Is your author website a commercial website?

 

You write books. You have a website, where you offer those books. You also write blog posts and you consider your website to primarily be an information site. Actually, however, its a commercial site and the reason its a commercial site is because you are selling books on the site. If you sell a single product on your site, you now have a commercial website. The reason I bring this up, is because I think for many authors they don’t necessarily think of themselves as owning a business. They’ve written a book, and that’s what they think it is…a book, but the book is much more than just a book. It’s a product, a commercial good with your name on it.

Recently I was contacted by Getty Images because of a picture I used on one of my websites. You can read the story here. In their letter to me they explained that my site was a commercial website (which is true because its a business), but it got me thinking about my other website and I realized that was a commercial website as well and that the criteria for establishing if something is a commercial website seems to boil down to whether or not you are using the site to sell something (ergo you run a business).

You may not have thought of your website as a commercial site, but its worth considering that even if you don’t other people do, and this consequently effects you in certain ways. You may not be taking full advantage of business deductions related to your site or products. You may also not be accurately reporting information that needs to be reported for the purposes of taxes. It’s important that you recognize what your site is and treat it accordingly, as well as recognize that you don’t just have a commercial website, but also a commercial enterprise, albeit one that may be limited to selling copies of your books.

Another reason you want to be clear about this is because if your site is deemed commercial it can limit what you can use on your site. For example if you are using pictures on a site, but your site is considered commercial you need to be careful about what pictures you use and make sure that if you are using “free” pictures that they are free to use even if you are a commercial site (with proper attribution). That’s just one example of how website being categorized as commercial can effect your choices of what content you are putting on the site. So take a look at your website. Do you want it to just be an information site or do you want to sell your books on it. Know what the distinction is so you can make the appropriate choices.

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How to Use Youtube for Marketing Part 3

Youtube

Once you’ve set up your YouTube channel and learned how to use its features, its time to start actually using it to connect with your audience. The content you create needs to speak to the interests of your audience, while at the same time being concise. Your YouTube channel is a lot like a blog, albeit with a visual format. The following tips can help you make useful videos that grab the attention of your target audience.

1. Be consistent. If you are going to do a channel, shoot and upload a video to YouTube at least once a week. By consistently pushing out videos you’ll grow your subscriber base. The professional channels I’ve observed typically seem to post at least once a week or several times a week, but not much more than that.

2. Keep your videos short. I keep my videos to around 3 or 4 minutes (unless it’s a webinar recording). If your video is longer than that, people will be less likely to watch it. Also you need to make the first 15 seconds count in terms of grabbing people’s interest. Otherwise they’ll move on to another video.

3. Series can be a useful way to generate content. I’ve found that one way to generate content and hook people into watching multiple videos is to break a topic into a series. For example, I’m doing a series on pop culture magic on my YouTube channel. By having such a series I am able to talk about the topic at length, but break it up into little videos that nonetheless grab the interest of my audience, because they are short and focused, but also indicate that more content will be coming.

4. Be animated and relaxed when talking to the camera. People don’t relate well to robotic presentations. Relax and let your passion for your topic show through. Laugh, make gestures and otherwise be yourself, because a lot of what makes a video appealing is the authenticity of the person.

5. Post your videos on various sites. If you want to get more subscribers, you need to share your videos on different social media sites.

6. Reply to comments. Sometimes you’ll get comments. Make sure you reply to them within reason as this helps increase your engagement and gives people more reason to continue watching your videos.

Do you have any additional tips you wish to share? Leave a comment below.

 

How to use Youtube for Marketing part 2

Youtube

In my previous post, I shared some tips on how to set-up and use a YouTube video channel for your marketing. In this post I am going to share some additional tips on how to use YouTube effectively. Just setting up a video channel and shooting videos isn’t enough. There are features that YouTube offers that you can use to turn your channel into a stream of profit as well as enhance the videos you have. These features can help you with your marketing efforts, and help you continue to build your branding presence.

Monetize your videos. YouTube videos can be monetized. You need to have a Google account (such as Gmail) and an Adsense account. When you monetize your videos, advertisements will show on those videos. If people click on those advertisements, you receive income for that click. You can’t click the ads yourself, but monetizing your videos can provide another source of income, and they are for the most relatively non-intrusive.

