Give readers a taste

I was writing an article for a friend's magazine about parenting books I've found helpful, and I realized that I'd come to almost all of the books on my list through online resources. It reminded me of Jo Beverley's plug of Google Book Search, and my note that current books are also wonderful to have in full or in excerpted form online.

I think sometimes authors try so hard to "protect" their work — their ideas and their copyright — that they forget that the point is to get their writing out there. For some, it might be selling more books; for others, the message might be paramount. Either way, it's best to reach the widest audience possible.

I wouldn't have read 95% (I'm guessing here) of the books on my list if I hadn't been able to come to them in some way online first. Whether it was reading detailed reviews or blog entries, looking at excerpts online, downloading articles from the same author, discussing the ideas on forums, or whatever avenue, I needed frequent exposure to the book and author in question before I was intrigued enough to seek out and read the book for myself.

If you're an author or self-publisher, what does this mean for us?

Here are some suggestions for the online world of marketing:
  • √ send out review copies whenever they're requested
  • √ start a blog to talk about and get readers interested in your work and ideas
  • √ host contests and polls to generate excitement, such as a vote on cover art or a character's name
  • √ hold drawings to award copies of your books to lucky readers
  • √ offer live chats with readers
  • √ start a fan email list and send out occasional newsletters
  • √ post short stories, articles, or sample chapters on your website
  • √ allow and encourage others to link to your work
  • √ visit other appropriate blogs and leave helpful comments with a link back to your site
  • √ check out Google AdWords for targeted pay-per-click ads
  • √ join and post on online message boards and create a tasteful signature that links back to your site

If anyone has other good online-marketing ideas, let me know and I'll add them to the list.


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