About the Author: Kevin McNeese lives in Grand Rapids, Mich.,
and owns and operates KMWeb Designs. He has worked in professional
web design and online marketing for over four years and currently
manages sites for various authors, artists, and small
Ten Simple & Inexpensive Ways For Authors
To Market Themselves Online
Kevin McNeese of KMWeb Designs
Hopefully, I do not need to sell you on the importance of having
a presence online. If I do, this article is not for you. But, if you
are an author thinking about a website and have no clue where to
start, or even if you have an established website and want to build
traffic and awareness, I strongly suggest you keep
Below, I have listed ten ways for authors to market
themselves online. These are easy to implement and cost little to
nothing to execute. They are ideas that will help you establish an
essential presence in the online world that is so much more than
just a website. Anyone can put up a page of information about
themselves. Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to make it
enjoyable and worthwhile for your visitors. Hopefully, this article
will be worth your time and you can use it as a great way to build
1. CLEAN HOUSE BEFORE INVITING THE
Whether you have a site or are in need of a
site, itís always important to look at what you have before you
begin to market yourself. Your website should look contemporary,
up-to-date and easy to navigate. It should present your work in a
way that is entertaining, yet professional. You worked hard to get
where you are today. You did not settle for second best in your
publications. Why settle for a sub-par website?
It can be a
little frightening to start at ground level, especially if you donít
have a clue about the Internet. That is why it is extremely
important to spend time selecting the right company for the job. If
you already have a web designer, go to them with the ideas in this
article and if they cannot help you accomplish them, find someone
who can. Unless you are managing your own site, you are only as good
as the person pushing the buttons for you. Make sure your site is
ready for the flood of traffic that will come when you begin to
focus on marketing it to the masses.
2. YOUR BEST BRAND IS NOT YOUR TOPICS, BUT YOUR NAME
authors make the mistake of branding their sites with their latest
title or bestseller. This backs the author into a corner if they
ever venture outside of the topic. Your best brand to build is your
name, not your current theme, and your website URL should reflect
this. This will give you the freedom to promote your latest titles
and update the theme of the site with each release. It will also
make it easier for people to find you through search engines,
especially if you have multiple titles.
3. YOUR SITE MUST
BE EASY TO FIND
As soon as you have an established site, make
sure your publisher and publicists know that it is something you are
serious about. Your URL should be in all future editions of your
books along with links from the publisherís site. They should also
be including your URL in any magazine ads, press releases,
Another way to help people find your website is
to add a signature line to your email with your full website address
(http://www.yourname.com). It's a terrific marketing technique! One quick
click and people have access to your site.
Your web developer
should be submitting your sites to search engines along with
configuring your pages with keywords and descriptions so that your
site is search friendly. They should be providing this service as
part of the initial design process.
4. BUILD A COMMUNITY
AND MAKE YOURSELF AVAILABLE
Building community into your site
is an easy way to connect you to your readers, and more importantly,
to connect your readers to each other.
A great way to do this
is to provide a message board. This is a place where visitors
register to participate in ongoing conversations that they either
start themselves, or jump into. When building your message board,
first focus on the topics you write about and then provide areas for
members to broaden their discussions. You are creating a gathering
place for people to meet and talk who have a similar interestÖyour
work! Once your community is established, spend some time each week
and interact with your readers!
While there are hundreds of
programs and various companies providing message boards, I have
found InfoPop.com and PhpBB.com to be the best providers of software
in this area.
Other ways to build community is by providing
ways for readers to become a part of what you do. Depending on your
genre, this can be accomplished by asking visitors to your site to
fill out surveys about the topics you write about. You can also
provide a Q&A section where readers can submit questions to you
via email and you can post them along with your answers. Invite
readers to submit reviews of your works and post them on the
Without a sense of community or some level of
interaction, the reader will come to your site and leave without a
compelling reason to return.
5. BUILD AN ONLINE MAILING LIST
The biggest kept secret that many authors have yet to grasp
is that email marketing works. There's no denying it. Its key
advantage over other Internet marketing methods is that it enables
you to contact your readers immediately instead of forcing them to
contact you. This ability is especially useful when something that
your readers need to know as soon as possible has happened. Whether
you've just released a new title or simply would like to stay in
touch with your readers, the fastest (and cheapest) way to spread
the word is via email.
There are many ways to collect
addresses. Obviously, having the ability for the reader to subscribe
directly from your site is key. Another easy way to collect
addresses is to hold contests. Give readers the ability to win a
signed copy of one of your books, or partner with your publisher to
give away something of high value like an eBook viewer. When
visitors enter the contests on your site, you can capture their
email address and automatically subscribe them to your newsletter.
Just be sure to be upfront about your intentions by telling them
that when they enter, they will subscribe. You can also give them
the option to get more information from you.
online newsletter wherever possible. You should have a short
sentence in your email signature that says "Get the latest updates
direct from my site! Sign up for my newsletter here!" This will give
everyone you come in contact with an opportunity to join without
forcing the issue on them. Also, have a sign-up sheet if you do any
speaking engagements, that way you can stay in touch with those who
come to hear you speak.
Once you have an established list,
make sure to use it. There should be no reason not to send out a
quick monthly update. Even if you donít have anything to say, there
is always information you can dig up that your readers would love.
Press releases, reviews of your latest work, sneak-peeks on future
releases, sample chapters and site updates make great content for
email newsletters. Donít let them forget about you! Stay in touch
with your readers as much as possible.
Whatever you do, make
sure you are following good email etiquette. Never add addresses to
your list unless they have specifically asked to be included, and
make it easy for people to unsubscribe.