Thursday, August 21, 2008

Find Your Readers Online

You've written a book! That's a major accomplishment and don't let anyone tell you that you can't be published. But by saying that you want to be published, you're really saying that you want readers; and you can find them. They are out in the Internet ether, waiting to read your book. You need only to remember: PACKAGE, MESSAGE, MARKET.

Your book is your PACKAGE, and so is your website. If you have a book, you should have a website. If you start with a polished product, you'll be better prepared to find your readers. So, write your book, revise, edit, and rework until you're proud of your product. Simultaneous to this, you should prepare your website. A website is also part of your package. Your book and the topic should be the focus of the website if you are not a known author. A good web designer can come up with an image that will be the hallmark of what you've created. Use it for online representations of your book, for postcards (to be distributed in your local community) and business cards. This is called branding, and it will help establish your product for when you get to the marketing tasks. Now you have a book, a website, and an image. You can be published within two days.

Time for the MESSAGE aspect of e-publishing. This simply is putting your book into the ether. Prepare a three- or four-sentence synopsis of your book and a short bio about yourself. You should already have this from your website. You will use it wherever you post your book. Amazon offers a Digital Text Platform that will upload and convert your book into an e-book. From Amazon, this feature makes your book exclusively available for download to their electronic reader, the Kindle. But it puts you in good company: your book among 90-some thousand other books. You should create a bio page within Amazon that will link you to the listing of your book.

Next could be Mobipocket, which happens to be owned by Amazon, but will place your book into additional e-book markets. Mobipocket offers E-Book Base where you upload your book to their online store. You have to sign agreements as you do for Amazon and mail them in to the company's respective headquarters. Once approved, you will open a publisher account and agree to give Mobipocket a percentage of each sale made, as you did with Amazon. You won't get rich from this venture, but you will be published and available to readers. Mobipocket is affiliated with numerous e-book stores, such as FictionWise and BooksOnBoard. If your sales for your book take off, you may become a featured author at either of these sites. And that's where marketing comes in.

You're ready to MARKET your book. You need to get the word out about your book. First, establish a budget. Determine how much money can you spend and then break that down into where you will spend it. In order to find the best markets for your book, you need to analyze what your topic is, who your protagonist or antagonist is, what they do -- this will help you determine your audience. What kind of book have you written? If it's a thriller and your protagonist is a naturopath, your audience lies among naturalists, herbalists, massage therapists, etc. These are your keywords. Find bulletin boards where these topics are discussed and tap into the audience. But be savvy. Many bulletin boards have rules of conduct and they don't approve of shameless hucksters. You can also use those keywords to run ads on the internet, as you can do through Google AdWords. You should already have signed on with an analytics service that will track traffic to your website; where it came from, how long it stayed, etc. AdWords or a similar service, like ExactSeek, can target web browsers that touch upon your keywords. You prepare a short ad that is placed according to searches that people do. If they click on your ad, you pay for that click.

Most importantly, don't forget your local community. Who's on your personal e-mail list? Everyone is thrilled to know an author. Send out an e-mail telling people about your book and asking them to visit your website. Take some postcards promoting your book to local restaurants and specialty shops. If you're really ambitious, you can also set up a website that can provide a shopping cart feature. Sell your book from your own website. You will need to convert your book into a downloadable format, like Adobe or MSReader, and unless you do this yourself (time-consuming and difficult), you will have to pay a service to do the conversion for you. The next issue will be whether you sell a secure, encrypted version of your book (again, more expensive and time-consuming, but preserves the integrity of a single sale rather than allowing the purchaser to forward your book over the internet.) The field of encrypted text is known as digital rights management, and that's a topic for another guide.

With good planning, and a few simple digital steps, you can be an e-published author find your readers online. Good Luck.

by: K. F. Zuzulo


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