Mark Terry

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Online Book Marketing

June 20, 2007

Somebody recently asked me to post about online book marketing. I suspect I've only touched on the surface of this, but sure, I'll go ahead and talk about it a bit. If you want to talk to someone who really seems to exploit this, talk to Mary Reed who co-writes historical mysteries with her husband Eric Mayer. You can check out his blog here.

First, ya gotta have a website. It's the new business card of the 21st century. Simple or a lot of bells & whistles, I guess you can go either way. Do it yourself if you can or are inclined to or hire a pro. I had a do-it-yourself website for some time, but I'm not into it and was always putting it off, so I hired who specializes in author websites. Ideally you have a good amount of real content. For writers this might mean stories, articles, interviews, these days even videos and podcasts. I'm very busy and not inclined to go the podcast route--yet--but if you've got a mind to, there's a lot you can do. Mary and Eric's website has tons of interesting things on it. Go to as well to see someone's website who handles a tremendous amount of content.

Blogs are big and free and in many ways they allow you to constantly change the content of your website. They can also be a black hole, but I recommend them for the interaction if nothing else. Also, get out into the blogosphere and interact with other writers and bloggers. It's a great way to get your name out there. Just be polite about it. Interact, don't just pitch your books.

Listservs. I belong to entirely too many listservs and don't participate in most of them. Still, your presence on listservs is like blogs--it gets your name out there.

E-newsletters. Create an e-mail list. When you set up your website, make sure there's a way for people to sign up for a mailing list. Then occasionally send an e-newsletter out to the people on your list. Tell them what's going on. I usually only do this when there's actually news. Mary and Eric send one out monthly called The Orphan Scrivener and it consists of an essay about damn near anything by both of them, with very little blatant self promotion.

I utilize Vertical Response ( because my webmaven fancies it up and it's cheap, but Mary and Eric just send e-mails in bulk. Just be cautious about how you do this because you don't want to trip over anti-spam laws.

AuthorBuzz is a service created by author MJ Rose. She charges for the privilege, but it supposedly reaches about 300,000 people--readers, booksellers, etc. You get a nice little write-up (that you create) along with links to your website and your book jacket. It shows up for one week (twice), once about 4 months before your book goes on sale and the second time around the time your book goes on sale. I notice she's added some services that also hit book clubs and other venues (for additional money--MJ's not stupid). Pricey but it seems effective.

Online reviewers. There are a bunch of them with more coming all the time. You can also get listed on ReviewersChoice, which is a yahoo group. You can announce your book there (or your publisher can) and offer ARCs or books to review. Some are online reviewers, some are print reviewers. The list of online review sites is huge and you can find them with a google search.

Blog Tours. This is where you contact people--presumably friends, but who knows?--and ask them to either let you guest blog on their blog or post a review or notice about your book. In an ideal world, it happens more or less at the same time. I haven't really tried this, but I can see where it might work.

Amazon and the other online booksellers have opportunities for reviews, blog, plogs (not sure what that stands for, actually) and a variety of other things that may or may not actually help sell your book. I read a book, "Plug Your Book!" by Steve Weber that's all about online book marketing and his focus was primarily Amazon and the focus seemed to be largely about driving up your sales numbers, which although a good thing, does not necessarily transfer to a large number of books sold, depending on what else is going online on any given hour of any given day. Still, although I would read it with skepticism, I suppose it's worth reading.

MySpace, CrimeSpace, and all the other social networking sites. Yes, I have a CrimeSpace site. No, I don't have a MySpace site. Why not? Too busy to work it effectively. I think these work best if you can spend time interacting. They're probably useful. A quick perusal of them suggests that either some people are really tech savvy or they really have a lot of time on their hands. Again, they're not a waste of time and they can be really effective, but in order to make them work you really need to spend some time creating a community and interacting with people. I also suspect that if you can jazz these sites up with video clips and music and update the content regularly, they're going to be much more effective.

Like I said, this only touches the surface. Any more ideas would be welcome. This is something I think can be very cost-effective and remains largely unexploited by me.


Mark Terry


Anonymous Howard Sherman said...

Every single point you covered is an element of success in selling books online.

There is one element I'd like to add which could make all the difference in the world.

Link marketing.

Link marketing is what brings qualified, interested people to your website.

Link marketing is when two websites exchange links. It's like a cross-pollination of new ideas. Visitors of one website can learn about so many others. When links are exchanged, pathways between different authors' websites are created.

The fastest, most direct path to successful link marketing can be found here:

There is an excellent 170 page book available which expands on the topic greatly. And the software they offer makes it all possible.

I use it every day as an integral part of my website's operations.

Howard Sherman
Malinche Entertainment
The Next Dimension in Fiction

7:24 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Thanks Howard. Interesting.

It's also been pointed out to me that one of the problems with internet marketing is, as my friend Ron says, the Internet is a "vast wasteland of mindless drivel." But of course, he was being kind.

Although online marketing is relatively inexpensive and relatively easy to do, it's fast becoming a huge landfill where every single castoff piece of information ever created is being dumped. It's only going to get harder for your marketing efforts to rise above the, er, drivel.

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

Thanks for the mention! You're right, Mary is a real whiz at marketing online.

A website is a good repository for information. If anyone wants our bibliography or biography or a reader's guide or reviews of our books -- we just send them there.

I'm not sure all publishers would be pleased though with my personally hand coded elementary html presentaion. It could be argued it doesn't look professional.

My justification is that any readers who are curious and visit our website are pretty much visiting us at home rather than at a sales meeting at the publisher. We started the site years before we started selling books and a lot of the material goes way back. The marketing material was added later.
Whether the amateur look is bad from a sales point of view I can't say. It's possible. I sure wouldn't put one of my drawings on our book cover.

11:46 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I think your website serves your books and readership very well.

My brother, who has spent some time teaching website design to college students apparently, often gets into arguments with his students as to what an effective site is. They want bells and whistles, etc., but he insists that excellent content and ease-of-use are important. I agree with him, although bells-and-whistles and high content/ease of use don't have to be mutually exclusive.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous M.J. Rose said...

Thanks so much for mentioning I really appeicate it. For the numbers, most think its actually cheap. If you tried to send a post card to all the librarians we reach alone - you'd spend more that our service costs. The numbers aren't "supposedly" though they are actual. AuthorBuzz reaches over 350,000 readers, 3000 booksellers, 10,000 librarians as well as the bookclub addition reaches readers and leaders of more than 7400 bookclubs. Plus in the next month or so the readers will go up since will become part of the package.

1:28 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I said "supposedly" not because I doubt your claims but because I was wondering about click-through rates, etc.

And yes, I find the new services to be quite intriguing. I've got another novel coming out May 2008...

1:45 PM  
Blogger Deborah Elliott-Upton said...

It's always been a who-you-know world. The Internet has been such an aid to networking and brings us all a bit closer. Thanks, Mark.

5:44 AM  
Blogger Lonnie Cruse said...

Great blog post, Mark, very informative. Thanks, Lonnie

10:24 AM  
Blogger Tim Maleeny said...

Mark, a lot of great advice, and most (but not all) of the online marketing can be done cheaply. Online marketing is harder to track than some would have you believe, but your comment about having a presence is the key. I found AuthorBuzz a really good investment, and I have nothing but great things to say about the web designs of Thanks for posting this.

11:43 AM  
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