten hours a week marketing their book to their audience.

How much time can you invest?

Let’s face it, authors would rather be writing than marketing. It’s what you are good at, but without a marketing plan, your book will simply gather digital dust on some online bookshelf.

By breaking marketing tasks into small steps, you can make them more manageable, regardless of your time constraints. If you only have five hours a week, work in blocks of one to two hours. Keep plugging away until every item on the list below has been researched and completed:

  1. Define your audience
    • If you aren’t familiar with your audience and their shopping habits, research them to gain that understanding
    • Write a one-paragraph description of your target audience – what they like, where they shop, etc.
    • Find those people and get your book in front of them
  2. Write your book’s elevator pitch
  3. Create a website
    • Write a detailed author biography page and include a head shot
    • Set up an email opt-in to create a mailing list (see below)
    • Add a page for editors and bloggers to request review copies of your book
    • Add new articles, transcripts of recent interviews, and reprints of book reviews
    • Add a blog to your site. Update it at least weekly. Twice a week is even better
    • Add a page with contact information for interviews, events and public speaking opportunities
    • Add a page for your coaching or consulting services (if that makes sense for your business and market)
  4. Get a Facebook business page for your book
    • Update your page at least weekly
    • Add a way to sign up for your email list (see below)
    • Like and follow other Facebook pages in your niche and comment on their pages to expand your audience
    • Use Shopify to sell your books directly from your Facebook page.
  5. Set up an email list with a free email service provider such as mailchimp.com
    • Send an email update at least every two weeks
    • Use content from your blog or update your readers on your marketing efforts or how your next book is coming along
    • Include Lulu coupon codes for reader discounts in your email messaging to encourage shopping
  6. Identify 20 influential people to whom you can send your book
    • Create a promotion package
    • Mail the promotion package to those 20 people
  7. Secure 3-5 speaking gigs
    • Bring copies of your book to speaking events for audience members to purchase
    • Be on the lookout for other authors targeting the same audience. You can build a relationship with them and cross-promote each other’s books to build audiences and drive sales
  8. Research 1-2 conferences or book fairs to attend or to sponsor for a booth
  9. Find 3-5 niche websites where you could advertise or write a guest blog post
  10. Make your printed book look as good as possible. Does it need a new cover? Better typesetting?
  11. List your book on eBay
  12. List your book on Goodreads
  13. List your book in “Shameless Promotions” in the Lulu forums
  14. On an ongoing basis, spend one hour on each major bookselling site polishing up your book’s description and appearance
  15. Reach out to potential reviewers on the big bookselling sites. Aim for at least 20-30 reviews for your book
  16. Don’t give up. As one author said about marketing, “It’s hard work! But it’s also essential for the author to relentlessly promote a new book for at least 18 months after publication.”

 

phew giphyPhew! … Sounds like a lot or work, right? Well, put in just five hours a week and you’ll be further along than you’d think. And – here’s the best part – you’ll also be closer to making enough sales to brag about on your Facebook page.

 

Action item

Schedule one hour every weekday to promote your book.

Key takeaway

Once you have everything set up, marketing shouldn’t require as much of your time. The majority of successful independent authors spend 5 hours or less per week on marketing.

Why Authors Need Their Own Website

3 min read

If you're an author, a website is crucial for marketing your writing career.

You’ve written your book. You’ve published it. Congratulations! So…what’s next?

If you’re like many authors, you want to start selling it. But it’s not enough to just make it available for sale and cross your fingers. After all, you have a lot of competition out there. And while you have a lot of control when you independently publish, that comes with a lot of responsibilities, too. You have to do a lot of the heavy lifting for marketing on your own. It may seem daunting, and you might not even know where to begin.

Why not start with a website?

While selling your book in bookstores is great, let’s face it: you need to be found online. Your job in marketing yourself is to remove as many barriers as possible for potential readers. You want it to be easy to find you, easy to learn about you, and easy to buy your book.

Part of this is building your personal brand. That’s right, brands aren’t just for multinational corporations to slap on packaging and billboards. Building your personal brand lets readers know you outside of your book and helps you connect with them and build relationships. This will make them more likely to want to buy what you’re selling.

Websites and social media have made this easier than ever, because it allows you to directly share your thoughts with people. If you have a marketing strategy that doesn’t involve a website, you’re missing out on a lot. Plus, having a site just might make you a better writer.

Here are four ways having your own website will boost your writing career.

Engage Readers

How do you stand out in a world full of millions of people selling their books? By making it personal. Build relationships with readers by sharing your thoughts, responding to comments and questions, and entertaining them – in other words, by being a real person and not just a name on a book cover.

