Getting Started on a Right Foot - with Online Book Selling: Case Study 07
(Photo:  Augustus Binu)

Your site is the right first step to take in getting your book selling online.

There I was, running through all these to-do spreadsheet list actions - and I realized I'd skipped over a huge piece of this puzzle.

Yes, I really just want to get to work on these books - but part of that was telling you just how to get started right. Because I so often just haven't - and see so many authors out there who also just didn't.

That might explain why so many authors work so hard and then have almost nothing to show for it. Well, they have their day job...

You first have to know who your selling to...

And that's no easy first step. A lot of writers start with this incredible story in their head, that's just screaming to get out - won't let them sleep, etc. (Been there, done that.)

But in the back of their mind, they are really writing for someone. They've studied the genre, studied the artists they like, know the general layout of how that type of story goes - the know what people want to read and will buy.

Those that don't - well amateurs and suckers are born every minute. Millions and Billions.

Amateurs become Pro's through lots of practice and study and practice. Amanda Hocking wrote over 10 books before she hit her stride and became a million-seller on Amazon. Louis La'Mour studied all the classics and wrote tons of short stories (some even got accepted and published) before he hit his stride - with a unique style built from what the successful writers used: Shakespeare, Beowulf's author, and the dime novels from Street & Smith which sold and sold and sold. So: his books sold - and his books were in demand the world over.

It's more than craft, though. Online sales depend on a website which provides exactly what people are looking for. A website doesn't just list the books you wrote, it mirrors the people who are reading them. Their site contributes to their author-journey, giving them the tools and weapons to defeat any opponents and resolve the struggles they will face.

How you find who and what your'e looking for.

It's not really all that hard to get from where you are to where you want to be. You've just been missing someone who's left a trail after wandering the maze before you.

You need to meet your avatar. Some call her Emily. She's the single persona that represents your typical buyer.  You write exclusively for her - once you find where she lives and what she wants.

In marketing-speak, some of this is known as demographics. Outside of some very good (and quite expensive) services out there, where does a beginning/struggling author supposed to find what they are looking for?

One free tool - Alexa.

While their paid version gives you way more data, just searching up the top sites you're avatar is familiar with on their free data will give you tons of insight.

What I'd suggest is getting your copy of Market Samurai (a one-time payment, life-time updates) and find the sites which come up for the keyword phrases you want to use. Check those in Alexa and really get your data straight - find out in-depth what your avatar is looking for - before you set your site up.

Spreadsheet addition - prepare your site to rock your world

(Yeah, I know - yet more to-do list? Oh, come on...)

Let's keep this simple: 
Market Research     Keyword phrases, Alexa, demographics, Avatar
Domain
Hosting     Analytics Analytics
    Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools, Feedburner, G+ page, Facebook Page, Analytics.twitter.com
Mobile Template
    Sharing widgets, social profile, affiliate links, G+ badge, Facebook Page badge
Opt-in
    content hosted, script, tested
Legal Pages
   disclaimer, disclosure, terms of use, privacy  

You see that this doesn't fit on the regular spreadsheet. Because it's really more  a checklist. Then you fill up your site with landing pages and so on. But you first have to get it all set up. That's why the checklist.

We've covered Market Research. Look these up, don't skimp.

Domain name is selected as a result of your keyword research - as the Search Engines give you credit in your domain name.  We're talking here about having a domain for your series.  But there's a trick to use - particularly where the domain you want is already taken - subdomains.

That's http://subdomain.domain.com - see?

I long ago got the domain midwestjournalpress.com as a publishing imprint. This then gets extended by simply setting up a site at the subdomain. (Like http://picturebook.midwestjournalpress.com - our test case.) Of course, I take this a bit further by setting these new sites up on Blogger, with CNAMEs. You can see that the original domain is then infinitely extensible - so you can put any sort of keyword in front of your current domain and have the best of both worlds.

Analytics

A bit tricky here - you want to know what's going on with your site. Who's visiting, what they are using to get there, that they like best, the countries they come from - all that and more. Wherever you host your domain, if you have a site there, you can find out all this from your host.

However, if you are just passing your subdomain over to Google, then you could be missing some analytics. Not to worry - Google has even better analytics, due to combining their Adwords tools and Webmaster Tools in one interface. With Google, and getting your site running for awhile, you'll find all sorts of data about your avatar - way more "granular" than you can get from Alexa or your own domain host. For all the limits of Blogger as a platform, this more than makes up for it. (Of course, you can get these analytics for all your sites on any platform. So it's a tool you should be using whether you run ads or whatever you do. Also your Analytics can plug into almost anything that has a web address...

Other points: burn your feed with Feedburner to get some additional analytics (it's another Google product.)

Having a Google+ page for your series makes a lot of sense (as G+ is part of the Google universe.)

Facebook has some analytics, as well as Twitter. Might as well access them if you're doing promotion down that line.

A note here: access these weekly, or at least monthly, to see how your traffic and links are going. Then you can adjust your marketing - change course, or expand what you're doing right.

Mobile Template

As I went over elsewhere - the world is going mobile, so having a website/blog which does mobile right is essential.

Some other points you want to include are:
  • Sharing widgets
  • Any affiliate products you push
  • G+ badge (from your Google+ page)
  • Facebook badge (from your Facebook page)

All these back up your social signals (and can earn you more income.) But that's not all...

Opt-in

This is what I've been most guilty of - not building my list. And it's pegged my income.

So do what I haven't - get your opt-in (and ethical bribe) ready from day one - even before you post a single landing page. Really. Just do it.

Get your email provider to give you the script and plug it in - make sure it's prominent and shows up on your mobile version.

Test, tweak, test - until it's great. Just what your avatar has always wanted.

And yes, this is great to introduce them to your membership (both free and paid.)

Legal Pages

Google wants these:
  • disclaimer 
  • disclosure  
  • terms of use  
  • privacy
There are a lot of scripts online which can give you versions of these, which you just post as pages and then link through the template so they show up on every view. 

Summary

Well, that about does it. Remember to use this as a checklist - get it done, but have fun with it. Let your muse guide you: there's still a lot of leeway and creative work to do in these.

Remember, though, that your real work still lies ahead. Your site just gives you a great start in getting your books to sell.

Note: why do I keep talking about a blog instead of a static site? Simple: Search engines like regular new content. Having a blog format gives you a leg up in this area. Even if you neglect it, it will still rank better than most other sites. Tumblr and Wordpress even as backups (through IFTTT) will help you rank better - as they will also be ranking along with your main blog.

- - - - 

I hope next post to get back to work with my books. Bring you up to speed and show you where I left off before I started this whole "organize" scene. A bit shocking, even for me...

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