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Another example. If you wrote a book which is full of action scenes on snowmobiles, put up a snowmobiling website. Don't put up a site that says "I'm Michael LaRocca. Buy my snowmobile novel." Who logs onto a search engine and specifically looks for Michael LaRocca? Nobody. If they knew who I was, I wouldn't have this marketing problem. No, bring in snowmobilers. Create ultimate source of snowmobile info, kind of place that everyone who owns a snowmobile or is thinking of getting one will want to visit. Then slip in mention of your book. Easy to see, but not overpowering. Do it right, and sales will take care of themselves.
What you'll have, if you can pull this off, is a website that's highly placed in search engines every time someone logs into one and looks for snowmobile stuff. If all THOSE people visit your site, that's kind of exposure you want.
This is my new pet theory. The Internet is overwhelmingly large. Nobody can take it all in. Nobody has time or desire. So what they do is form little "communities." Authors hang out over here, dog lovers over there, etc. We have our little address books, and we spam everyone on our list with tired jokes or "Hey guess what I did today" or whatever. We use little pieces of Internet. If you've been to my site, odds are you're a writer. We have our community as well.
All writers visit Inscriptions, all writers visit their publishers' egroups, etc. But let's pretend you sell your book to everyone in your community, which you won't. What next? There aren't enough people in your community to make it worthwhile. I'm always looking for ways to get word out to new communities.
As in, fire up a search engine and look for snowmobile sites. Go sign their guestbooks. Again, not with "visit my site!" Sign them with real comments and real content, and slip in that URL. Heck, sign guestbooks that have absolutely nothing to do with anything connected with your writing.
Ideally, you'll make it into word-of-mouth advertising. That's where some total stranger likes what you're doing so much that he tells his buddies, who tell their buddies, and so on. Shall we mention Mahir? That's Turkish fellow who you may have seen playing ping-pong on David Letterman in red Speedos. Word-of mouth advertising made his site success that it is today, and if we can be honest his site stinks.
Having said all that, there are some writer groups you must visit. http://www.inscriptionsmagazine.com is first. Subscribe to it for advice you'll receive. When you're published, mention that to them. It's free, and over 5000 subscribers will read your little blurb.
If you're an epublished author, EPIC and EPPRO come to mind next. Writer communities, but extremely helpful ones. You'll sell some books there, perhaps, but mainly you're in it for advice. EPPRO is free. EPIC is $30/year. (Yes, I know I said "free" before, but I made an exception for EPIC.) The addresses are http://eppro.homestead.com/ and http://www.eclectics.com/epic/
You've got a newsletter, and I've got a newsletter. If I post a brief ad for your newsletter in mine, you post a brief ad for my newsletter in yours. That's an ad swap. Quick, painless, free. My readers can visit you or blow you off. They can join or not.
When I had 80 subscribers, guys with 250 refused to swap ads because I was too small. I call them geeberheads. I've got 421 and I just swapped ads with a guy who has eight.
Anyway, look for ad swaps. Try not to put more than two per issue-- nobody wants to read dozens of ads. If you want to swap ads with me, I'm at email@example.com
FREE CLASSIFIED ADS
Log onto any search engine and look for this phrase, and you'll be amazed. I used a lot. Some are legit and others are FFA (Free-For- All) places where everybody on site will spam you with their own classified. The biggest fish in pond is http://classified.yahoo.com and it's certainly worth a visit. Advertise both your site and your newsletter. Renew your ads whenever Yahoo automatically tells you that you should do it.
Back to my "community" theory. If you have a website, and it wins an award, site that gave you that award will put you in its winner list. Now that's outside your community. Odds are it's full of award-seekers who will never visit your site, but I figure it can't hurt.
Banner ads stink. How many banners have you paid attention to lately? But awards may be different. When a search engine evaluates your site, it looks at how many other sites link to you, and how many other sites you link to. So I figure, why not award sites?
Award graphics take forever to load. So on my website is a link to my "Awards Page." I don't care if no one ever sees that page. It's just my way to display those awards. It also contains a list of over 800 awards. If you want to apply for some, address is http://readers.freeservers.com/awards.html
There is a form on http://readers.freeservers.com/authors.html that allows authors to list their websites. There is a form on http://readers.freeservers.com/writingnewsletters.html that allows people to list their newsletters. I don't know if it'll help your traffic, but it can't hurt.
Michael LaRocca firstname.lastname@example.org