How to Sell Your Book, No Matter Who Published It (Part 4)
In this section of How to Sell Your Book No Matter Who Published It, I’m going to talk about the things you need to do to make yourself visible (online, mostly). I’m going to talk about the content and look of the static components of your online presence, by which I mean those that normally stay the same from day to day and week to week – like your website, your profile on Goodreads, your Twitter handle. I am not talking about the things you update, like your status on Facebook.
The topics I’m discussing in the “Let’s Get Visible” section are not specific marketing techniques. If they happen to attract actual purchasers it will be a side-benefit. Their purpose is to make certain that if someone wants to find out more about you or about your books, and they go to the usual places where people go to look for things online (e.g., the Google search engine, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) they will find you. It is not enough that they can find you as an entry inside your publishing company’s website or in its online catalogue (although that’s a bonus): they need to be able to find you as an independent entity.
This doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. In fact, it doesn’t need to cost any. And it doesn’t need to take too much time… unless you let it: beware the tendency to make yours the most beautiful, complex website on the Net, or the most outrageous Facebook page in existence.
Simplicity is more helpful to readers than are bells and whistles. And the most important characteristic of all of your online initiatives is consistency.
Which brings me to your “look” or “style” – a component of what marketers refer to as your “brand.”
Remember the last time you saw someone famous in the real world? Maybe it was even a recognizable writer – Margaret Atwood or John Irving or Salman Rushdie or Anne Rice. The moment you saw that person, you felt like you knew them. Warm thoughts for them and admiration for their writing rushed over you (I hope). You had never seen that person before, but you knew their sense of humour, their verbal talents, their interests, the mood/tone of their writing, etc. It was definitely not like seeing a stranger about whom you knew nothing.
That’s what we’re trying to attain online: not fame (well, not necessarily; at least not right away), but recognition. We want to put the viewer/reader’s ability to associate to work: your name goes with your face goes with your book cover(s). If everyone changed faces every time they went out in the world, we’d never recognize them; by the same token, if you have a different photo or name on every social medium, you lose the traction you gain as your prospective readers move from site to site.
Therefore I suggest that you choose three images to use everywhere online – one of yourself, one of your most recent book, and one background image that is wider than it is tall (approx. ratio, 3 wide to 1 tall; known on Facebook as your “cover photo”). Keep them together in one folder on your computer so you can find them when you think of a new place where you might want to use one.
Much as I love changing the photo on my Facebook profile page every few weeks or so, I use only one on my Facebook page (we’ll discuss the difference between profiles and pages soon), and I use the same photo on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, GoodReads, the “About Mary” page of this blog, etc. That photo also shows up when I make comments on other people’s blogs or on online articles. I also send it out for use with my bio when I am speaking at a workshop or doing a reading. Recognition is a powerful tool.
The background image can be anything you like. If you write horror novels, you might want something spooky. If you write humour, your background image should convey that. Since my novels are all over the map, I have taken a photo of a stack of my books that I use wherever a generic background photo, wider than it is high, is needed. Mine looks like this (I’ve linked it to my Facebook page, which you are welcome to “like” while you’re there….or not):
To further reinforce the “recognition” principle, you could also use a segment of your book cover as a background photo, if it works (mine doesn’t, very well):
So, your homework this time is to choose permanent (or at least semi-permanent; you will probably want to change them occasionally) photos to represent you online.
Next time, I’ll talk about websites: Do you have one? Do you need one? If you decide to have one, what should go on it?
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Throughout this series, I encourage you to share your own experiences and knowledge about book promotion through the comments section below. If your comment isn’t posted immediately, be patient. I review them first, to avoid spammers, and (believe it or not) I’m not always online.