Promoting books with blogsOver the weekend, I popped into Waterstones book shop in Richmond a frequent haunt in the days before Amazon and still a favourite one. On this occasion, rather than my normal top floor seat in the business and foreign language section, I had to be content with the ground floor (baby + pram + no lift = ground floor) and so spent a few moments looking through the books on the current Best Sellers lists.

There were some authors there that I recognised, and a number that I did not. What I certainly did spot was the number of books which were connected in some way either to either TV programmes or films currently on at the cinema. Jamie Oliver at Home was at the top of the hardback list while Atonement sat astride the paperback list with Nigella Lawson, The Bourne Ultimatum and Michael Palin’s New Europe all making top 10 appearances. Now, good as they may be, one thing is certain. Without the publicity afforded by the TV shows or cinema appearances, these books would never have achieved the same level of sales or enjoyed the same level of success.

So whats my point? Well, although only a very small number of books published have TV help to promote them, all books need promotion to succeed. One such promotional medium which is available to all authors is a blog, and its a good one at that! Using a blog allows you to get in front of your potential readers, engage with them and hopefully really grab their attention done correctly, it can not only give a feel for the book but expand on it and pique the interest of potential buyers, readers and future loyal fans.

Setting up a blog to promote your book should be an automatic step in the book promotion process and it can be a very powerful approach. However, there are some elements that you should bear in mind to make sure that it will be as effective as possible:

  • Give your Blog the same title as your book: that way, when you are promoting the book via the blog or simply promoting the blog, you are still always focusing peoples attention on the key thing you want them to remember, your books title

  • Use the same domain name too: for exactly the same reasons, make sure that you buy the domain containing your books name and develop your blog there. You are writing the blog on a specific subject and for a specific reason so make sure that you have a specific domain too. Youve probably seen film companies do exactly the same to great effect with websites to promote their films (eg. Atonement) ... so follow their lead!

  • Make sure it is linked visually with the book: take the graphics from the cover of your book and build these into your blog so that the two are instantly associated. This will really help from a branding point of view and, when someone sees the book online having visited your blog, then it will trigger their memory too

  • Make use of the layout and design: just like a general business blog, make sure that the layout and design works for you to achieve your business goals in this case, promoting your book. For example, get your newsletter sign up box and your RSS subscription logo (I recommend running both) prominent on your blog to encourage signups and then use that information to grow your supporters

  • Incentives and Promotions: remember that incentives work – if you’re not convinced then pick up a copy of Freakonomics and see why you should rethink. They do! So, perhaps you can give a chapter away free as a taster, or offer an ebook which develops on some of the themes you discuss in the book. You could even go as far as Seth Godin did when he gave away his book the IdeaVirus in ebook form … this in turn catapaulted the paper copy into the best sellers list! We might not all have the pulling power of Mr Godin, but the principle is a very powerful one

  • Use your blog marketing opportunities: just as you would do with any blog, use the mainstream blog marketing opportunities to spread the word about your book. As a start point, comment on other relevant blogs, submit your blog to blog directories, use links and trackbacks and get your RSS feed into RSS Directories. Here are some other blog marketing methods Id recommend considering

  • Dont forget your offline and other online marketing: the more targeted traffic you can get the better so dont forget to use other methods which will benefit you. Ive listed some ideas incorporating both online and offline methods in a called 52 ways to promote your blog.

Of course, you need to make sure that you can deliver the content – but this should be the easy part, you are the author after all! :) Take the opportunity to expand on the themes that you covered in the book, talk about adjacent areas that lead into the subject matter of your book and talk about background areas which will be of interest but which you were unable to include in the book itself.

Use the blog to pique the interest of readers at every opportunity and ensure they remember the name and branding clearly – give them a link to Amazon or your preferred outlet too. Display comments and recommendations from others who have already bought it and ask them to refer people to your blog who might enjoy it. Intrigue them and give them every opportunity to decide that they wish to buy BUT … a word of warning … avoid overtly / directly selling to them.

Above all, enjoy doing it, just as I enjoy sitting and reading what others have written, whether I’ in a Richmond book shop or online. If you enjoy it, then it will shine through in the writing on your blog. When that happens, your readers will be able to share your enjoyment and enthusiasm and, as likely as not, then enjoy reading your book as well.

Footnote: if you are considering writing a book but need help and guidance as you do it, then can I recommend a chat with Mindy Gibbins-Klein “The Book Midwife – you’ll find it will be time well spent!

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