Posts Tagged ‘random’

Putting Together a Web Page / Blog Post for Your Book

June 5, 2017

Over the past several years, and particularly the past several months, I’ve shared my writing journey and my thoughts on writing, with you.  Over this time, I’ve discussed a little but about my process, my search for publication, and my various misadventures.  Today, I wanted to share something about other processes.  As you have no doubt seen from this blog, I’ve been working on this blog as a means of building a community and “marketing” myself.  I hate that word, marketing… even though that’s part of what I investigate for my daytime job.  Of course, there are benefits to marketing, if you approach it from the right way.  If you don’t “market” yourself, then nobody will know about who you are, how great you are, and the stories that you have to tell.

One of the easiest ways to share something about yourself today is via a website. The only thing you’ve seen from my website so far is my blog. That’s because I have one major thing holding me back from putting together a fuller site: visuals. I’m working on that, but I spend a lot of time researching websites through my primary employment, so I have a pretty good idea of what I need to do in order to get a successful website in place.  I was thinking about sharing some of that with you, but I decided that I should start a little smaller.  What do I need to do in order to successfully put together a blog post or a web page that specifically markets my book?  For this, I thought I’d share a process that David, my colleague, has shared with me and with our many clients.

My employer frequently shares what it would take to sell development tools to clients, so this isn’t exactly what we explain to clients (and we usually show an idea rather than tell it), but there’s a lot of crossover here.

Before we start, let’s take an example. Michael Wallace’s Quill Gordon Mysteries, because he is already doing a lot right when he introduces “The McHenry Inheritance.

Introduction

The first thing you want to do is introduce your book.  He does this with a slugline “It’s scary, and so wrong,” and then goes into the content that you’d find on the back cover.  This introduces the stakes and a few of the main characters. Mr. Wallace gives about two paragraphs of content, mostly summarizing the content of the book.  What he’s given is good.  The only thing that I might change is spending a bit more time toward the end taking a more distant view of the book.  “This is a mystery in the vein of [comparable author].” or “The McHenry Inheritance takes you on a ride through the sordid underbelly of Harperville, wherein everybody has reason to be suspicious of outsiders.”  This isn’t the best means of pulling away from the stakes, but it does leave a little more to the imagination.

If this is your only book, then it might be useful to share a little bit about you, but this is probably better left fro a dedicated “About the Author” page.  You’ll have plenty of places to share who you are, anyway.

Short Reviews

Okay, so you’re probably low on reviews if you’ve just recently released your book.  There’s ways around this.  You can ask your beta readers for some kind words (but, by all means, don’t give away their identities unless they want you to do so!).   You can wait for some positive reviews on Amazon, and then ask for permission for those.  Mr. Wallace has a review off in the corner.  It is a solid review, but he only needs a sentence or two from that review to let visitors know that his book is a worthwhile read.

If you have a positive review in your local paper, this is the ideal place to put it.  Not everybody will garner this attention in their early career, so if you have something here, might as well put it to good use.

Book Trailer

In an earlier post, I referred back to Mr. Wallace’s book trailer.  I think his trailer works on many levels.  It tells a little bit about Mr. Wallace himself, adding some credibility in the process; it talks about his process; it talks about the book itself; and, perhaps most importantly, it tells readers where they can pick up his book.

I think there’s a few nice balances Mr. Wallace makes here.  He keeps it simple, while still providing a glimpse at the setting.  He’s made a professional video, hiring professional videographers and video editors to make the short piece — I’m not saying you should go for pros every time, but he’s done so to good effect. Finally, he’s used original content.

This last little part, about original content, isn’t necessary — there’s plenty of content in the public domain that will work nicely — but it is important to show that he is the genuine article.  I’ve been gathering ideas for my own book trailer, and one thing that I’ve noticed from other production-quality book trailers is that they’re borrowing from movies (either stills or even short, live action sequences) that are not in the public domain.  This is very risky, as there are items that are covered by “fair use,” but taking an image of Sean Connery from Highlander may show the reader something about your book, but it also is something that others can recognize comes from somewhere else.

Passages

You don’t want to give away too much about your writing content, but it helps to give away something, so people can know what they’re getting into. If you’re nervous about this, you can always provide copyright notice.  Considering how much space these passages might take up, it wouldn’t hurt to hide them via a “spoiler” option if you have it in your given website.  It’s fairly common for BBscript, if that’s available.

If you have visual media, this is also a good place to show some artwork or whatever other pictures or charts you might have on hand.  If you’re going for the George R.R. Martin type of saga, a family tree is always helpful (provided it doesn’t give away too much about your book).

Links

In my daytime job, I’d recommend this if you have technical resources that help people see what your product can do, and how to do it.  With writing, it’s a little different. You could link to relevant items about your book within your site.  If you have full reviews, this is a great place to put them, as well.  Anything that is germane to your book can fit here.  If you’re writing a period piece about ancient Hippo (Annaba, Algeria), then perhaps a link to the Confessions of St. Augustine of Hippo would be relevant, or perhaps there’s a book, site, or society that is dedicated to ancient Hippo.

For Mike Wallace’s book, this might be something about his notes for his fictitious mountain town and some of the landmarks, such as Harry’s Tavern.  He might also provide some of the history of the quill gordon lure in fly fishing, or some other angling sites.  He has some media coverage that would fit in well here, such as this spotlight from our local Santa Cruz Sentinel.

This would also be a good place to provide links to your book in online booksellers. If you’re looking at American booksellers, Amazon has to be on there.  B&N, Lulu, and others are all important, but nothing does as much volume as Amazon.  There’s an important item to consider here: as much as you might want to feature where to find your book in bookstores, it really needs to be embedded in the rest of your post.  We, as readers, know why we’re looking for books, so it doesn’t do you any good to be pushy in getting people to buy your book.  By passing along your purchase information as just that, information, rather than overt marketing, you’ll attract more people who are on the fence.