Building close connections to a group of fans can add up quickly; in fact, it’s the whole idea behind Kevin Kelly’s 1,000 True Fans premise. If you can give people a place to find you and you have a conversation with them, showing that you care about them and not just about their money, you’ll be well on your way to building your fanbase.

Sell Your Book

Hopefully your book is available in every place that will carry it, from Lulu to Amazon to brick-and-mortar stores. But there are a lot of benefits to selling your book on your own. Setting up a storefront on your website – allowing readers to find out about you and buy right away, without needing to go to another site – removes a barrier for purchase and makes them that much more likely to click that “Buy” button.

Network

Readers aren’t the only ones you’ll be able to reach with your website. Fellow authors, publishers, and booksellers are also online, and your website will allow you to network with them. Guest blog posts, for example, let you share tips and tricks and, even better, let you tap into someone else’s audience to build your own. Writing collaborations, workshops, author events – the bigger you grow your network, the more inroads you’ll have to great marketing and writing opportunities.

Practice Writing

Sure you’ve published a book, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement! Even the best authors are always striving to get better. If you’re updating your website regularly, you’ll get a ton of practice writing, whether it’s responding to visitors, posting writing exercises, or learning how to write concisely with your author bio. When you’re an author there’s no such thing as writing too much, and when you’re writing for your site – contributing to your marketing efforts – you’re killing two birds with one stone.

Getting Started

Making your own site has never been easier. Using a blogging platform like WordPress is a great place to start; you can create static pages that will remain relatively unchanged – for example, your bio or contact information pages – and have a built-in blog for regular updates. Or you can choose a platform like Squarespace and use their templates to make creating your own page a snap.

Some platforms are free, only charging you for extras, while some will run you a small subscription fee. And even purchasing your own domain name only comes out to a few bucks a month. No matter what route you go, look at the time and money you’re putting into it as an investment: a little work now will pay dividends as you continue to grow.

Do you have your own website? Tell us about it in the comments! Share your insights with your fellow authors about what works for you (and what doesn’t).

Updates To Your Lulu Account

1 min read

Lulu is excited to announce the first in a series of releases intended to improve your user experience on the Lulu.com website.

Following the July 24, 2012 release, everything about your Lulu account, including your email preferences, purchases, downloads, and shipping information will be managed from a sleek new My Account & Orders page. This change separates your user account information and purchasing history from the Lulu authoring tools.

What can you expect following this release?

  • The login / registration page has a new streamlined look.
  • When you click on the My Lulu tab, a new My Accounts & Orders button displays in the page header.

 

  • Click the My Accounts & Orders button to access your Order History, My Downloads page, and your saved Shipping & Billing information.
  • On the About Me page you can update your account information, username, and password.
  • On the Preferences page you can manage your email notification settings.

Check out the changes and see for yourself. If you’d like to leave some feedback for us, join the discussions taking place in the Lulu Connect Forums.

Lulu University Classes

6 min read

Lulu empowers creators with the tools needed for success. Our FREE Lulu University webinars will provide you with the knowledge and know-how to get the most out of your work. Lulu University is a series of free webinars. You can register for each class by adding the free service to your shopping cart and checking out.

You will be emailed with instructions on attending this free Lulu University webinar from lulu@amarketingexpert.com a few days prior to the webinar you’ve selected. Webinars are held at 7pm EST/4pm PST and require computer access. Following each class, all webinars will be available for viewing via the link mentioned below.

Be sure to sign up a few days before the event by clicking on the link provided for each webinar. See you in class!

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Two Upcoming Lulu U Classes

1 min read

StudyingMore and more people are attending our FREE Lulu University classes. These classes are empowering our creators and helping them get the results needed to get their remarkable works noticed. Next week we have TWO great Lulu University classes that you don’t want to miss.

Our next class on May 3rd at 7PM EST, Build a Great Web Site, covers the key elements to creating a successful web site. This class will teach you simple tricks and effective strategies to help you understand how a terrific site needs to look. You’ll also learn about keywords and how to find the right ones for your needs. Site layout and the secrets to selling books on your site will also be covered as well as some simple steps to creating a web site or hiring someone to do it for you.

On May 5th at 7PM EST be sure to attend the very special Lulu U class, How to Crack the New York Times Bestseller List. Get the scoop on how to get your book bestseller ready and get noticed!

To take advantage of these FREE classes, be sure to sign up by adding the service to your cart. You will be emailed with instructions on attending this Lulu University webinar from lulu@amarketingexpert.com a few days prior. Webinars are held at 7pm EST and require computer and phone access. All webinars will be available online afterward for viewing.

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