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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Penny Sansevieri's Advice About On-line Publicity

I am delighted to have Penny Sansevieri as my guest today. I bought her book, Red Hot Internet Publicity, and wrote a review (look in my archived posts). My copy is dog-earred and highlighted so that I can return to its pages to study and put some of her tips to good use. Since I had burning questions, I boldly asked Penny if she would consider answering them on this post so that all of you who read this blog will benefit.

Penny, welcome and please tell us a little about yourself and how you became a top Internet publicist.
WOW, thank you for the compliment! The Internet came to me when I was on a flight from San Diego to New York a number of years back. I realized that we are very fortunate to live in a country where anyone can publish a book. The problem with that is that now a lot of books are clogging the system and causing problems. Why? Review space is shrinking, and books are competing for the same shelf space which isn't getting any bigger, in fact shelf space is shrinking too. So I decided it was time to find a new way to market. Enter the Internet. We explored it for a while - we did a lot in beta. We had always done some marketing online, but not as much as we do now. Our campaigns are really leading edge. We were using Twitter almost three years ago, before anyone knew what it was. It's exciting stuff and it's really leveled the playing field.

What are some good ways to use our blogs for book publicity?
Well, if you're talking about the authors blog, I recommend that they blog - first and foremost and at least twice weekly. Authors should blog on topic, on current events related to their book, or anything that will engage, entertain, or educate their reader.

What should an author's Web site look like? What would you say to those who don't have a Web site to promote their books?
First off, your website is a 24/7 sales tool - every author *must* have a website. Second, what a site looks like isn't as important as what's on it and how well it's converting traffic. A site should be clean and easy to navigate - it should tell the visitor exactly what you're offering and give them a quick and easy way to buy your book. People don't want to guess what your site is about or what you're selling. You have to tell them up front. Be clear and remember you must sell the benefits. No one but mom cares that you wrote a book. Your readers want to know what the book can do for them!

How can I triple my book sales by having an Internet presence?
Well first off, it's about knowing your market/audience. You've got to get out and do some cyber-schmoozing. Here's a great little tip I teach authors to get themselves into the online conversation. The Internet is one big networking event. When you think of online promotion this way, the connections you make start to make more sense. So... the first and best place to look for these pockets of people is on blogs. I recommend finding the top 5-10 blogs in your market and following them. You can identify these top blogs on sites like Google Blog Search or Technorati, follow these bloggers and when you're comfortable, start commenting on their blog posts. This form of dialog is very important. Not only will you get to know the bloggers but you'll also begin networking with them. Then when you want to pitch them your book for review, they already know you! Also, each blog post you create creates an incoming link back to your site because when you blog comment, you have to register.

Let's talk about tags and keywords. There are still many of us who don't really understand how this works. How do we know we're selecting the right ones?
You really have to see what people are searching. Sometimes folks will look at Google Adwords to see what searches are most popular. Go check out your competition and see what types of keywords they have on their site and what they are using in their verbiage. Keywords are a very specialized industry but you can get a good sense by knowing and researching your competition...

I want to set up a virtual blog tour. How do I go about it?
After years of working with authors on Internet tours, talking about blogging, podcasting, social networking, and all other assorted online promotional tools, the basic questions still remain: How the heck do I promote myself on the Internet? Broken down in simple steps, this article is designed to give you a good starting point to kick your Internet promotion into high gear. It’s not difficult but you have to start somewhere. Let’s start with your web site…
Web site: Why would someone visit it? Why would anyone care? Before you start marketing yourself online, ask these basic questions. You can get anyone to a web site once, but getting them back a second, or third time is where authors often lose momentum. Studies have shown that less than 14% of web site visitors will buy the first time they visit. It’s only on the second or third visit that they decide to make a purchase. Anyone can drive traffic to your site, it’s getting them back that counts.

The point of your tour: getting incoming links.  Here’s the thing: anyone can get incoming links. The point is, you want GOOD and quality incoming links from sites that can actually send you traffic and readers that will buy your book. We get numerous calls from authors who have bought into inexpensive programs that do nothing more than driving unqualified, “tire kicking” traffic to their web site. This kind of traffic is not going to do you any good. In fact if you’re not careful, getting a bunch of errant links from sites that Google doesn’t feel are right for your topic or market can get you downgraded online instead of better ranking. So how do you beat this? First, you’ll want to download the Google toolbar. This toolbar comes with a Page Ranking piece (in some cases you may have to download this separately). This Page Rank is important because it’s an indicator of how important Google thinks a particular site is. Ideally sites you target will have a Page Rank of 4 or above. We like to target sites that have a ranking between 4-6.

Penny, this is great. I"ve learned even more and hopefully my cyber buddies have as well.
Bloggers, feel free to leave comments below this post for Penny or me. Ask questions. Penny has agreed to return with more tips to help us all. To learn more about Penny:


Penny C. Sansevieri
Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
Turning Authors into Success Stories
http://www.authormarketingexperts.com/

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15 comments:

L. Diane Wolfe said...

All good tips! I'm an active blogger both ways - posting AND commenting. The latter tends to get the best results, too.

Susan Whitfield said...

Diane, I think Penny can teach most of us a few new things to do online that will promote us even more. Thanks for stopping by.

Nancy Famolari said...

I always learn something from Penny. I'm going to check out my site immediately to make sure it measures. Good tips. Thanks, Susan!

Betty Gordon said...

Good tips and just what I needed to read.
Thanks for posting.

Betty Gordon

Bookgal said...

Thanks for inviting me to be on this blog! If I can answer any questions, please let me know! Penny

Susan Whitfield said...

Penny, how would we go about pitching our blog to others?

laura said...

Thank you so much for posting! Very informative, very helpful!

Susan Whitfield said...

I have another question. What is this new thing called Google Buzz? Should we get involved with that?

Bookgal said...

Hey Susan - what do you mean "pitching our blog" do you mean to invite folks to post or guest blog? Let me know and I'll be happy to answer1

Susan Whitfield said...

Penny, I just found your message in my email. I'll post that here on Feb. 27th to start more conversation. Thanks for sending it.

MAC said...

Which is better, website or blog? What is the real difference? Do I need both?

Joselyn Vaughn said...

This was very informative. Do you feel it applies to fiction as well as nonfiction?

Going to order the book.

Joselyn

Bookgal said...

hey Joselyn - yes, I do - I write fiction and NF, and have used these methods for both...

Susan Whitfield said...

Penny, many of us would like to post excerpts but do you think they help sell the books? Where do we post them other than our own web sites?

Bookgal said...

Hey Joselyn, yes I do believe it applies to Fiction and NF. I am also a fiction writer and have used these tactics in my marketing...