Categories
Writing and Publishing

Do You Suffer From Marketing Inadequacy?

The success some authors have in marketing their books can overwhelm writers or even cause them to give up

Last week we talked about how to deal with writer envy, of how to avoid having the abilities of other writers overwhelm us. While the threat of writer envy does assault me from time to time, I’ve mostly come to peace with my writing ability. I know I am good and am getting better. I may never be really great, but I’m okay with that – most of the time.

However, the flip side of writing ability is marketing proficiency. I must admit that I sorely struggle with my lack of promotional prowess. I’ve taken classes (even at the graduate level) and understand the theory. I know what to do, yet my gut churns when it comes to implementation. Too often it feels smarmy. Yet when I press through, I do well, but too often, I don’t bother to push myself to act.

I see other authors who successfully promote their books into the stratosphere of success, book after book. Their results devastate me—especially when the book isn’t well written. The sad reality is that a marketing maven doesn’t need to write a good book to make a lot of money. They just need to excel at marketing. I am envious.

So if we’re not good at book marketing, don’t want to do it, or even feel it is beneath the art, what are we to do?

Give Up: We could just forget our passion to write, our dream to create art, and move on to a less frustrating, more profitable career. Yet would that make us truly happy? Or would an unsatiated compulsion to write roil in our souls? I think we all know the answer.

Ghostwrite: Writing for others as a ghostwriter, writer for hire, or collaborator allows us to write—and earn money—without the need to market. I like this. I do this. Yet I also want to see my name on the cover. True ghostwriting assignments don’t provide that option.

Write But Don’t Market: This is a built-it-and-they-will-come mentality. We focus on the art of writing and forget about the business of writing. In rare instances, it works. Usually not. Don’t pin your hopes on this strategy.

Outsource Marketing: I’d love to hire someone to do all my marketing for me. It would be so freeing. Yet two questions nag at me: Would it be cost-effective? (likely not), and would they produce acceptable results? (doubtful).

Press Through: Every job has fun aspects that we like and other chores that are, well, chores. We must slog through the difficult toils to resume the joys of creation.

I’ve considered each of these five responses. I often vacillate between them. Though I seldom consider quitting any more, the other four considerations pop up each week. I don’t have an answer, but as I try to figure one out, I will continue to write.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Should You Monetize Your Website or Blog?

Platform building gurus recommend monetizing our author websites—that is, to sell ads and place affiliate links. They also say to start sooner rather than later. They suggest this for two reasons.

First, selling ads will generate some revenue. Maybe it’s only enough to pay for hosting, but every bit helps. Second, at some point, we will want to sell our books or services on our site. It is better to get people to use the promotional aspect now, so they are not shocked (or critical) later. If we start when our traffic is small, there are fewer people to react negatively. No one wants to build a huge audience and then upset everyone by introducing advertising.

Though I don’t presently have ads on this site, I do accept advertising on many of my other ones. It’s on the “to do” list to add them here, too.

Sell Ads: The first thing we can do is sell ads directly to businesses, organizations, and individuals whose message will resonate with our visitors. Unfortunately, we need to have about 10,000 unique visitors before we can get anyone to actually pay us. However, we can put an “advertise here” box where the ad will go. We can also do an ad swap with a friend to cross-promote each other.

Ad Servers: Another solution is to sign up with an ad server, such as Google AdSense. They will generate code, which we add to our site. The code will automatically place ads there, and we earn money every time someone clicks on the ad. This is pay-per-click advertising. Usually, the amount is only pennies, but it can add up.

The one warning is to carefully select the types of ads we will accept. Otherwise, our site will show ads whose message we might not agree with or that will offend visitors. We don’t want that. (The better paying ads are usually the ones we don’t want.) In addition to broad categories, most services allow us to block certain domain names, such as to a competing book.

Affiliate Links: Affiliate links are links to products and services we endorse. Whenever someone clicks on one of those links and buys the offer, we get a commission. Again, it is important to carefully select who we will promote. If their offer is questionable or lacks value, people may blame us. Also, even though it doesn’t cost the buyer anything, it is ethical to note when a link is an affiliate link.

