When it comes to book promotion, the title of this blog post is truer now than it ever was. When you put something online, it can almost live forever. That means that we have to be careful what we share, what we say, and the footprints we leave online. A bad first impression is tough to recover from and in some cases it might not just mean a lost sale but a lost media opportunity. Here are a few guidelines to consider when forging your success online!
1.) Article Syndication: edit, edit, edit. I can’t say this enough. We do a lot of article syndication and I can’t tell you how much editing we do for some of our authors. But when you’re syndicating yourself, who do you turn to? Well, get an editor to do project work for you. I really recommend it. Once an article is “out there” it’s almost impossible to get it back.
2.) Blog posts: edit, edit, edit. Never put up a single blog post without running spell check (thankfully most blog software comes with this now), but be cautious about this. Remember, it’s public domain and blog posts that go up generally stay up unless you pull them down. They’ll get spidered, you might even get folks linking to them.
3.) Twitter tweets: this is a big one, especially as many of us are hopping on Twitter these days. All of your tweets can be searched and in the case of Twitter, it’s pretty easy to shoot off a quickie, short, and thoughtless tweet. Remember that in the case of Twitter, the world is watching. My rule of thumb? Don’t tweet anything you wouldn’t want your Grandmother to read.
4.) Facebook updates: this is another cautionary tale, and not always just from your updates. As with anything online, be cautious about the type and amount of personal information you give away. Remember, like we’ve been saying everything is your resume. If you need a personal page then get one, but keep the business/book stuff to a fan page that’s isolated to the message. You don’t necessarily want all of your readers to know you and the hubby just went out for Chinese food or that you found fleas on Fido.
5.) Online reviews: while you can’t control the content of reviews online, you can control your reaction to them. If you get a bad review, don’t attack the reviewer. Listen, I had a bad review on the first edition of Red Hot Internet Publicity, and while it was the only negative comment, I wanted so badly to write to the reviewer and begin engaging him in a debate over my book. Instead what I did was write him, first thanking him for the time he took to read the book and then I offered insight on the negative points he mentioned. I also thanked him for his feedback which, once I stepped back from the harshness of his words, was actually really helpful. Don’t battle an online reviewer. You put your book out there and not everyone is going to like it. You have to either accept this or stop promoting it.
6.) Blog comments: Commenting on other people’s blogs is a great idea, but like anything else, be careful about this because like a blog post, comments are searchable.
7.) Podcasts and Blogtalk radio: there are a lot of opportunities to do radio online these days and while it might not seem as glamorous as, say, NPR, it can get you a lot of traction for your message. Don’t underestimate the power of online radio and podcasts, they can have a far reach. Be as prepared as you would be to go on a big show. Some of these podcasts (and especially through BlogTalk radio) get thousands upon thousands of listeners.
8.) YouTube: a colleague of mine was commenting last week on a book/author video that was posted to YouTube. He said that while it was interesting, the author wasn’t a great interview and the video was sort of flat. Many authors put up video and forget the worldwide reach that this has. They also forget that if the video can be found, a media person might land on it and if your video is subpar, it might nix any chances for an interview. Don’t just assume because you put it out there that it’s good. Yes, sketchy, off-color videos get circulated by the media but if you look at the number of videos that get loaded onto YouTube, it’s really a small slice of the pie.
9.) Hiring someone: with the proliferation of Internet marketing firms offering Virtual Book Tours you want to proceed with caution. We’ve been offering Internet tours for a long time and we are extremely careful how we represent our authors online. If you’re thinking of hiring a company get a sense of who they’ve promoted and how they’ve promoted them. If you hire a company that uses “black hat” marketing techniques, you could get dinged for something that isn’t even your fault. Black hat refers to a certain type of Internet marketing that uses faulty link-building and spam techniques to get an author or book exposure. Often the exposure is short-lived and very harmful but black hat techniques can show up *very* successfully early on, that’s the way these tricksters are poised. Show early success only to have it drop off. In some cases I’ve known authors to even get their sites yanked. It’s not pretty.
There are numerous “easy” ways to get your name out there and that means you just have to make sure the information you put out there is good, solid, yes edited, and representative of your work. When it comes to marketing online, the Internet is one big networking event. Consider this: would you ever go to a networking event dressed in shorts, flipflops and a tank top? Doubtful. You show up dressed up, business cards in hand ready to rock and roll. The same rules apply online. Everything is your resume. If you make that your motto, the world will beat a path to your virtual door.