Sunday, August 23, 2009

Book Marketing Tip: Participate in Online Discussions

Book marketers, authors, publicists, and social networking gurus all sing the praises of participating in online discussions about the topics and themes of their writing. It's a great way to connect with people who are already interested in your topic. Do it enough, and in the right way, and you'll help your niche audience find your book. Here are some of the reasons:

1) People who blog want comments on their blogs. You're not bothering them by thanking them for their blog post, adding something helpful to the discussion, and ending with your name and book information.

2) People who frequent these blogs and discussion groups are looking for information that you're an expert in. You don't have to interrupt someone (like TV or Radio Commercials) to try to interest them in your book. They're already interested and stopped by the blog or discussion group or newspaper article to find more information.

How to Find Articles and Blogs to Comment On

1. Find key words and phrases that people use to search for your topics.

First, go to Google's tool for finding key words and phrases in Google Ad Words. (If the url has changed do a Google search for a phrase such as "find key words". Several sites have tended to offer these tools.)

For my financial book, I did two searches, one on "money" and another on "finances." I discovered, for example, that the phrase "earn money" was searched 368,000 times last month.

2. Find the most popular blogs in your subject areas. Here are several ways:
  • Visit Technorati , the most popular search engine for blogs. Search some of the key words and phrases you discovered. You'll notice that Technorati tells you the "authority" of each blog, according to how many other sites/blogs have linked to the blog.
  • See if one of Technorati's categories fits your subject matter. Click on the category and you'll find blogs listed according to their "authority."
  • Set up Google Alerts to e-mail you when someone has posted a blog or article on your subject matter.
  • Subscribe (with RSS) to the most popular blogs, so that you'll know immediately when they've posted something new. You'll need a free RSS reader, like Google Reader.
3. Is a blog getting enough traffic to make it worth your time to pursue or comment on? To find out how much traffic it gets, download (free of charge) Alexa's "Sparky" . This toolbar lets you see the popularity of any blog or site that you're viewing.

4. On some popular blogs, you may want to ask the administrators if they'd like a free copy of your book to review. (They may ask for another copy as a give-away.) Also, look at Technorati's list of top blogs in different areas. You might want to sign up for RSS feeds from the top sites so that you're first to know when they make a commentable post.

Other tips:

1) The early commenter gets the most visible comments. Blogs tend to post in order from first comment to last. Thus, if you're commenting on a newspaper article or a popular blog, comment as close to its posting as possible. Otherwise you may post comment #45, which nobody will ever read. That's the benefit of having receiving Google Alerts and setting up syndication from popular columns and blogs. As soon as you receive an alert, you can read the article and comment. Those reading the article all that day will also see your comment. [Maybe its a guy thing with my competitiveness, but I like to think that I've captured the "Poll Position" (first position in a car race or horse race) to motivate me to get that first comment.]

2) Before reading the article, scroll to the bottom of the article to make sure you can leave comments.

3) Realize that some blogs will not allow you to link back to your site or Amazon page. So just put the name of your book so that they can copy and paste into Amazon to search for it.

4) Some say that they allow you to use basic html to add a link. Here's an example. It's a bit more tricky, but not that hard once you figure it out. When a reply box says it allows html, here's the code I put into it to get a live link to our publisher site. (Typically, I link them to the Amazon page for my book, but that link's so long I thought it might confuse the issue.) (don't use the parentheses): (">Enjoy Your Money! How to Make It, Save It, Invest It and Give It)

To make your live link, simply replace my url or web address (shown in bold blue) with your url. Then, replace my book title (shown in bold green) with your book title. Now, keep it handy, like in a saved Word document or a saved e-mail, so that you can find it quickly and copy and paste it into a comment the next time you need it.

Other Benefits of Commenting on Blogs
  • You become more of an expert on your topic and more up-to-date. It's an education in itself.
  • You discover other organizations that need to know about your book.
Do you have experience with commenting on other people's blogs or articles? Let us know what you think!