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Online Book Marketing Tips from Bouchercon

© 2003 Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

The mystery novel is alive and well. Bouchercon, the mystery writer/fan conference held in Las Vegas on October 16-19 boasted 1,500 attendees. The bookstore room was so crowded that we could hardly move through the aisles. Every 1 1/2 hours we had a choice of five panels of authors, agents, publicists, or publishers, and all author panels were followed by book signings. Those panels were great fun, loaded with writing and marketing tips. There were plenty of funny stories too¾ like the one about the mystery author who wanted to know what it was like to ride in the trunk of a car. His dutiful wife drove the car around the block twice, and when she went to let him out of the trunk, she found that the lock had jammed!

Everyone agreed that the author must market his book, whether he is self-published or published by a large publisher. In addition to your book signings and readings, you should also be doing online marketing.

The online marketing panel outlined the basics for marketing your novel online:

  1. Start with your Web site. Make that site a clean, easy-to-navigate site. Don’t slow the site down with music or Flash movies.  
  2. Be sure to present yourself in your site. Don’t keep the site in third person, but talk directly to your visitors. Let visitors see who you are.  
  3. Keep your site updated. Be sure to add all of your latest news on books coming out, book signings, awards, etc.  
  4. Ask site visitors to sign up for occasional news e-mails. Your Webmaster can add a simple form, and you can build up a mailing list of people interested in your books. Then use that mailing list occasionally to let everyone know about the events in your life as an author.  
  5. Research the online discussion groups in your genre and/or your main topic. This research can start with Yahoo Groups at http://groups.yahoo.com/. To find other groups, search Google on "mystery discussion groups", substituting your genre for mystery.  
  6. Select the best of those groups and participate in discussions. Start by simply reading the ongoing discussions. When a topic is appropriate for your comments, jump right in. These groups are for comfortable discussion, so discuss the current topic or bring up another topic of general interest. While you are participating, don’t blatantly push your book, but be sure to end your messages with a signature stating your book(s) and your Web site address (URL).  
  7. Use Google to search within your genre to find fan, author, and publisher sites that attract your target market. Many of those sites maintain lists of author sites, and you can ask to have your Web site included in each online list. To be included, look for their site submission area and fill in the form. If there is no form, send an e-mail to the site, asking to be added to the author list. Be sure to tell them why you should be listed and provide a short description of your books, along with your name and your URL.

These seven steps form the basic framework for successful online book marketing. The highly successful authors are paying online publicists to do the work, but these steps are actions that we can do ourselves.

Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D. is a professional Web Designer and Online Marketing Consultant who publishes both in print and online. Contact her at virginia@spawn.org or visit her Web site at http://www.cognitext.com

 

 

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