Taking steps to monetize our website or blog will not generate much money if any until our traffic is higher. It may also seem like it’s more bother than it’s worth, but it does prepare people to respond positively when they see our ad for our book or service on our website. Isn’t that the goal?

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Promote Your Blog

A few weeks ago, when I finished my series on blogging, I invited readers to post a link to their blog. No one did. I know many of you have blogs, so I’m not sure what went wrong. Perhaps the offer got lost in the post or maybe the series dragged on too long.

Anyway, here’s another chance. In the comments section, please post a link to your blog. If you want, give the title and share your tagline or a short description. Grab this chance at some free promotion! After all, “If we don’t promote our blog, it doesn’t matter.”

What’s the web address of your blog?

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

If We Don’t Promote Our Blog, it Doesn’t Matter

When I started blogging in 2008 my readers came from two sources: friends who knew about my blog (that is, I told them about it) and people who discovered it online. I had more readers who I didn’t know than people I did. The power of blogging became apparent when, after two weeks of blogging, someone in Africa commented on one of my posts.

While that still happens today, it’s far less common; there are so many blogs out there that few people will accidentllly stumble upon our particular blog.

Assuming we want people to read what we write, we need to promote it. Here are some ideas:

  • Let our social media friends, followers, and circles know about our posts. The greater our reach on the various platforms and our degree of activity, the more people we will drive to our blog and posts.
  • Include a link to our blog in our email signatures.
  • Put our blog on our business cards and promotional materials.
  • If our blog is part of our website, make the posts easy to find.
  • If our blog is separate from our website, link from one to the other and add supporting info on the blog, such as an about section, a bio, contact info, photos, and other interesting content.
  • Go old school and actually tell people about our blog.
  • Start an email list and promote our posts to our list.
  • Guest blog on other like-minded sites, and some of their readers will become our readers.
  • Follow best SEO (search engine optimization) practices.

When we get people to our blog, we want them to keep coming back. Here are some tips to do that:

  • Let them subscribe via email and be notified of each new post.
  • Provide a link to an RSS feed so they can easily access posts from their blog reader.
  • Post according to a schedule. That way they can form a habit of reading our posts on a regular basis. (I post here every Saturday morning.)
  • Ask for comments and interact with those who comment. While some comments don’t warrant a response, most do.
  • Make it easy for people to comment; don’t require them to log in, sign-up, or be approved. If you must moderate comments (which I do not advise), approve them quickly.
  • Post great content!

When we take these steps more people will read our posts—and isn’t that what we want?

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Don’t Be That Guy: Embrace Your Fans and Feed Your Followers

I once attended a lecture by a writer I admired and followed. He said he’d hang out afterward, during the break. I bought his latest book and returned to have him sign it; I hoped we might talk a bit. He was gone. I waited. Nothing. Then I roamed the building but couldn’t find him.

Undaunted, I figured I’d catch him after his next session, but he took off as soon as it was over. I regretted spending money on his book. Maybe I should have bought a book by someone who actually cared. I wasn’t such a fan of him after that.

Another time, while making small talk at a social event, I mentioned I was a writer. My new friend perked up. He pointed out another writer in the crowd. She’d just published her book. He gave me her name. At an appropriate time, I introduced myself and asked about her book. She recoiled and hissed. “Who told you?” I pointed to my source and told her he was really proud of her.

She calmed down a bit, and I suggested we chat a bit afterward. She nodded, but she disappeared before the program ended. She missed an opportunity to connect with a potential fan, and I missed the opportunity to network with another writer. Her book intrigued me, but I haven’t read it. Her reaction diminished my enthusiasm.

Yes, we all have bad days, make mistakes, come across negatively, and let people down. But fans and followers are precious to writers and we need to take care of every one of them.

Someday, I’ll be that writer with a book someone wants to be signed or have a fan who wants to chat. I’ll remember these situations and will strive to not repeat their mistakes.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.