Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Getting Your Book to Top Bloggers and Top Sites

Want to get your book in front of people? One way is to find the most popular sites and blogs that speak about the subjects you write on. Send an e-mail to the main writers for the blog or site to see if they're interested in reviewing your book.

And how then do you find those popular sites and blogs?

1) Technorati ranks blogs according to number of incoming links, assuming that a blog is more respected and visited if more people link to it. Click "blogs" on their site to find their blog directory.

Now find the subjects that most closely match your topic and click on them to find the most popular blogs that talk about those subjects.

2) Download the free Alexa toolbar to discover how many people visit any given site. Click "Download the Alexa Toolbar" to start the process.

3) Search key words or phrases in Google Blog Search to find more blogs.

4) Of course, search Google to find other popular sites besides blogs.

Other ideas?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Using Press Releases to Promote Books (Part 2)

Considering doing a press release to promote your book? Perhaps my experiences can help. Here's what I've done and the results:

1) I sent a release through several free press release organizations. To see what I did and what organizations I used, click here to my former blog post. This was a general release about the publication of my book, but put in a newsy way that showed how it addressed some of today's issues. I didn't get any response, but did find the release posted on an Atlanta business site.

2) A month later, I sent exactly the same release through a paid service ($175) that claimed to have a targeted list. The company is Bostick Communications, who intrigued me with an e-mail advertising their services. Within 24 hours, I received over 20 responses, including a TV request, a radio opportunity, and requests from newspaper columnists and bloggers who review books.

My contact at Bostick answered my questions promptly and thoroughly prior to taking my money. Then, he approved my release and told me that they'd wait until Monday to send it, since they get less response toward the end of the week. Following the press release, Bostick alerts me via e-mail when and where my book has been reviewed.

Why the Difference?

I'm assuming that media folks don't have all day to read thousands of press releases. Thus, they ignore the stuff coming from free services and pay attention to the services they've learned to rely upon for helpful, targetted stories. That's the service that companies like Bostwick provide authors. If you wrote a book on childrearing, your press release wouldn't go to the editors at Popular Mechanics. That makes sense.

Tips from the Trenches

1. Make your press release newsworthy. Thousands of new books come out each year. Another book isn't news. "Steve Miller's Money Book Was Just Published" makes a bad headline. Try to connect your book with something newsworthy, like "New Money Book Helps Generation Y Avoid Baby Boomer's Mistakes."

2. Choose a company that can target the niche you want to reach.

3. Have an online press kit that compels the media to take you seriously
(blurbs and reviews), gives them example questions and answers, and - if you're shooting for radio or TV - demonstrates that you can handle yourself in that arena. Link the news release to your online press kit. (Example: Here's my press kit.)

4. Realize that sending out review copies can be expensive. If someone half-way around the world offers to review the book, make sure it's worth it to you. It may cost $14 or so. If you're limited by a budget, you could almost send 5 copies via media mail within the USA for that amount.

5. Make the most of your results. I got a book request from two book review bloggers who had a very little traffic to their blogs. (An Alexa application tells me a site's Google Ranking as I view any site.) Was it worth sending her a book? Well, I looked at each profile to discover one worked in the legal industry and another was a home schooler. I sent each a copy for review, suggesting that the book would make a neat gift to lawyer clients and a great home school text (would she give me a blurb on the book's value to home schoolers?). Give these opportunities some creative thought to get more benefits out of each reviewer.

Any helpful advice or questions about press releases?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Marketing Books with Online Video

This week I participated in a seminar on using videos on social media sites like YouTube and Google Videos to market books. Here are some tips I picked up, as well as some questions I have yet to resolve. I'll present the basic strategy here, then add my thoughts and concerns.

How to Sell Tons of Products (According to the Seminar)
Using Free, Web-Based Video

a. Pick a topic that people search for on the Web that ties in with your book. (Example: The topic "How Can I Find a Job?" would tie into your book, "Fool-Proof Career Advice For Recessionary Times")

b. Make short, one to three-minute, inexpensive (you can use a $99 flip camera) how-to videos about the topic. Make these based on frequently asked questions (FAQ's) about the topic.

c. Put the videos up on 30+ free video sites. Since Google prioritizes video, you have a great chance of getting a high ranking for your key words.

d. Link the videos to your website or blog, telling them that you offer more free videos on the same subject.

e. Use the free videos on your site to show them the value of your for sale products.

f. Link them to a page where they can purchase your products.

Does it work? Here's his evidence: 1) He's an expert. 2) He's seen it work for him. 3) His reasoning seems to make sense. 4) He's got quotes from others who say it worked for them.


1) It was a bit sensational - "You're virtually guaranteed..."

I don't believe anything's "guaranteed" to work in internet marketing.

Here are some reasons that this method could fail in any individual case:

2) Many other people may be targeting your niche with videos. If you're all using the same methods, how can yours be "virtually guaranteed" to turn up high in a Google search?

3) Sometimes Google's algorithms are hard, if not impossible, to figure out. (I have a site for youth workers that had more content than any other youth ministry sites (over 150 articles by top youth workers), and more visitors (about 650 per day) than all but about 2 of the top youth ministry sites. Yet, for some reason, using all the best practices for search engine optimization, and even paying an SEO professional, I could never get higher than page five in a Google search for the all-important phrase: "youth ministry." Go figure.

4) Your niche may not be very "sellable".

EXAMPLE SELLABLE NICHE: Someone produces a set of free videos showing unique, proven ways to promote a product on YouTube. He argues convincingly that he's an established expert. He directs people from the video to his site or blog for more free instructions. There, he sells people on a product that enhances their ability to use this method to greater advantage and increase their revenues. As long as he's selling a first-rate product that users will write believable blurbs about, then he's probably on to something.

