Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Mary’s thoughts on internet promotion

Web site, blog, My Space, trailer, and Yahoo groups, oh my! Where do you start? Whether you have an Electronic or a print book available you are still faced with the daunting task of promotion. The days of publishers promoting their authors are long gone, unless of course you’re Sandra Brown or Nora Roberts.

The internet is an easy way to promote at little or no cost. If you’ve just signed a contract, now would be a good time to get your web site up and going. You want to have a place where people can meet you, a web site is a good place. There are plenty of free web hosts out there, but you have to put up with commercial pop ups, and so do your viewers. I personally log right back off when I go to a site that has pop ups.

You can find a good web host under ten dollars a month. The best way find one would be to do a Google search for the top ten web hosts. You’ll get a comprehensive look at what companies are reliable and what they offer. After you have picked your host, now you have to get your web site set up. The web host you have chosen most likely has a web builder, however if it is like mine it’s not user friendly. If you have MS products like MS Word, etc on your computer software, you probably have MS Publisher. It has templates and it is very easy to use.

Talk to your friends who have done web sites, get advice, and shop around for inexpensive programs. Until you’re famous, or at least making some money to justify it, hiring a web master/mistress is too expensive. Once you have your web site, you have a valuable tool. You have a place to list your bio, contests, and upcoming releases. Your blog URL, you’re My Space URL and any Yahoo sites you belong to.

Oh, you don’t know what a blog is? I’m not sure either. I have one though because everyone and their dog have one. And we all need to keep up with the Joneses. I went to Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary of English and the definition of a blog is: to author an online diary or chronology of thoughts. When I had a diary I always hid it so my sisters wouldn’t read it, man have times change. Now you put your diary on the dang internet.

Well I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in reading someone’s daily thoughts, or whatever. But you sure want people to read yours and check out your blog site, another free way to promo. To do this, think of interesting things that would draw them to your blog. I had a holiday recipe contest on my blog, not only did I get people to blog, but I got some very yummy and fattening recipes to try.

Now how do you set up a blog? Some web hosts have access to blog pages, or again Google or any search engine, I’m not promoting here, comes in handy. Do a search for ‘blog’ or ‘blogger’ and you will get several places to create your blog.

My Space, isn’t this just for teenagers? Well unless William Shatner is seventeen, I’d say it’s for everyone. Its very user friendly, you can make your site as complicated and colorful as you want. Or if you’re just a simple gal or guy, you can have it plain. It’s another area to tote your wares. You list your interests, you cultivate friends, and believe me, they will check out your web site.

Best of all this is free. Free promotional tool, you can’t pass that up. And the web URL is easy myspace.com. Yahoo has a similar site, I believe it’s called Yahoo 360, however until it’s as widespread as My Space you aren’t going to generate as much interest. But something is better than nothing, so I say try it if you want.

Aren’t trailers those things you pull behind your car? Well yes, but I’m talking movie trailers, or book trailers. This is a little movie you can put on you’re My Space or your web site, and it generates interest in your new or up coming release. There are several different programs you can use. If you have Windows with service pack two then you’ll have Window Movie Maker. This is the program I used, it has movie making tips, and they are invaluable. If I had read them upfront instead of waiting until I was in trouble, it would have been a lot easier. Again, ask your friends who have made one, go to You Tube and download your trailer there. It’s a fun way to promote, and more interesting for your viewer, than just reading a blurb.

Last but not least, Yahoo groups. There are a million (probably not an exaggeration) of them, so you need to pick and choose carefully. If you write erotica, then being on the Romantic Suspense Book group isn’t going to be beneficial to you. Find the groups that have the same interests and join in, get to know the people in the group. Be courteous and do your excerpts and promotions on their given day, follow the rules. You do need to be careful not to get sucked in and play too much, remember you need to keep writing.

Yes all of these ideas take time, but with the exception of your web site they don’t cost money. Take advantage of it. The idea is to get your name out, let people know who you are and what you have to offer. Most of us just starting out can’t afford an all out ad campaign, or newspaper and/or radio spots, so do what you can. If you can’t afford a web site, at least do what you can to promote in the free area. Thanks for listening.

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