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Have you written your book? Are you ready to start marketing?   Now comes the hard part:  building an author or book website to promote your book. Creating a website can be fun project, but it’s often easy to get caught up in the bells and whistles of web technology and forget the real purpose of a website.

In this post I’m interviewing Brandon McDonald, a graphic designer who has built a thriving business that helps small business, non-profits, and entrepreneurs. He’s designed many websites and has several suggestions that can help you tackle this time-consuming project and improve your web design experience.

It seem like websites have evolved from being art projects to becoming more of a marketing tool. What trends and changes have you noticed in website design?

Over the past 15 plus years, I have witnessed website design shifting from the hands of developers to designers and marketers. With this shift websites are generally more attractive and are often first approached from a marketing perspective. A great-looking website is often rendered useless when the needs of the target market aren’t considered from the very beginning of the plan. Great websites have carefully considered design, development, and marketing—all working in tandem.

What’s the most important thing that clients can do to work with website designers to make their websites more effective?  

Have a plan. Know what you want to accomplish. Who is your market? How are you different than your competitors? What makes you special? Effective designs come from effective plans. Many designers are great out-of-the-box thinkers. Including your designer early in the process can help shape a more effective end-result.

Is blogging worthwhile? Should a blog be part of a website?

Blogging can be very worthwhile. Adding valuable content on a regular basis will keep people engaged and give a reason to continually visit a site. More content also means more organic search results, which are very helpful with search engine optimization (SEO). Sharing expertise and knowledge is a good way to add value for readers and solidify a reputation as a leader in a particular field.

Blogging can also be a liability. When blogs aren’t updated regularly or contain little to no value it can make the company or person look lazy, disengaged, disingenuous, or otherwise bad.

Ultimately, it is up to the person or company to consider whether or not they can keep on top of the blog. If so, go for it! If not, maybe consider a different route, such as social media.

What else can authors/publishers do to make sure they’re on the right track?

Google Analytics and other site measurement tools are invaluable for data collection. With this data, you can see what is working and what isn’t. You can see where your site traffic is coming from: search keywords, links from other sites, etc. With this information you can better craft your next steps. The web is ever-changing, so adapt your strategies.

Don’t forget traditional media and promotion tools. Many businesses focus so heavily online that they neglect more traditional delivery methods, such as print. Print, coupled with web, can be more effective than either alone. Human beings enjoy the tactile. Targeted mailing to existing clients or serious prospects can be that extra thing that sets you apart from the competition and ultimately wins you a person’s business. A great designer will ensure that your online presence and printed materials match and create a cohesive brand.

Do you think social media can be used effectively to promote a book or author?

Social media is just another media to connect with an audience. It ideally is part of a larger promotional plan. It can be a highly effective sales tool for folks that can keep up with it. Check it often and always respond when a reasonable question is asked. It is a lot like customer service mixed with a fan club. Used in conjunction with a website containing a stellar blog, look out!

 

 

Lauren Pizza is an author whose memoir Meant to Be, was recently picked up by a publishing house.  When I met her last year at the Frankfurt Book Fair, she was there checking out the publishing industry.  Lauren’s story illustrates how important it is to stay the course and use every contact and promotional tool at your disposal.  Here is her inspirational story:

I never dreamed that I would walk into a bookstore and see a book that I wrote on the shelves. Not only was it available in the “New Releases” section, but my book was surrounded by other fabulous memoirs like Lea Michele’s Brunette Ambition and Robin Roberts’ inspiring Everybody’s Got Something.

Little did I know the amount of work that needed to transpire beforehand. So after my experience, I’ve come up with a few tips to help writers just starting out.

  1. Enjoy the process of writing (while you can): I fell in love with the creative process. It was truly a therapeutic experience, and I reveled in the idea that my work would reach others. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would write a memoir, let alone that people would actually buy it.
  2. It truly is all about who you know (and trial and error): Like any other 21st century human, I Googled how to get my book published. I came back with Nicholas Sparks’ agent among others. I figured going straight to the top would work out fabulously. The name of Sparks’ agent would have been great if I actually knew someone who could introduce us. Upon this realization— as well as no responses from
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    Jersey Girl, Lauren Pizza

    those top literary agents— I then began asking everyone who might know someone in the publishing world. I was even brave enough to email the entire manuscript to James Patterson (well, I emailed his wife, and I am still waiting for that reply).

