1/24/08

LDS Fiction Blog

Two things. This is a long post. Sorry. (Not really, but that's the polite thing to say.) If this first topic bores you, scroll down to the next topic which talks about how perspective readers are NOT finding your book.


LDS Fiction Blog
You may recall that I mentioned I was starting a companion blog to this one featuring newly released LDS fiction, appropriately titled LDS Fiction. I bit off a little more than I could chew on that one, so I got someone to help me. She has created info posts for all of the 2007 Whitney finalists (and done an excellent job). Please go take a look and comment on and rate the ones that you have read.

My associate may or may not get to all of the non-finalist 2007 titles. I told her she didn't have to do those, but she said if she got bored or had scads of extra time that she'd work on them. Those posts will be backdated to 2007. I'll try to remember to make a note of it here when/if she adds more 2007 titles.

2008 titles will be posted as they are released. I know you'll all want to rush over and put that blog on your RSS feed reader so that you'll know the moment a new title is posted. (But you can finish reading this post before you do that.) (Oh, and thank you to all who have already let me know of new releases for 2008. Keep those e-mails coming. It may take a bit of time to catch up, but we will get January's 2008 titles posted before too long.)

One last comment on this topic. It generally takes about 30 minutes per book post to size the cover and find good promo copy and links. (Sometimes longer...see topic below.) Because she is basically donating her time, I have allowed my associate to put some affiliate links in the sidebar and within the posts themselves. If you feel inclined to support this effort, and would normally purchase these books via online sources, please consider placing your order through her affiliate links.



Finding Your Book
In the process of finding adequate images, promo copy and links for the LDS Fiction blog, my associate and I found some shocking deficits in marketing. Well, they would be shocking, if they weren't so prevalent.

Ideally, someone looking for you or your book should be able to find one or both within three mouse clicks. The research has been done and if you don't show up in those first three clicks, many people will stop looking. Some books took us much longer than 30 minutes and many more than three clicks to find what we needed. For some books, we were unable to find all the info and links needed.

In the individual book posts we wanted to put a nice large image of the book cover and to link it and the book title to an online store. We also wanted to link the author's name to their website or blog. Then we wanted to include information about the book that would make it easy for a customer to find the book at/special order the book from their local bookstore or library. This info would include Publisher Name, ISBN #, Publication Date and Genre Category. We also wanted to include size information and let you know if it was part of a series. Ideally, we should be able to Google the book title and/or author name and have all this info at our fingertips within minutes.

Uhhhnnn. (That's the sound of the wrong answer buzzer.)

This is what we found instead:

Problem: Some book images were difficult to find, or were too small. We had to make them bigger, which is why some of the images are a little blurry.

Solution: You publisher should have a big image (approx. 400 x whatever pixels) somewhere on their website. If they don't, YOU should have one (or link to one) on your website or blog. This is very easy to do using free hosting sites such as Photobucket.



Problem: Online shoppers like to get all their books at one location to save on time and shipping. The best online stores to use would be 1) Amazon, and 2) Deseret Book and/or Seagull. Some books were not on any of these sites.

Solution: You may not be able to control whether or not Deseret Book, Seagull or other online stores put your book on their website, but you can certainly get your book on Amazon for a minimal amount of effort. (Here or Here.) Your publisher should automatically list your book there, but if they don't, YOU CAN. Go do it now. (And please, include an image of the book cover!)



Problem: Some authors do not have a website or blog or any place to go if a reader wants to find out more about you.

Solution: With all the free hosting options out there, this is inexcusable. If you have a computer, you can have a web presence. (Even if you don't have a personal computer, most libraries will let you use theirs.) At the very least, sign up for a free blog site, such as this one or this one and create one post per published title and one post with your author bio. Be sure to include images of your book covers and yourself. (If you don't know how to do this, ask your teenager or a neighbor's teenager to do it for you.)



Problem: Some authors with a website/blog, don't effectively promote their books.

Solution: Put the covers of your book or a big link to them on the first page of your website or in the sidebar of your blog. Link the cover image to a more detailed page about your book or to a place where readers can buy the book online. Create a page or post for each of your titles. Include all the information a customer might need or want. (Like what is included for each title on the LDS Fiction blog; this is the minimum.)



Problem: Some publishers have lousy or no Search feature on their websites, making it difficult for a customer to find YOUR book. Some publishers have the title of your book and/or your name wrong on their site. And some BIG online bookstores have the title and/or author name wrong. (Honestly.)

