21 August 2010

Tips for Your Online Book Promotion by Marsha Friedman

It’s Not About the Technology, It’s About the Customers
Date: 18/8/10

When I started working with authors on their publicity campaigns, the landscape was reasonably simple. Arranging phone interviews on talk radio shows, appearances on TV and getting reviews in major newspapers and magazines drove consumer interest. Everyone bought their books in bookstores and the only people interested in the Internet were some computer geeks.

Boy, have things changed. Today 44 percent of ALL books sold in North America are sold online at Amazon.com. What’s more, e-books now account for nearly 30 percent of all of Amazon’s sales.

I want to underscore the importance of this information, because one of the most difficult things to do in the mass consumer marketplace is to figure out where your customers might be. For the book market, it’s no mystery – nearly half of your customers are researching and buying online. They live there, so that’s where you need to be.

Moreover, the e-book is growing in leaps and bounds, so fast that it’s difficult to keep track of the changing stats.

With all this online focus, and statistics changing as quickly as the industry can report them, it’s paramount for authors and publishers to focus on their online assets. It’s not enough to simply have an Amazon listing anymore. To compete, you need more:

Web Site – Every author should have their own Web site, whether they are marketing one book or twenty. If your book has garnered some positive reviews, feature them on the home page – get as much leverage from those reviews as possible. Make sure visitors to the site can easily purchase your book directly from the site. No need to invest in an expensive e-commerce web solution – PayPal is totally acceptable and trusted these days, and easy to implement on your site.

Even though most of your online book sales will come from Amazon, it’s worthwhile selling on your site and will provide the opportunity to add these book buyers to your own mailing list. That way, when your next book is ready to be released, you can email everyone on your list and let them know. If your topic or area of expertise lends itself to a weekly or monthly newsletter, add a newsletter signup to the site, and make sure each edition of your newsletter contains links back to your site. You never know where your newsletter will eventually land.

Book Reviewers – The reality is that the top book review publications – Publisher’s Weekly and The New York Times Book Review – are already very exclusive. They can’t possibly address all of the hundreds of thousands of new books published every year, so self-published books rarely make their lists. But the Internet has opened new doors for authors looking for reviews.

Book bloggers – reviewers who post their reviews on their own blogs – have become as influential as book reviewers in traditional publications, so make sure you don’t overlook book bloggers when you are launching your new title. It’s even possible that some of the top book review publications may become obsolete one day, as their space and restrictions make it impossible for them to address the lion’s share of the books available to readers.

Press – Getting as much media coverage as possible is always desirable when marketing your book. But after the radio or TV interview has aired, or the review has appeared in various publications, are you done? Absolutely not! Getting press is a huge boost to your credibility and you want to squeeze out every last precious drop. You’ve got “bragging rights” now…so use them. Make sure to post your radio and TV clips, and links to your articles on your Web site. Email your newsletter subscribers and business associates to let them know when you’re on the air or featured in a news story – it’s marketing gold.

Over the years, I’ve found that the best way to market a book is to put yourself in a place populated by your customers and then provide them as much information as possible on what you’re selling. Today, the Internet is one of THE most important places to be so as not to miss out on those valuable opportunities to connect with potential buyers.

If you follow the steps I just outlined, you’ll be able to do just that.

For 20 years Marsha Friedman has been a leading authority on public relations as CEO of EMSI. Go to http://www.emsincorporated.com/ to signup for her free weekly PR Tips today! More resources for authors can also be found at http://publicitythatworks.com/. Or call 727-443-7115 x202.