  3. Be prepared for change: Not only did the title of my book change throughout the process, but so did the focus of my book. I finally found a successful person in the publishing world when I asked my husband’s lawyer if he knew anyone. The lawyer knew someone who had written two books, yay!   But, the process certainly didn’t stop there.  
  4. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to take others’ advice (especially regarding something you don’t know anything about):  I sent my manuscript to the publishing lawyer and heard nothing for five weeks. By that time, I was planning on self-publishing or just shelving the manuscript and calling it a day.  Then, I received the email that changed everything.  Meeting this man was like magically finding a goldmine. He told me that I write better than Norah Ephron and that I reminded him of Erma Bombeck. He also said I had the complete wrong list of literary agents and handed me a new list, told me who to call, and what to say.  He also encouraged me to learn as much as possible about the publishing industry, and I would give the same advice to any aspiring writer looking to get published.
  5. Marketing is everything (and never-ending): When Skyhorse Publishing agreed to meet with me, I was thrilled! After 45 minutes of an amazing performance on my part, the owner of the Publishing Company said: “Yes, I will publish your book!”   From that point on, marketing took over. You can write the greatest book ever, but if it doesn’t reach anyone, then what is the point? I began by hiring a publicist and working with a PR firm. We called radio stations, recorded a song as the soundtrack for my book, and even created and distributed 30 second commercials to various networks that played during prime time viewing. All that work was maybe even harder than writing the book!
  6. Establish a “brand” along with your bookI did that with my last name. Some people might try to hide a last name like “Pizza, but since I’m from New Jersey and we take pizza very seriously, why not sell that? I sent my book and promotional materials out in a pizza box. The magazines and media companies on the receiving end loved it. After all, wouldn’t you remember a book sent to you in a pizza box? Getting noticed is about selling what is unique about you as a writer. And by getting that noticed, you get remembered. I also went all out on Social Media reach with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, U –Tube, Linkedln , etc.

What is my best marketing tip?   Marketing will always be one of the most essential parts of your writing career.   So pretend you are running for office and sell your book that way, (maybe without kissing babies and all that).

 

 

What is an ISBN number?
The “International Standard Book Number” is a 13 digit number issued to identify your publication.  This number is linked to all the information about your book including; the title, author, binding style, etc. This is different from a copyright or a barcode.  This number is owned by the person who obtains the ISBN.  An ISBN number can’t be linked to more than one book.

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Why does my book need this?
An ISBN number is not required but is good to have when distributing your book.  It is unique to each title and version of a title printed, so if you have a hard and soft cover version of your book – you will need two different ISBN numbers.

Can you sell me an ISBN number?
PG does not sell ISBN numbers; to obtain an ISBN Number, you can contact Bowker.  They offer services to obtain ISBN numbers in a short period of time.  Publishers’ Graphics does offer services to convert the ISBN number into a barcode.  We offer the barcode associated with the ISBN number with or without a price.

What do all the numbers mean?

Each ISBN number is basically a code that refers to information that publishers and bookstores need to sell your book.  Here’s a breakdown:

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The following link can also help provide you with more details on ISBN numbers. http://isbn.org/

Owning chickens has fast become the new urban chic, with books being written and published frequently on all aspects of the phenomenon.  PG customer, HenschelHAUS Publishing has just published a memoir of Claudia Bruckert’s chicken clan, titled “A “Rooster’s Tale.”

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The author tells her story through the eyes of a young rooster named Change, and follows the clan of chickens through a year of life including dust baths, brooding chicks, and awful territorial battles between families.  It’s a great insider view of everyday life, full of enchanting events and intriguing facts, and beautifully photographed by the author.

In this oversized coffee table book, Claudia answers the essential questions:  Do chickens talk? What does a rooster do all day? Would a mother hen attack a hawk? What happens within a family of chickens?

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There are charming illustrations and full bleed photographs in this hardcover book.  It’s a reading joy for children, adults, and everyone who takes animals seriously and a warmhearted inspiration for seasoned and aspiring chicken farmers.

HenschelHAUS is an independent and traditional publishing house that works closely with authors to produce timely, high-quality paperback, hardcovers, e-books and audiobooks.  Located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, HenschelHAUS is under the leadership of president and book maven Kira Henschel.  Along with her team of experts, she has midwifed over 120 books from idea to finished book.  You can read more A Rooster’s Tale here, and visit the HenschelHAUS website as well.

Publishers’ Graphics has implemented a barcode identification system, designed to monitor and track book production from start to finish.   The program was driven by a necessity for real-time quality control and reporting.

“Now that our business has grown to three separate production facilities, including an in-plant facility in Canada, there was a need for increased quality control,“ stated Nick Lewis, President of Publishers’ Graphics.    “For just two of our customers, we are manufacturing 170,000 books per month, so it’s critical to understand where bottlenecks are and respond quickly to any problems should they arise,” he added.

The new barcode is printed on the last page of the text book block.  If any part of the job is damaged or produced at less than acceptable quality, the barcode can be scanned and a reprint of the book can be automatically generated.

Information about where the book was printed along with the date and time of printing will indicate if there is a problem with equipment, materials, or operators.  At the same time, the order entry system is continually updated to reflect the new status and to keep the customer informed.

Publishers’ Graphics continues to lead the way with innovative procedures and workflows that bring customized solutions to its customers.  Headquartered in Carol Stream, IL, PG also has in-plant satellite operations in Florence, Kentucky, and Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

For more information, please visit pubgraphics.com.

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