Today we are going to interview Nina Amir who will offer us some tips on how to market your book on the Internet. Nina is a writing coach who motivates writers to create publishable books and to enhance their careers as authors.
She is the author of the bestselling How to Blog a Book: How to Write, Publish and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time (Writer’s Digest Books). She is also a nonfiction editor, proposal consultant, author, and blog-to-book coach with more than 34 years of experience in the publishing field. She is the founder of “Write Nonfiction in November”, aka National Nonfiction Writing Month. Her new book, The Author Training Manual, 9 Steps to Prepare You and Your Book Idea for Publishing Success (Writer’s Digest Books) will be released in February 2014. You can get a free strategy session with Nina on blogging, blogging a book, writing a book, achieving results, or editing at http://bit.ly/NA15free.
A good portion of my time as an agent is taken up with crafting book proposals. As you know, a book proposal is a highly structured business plan for your project which will convince the publisher that your book is important and that you know how to reach your audience. Publishers require a “marketing” section of the proposal laying out how you intend to promote your own book. I’ve written some blog posts on the subject. Most of my clients are, at best, intimidated and usually flummoxed in writing this section of the proposal. .
Once the book is out, the author learns the hard truth that publishers never promote the book as much as they imagine and usually stop promoting it a month after publication.
Andy: Nina, thanks for coming here today. Do you agree with my assessment above?
Nina: Yes, I do. For some reason, aspiring and published authors seem to cling to the outdated idea that a publisher will do the hard work of promoting their book for them. That’s why writers often want to become traditionally published. But that’s not a good reason to pursue this publishing route. If you want your book to succeed, you will have to do the same amount of work to promote your book whether you self-publish or traditionally publish. And the work begins long before your book is published. You need to start building your platform at least three years before publication date, if not longer.
Andy: When I do get the marketing plan from the author, it’s usually pretty predictable. He will put up a book website; he will blog (maybe); he will set up a page on Facebook and perhaps Twitter. Publishers aren’t particularly impressed by this. Can you give us some tips about each of these social venues and tell us how to make them rise above the conventional.
Nina: Well, you can blog a book. Many bloggers with huge readerships have landed book deals because they unwittingly test marketed an idea for a book. Later, an agent or acquisitions editor saw the potential for a book based on the material in the blog. They then decide to repurpose the content of the blog into a book. But also you can blog your book—or a good portion of it—from scratch. By this I mean plan out your book and publish it post by post on your blog. If you gain a large readership or subscriber base in the process, you can prove to a publisher that you have a great idea for a book—and a built-in readership.
Andy: But Nina, one of the big causes of rejections that I get is that publishers are skittish about taking on material that is already available for free on-line. Can you comment on this?
Nina: Some publishers don’t want “previously published” works. But many are happy to have material that has been test marketed successfully. If you do this correctly—following the plan in my book, you will have left out some material so the publisher has about 20% or more unpublished material to include in the book. Plus, you will edit and revise what was on the blog to improve it. This makes it “new” to some extent. You can also point to the many “booked” blogs that have been best sellers, like Julie & Julia, Stuff White People Like, and so many more.
Andy: What about Facebook and Twitter?
Nina: Your Facebook page can be used like a forum, especially if you write nonfiction. You can create courses around your book and drive your class participants to the page. You can offer tips and advice there and generate discussions—real engagement. Your Twitter account can be used for a Twitter chat of some sort or for a tip series.
In other words, you must use your social media, including your blog, as a way to build more than just a following. You need to build a community and a brand. There must be name awareness. You have to see yourself as more than just the author of a book, and all you do—your blogging efforts, social media efforts, speaking, etc.—must build your visibility into an author brand as well as a platform. What this does is show that you have business savvy. Publishers are looking for good business partners, not just authors. Business people know how to sell books; more often than not, authors do not.
Andy: Since publishers rarely have the time, inclination, or money to reach out beyond the usual sending out of press releases, what else can the author do at the time the book is released.
Nina: I highly recommend a virtual book tour. Everything you do on the Internet makes you and your book more “discoverable.”. That means when someone searches on Google, using some sort of keywords or search terms related to your book, he is more likely to find you on the first Google search engine results page. So write a series of guest blog posts for bloggers in your category or niche. This could include having them interview you or review your book. Do 15-30 posts over the course of the month when you release your book! And land some Internet radio shows or podcasts as well, so you aren’t just doing a blog tour but a true virtual book tour.
Andy: Nina, there are so many blogs online. Give me some practical tips on how an author can sort through them and select the ones that make a difference and avoid the “moms-at-home” blogs.
Nina: You can do research. Check a blog’s ranking at blogcatalog.com or at Technorati.com. Go to Alexa.com, where you will find a single digit page rank a well as a global rank that can be in the millions. You want to blog for sites with page of 3 or above and with a global page rank in the six figures. You can also do Google research; almost every category has had one or more sites compile a list of the top blogs on a particular topic.
Andy: What about sending out press releases?
Nina: Definitely. You can send them out to online and print publications. And you can contact local radio and televisions shows personally. If you write nonfiction, I like to use ExpertClick.com to highlight my expertise to journalists and send out press releases that reach them as well as the general public. It’s less expensive than some services. There is a yearly expense but you can send a lot of releases for one fee. (Use my name to get $100 off…)
Andy: What else should authors be doing at publication time?
Nina: Optimize your Amazon Author Central page. I go back every now and then to see what else I can add, and I’ve still not done everything possible. You can:
Add video, add Twitter feed, add blog feed, share speaking events, create discussions, get reviews.
The last one is very important. Reviews can really help a book succeed.
Use Youtube and other easy video and photo options, like Instagram. And don’t forget other social media, like Pinterest and Google+.
Andy: Should they be looking for a freelance publicist or consultant? Some of these people charge a lot of money.
Nina: I used a publicist and thought it was a waste of my money. But then I found someone to help with one of my two blog tours, and that was well worth it. That person found bloggers willing to either interview me, have me write posts for them or write reviews, so I didn’t have to do the research or contact them. She coordinated the dates and made all the arrangements. I just had to turn in the posts to the bloggers on time. This was much less work than doing it myself.
Andy: Thanks Nina. If you want to find out more about Nina’s ideas and how they can help you promote your book, you should buy: How to Blog a Book: How to Write, Publish and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time.