Finally, if you haven’t attached links or widgets to your social media, then this should be at the bottom of your post.  It’s not critical to a blog / webpage dedicated to your book, but it is yet another way that you can connect with your audience.

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I haven’t been able to apply the above to my own site.  As mentioned, I’m still missing visual media, including a book trailer and any sort of cover or collateral pictures, but these are items that I’ve been considering, and items that I must take into account as I put this information together.

As if I haven’t stressed this enough earlier, the blog post or website is a means of introducing others to your book and introducing yourself to your audience.  Thus, while I do make mention of telling people where they can find your book in the usual bookstores, I didn’t mention anything about telling readers to “buy it now.”  If you use those three words, you must be very subtle, as using that phrase as a command is bound to turn others off.

A big thanks to David for the idea.

Is there anything I missed? Please feel free to add them in the comments below.

Photo Attribution: Unsplash on Pexels. Creative Common 0 License

San Francisco Trip

June 24, 2012

It’s always an interesting day, for better or worse, when you go up to San Francisco. We arrived in San Francisco right around noon on Saturday (today as of the start of this blog) and just got back some ten minutes ago. Our buddy, Benn, took us out to eat at John’s Ocean Beach Cafe, across from the SF Zoo on Sloat Avenue. The food was good – better than your standard greasy spoon, if you could call it a greasy spoon – and it was a pleasant experience. Without this turning into a Yelp entry, I just wanted to comment upon the little things that you notice about a place, especially when you’re given such a long wait for your meal. Restaurants are good places for people watching. As I’ve already found, they’re also particularly good places for creating images and intros in a story. Some of the characters that populated John’s Ocean Beach Cafe were worth checking out. There was an old man at the counter who looked like he was about an hour removed from branding cattle or giving his team a run down the north 40, up until the minute that he put on his hat, at which point I couldn’t tell if he was Doc Moonlight Graham or Elliot Ness. There were several characters that filtered in and out of the background behind Benn. One was a fair-skinned lass who looked like she had spent far too much time on Ocean Beach that morning. Another two were part of a couple that were sitting behind sunburnt Irish girl and 1920s farmer guy, He was the kind of guy who wore leather sandals with khaki shorts, and he was shaking his leg like he didn’t know what to do with himself, particularly when his date would get up, adjust her top, and walk out the door, texting away. Lastly, the waitresses were characters that you would call stock characters in any greasy spoon scene. The other waitress – by this I mean the one who was not serving us – was a middle-aged lady whose lipstick and semi-transparent top were probably similar to what she wore thirty years ago. She had a huge cross around her neck, so it made for an interesting comment on her fashion sense or lack thereof. Our waitress was a hoot. Dressed slightly like a gypsy, this lady seemed determined to prove that she really enjoyed what she did, between offering recommendations (particularly switches from the menu items) to nifty tricks (half-and-half plus Kern’s Mango Nectar drink become a sort of milkshake) to commenting on how quickly time flies. She was gregarious, with little witticisms that weren’t entirely unusual for someone to say, though her delivery of those quips was certainly unique. This might be the boneheaded observation of the night, but this is what I walked away feeling: hearing what she said was like reading a script, observing how she said it was like watching the play. Ultimately, there is a lot of detail that one can gleam from a scene such as this, just as I have.

We went from there to hearing a Russian choral piece in Golden Gate Park. The director (not the conductor) of this event then went into an explanation of how he would have been thrown in jail had he tried to perform this piece (a hymn) in public in his homeland some twenty-five years ago. It was sad, but quite interesting hearing his little explanation. From there, we went to the Museum of Natural History. Suffice it to say, as it is close to midnight, I will give you the biggest highlights: butterflies like us, particularly my wife!

Afterwards, there was a nice little cafe by 32nd and Clement, right by a bar that had some golf pun for a name. It was remarkable how we sat, drinking chais and chocolates, listening to a soundtrack of instrumentals (from John Williams to Liszt to others I couldn’t begin to name). There were certainly little details of that cafe (such as the place running out of large coffee mugs) that would add to the ambience of a novel, but I’ll spare you them –as I am also running out of energy.

After enjoying Benn’s company, meeting his roommates, watching Finding Nemo, and eating dinner, I had a lot of time to think as I drove home via the Great Highway to Highway One. As I was driving, I came to the following progression of thoughts: I love to write, and enjoy reading my own writing as well. When we were watching Finding Nemo, we were reciting lines as they were coming up or laughing with the parts that we remembered. Pixar didn’t miss a beat with this movie, and that’s evident as there’s something for everyone (“he touched the butt” *giggles* to the fact that Bruce is the shark from Jaws to the names seen on the backs of the boats, etc.) How many novels are there that are like that? I mean, there are certainly books that stand out in my mind, such as The Stand and the Harry Potter books, where I know if I say “M-O-O-N, that spells moon” in the right crowd, they’ll get it; at the same time, are they getting the fact that the character Tom Cullen said it, or that the actor Bill Fagerbakke from Coach said it? Are they remembering that Ron Weasley said it or that Rupert Grint said it?
It seems to me that visual media, whether it is a play, a tv miniseries, or a movie if much more conducive to that level of dedication. Then again, maybe it’s the fact that most books that are remembered in such a way are also made into movies.

Regardless, in sum, I’m learning that it’s a writer’s challenge to create characters, scenes, and mere moments that are memorable. It doesn’t determine an author’s worth or credibility in literary circles (I doubt that Herman Wouk’s Winds of War has much that readers can recite ad infinitum) but it sure doesn’t hurt the sales!