Annotations are your friends. Another feature I like is the ability to annotate videos. Annotations allows you to add written commentary to your video. I typically use it to direct people to my other videos. The benefit of doing that is that it increases the chance that they’ll watch those other videos. This can be especially useful if you create a series on a specific topic and want people to watch the previous or next videos in the series.

Add your Logo and get subscribers. You can add a logo to your videos (it shows up in the upper right hand of the video). The logo can be a company logo or you can come up with a symbol from one of your books. When people click on the logo, it offers them a way to subscribe to your video channel. You want subscribers, because they see your videos whenever you release them.

Using these features can help you enhance your videos. There are other features you can also explore…so take a bit of time and explore them. Also watch other videos to see what other people are doing. In my next post, I’ll share some additional tips on how to make the most of your YouTube marketing.

How to Use Youtube for your Marketing part 1

Youtube

I recently created two YouTube channels for my respective businesses and as a way to market my books. Much like any other marketing medium YouTube has its dos and don’ts which can help you in your own marketing efforts. I think that much as podcasts and blogs are an essential part of an authors marketing platform, so too is YouTube because it provides another medium of interaction and can be shared across multiple platforms. With all that said, here are some tips that can help you establish your YouTube presence.

1. Get a good quality webcam. You may have a webcam that comes with your computer, but it probably won’t shoot high quality videos. You can pick up better quality webcams at Best Buy or other retail locations (or online) that shoot better quality video. It’s worth it because the quality of video, both in terms of what people see and hear will be determined by the type of webcam you have. I have a logitech 270, which is pretty decent. I’ll eventually upgrade it, but for now it works in terms of the quality I’m looking for.

2. When shooting a video make sure you have good lighting and the right position for your webcam. You want the right lighting so that your face shows up in a consistent well lit manner, while you are shooting your video. You want to pick the right position so that you can get the right angle for the video. Make sure before you shot a video that you double check your appearance so that whatever you are wearing shows up in a complimentary manner.

3. Make your videos into organic conversations. Many people find making videos awkward. You can tell because they launch into long monologues about topics, which end up ultimately boring people watching the video. Keep your videos to 3 minutes or less, because you will typically lose Peoples’ interest if you go beyond that. And make the videos into conversations. You have two ways to do that. You can ask people to ask you questions and then shoot a video answering a question. Alternately you can pick a topic you want to discuss and then break it into chunks that focus on specific aspects of the topic. For example, I recently shot a video defining what pop culture is. My next video will define what pop culture magic and the one after that will explain why people practice pop culture magic. By breaking the topic into chunks, I make it easier to for people to watch the video.

In my next blog post I’ll share some more tips for using YouTube as a way to market your books and your expertise.

The Reality of Amazon in Publishing

Amazon

Every so often, one of my authors will email me or instant message me and ask about something that has occurred on Amazon. Maybe they can’t find their book or maybe their book is being offered at a discounted rate, or maybe its something else. What they want is for me to solve the problem. However what they don’t realize is just what a complicated relationship there is between Amazon and publishers. Actually that’s true of distributors and retailers in general. The following may shed some light on the realities of dealing with any retailer, as well as some specific aspects of dealing with Amazon.

1. Publishers make prices, but retailers can change prices. A publisher can decide that a book is worth $20.99 and that’s what the book will cost on the publisher’s website. It’s also what the book will cost if you buy it direct from the author. But if you buy the book from Amazon or some other retailer, you may note that the price is sometimes discounted. Sometimes the discount is small and sometimes its large. This discount can effect royalties authors receive. The publisher has little control over the discount, because the book is being sold by a third party.

2. Kindlelicious. Another service Amazon provides is Kindle. Publishers can sign up for different types of kindle accounts. For example, you can sign up for a kindle account where you only offer e-books through kindle or you can sign up for one where you offer e-books through other sites. Obviously Amazon prefers you sign up for a kindle only account. There are some features you will get with Kindle only, but its always a toss up because not everyone wants to use Kindle.

3. Subscription based reading is becoming a reality. Amazon has set up a subscription service where you can read over 70,000 titles if you pay a monthly fee. The books aren’t free (the subscriber is paying a fee) but you won’t get as much royalties as you’d like because its essentially a library. This will become more of a reality for the publishing industry and you can’t do much about it because the retailer is still paying you for the content.

