Online Marketing for Authors

I’m a writer. Majored in journalism in college, wrote advertising and marketing materials all my career. A few years ago I self-published my first book, a Christian romance. Of course, all the marketing responsibilities became mine. So I dutifully took copies of this wonderful new work of fiction to every local bookstore manager who’d give me the time of day. I faithfully sent out news releases and books to local and national media. One very kind Christian radio station interviewed me and a generous bookstore provided a table for my first and only booksigning.

At the end of the year I’d sold three dozen copies to family, friends, the one to the lone person who’d braved my booksigning, and a few sales through the bookstore. An honest-to-goodness royalty check finally arrived, but it barely bought dinner for my wife and me.

Now my second novel is contracted to a traditional publishing house. They have sales folks; they have marketing people; they’ll list my next wonderful work in their catalog. Yet they expect me to be as active in marketing the book as they will be. News releases will be helpful; radio station interviews are better; yet more than any other effort, my publisher encourages me to promote this title online via my own website. He even insists I create a blog about my book and dialogue about it in the blogosphere.

Online marketing? What happened to magazine ads, book tours and schmoozing the press? Where are the trade conferences? I’m learning book marketing has changed dramatically with the Internet. In fact, a leading Christian publisher categorically insists every author needs a powerful online presence. Period. No exceptions. Websites are the basis for online marketing, but blogs are better because readers can interact with authors through comments.

The benefit of your own blog is it connects directly with your readers. You can write a chapter, publish it on your blog and ask for reader feedback. Immediately. After all, maybe your brilliantly creative WIP could use a little more focus, a little less preaching, some of this, a twist of that. Let them challenge you, question you, give you their insights. Your own readers just might help you craft an even more powerful book. Not only do they invest a little of themselves into your work, they’ll look for your title when it hits the bookstores and, of course, the online outlets.

Beyond your personal blog, spend time dialoguing across the blogosphere. Engage anyone who’ll respond. Presumably you’re a subject matter expert or you wouldn’t have written the book. Share what you know. The more you give to your readers, the more they will give back and the more often they’ll search your blog.


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2 Responses to “Online Marketing for Authors”

  1. sandysays1 Says:

    One of the unfortunate parts of publishing’s evolution is its penchant for self destruction. Its just about accomplished that. The system of agents, major houses, and (YES) mega-bookstores have condemmed it to death by ruling against new ideas and new authors. May it RIP.

  2. Robert Parrish Says:

    Publishing evolution is inevitable, I suppose, Sandy. A recent article in Time magazine by Lev Grossman says publishers are increasingly using the web to monitor the buzz and interest of unknown authors and books, then offering contracts to those that generate widespread comments.

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