Solution: THROW A FIT AND MAKE THEM FIX THIS RIGHT AWAY! They probably will blow you off about the Search feature but they ought to at least have your name and title correct. And they have the power to make the bookstores fix it on their sites. I mean, how do they expect to sell the book if people search for the correct title and it comes up with nothing?



Problem: Can't find you in a Google search. Many customers looking for an author or title will use Google or another search engine to find them. They should be able to find your book and your website or blog within the first three Google pages. (Some authors do not even come up in the first 10 Google pages. Most people are not as tenacious as I am and will not search past the first 3 pages.)

Solution: Regularly Google your name and the titles of your books. Make sure you come up in those first three pages. Ideally, when googling your name or the title of your book, the first search page should show (in any order) your personal website/blog, Amazon and other online stores, your publisher, and people blogging about you and your book. If none of this info shows up on page one, do some serious research on website optimization and get those links in the first three Search pages.



Assignment for today: Open a new browser window and Google yourself (use your name exactly as it is printed on the front of your book, then try it again leaving out middle initial or names). Google the title of your book (first the exact title, next a few keywords from the title). How long did it take to find you? Now ask yourself, if you were a reader looking for a book someone had mentioned to them, would you have looked that hard?

After you try this experiment, come back and let us know in the comments section how many clicks it took to get to your book. If it took three clicks or less, you're welcome to brag. If it took more than three clicks, you've got some work to do. (And you can post your comment anonymously if you want.)

7 comments:

Tristi Pinkston said...

One of the great things about having a weird name like mine is that there aren't any other people to confuse me with. :) I came up the first page. One fun thing, though -- I found a review that was posted earlier in the week that I didn't know existed. Googling your own name is a good thing.

William said...

Amen. Please authors -- make sure you get listed on Amazon. I had a heck of a time tracking down some of the publishers info when I was writing my AMV post on the Whitney Awards finalists publishers tally.

And I find it annoying that Deseret Book doesn't list publisher info. I suppose a big part of that is that most of the titles they carry are published by them, but still.

Also:

Regarding using blogging platform to create an author's site. If you don't actually plan on blogging, you can still create a Web presence and you don't have to use "posts" do so. I have seen several authors use WordPress Pages (which, unlike posts, can be ordered and reordered and are not published by date) function to create simple sites with bio, books, contact, reviews, etc. pages.

And if you can swing it, don't use the free platform. Buy a domain and pay for hosting (Web site hosting is cheap these days unless you get a ton of visitors and I don't thing a single Mormon market author is capable of reaching the numbers where it becomes incredibly pricey -- if you are paying a lot for hosting, you have the wrong vendor). And then use WordPress or a similar blogging platform to create and manage your site (don't try and build it in FrontPage).

But whether you pay for hosting or not, do whatever you need to do (learn it or find somebody who can do it) to customize the Blogger or WordPress "theme" (template) you use. It can be as simple as changing the color scheme and adding a custom banner. It'll make your site/blog look a lot more professional if you do.

Rebecca Talley said...

Great post and great comments--I have some work ahead of me.

The good news is I googled myself and on the first page, 6 of the 10 entries was about me. The 2nd entry on the page is my blog, the 3rd is my website and then a few about my picture book. There is a Dr. Rebecca Talley, but that's not me (and that's why I added my maiden name to my book coming out next month, to help differentiate us).

You've listed some great ideas that I need to explore and use to help with promotion. Thanks, LDSP, for donating so much of your time to help all of us and thanks for your new blog, LDSFiction.

Annette Lyon said...

Great suggestions all around. Making mental notes here. The Google thing was fun, and I guess I can brag. :) On the first three pages, all but two entries were me. The first entry was my website, and the second was my blog. Nice to know I'm doing something right!

Marsha Ward said...

I've worked very hard to make my books accessible on the Internet, since they're usually not found in brick 'n mortar stores. Google brings the titles up on their first search pages, and within one or two clicks, you can order them.

As to my name, the first page is all me. Before I had a blog, some other Marsha Wards crept in, but it's harder to find them now. Sorry, attorney Marsha and lamp shop Marsha and coach Marsha and all the rest.

patricia w. said...

I passed the first google page test, thank goodness. There's apparently a horse artist who shares my name (our middle names are different, though). Now to get all my book images on Amazon ...

William said...

Yeah, I should probably use a pen name if I ever publish anything.

Try googling William Morris.