4. Publishers print the books and ship them out, but retailers sell the books and hold the balance of power. Publishing has always been an industry where the retailer holds the power. The retailer is the middle person in the equation and as such is for the most part dealing with the customers. Publishers accept this because of the exposure books get, but also accept that as a result retailers set a lot of the rules for the relationship.

Even if you self-publish, you still end up dealing with retailers of some type. For example, if you write a book and want to sell it, where do you go? Amazon, because you know amazon provides you an opportunity to get in front of your audience. But when you do that you also understand that Amazon is dictating the terms because you need them more than they need you.

My point in writing this post is just to explain that while publishers can and will do their part to represent their authors interests, they nonetheless have to deal with the retailers and that relationship isn’t an equal one by any measure. Knowing that can help you the author understand why some things occur on amazon and other retailer sites.

How to use Tumblr for marketing your books

Tumblr

Tumblr is a micro-blog website which allows users to post pictures, texts, video, etc to whoever is following them. It’s also quite a useful site for authors if you want to market yourself and your books. I’ve been using Tumblr for the last year or so and I’ve come to feel that it plays an essential part of staying in touch with people who might find my work relevant. If you’re an author and you aren’t on Tumblr, you might want to give it a try and see how it helps you connect with people on the site.

So far, the majority of Tumblr users seems to be in an age range between teens and early to mid thirties. A lot of the content shared is multi-media including pictures and texts or videos. A lot of the content shared is fan oriented, but I also see a lot of Social Justice causes shared on Tumblr. A lot of the content on Tumblr is unique to it, which means that it isn’t cross shared across multiple social media platforms.

Why should authors use Tumblr? If your target demographic is on Tumblr, you’ll want to be on there as well. But there’s also a variety of other reasons to consider having a Tumblr presence. What I like about Tumblr is the hashtag feature, which while not altogether unique, is useful for finding your target audience and connecting as well making sure your contents get in front of that target audience. Another feature I find intriguing is how Tumblr is set up to encourage sharing of content, both in terms of reblogging and favoriting. To comment on posts you typically need to reblog a post and offer your own commentary, which makes commenting a bit less back and forth.

How should authors use Tumblr? If you are going to use Tumblr, there are a couple suggestions I have. First, make sure you post some unique content just for Tumblr users. For example I’ll share excerpts of my latest book on Tumblr and nowhere else. Or I’ll write an essay that’s just for Tumblr. Second if you want people to respond and comment, makes you sure end a post with a question. This creates a little box at the bottom of your draft that asks if you want to let people respond. Doing these two things has helped me engage with my Tumblr audience more effectively.

Tumblr is definitely a useful social media site to be on. If you haven’t set up an account or have one, but don’t use it much, consider investing some effort into it, as it will help you connect with a different audience than what you’ll find on other social media sites.

Why Good Reads and Library Thing is your friend

 

One of the challenges of being an author is figuring out how to market your books. The romantic dream of books flying off shelves on their own rarely happens. Usually the author needs to do a lot of work around marketing the book and themselves. One of the ways that an author can market their books is through sites such as Goodreads and Library Thing. These sites are set up so that people can catalog and review the books they have or wished they had. However if you’re an author you can also create an author account.

Simply claiming your author account can help you because of the search engine optimization benefits. It’s a couple more sites linked to your author site, with similar content which makes it easier for people to find your books and website.  An author account gives you a chance to claim the books you’ve written and interact with your fans. It also gives you another place to get book reviews. And there’s many other tools as well. For example on Goodreads you can do a book giveaway contest. I recently started one for my Manifesting Wealth book and I’ve already had 99 people indicate interest in the contest, I’m only giving five books away, so that means there’s a good chance the other people will possibly buy the book. And those who get the giveaway typically are more likely to review a book.

If you don’t have an account on good reads or library thing, consider setting one up. It doesn’t take a lot of time and the process of getting an author account is relatively easy. Once you get the account, take some time to fill out your profile and provide some interesting information to people. Then explore the sites and what they offer to authors. As you look over what they offer, ask yourself how you’ll use it to market your books. For example, I chose to do the book giveaway as a way of raising interest in Manifesting Wealth and also timed it with the holiday season in hopes that people entering the contest might also consider buying a copy. I’ll likely try a similar giveaway after the winter conference season is over.

Making use of these sites can help you market your books and doesn’t take a lot of work on your part. After you have everything set up, visit each site once or twice a month and let people on other social media sites know that you have an author account in case they want to write reviews for your book.