I asked myself this question in full light of its answer. This was not a quiet reflection on some mundane thing. The fate of the world as I knew it was at stake. Okay, perhaps not, but it could have given me that last bit of oomph needed to reaffirm my life as an author. If only I had…My thoughts are shocked back to the present. Contractors were breaking ground on a new development across the street. I watched them work from the tenth floor of my Atlanta condo. The pile driver pounded the earth, beating it into submission. The jarring sound of steel opposing steel echoed throughout the neighborhood. A thousand
blacksmiths striking their anvils all at once is the best I can describe it. The excavator churned up the ground, leaving a huge scar behind. It flooded when the rains came days later. They erected a crane, seemingly at eye level and high enough for me to make sure that I lowered my blinds at night. These were just mere distractions from my real problem.
I had just written an award winning novel, Sheaves of Zion, my first (not counting the reams of dead trees that never saw the light of day). The reviews were great. The awards ceremony in Miami was spectacular. Full of myself and head sufficiently swollen, I sat back with my pockets stretched open as wide as they could go and, like the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, waited for my manna to fall from heaven. Needless to say, it never came. You see, to make the Best Sellers List required more than just a well written book – although this was desperately important. It also required a coordinated marketing and advertising effort. You mean I have to…connect with my audience?But I’m a brooding, introverted, maladjusted and jaded writer. Can’t I just give you a pint and a leg? No. Yikes!
Unfortunately, we can’t just be artist, not in today’s book publishing environment. It is not enough that you just shoot your wild game; you must dress it to, as any hunter worth his salt will tell you. So, after not seeing the sales anticipated for my first book, I was determined to take another, more proactive, approach to generating sales for Swarm Theory, my second book. I wanted to begin by attracting readers to my website. Here is what experts say do:
Notify your (prospective) readers. Sounds simple, right. You would be astonished, they say, the number of individuals who manufacture, bake, build and yes write something and afterward anticipate that buyers will just appear. Social media is the 21st century billboard and a great low-cost medium to market and sell your wares. Use your email list or one provided by others, preferably a list that targets your specific audience – in my case, readers of crime mysteries and thrillers.
Educate your readers. Provide blog content that not only entertains but informs. Take note of blog posts from which your readers could profit and share them. Well written, concise articles that are easily consumed and transportable will keep your readers invested in the product you provide.
Write blog posts that attract readers. While this may sound a touch self-evident, it's something that could be overlooked when you're focused on boosting your guests to-endorsers transformation rate: your site substance should be amazing.
Network with others doing similar work. To you millennials, networking is what you might call a “Friend Me” on social media but without the technological separation. You can, however, network virtually by joining groups online that have similar (or to some degree dissimilar) interest to you. You can exchange information, thoughts and ideas and make those available to your respective audiences.
Post blog comments. You need individuals to remark on your blog entry? Go remark on other individuals' work! Yes, this is quid pro quo…so what. Blogs should be alive and a venue to freely exchange thoughts and ideas. If you’re not getting blog comments, here are 5 possible reasons why:
CAPTCHA. This verification system is designed to prevent spam by having you to prove you are a human and not a computer (sorry Dr. Spock) by asking you to type some often hard to read word or number. Spam-be-damned and turn this off.
You didn’t ask a question. Duh!
You don’t respond to your readers when they leave comments. I know, it’s that introvert thing.
Your blog isn’t mobile friendly. People do things on the go more than ever, including reading and internet surfing. Just ask the author who was eaten by a lion when she wondered into its den while responding to a bad tweet of her latest book. Now the lion is depressed over his reviews. Are you back with me now? Our mobile phones and tablets have become evolutionary appendages. There are a variety of plug-ins available to make your blog more mobile friendly.
Your comments section is intrusive. If you require a registration or profile or third child plus a pet puppy to leave a comment, this may deter readers – I know it does me. Your readers are not applying for credit or national security clearance. The KISS rule should apply here.
The lesson to be learned is, nobody will give a damn about your work if you don’t let them know that they should. If you think you’ve built a better mouse trap or written the great American novel then make it known. If it turns out that you’ve done neither, at least the world knows you’re in the game.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!