EXAMPLE QUESTIONABLE NICHE: You've written a biography of your father, who was a nice guy and did well at his business, although the business was not big enough to be generally recognisable. You put some videos up on YouTube explaining "How to Make It Big in Your Business," directing them to your site for more free videos, which in turn tell them about your book.

Here are the problems I see with marketing this niche. First, there are lots of competing YouTube videos about how to run a business. What will make yours rank above the others, many of which are probably optimised by SEO professionals? Second, you're not a recognized expert. Thus, lots of people link to talks by Jack Welch, one of the top CEO's of the last century, making his videos (and dozens of other recognized business gurus) come up before yours in Google search. Third, your product isn't widely compelling. Sure, people who knew your father and his business might want the book. But people in general would be more compelled to read the story of Dell, MicroSoft, Amazon, Home Depot, or a host of other great companies.

5) Producing home-made, unprofessional video footage may work fine for some endeavors, but not for those who need to keep a sharp, professional image.

My takeaways:
  • Put my tv interviews up on more sites. Currently I have them only on YouTube. Why not put them up on more?
  • Since my book is about personal finances - a general topic which many videos cover - look for a niche that isn't crowded, yet people search for it. (Example: "What baby boomers should do after their retirement invesments plummeted in the crash.")
  • Make some helpful videos answering the most frequently asked questions on this niche.
  • Link the videos to my book on Amazon.
To learn more: - a service to help people market their products through online video. - a helpful critique of the above service. - YouTube best practices for non-profits. - As the title says: YouTube Best Practices.

Have you had experiences with online video that you'd like to share?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wise Online Counsel for Book Publishing and Marketing

To get an overview of book publishing and book marketing, read good respected works, such as Poynter's Self-Publishing Manual, Kremer's 1001 Ways to Market Your Books, or Jud's Beyond the Bookstore.

But sometimes I need specific information that most books don't address, or need information that's quickly dated in books, such as:
  • What publishers are currently offering the best services?
  • What are the best blogs to send a book to for review?
  • What book marketing techniques are working best today?
Fortunately, writers and publishers like to write, so you'll find them churning out gobs of great information in various social media. Here are three examples that I've been learning from recently. They have lots of active discussions by knowledgeable people:

1 - Book Publishing Professionals group on LinkedIn. We're having some great discussions on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing vs. vanity publishing. Also, a great discussion on the best uses of social media for book marketing. You'll find input from experienced writers and publishers.

2 - Book Blogs Group on Ning. Book lovers share their favorite books. Authors tell about their books.

3 - Book Marketing Network on Ning. Started by book marketing guru John Kremer, he just started a new discussion on what's actually working in selling books.

What a great time to be writing and publishing! There's so much great, free information available!

Do you have other free places you recommend to learn about writing and publishing?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Right Way for Authors to Use Social Media

I'm hearing all kinds of messages concerning how authors should use social media. Some say very dogmatically that all authors should try to build a platform with social media to ultimately sell their books. If you start a blog and start Tweeting, but don't see any results, they'll chide you that you're not posting enough comments. "You need to Tweet every 30 minutes and post something on your blog 7x per day," they'll say.

Yet, saner voices are saying what many of us intuitively felt all along - that social media shouldn't be about me sending out lots of messages and trying to sell my stuff. Instead, it should be more...well... SOCIAL. Social implies listening as well as talking, commenting on other people's comments rather than just spouting off my thoughts. My wife, Cherie, found these wonderful tips on social media from Chris Brogan, a true thought leader in social media. You'll note that his tips are diametrically opposed to much of the "here's how to sell your product with social media" hype.

19 Presence Management Chores You COULD Do Every Day

June 29, 2009

If you’re looking to establish your online presence, and build relationships, it’s not the kind of project where you show up, build your profiles, friend a few people, and call it good. It’s a lot like tending the farm. Here are seven particular “chores” you could do every day that should prove beneficial to your online interests.


1. Find seven things worth retweeting in your general feed and share.
2. Reply to at least five things with full responses (not just “thanks”).
3. Point out a few people that you admire. It shows your mindset, too.
4. Follow back at least 10 folks. (I use an automated tool, but this is a personal preference. If you want such, I use SocialToo.)
5. 10 minutes of just polite two-way chit chat goes far.


6. Check in on birthdays on the home page. (Want a secret? Send the birthday wish via Twitter or email. Feels even more deliberate.)
7. Respond to any comments on your wall.
8. Post a status message daily, something engaging or interesting.
9. Comment on at least seven people’s status messages or updates.
10. Share at least 3 interesting updates that you find.
11. If you belong to groups or fan pages, leave a new comment or two.


11. Accept any invitations that make sense for you to accept.
12. Enter any recent business cards to invite them to LinkedIn (if you’re growing your network).
13. Drop into Q&A and see if you can volunteer 2-3 answers.
14. Provide 1 recommendation every few days for people you can honestly and fully recommend.
15. Add any relevant slide decks to the Slideshare app there, or books to the Amazon bookshelf.


16. Visit your blog’s comments section and comment back on at least 5 replies.
17. If you have a few extra minutes, click through to the blogs of the commenters, and read a post or two and comment back.
18. While on those sites, use a tool like StumbleUpon and promote their good work.
19. Write the occasional post promoting the good work of a blog in your community.

It’s Not Easy

Maintaining your online presence takes time. If you look at all I’ve listed above, that’s easily more than an hour of work. But it depends what the value of that presence is to you, if you’re doing this as an individual, or to your organization, if you’re doing this on behalf of a brand or product.

We’ve traded dollars for time, in lots of these equations, as we see the return on our advertising spend diminish. It’s your choice whether you want to maintain an active online presence, or if you want to get away with a bit less.

This is the end of Chris' comments. His blog is a great example of what he's preaching above. You can find his blog at: