Does Your Author Website Have The Essentials To Attract Readers And Sell Your Books?

marketingYour author website is important, wherever you are on the author journey.

  • Your site portrays your author brand and gives a sense of your personality as well as your professionalism. It’s how people judge you online.
  • It’s the first place a journalist, publisher or agent will look if they are interested in you. They will click away if it’s not what they’re looking for.
  • You can attract your target audience with content that inspires, entertains or educates, and hopefully they will go on to purchase and join your email list.
  • It’s your home on the internet. You can list all your books, products and services and have buy links and information in one place.
  • Your website can be the engine of your business online. Yes, it can actually make you a living!

Of course, everyone has different aims for their websites and your needs will also change over time.

If you have just one book, you might only need basic information about the book, author and buy links. If you are an established author, you will need at least a page per book as well as more detailed information about you as the author. If you want to run a business from your site, you’ll need appropriate content to drive traffic to your site.

In this article, I go through the most important things that you need on your website, as well as what is negotiable, plus some technical setup that will help you optimize your author site online, wherever you’re at in the journey.

(1) Book covers and description

book coversYes, readers do judge a book by its cover!

You’re an author and primarily, you are selling books. So your book covers should be prominent on your website as an eye-catching way to entice readers into your work.

Of course, these should be professionally designed covers that resonate with your genre and target market.

You also need a sales description to go along with your book. Try starting with a tagline or a headline that entices the reader.

For fiction, open a hook that makes the reader want to answer the question. For non-fiction, you can include more details from your table of contents so the reader understands the benefits of purchasing.

(2) About the Author

Your About page is one of the most viewed on any website. People click on it because they want to know more about you personally. They are actively interested in learning more about you. They also want to know whether this is the right place for them. Do they resonate with you as a person?

So are you giving them what they are looking for?

Joanna Penn JF PennPeople connect with people so your face is one of the most important things to use on your About page, in my opinion. Of course, it should relate to your brand, so I use happy smiley on non-fiction and brooding thriller author for my fiction.

If you are using a pseudonym or protecting your identity, then you could use a cartoon avatar or a picture of something that still has meaning e.g. your cat :) Anything to make a personal connection with the reader who has arrived on your site.

If you’re worried about how you look, get some professional photography done. It’s an investment you will need as an author as your picture will go on the back of books, on marketing material, interviews and much more.

Be personal and interesting and include things about yourself and your life as well as about your writing. Of course, you can still draw that line to protect your privacy as well as that of your family, but sharing personal anecdotes and pictures will help people connect even more.

(3) Buy links to all the places your book is sold

buy linksIt should be easy to buy your book with one click if the customer is interested.

Use the icons per store so the customer recognizes where they can get your book in the easiest way for them.

Many authors complain about not making more sales at stores other than Amazon, but often, they are only putting the Amazon button on their site. Make sure you’re not one of them!

(4) A way to sign up for your email list

We all need to build our own email list of readers for the long term so that we can always tell buyers when our book is available.

giveawaysThis enables us to function independently of the big stores and social networks if (or when!) the rules change.

Giving something of value away for free is one of the keys to building up an email list. I use the free Author 2.0 Blueprint for non-fiction and a free novella, Day of the Vikings, for my fiction list.

You also can’t just email people from your own account, especially as the list grows into the thousands. You need to use a mail service that complies with anti-spam laws like Aweber (which I use) or Mailchimp.

For more in depth help on growing an email list, I recommend Nick Stephenson’s How to find your first 10,000 readers free video course here.

(5) Contact information

Your website might lead journalists to contact you, or agents, foreign publishers or people who want to pay for you to speak at a festival or event.

So make sure it’s easy for them to contact you and have a Contact link in an obvious place on your website.

If you don’t want to directly state your email address, then you can use a plugin like Gravity Forms as a way to collect the inquiry.

reviews(6) Testimonials / Review quotes

There’s a reason that Amazon uses reviews so prominently on their product pages.

Reviews are social proof, and they are critical to a reader making a decision about whether to try a book.

On your own website, you can also use reviews or testimonials to build trust. You can also use pictures and URLs so people know they can trust the reviews.

One little tip: Don’t ask authors in other genres to review a book that isn’t suitable for their niche. Only ask authors whose own work resonates with your own.

socialable(7) Ways to share

Ideally, you want to harness word of mouth using social media so your book spreads.

There are some 1-click sharing tools and plugins that you can use on your website. For example, Sociable plugin will give you social sharing buttons on the bottom or side of posts and pages.

Make sure you always list your own social media accounts somewhere obvious. I will often find posts that I am happy to share on Twitter, but I won’t do it unless I can attribute it to the person who wrote it. If your twitter handle isn’t prominent, I will click away and share someone else’s article instead.

author brand(8) Portray your author brand

As soon as people arrive on your site, they will make a very quick judgement of whether it is the right place for them. Some people will decide it is not for them and will click away.

No worries at all.

Our aim is not to be right for everyone. Our aim is to be right for our target market.

Some people will stay and have a look at your books, hopefully sign up to your email list and maybe click through your pictures or your blog. We want to make sure the right people stick around.

The colors, words and images that you use will make a big difference to that immediate impression.

For example, my JFPenn.com site uses dark colors, a black and white, brooding photo that match my darker books. A romance reader will know that it is not for them within a millisecond. My Creative Penn site is more smiley and welcoming, with red as a dominant color. Each will attract a different type of audience.

Your site also gives an indication of professionalism.

If you are using a free Blogger site, it is assumed you are a hobbyist and not taking your author life that seriously. If you’re using a free WordPress site with a standard theme that doesn’t set you apart, then you are probably not taking a long term view of your author career.

Both of those options are perfectly fine, but if you want to have a long term career as an author, you need to invest in your website as the hub of your online presence.

Of course, you will change the design over time. We all do. But if you are committed to being an author for the long-term, then make sure your site portrays this impression. Yes, there is a learning curve, as with anything, but it’s worth it for the long-term.

mobile

JFPenn.com/desecration viewed on iPhone

(9) Optimize for mobile and tablet browsing

I checked my website stats recently and found that 43% of my fiction audience view my site through mobile or tablets, and 30% for TheCreativePenn.com.

That’s a lot higher than I expected, to be honest.

Google has also announced that from 21 April, 2015, they will include mobile friendliness as a criteria for ranking. So your site needs to be mobile friendly in order to be found in the search engines.

Mobile and tablet adoption are only going to continue growing over time as more people access the internet that way, rather than through desktops/laptops.

To cater for these browsers, your website needs responsive design.

This means the site adjusts size and design per browser, so that people can read it whatever device they are using.

There are a number of options for this, and we’ll get more into the technical side later.

(10) To blog or not to blog …

Whether you blog or not will depend on what you want to achieve with your website, with this particular book and your bloggingfuture books as well as with your time.

If you have a business that is more around speaking, back-end products and services that result in a higher income, then blogging, podcasting and other content marketing are brilliant ways to get traffic to your site.

This site, The Creative Penn, brings me income from professional speaking, from affiliate sales and also from sponsorship and advertising. I have a business model around the blog itself, so it is definitely worth doing financially these days.

Of course, when I started the blog in Dec 2008, I had no clue it would turn into the site it is now! I started blogging and podcasting because I wanted to share what I was learning on the journey – and I still do. So I would still blog even if it made me no money at all, because I love to share lessons learned and I love the community. I am an addicted blogger, and there are certainly other rewards for blogging other than financial.

You can develop your voice as a writer, grow a community around your site, as well as attract opportunity.

My blog has brought me international speaking events, new friendships and opportunities for promotional campaigns like the one that led to the NY Times and USA Today list.

So certainly for non-fiction, it can be gold.

For fiction, I do blog occasionally, but it is more around the research for my books, or interviews with other authors in my niche.

If you have to ask what to blog about, then probably don’t bother. It’s only worth doing if you just can’t help but share what you’re passionate about.

multimedia(11) Multimedia – video and podcasting

People connect with people, and humans have been communicating with body language, voice and facial expression for millennia. So if people can see your face or hear your voice or watch you on video, they will be able to connect with you much faster than through your written words.

Of course, if you want to do videos or podcasting, you do have a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not that hard. And I have personally found that my podcast is one of the most brilliant things I could have done to build my own network, grow my audience and provide valuable information for people.

I have over 210 podcast episodes now, so many of the listeners have spent a lot of time with me over the years! I also get comments from podcast listeners who feel like they ‘know’ me, and in many ways, they do, as I share a lot in the introduction to my interviews every couple of weeks.

I also have a YouTube channel and I find that the audience for video differs to the blog audience and differs again to the audio podcast audience. You don’t have to try to reach everyone, but have a think about the people you are targeting and consider what might be most effective.

What are your options for your author website?

Of course, there are so many options for building your home on the internet and I am not going through them all. You can evaluate your own setup against the above criteria.

For now, I will give you a couple of options based on my own experience of running an online business as an author entrepreneur for 6 years.

(A) Just getting started? Try free sites

If you’re just getting started, then you can, of course, use free sites – but I would still advise that you use a professional looking option that is also optimized for mobile and tablet browsing and that enables you to use all the main functionality listed above.

book launch pagesIf you want to blog or use content marketing like podcasting or video, then you can use WordPress.com with a great looking responsive theme. If you get more serious with your journey later on, you can export the content and import into a site you own yourself, so it is an easy transition.

But if you just want a book page to send people to without the hassle of a full-blown site, then I recommend BookLaunch pages.

It’s free to set up for as many books as you like.

You just drag and drop the elements to the screen and you’ll have a professional looking, responsive book page in a few minutes. I am super excited about this tool, because it offers what authors need without too much effort and it’s free for the basic setup. Yes, I’m an affiliate :) because I also use it myself as below.

(B) Established author?

bookpageI have two sites and both are built on WordPress software that I host on Siteground. I have a responsive design: Genesis Studiopress with Beautiful Pro theme. You can find other technical tools I use here.

I’ve also started using the BookLaunch plugin to integrate the book pages from my own website because they look so professional and standardized. Click here to see Desecration (fiction) and click here to see Business for Authors (non-fiction).

This means I get professional, consistent looking book pages with all the links I need, as well as multimedia options like book trailers, actually integrated into my own website. There’s also email list integration, social sharing, and easily changeable branding options.

So wherever you are on your author journey, consider how your author website helps people find you and your books.

And remember, we are all works in progress, so don’t worry if you work on your site over time. I am still making changes after 7 years online, and I expect to continue changing into the future!

Please do let me know any questions or comments below.

Book Titles That Sell, Productivity For Authors And Marketing For Introverts With Tim Grahl

A wide-ranging discussion with Tim Grahl about writing book titles that sell, productivity and habits for writers, how to build a platform around you rather than your book, and marketing for introverts. Super fun!

In the intro, I mention the upcoming self-publishing conference, IndieRecon.org, which is a free event with some amazing speakers so make sure you register and check out the schedule. I also talk about my trip to Charleston for PubSense, some of the plans I have underway with my new agent, plus Business for Authors: How to be an Author Entrepreneur, now available in audiobook format.

tim grahlTim Grahl is the author of Your First 1000 Copies: A Step by Step Guide to marketing your book and the founder of Out:think, a firm that helps authors make money with online marketing tools.

You can listen above or on iTunes or Stitcher, watch the interview on YouTube here or read the notes and links below.

  • How Tim started out in the more technical side of the internet and started helping authors with their marketing. He’s always been a big reader so working with authors was preferable to big corporates.
  • Tips for book titles. Authors are generally too close to the project to make a good decision. Your own fans know you so they aren’t the best either. You want to know what title will make someone new click to look at your book further. Tim advises using data to make a decision and talks about using PickFu.com to work out what gets clicked the most. It is unlikely to be what you think. You can do this with titles and sub-titles, which is how Tim ended up with his. You can also use PickFu for book covers as you can use images. [I talk about my own title change based on SEO reasons]. We also talk about fiction book titles – which are very difficult! It’s more about genre, reviews and author brand and the eco-system around the book than title.
  • On reaching 1000 readers. Most books sell around 250 copies (that includes traditionally published). If you get to 1000 copies, you’re doing something well beyond your own network. Measuring goals and moving the goal posts around numbers sold. Celebrating achievements and re-evaluating the next goal. I mention my own success journal that I got from Austin Kleon’s logbook idea. Tim mentions Autofocus productivity system.

Ruthlessly cut out everything that doesn’t get you what you want out of life.

  • Social media is automated with MeetEdgar. Social media is fun, but it’s not moving the goals forward. Tim has a structured day and has specific creative periods. He focuses on achieving goals based on a systematized life. It’s much harder to procrastinate when you have structure. He mentions a Facebook news feed extractor so Facebook doesn’t become a time suck. Structure your life so it’s easy to make the right decisions. I mention Gretchen Rubin’s book, Better Than Before. It’s about your WHY. That will drive you to get up and create.your first 1000 copies
  • The difference between fiction and non-fiction marketing. Tim is also writing fiction, and is part of Apocalypse Weird. He talks about building a platform around you, the AUTHOR, not around the individual book. Think about building a platform around who you are and what you’re interested in. On permission, content and outreach for marketing – the underlying systems and strategies as opposed to tactics. We both agree that doing podcasts and audio is so much more preferable now to doing text based interviews or guest posts. Tim talks about driving people to email as his main marketing goal as it is the best way to stay in contact.
  • Marketing as an introvert. What suits introverts in terms of alone time and online marketing. Don’t use introversion as an excuse, and don’t confuse it with fear of rejection, which everyone has. Find what works but also push your comfort zone. How it all gets easier over time, and how we are STILL nervous – but you just deal with it.

You can get a free 30 day email course at TimGrahl.com and you can find Tim’s book, Your First 1000 Copies here on Amazon.Continue Reading

Want To Spend More Time On Your Writing And Tired Of Doing It All? A Virtual Assistant Can Help

Indie authors often have an edge of control freakery … well, I do! I like being in control and I enjoy pretty much all aspects of being an author entrepreneur.

help button

But I hit a wall about 18 months ago, and I definitely needed some help, so I started looking for a virtual assistant to help me.

I had a few varied experiences and learned some lessons, and then Alexandra Amor reached out to me with some brilliant suggestions for how she could help.

Alexandra is a children’s author, but she is also a fantastic virtual assistant for me and a number of other authors. I trust her to help me with key tasks in my author business, and she even suggests things that I may not have thought of.

Alexandra Amor

Alexandra Amor

Today, Alexandra explains how a VA can help authors.

Joanna has previously talked about the advantages for authors of having a Virtual Assistant (VA), most recently in her podcast episode with Chris Ducker. I’ve been Joanna’s VA for almost a year, so I asked her if I could chime in and address some common concerns I hear from authors about working with a VA.

For those who aren’t aware, VAs are independent contractors, like editors and graphic designers, who provide support from their home offices using online tools.

The rise of the internet in the 1990s made this type of career possible, and it has only become easier in the ensuing decades for VAs to share information and support their clients remotely. VAs sometimes specialize in working with a certain niche of clients (e.g., Life Coaches or Real Estate Agents) but many are generally skilled and can work with almost any type of business. VAs are always responsible for the infrastructure they use to do their work (i.e., computer, basic software programs like Word and Excel, internet connection etc.) and they almost always work for more than one client at a time, just as editors and graphic designers do.

You may not have reached the tipping point yet where you feel you need some virtual support. But I certainly hope that one day your books will be so successful that you will! Whether your need is current, or if you’re envisioning what your business will look like when you’re a wildly successful author, let’s jump in and see if I can alleviate some of your concerns and questions about hiring this type of support.

Author Concern #1: I can’t afford a VA

Joanna often says that she prefers the term ‘indie author’ as opposed to ‘self-published author’ because authors don’t actually work in isolation. It’s a team effort to get your books published, involving cover designers, editors and more. Working with a VA is a perfect example of this. At some point in your author business, it’s not going to be possible, or advantageous, for you to do absolutely everything yourself. But unlike hiring a full-time, or part-time, employee, you can hire a VA for very specific tasks, within a specific budget that you set. A VA will work as few or as many hours as you need her to. It’s an economical solution for many solopreneurs, including authors.

Before you start looking for a VA, I recommend you have a clear idea about what your budget is. You will find it easier to set your budget if you know what it is you want your VA to do for you. (Below I cover how to figure both these things out.)

While we’re talking about your budget, let’s talk about rates for virtual help. (Keep in mind that you always get what you pay for.) You’ll pay from US$10 to $15/hour for general administrative or transcription help, for someone who is probably based in India or the Philippines. If you want someone experienced and technologically skilled, who has an entrepreneurial mindset themselves, and who is genuinely interested in your success, you’ll pay between US$30 and $60/hour.

The belief that you have to do it all, all by yourself, is not true. And it’s equally untrue that you’ll need to invest thousands of dollars a month into getting some help. It’s not an either-or proposition.

(I also think there’s much to be said for the mental clutter that is cleaned up when you’ve got someone helping you, even if it’s for one hour a week. By delegating some tasks, your brain is freed up to focus on your creativity.)

Author Concern #2: It’s simpler to do these things myself

Delegating is tough. I get it. Your author business is precious to you and it is difficult to imagine anyone else doing things as quickly, easily and with as much care as you do them. However, as an independent author you also know that there are advantages to not being an expert at everything. You have probably recognized that you don’t need to be a book cover designer, a copyeditor, or a bookkeeper in order to write and sell great books. You can outsource those specific tasks to others who are skilled in these areas.

However, even knowing this, a hurdle that authors often face when hiring a VA is this; initially, it can take longer to explain how you want something done than to just do it yourself. So the danger is remaining stuck in a form of superhero syndrome and continuing to try to do everything yourself.

Deal with this concern by thinking about your long-term strategy. You probably want to build a business that will support you for years to come. Invest some time in showing your new VA how you like things done and from then on you won’t have to even think about that task. Also, consider that even though the VA you hire may be very skilled, she still needs to figure out the way you want things done. At the beginning of the working relationship, a little patience will be required, but it will be rewarded.

Author Concern #3: What exactly should I get a VA to do for me?

It’s possible you feel overwhelmed with the number of tasks involved in running your author business. It’s a slippery slope where you can find that you are spending far too much time administering and not enough time writing. And yet, that overwhelm can lead to paralysis when it comes to figuring out what to delegate.

Here’s my favorite tip for tackling this: For one week, keep a piece of paper on your desk in plain sight and within easy reach (or use your favorite electronic tool for making lists).

Every time you find yourself doing something you either a) don’t like doing and/or consistently avoid or b) know doesn’t need your direct involvement, write it down.

(Most people who do this exercise find that at the end of the week the list is far longer than they expected.)

At the end of the week, take a look at your list. Do you notice any patterns? Are the tasks mostly focused in one or two areas? (e.g., social media or behind-the-scenes technical jobs.) Or are they general administrative type chores? Armed with this information, you can now specifically look for virtual help in the area of your greatest need. Now you know both what you need help with and what kind of skills you need in the person who’s going to be helping you.

(Not all VAs are created equal, so giving some thought to what kind of support you need before you go searching for help is important.)

If you’re still struggling with the idea of what a VA can do for you, here are some specific examples from my own practice:

– Formatting HTML newsletters
– Formatting books for Smashwords
– Research about the business side of being an author (e.g., how Street Teams work, how to market a book in a foreign language, podcasts that might be a good fit to have you as a guest, etc.)
– Scouting for bloggers to send book review requests to
– Pitching to those bloggers and tracking responses
– Formatting (and perhaps light editing) of blog posts, or organizing content
– Managing your Street Team Facebook group (posing questions to keep the group engaged, answering questions, sharing upcoming news, etc.)
– Creating box sets in Scrivener from individual novels
– Moving works translated into a foreign language from Word into Scrivener
– Scheduling tweets and Facebook posts (ones that don’t require your direct input or engagement with your audience)
– Transcribing audio interviews or notes
– For non-fiction authors, VAs can do an enormous number of tasks around webinars or other training you offer (e.g., planning and booking the event, scheduling guests, managing registration lists, dealing with the back-end technology, creating and proofing slide decks, sending out advance information packages to the trainees, and then sending out follow-up information to the trainees, etc.)

Author Concern #4: How do I find a Virtual Assistant?

As with hiring any freelancer, personal recommendations are usually the best place to start. Does anyone in your author circles have a VA they can recommend? Can you put a shout out on KBoards asking for recommendations?

There are several Virtual Assistant organizations, usually based on the country where the VAs are located. Do a Google search for “Virtual Assistant [your country]” and you’ll find these organizations. Once you’re there, you can then do a search by the specific skill(s) you’re looking for and the site will offer a list of names, usually with links to the VAs’ individual websites.

When you’ve got a few names that look promising, be sure to interview several potential candidates so that you can get a sense of both the skills they have on offer and how their personality is going to fit with yours. Your working relationship with the VA will hopefully be long-term so you want to make sure it’s the right fit.

Bonus Tip #1: Start Small

I always recommend to authors that they begin to work with a VA by agreeing to a couple of smaller tasks or projects and then building from there. Rushing in and assigning too much, too fast, usually leads to conflict and fractures in the relationship. Starting small achieves two really important things; it begins to build trust, and it creates a testing ground to ensure the two of you are a good fit.

Ideally as the first few small projects begin and end, you’ll start to trust that your VA knows what they’re doing and can follow instructions and complete the project at the agreed time and in a way that makes you happy. As well, your VA will begin to learn how you work and what matters to you. It’s just as important that you are a good fit for your VA, as she is with you.

Bonus Tip #2: Communication is Key

In her interview with Chris Ducker, Joanna mentions that she and I share several documents on Google Drive so that we’re both always aware of what’s going on and what our expectations are. You can keep a shared spreadsheet to track your VA’s billable hours, so you always know exactly where you are in terms of your budget. Another great idea is to keep a document with the list of projects the VA is working on, in priority order, so that things don’t get forgotten about and so that you both know what your VA is supposed to be working on at any given time. Meeting regularly on the telephone or Skype/FaceTime keeps the communication flowing and also helps to grow your relationship.

I hope this helps any authors who are considering hiring a VA. If you have any questions about any of what I’ve mentioned above, or want more information, please leave a comment below.

You can also learn more at my website.

Business for Authors: How To Be An Author Entrepreneur. Now An Audiobook!

Do you want to take your author business to the next level? Do you love listening to audio? Do you love listening to British accents?!

business audiobooksExciting news! Business for Authors is now available as an audiobook on Audible, Amazon and iTunes. Written by me and narrated by … me! :) Packed full of everything I know about building, growing and running a business as an author.

Whether you’re just starting out with big ambitions, or you’re ready to step it up a level, this book has something for everyone. [And yes, I will be posting soon on all my tips for narrating your own audiobook if that’s something you fancy doing.]

The book has 51 reviews on Amazon.com with a 4.7 star average.

Click here to check out the audiobook on AudibleFreeAudiobookBusinessForAuthors, or you can get it free if you sign up for a 30 day free trial.

You can also listen to a sample on Soundcloud or here on YouTube

 

What are people saying about Business for Authors?

“Ready to become CEO of your own Global Media Empire? Then Business for Authors is for you, featuring clear and concise steps to managing your writing career.”
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author CJ Lyons

Cj and Liz“This is exactly the book I needed! Business for Authors is like having a charming double agent from the world of business who can tell you all its coveted secrets. It reads like an engaging conversation with someone you can trust ― a theology major! ― and along the way learning the language and strategies of a true entrepreneur.

I wish I had been given this book when I first graduated from my MFA program, back when the accounting of writing was even more of a mystery to me. With warmth and intelligence, Penn demystifies so much about what it takes to be a writer for life. This is a book that will remain on my bookshelf for the years to come.”

Elizabeth Hyde Stevens, Author of Make Art Make Money: Lessons from Jim Henson on Fueling Your Creative Career and Lecturer at Boston University and Harvard University Extension School

The best book I know of for authors who are serious about making their writing into more than a hobby. Joanna Penn writes in an engaging, personal style to lead you through the often-confusing world of publishing for profit, sharing her own hard-won lessons. A boon to self-publishers everywhere.” Joel Friedlander, TheBookDesigner.com

What’s in the book?

Here’s an outline of the table of contents.

Part 1: From Author To Entrepreneur

The arc of the author’s journey, definition of an author-entrepreneur, deciding on your definition of success and why it’s important as well as what you want for your life. Plus/ should you start a company?

blue computerPart 2: Products and Services

How you can turn one manuscript into multiple streams of income by exploiting all the different rights, various business models for authors and how to evaluate your own, information on contracts, copyright and piracy. Plus/ putting together a production plan.

Part 3: Employees, Suppliers and Contractors

The team you need to run your business as an author-entrepreneur. Your role as author and what you’re committing to in the business, as well as co-writing. Editors, agents and publishers, translators, book designers and formatters, audiobook narrators, book-keeping and accounting, virtual assistants. Plus/ how to manage your team.

Part 4: Customers

In-depth questions to help you understand who your customers are and what they want, as well as customer service options for authors.

Part 5: Sales and Distribution

How to sell through distributors and your options, plus all the information you need to sell direct. ISBNs and publishing imprints – do you need them? Plus/ your options for pricing.

PriceTagsPart 6: Marketing

Defining and reframing marketing so you feel more comfortable with it, as well as key overarching concepts. Book-based marketing techniques including cover, back copy and sales pages on the distributors. Author-based marketing around building your platform, and customer-based marketing around your niche audience and targeted media. [This is just an overview. For a whole book on marketing, see my ‘How To Market A Book‘.]

Part 7: Financials

Changing your mindset about money, and assessing where you are now vs where you want to be. Revenues of the author business and how to increase that revenue. Costs of the author business and funding your startup. Banking, PayPal, accounting, reporting, tax and estate planning.

Part 8: Strategy and Planning

checklistWhat is your strategy for your business and why this is important. Developing your business plan. Managing your time and developing professional habits, plus accountability systems. The long term view and the process for becoming a full-time author if you choose that route. Plus/ looking after yourself.

Part 9: Next Steps

Questions from the book to help you work out everything to do with your business, plus encouragement for your next steps.

Appendices, Workbook and Bonus Downloads

There’s also a download page that accompanies the book includes a downloadable workbook with questions in from each chapter. There’s a business plan template as well as hyperlinked lists of tools and resources to help you further.

The Appendices also include bonus interviews on money and how it relates to creativity, writing and life, as well as my own lessons learned over the last years as a full-time author-entrepreneur.

quote peopleMore quotes about the book

“BUSINESS FOR AUTHORS ought to be required reading if you’re a beginning writer who wants to make money in publishing. You can learn it all the hard way, like I did, but that usually takes years and it usually means that you’ll make a LOT of mistakes along the way. Or you can read through Joanna Penn’s awesome little guidebook in just a few hours and save yourself a huge amount of time, energy, and money.”
Randy Ingermanson — author of “Writing Fiction for Dummies“.

“This book demonstrates why Joanna Penn has become a favorite role model for professional author-publishers, those indie-minded writers who want to turn their passion into their job. In it Penn offers the step-by-step process she has followed to success and covers every aspect of earning a good living from writing. Not a word is wasted and not a lesson offered that hasn’t been forged in the hotbed of her own experience. A must-have book for every indie author.” Orna Ross, Bestselling author and founder of the Alliance of Independent Authors

Business for Authors has now become my business bible. Packed with advice, experience and knowledge, it opened my mind to so much more that I could be doing.”
Mel Sherratt, Crime writer and Amazon UK #1 Bestseller.

“With Business for Authors, I felt like I stepped inside the brain of an entrepreneur. I love how Joanna explored the topic from so many angles, and then provided real-life context of how she worked through each opportunity/challenge.”
Dan Blank, WeGrowMedia.com

“There’s no doubt about it, to be successful as an author today you must think like an entrepreneur. But maybe you need some advice and guidance on exactly how to do that? Good news! Joanna Penn’s latest book Business for Authors will walk you through everything you need to know for success. It’s a comprehensive step-by-step guide for authors, written by someone who walks the walk as a best-selling author and entrepreneur.”
Jim F. Kukral, Author Marketing Club

Business for Authors is the most comprehensive book on the business of being an author that I’ve read. I highly recommend it to any author (whether traditionally or self-published) who wants to make a living from their creative work.” – Stephen Campbell, Amazon Review

You can also buy the book in ebook or print formats, as well as audiobook

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How To Use Audio And Podcasting Effectively To Promote Your Book With Viv Oyolu

One of the best ways to stand out as an author is to have some aspect of multimedia in your platform. With the growth of streaming audio through smart phones and soon to be implemented in cars, it’s time to learn how to incorporate audio into your book marketing. Today I interview Viv Oyolu, The Audio Marketing Expert.

In the intro, I mention that I am currently away in the US, speaking in Charleston at Pubsense Summit and then heading down to Savannah. I recommend a book I am finding useful: Better than before: Mastering the habits of our everyday lives by Gretchen Rubin.

99designs-logo-750x200pxThis podcast episode is sponsored by 99 Designs, where you can get all kinds of designs for your author business including book covers, merchandising, branding and business cards, illustrations and artwork and much more. You can get a Powerpack upgrade which gives your project more chance of getting noticed by going to: 99Designs.com/joanna

viv oyoluViv Oyolu is a radio presenter, podcaster and an audio marketing expert. She works with authors, businesses and entrepreneurs to increase online visibility and engagement with audio. Viv is now the author of How to use podcasts to promote your book.

You can listen above or on iTunes or Stitcher, watch the interview on YouTube here or read the notes and links below.

  • Viv has a marketing background but always wanted to be a radio presenter. Eventually she did make it on air with the Dream Corner show interviewing female entrepreneurs. When the radio station went offline, she decided to take matters into her own hands. She started interviewing guests around London and then online via Skype, starting her own podcasts and specializing in audio especially for book marketing.
  • How audio will continue to grow as a medium with the launch of Apple CarPlay and Google Auto and how this will make podcasting more mainstream.
  • Why audio enhances an author brand and helps you stand out. Humans connect through voice before words on the page. An audience will connect with you directly when they hear your voice or see your face. It’s a very personal aspect to be in someone’s ears for hours every month. It facilitates that ‘know, like and trust’ aspect which will lead to connection with fans – and ultimately will lead to book sales.
  • Audio can also expand the content in your book, and you can go deeper into aspects that you want to talk about more. Audio is sideways marketing, where you can give loads of value to the audience and people can buy or give if they want to. It feels good to podcast and share via audio. It’s authentic and possibly the least scammy way of marketing!
  • Getting over your voice and tips for performance. We all hate our voice and the way we look! You just have to get over it! Viv did some voice coaching to correct a high pitched tone, but I’ve never done that (although I have thought about it). We give some tips about performance – you need to use your energy in your voice, your passion. You need to smile and communicate expression that way. It’s a bit like speaking in public, you need to be 150% you.
  • Planning and pitching. Are you raising awareness of your brand? Or are you talking specifically about one book? Decide on your objective and then decide on the target audience. Break your book down into the various elements – either topics (for non-fiction) or themes (for fiction) and then research the various podcasts that cover these things. DON’T pitch podcasters who are not interested in your topic! Make sure you are targeting very well and offer the podcaster some talking points. It’s very unlikely that they will read your book – they may skim it, but you need to make it easy for them.

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