Thursday, December 8, 2011

Building an Online Platform to Promote Your Books

This post originally appeared on Blood-Red Pencil in September 2009.
If you're a published author, your logical objective of building a platform is to promote your books. Coming up in this series we'll also look more at leveraging free interactive content sites (also known as Web 2.0 sites) that are not specifically for authors.

Wikipedia is the first place many Internet users look for information on authors and books, however they discourage the creation of pages on yourself. Check with your publisher about having your information added to Wikipedia by their marketing department, or offer to create a profile for another author in exchange for the same favour. Also note that Wikipedia discourages publication of original research; you must be able to cite another author's work or link to information that proves your points.

Amazon has a blogging option for authors whose books it lists. Use this to keep your readers updated on your book launch, book tour, contests, encourage questions, and post snippets of interesting information.

Barnes and Noble has a well presented "Meet the Writer" feature which can include author interviews, biographical information, and trivia, and which should probably be organised by your publisher.

Squidoo has alternative category sub-sites called SquidLit, specifically for literature, and SquidWho, for people profiles. If your information is already on the web in places like Wikipedia and Amazon, Squidoo can simply pull the details from those sites and all you need to do is fill in the blanks. Be sure to personalise these pages, though. Let your readers know that this is your book and that you are a flaws-and-all human being with whom they can interact.

Google Knol, which is still in Beta, is geared towards professional articles, so will be ideal for publishing additional original research you've conducted and promoting your reputation as an expert in your field.

Next up we'll look at a statistical snapshot of the biggest Web 2.0 sites.
Elsa Neal Elsa Neal was one of the early adopters of Squidoo after it came out of Beta and has been actively involved in the community as a Squid Angel and a Top 100 Giant Squid. She has more recently been experimenting with HubPages. She can also be found on her own website or sharing her writing insights at her Fictional Life Blog.

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  1. This sounds like an interesting series you're doing, Elsa. I'll be back each day. Thanks!

    Will you be going into more details about each item you mentioned today? I'm wondering if, since info on authors change as they add new books, can the author update the Wikipedia page or is that, once again, up to the publisher to do?

    Straight From Hel

  2. Elsa -- I'm looking forward to all your posts on this topic. I didn't have anything except a website until May of this year, and now I'm scattered all over the place, probably not effectively keeping up in most of the venues. I'm glad you're doing this series for BRP.

  3. Will be very interested in anything else you have to say about building a platform before your book is published.

  4. Elsa, can we turn each of these into groups projects in some way? A step-by-step tutorial? Wikipedia pages are already on our agenda so that would be a logical segue. What do you think?

    Great stuff!


  5. I also use which will put your post on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites.

    And for those of you who think Twitter isn't useful. I had a Twitter friend show up at a library talk after I'd promoted it on Twitter. I didn't know him or his wife and they'd driven and hour and a half to come to the talk.


  6. Interesting. I'll be back to read more. I keep hearing about Squidoo

  7. There's so much to do out there in the virtual world that I often don't know which way to turn so thanks for sharing this valuable information. I'll be back for more!

  8. Thanks for the great info, Elsa. Some of this is new to me, and I need to evaluate all that is out there to see what will work best. There is simply not enough time to be connected on all these networking sites. And I have heard that the automatic updates that appear on all the social sites work well, unless you are reTweeting the same info. I had some Facebook friends complain when I posted the same link several times in one day.

  9. Maryann, I don't think the dual-posting is the problem, but the language used. If you don't tweet, RT, follow @, or hashtag us to death on Facebook, you'll make friends, not enemies. This is where people get unhappy. I hide all the FB tweeters and anyone who offers nothing but their latest app results. It just becomes too much of a time suck when your list grows to over 500. That's the biggest issue with all of these social media sites - working a plan that keeps the sites fresh and maintained, but still spending less that a couple of hours per day to do the job. It's a challenge.


    Another Squidoo site - the Ever Project which houses my Blog Book Tours how-to.

  10. Great posting & great suggestions! I had not thought of Wikipedia, but will get right on it.

    I'm into Facebook, but have not yet tried the others (will soon check them out).

    I am new to this and unsure what to do. I worry about over-doing it on one hand and not doing enough on the other...

    Cheers, Jill

  11. I believe Charlotte will be writing about Wikipedia, which I'm very interested in too as it is one site I have not yet become involved with.

    On Wikipedia - I think the author could safely add or edit minor details to their page if those details are easily verifiable - so a new book coming out with a link to the details on the publisher's site or a press release. But subjective and uncited (is that a word?) changes might be flagged and changed back by the editors.

    There is certainly room to expand this series since there seems to be an interest. I'll keep track of what questions crop up so keep them coming. I wasn't sure what level most of our readers would be at so aimed for an introductory overview at this stage.

    Dani, I think you would be the best person to write about using Twitter.

    Maryann, I agree that all this can eat up so much time. I highly recommend being selective rather than launching into every new site that pops up.

    Thanks for the comments everyone.

  12. This is a fantastic post Elsa. I am finally going to have a book that will be sold at online bookstores and as an ebook (my short story collection) so all my work on the internet at trying to get my name out there will be useful. I am going to follow every post in this series.

  13. That's great news Lauri! Keep us posted.

  14. Great post!

    Thanks for sharing :)

    Jon Gibbs

    (By the way. For some reason your OpenID option isn't working)

  15. Thanks Jon.

    I've refreshed the comments settings. Hopefully that sorts the problem - I see the OpenID option for my login.

  16. Thanks for trying :)

    Since I was here, I thought I'd try it again.

    Sad to say, it still doesn't work.

    It's not just this site, though. I'm having the same issue with several other blogspot journals.

    Is it possible they've come up with some kind of 'stop idiots from posting' option? ;)

    Jon Gibbs

  17. A nice informative article! I gotta get on Squidoo sometime, I suppose.

  18. Jon, it's probably another one of the many Blogger glitches going around. I think the idiots have been moved into the Tech Help department.

  19. Gee, I still don't see a Wikipedia page on moi ... hint, hint.

  20. It has been neat to have these reposts here this month. Some good advice that was buried and worth dusting off and sharing again. Thanks, Elle, for the tips.

  21. Christopher,

    Add it to your Xmas list... ;-)


    Thanks again.

  22. Great post. Looking forward to learning more.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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