In our ongoing content creation series, we’ve covered the basics of planning a content strategy in detail. You’ve probably noticed that unlike many of the copywriting agencies on the Internet, we’ve touched on how each element of content creation applies in principle to independent authors. One of the questions we often hear is, “Why should I [as an indie author] care about a content strategy and content marketing?” Our answer is simple, “Because every independent author should have a website.”
Marketing Matters in The eBook World
You sat in front of a keyboard for months, bleeding out your very soul to produce your first ever manuscript. Maybe it wasn’t even your first; maybe you’ve just finished and released your latest in a series of projects. Kudos to you either way because you have proved you are awesome!
Not everyone can write. Truly great writers, the ones who amass a fanatical following and turn their passion into a way of life, are hard to come by. We constantly hear indie authors saying their writing will never pay the bills; it will forever be a side job, a gig, and this thing to do in their spare time. And you know what? It will never be anything more if you believe it cannot be.
In the world of self-publishing, marketing matters. It’s the essential facet of your diamond, the diamond that will turn into a lasting mine if you’re unafraid of getting dirty and working hard. And since you’re dealing with electronic books, it stands to reason you should have a website.
Don’t believe us? Think it’s a waste of your already limited time and resources? Think again.
Why Indie Authors Need a Website
If you’re a start-up indie author, you’re short of two things: Time and resources. But you’re flooded with two other things: passion and imagination. Did you know you already have everything in common with an entrepreneur?
Most small business owners strike into the world of business with a vivid vision of something better (fueled by their imagination) and a drive to build something (i.e. passion in progress). You have what it takes to succeed; you just need to populate your toolbox with the right tools, one of which is a website. And here’s why every author should have one:
1. A Digital House
The Huffington Post published an article back in 2013 outlining seven ways to promo an e-book. If you don’t see the importance of your own website, the top tip will shock you. Fauzia Burke, a professional who lives to promote books and authors online, calls it out as “get[ting] your digital house in order.”
A website is like your cyber residence. For brands and businesses, it is often their storefront. But for you, it’s a bit more unique. Authors write and sell books for a living, and much like actors who perform for a living, they’re online presence is more personable than that of a business.
By creating and maintaining a website, you fashion a hangout for your fans. You provide a beacon for potential readers and future fans to find you work and—more importantly—learn about you, the epic mind behind the books they adore.
Based on our clients’ experiences, approximately 70 percent of readers who favor a book will google the author. Their goal is to learn more about the author, follow their work, and gain some engagement bragging rights.
2. Pre-Launch Landing Pages
A website is an amazing marketing tool. It offers the ability of creating a presence and organizing a little pre-launch hype. According to Business 2 Community, pre-launch landing pages are a great way to turn a book into a sale giant.
There are a metric ton of copywriting and content resources in the industry that promote a pre-launch campaign landing page and e-mail list building for generating leads and sales. But this advice does not apply merely to businesses. As an independent author, you ARE a business. You are taking over the role of a publishing company, which means marketing and success fall into your court.
You need to generate leads. You need to discover where and how to market your books. You need to build an active list of potential buyers and continually update them with your next big book release. A website is a cost effective means of doing this for pennies on the dollar, saving you on one of your limited resources: cash.
3. A Blog
Businesses know a blog is a powerful tool. It builds trust, authority, readership, and even loyalty. But as an indie author, what do you have to blog about? For starters:
- Reviews: Book reviews sell books. One of the most powerful marketing tools you’ll wield is the word-of-mouth referral, and it has gone digital. People share their word via Twitter, G+, Facebook, and a handful of other social networks. They text and email, and if you ask, they’ll write a review on Amazon or hand you a personalized one for your website. So blog about it! Blog about what people are saying, and be sure your blog has social share buttons so people can then re-share your shares.
- Upcoming Releases: You’re working on a new book. You talk about it so often around family and friends that they’re carrying earplugs. If you have a blog, you can build an entire following of readers who WANT to hear your endless enthusiasm. Use your blog to sneak peak upcoming releases. Some authors are paranoid about their work being stolen by doing this, but if you promo previews correctly, you need not fret.
- Advice: You’re an indie author. You’re doing something a whole slew of people want to do. You have experience and knowledge they lack, from the writing process to successfully publishing and marketing an entire book. You can build your voice as an authority by offering advice, tips, tricks, and firsthand accounts from one indie author to another.
4. A Showcase of Awesome
No business website is complete without a portfolio. As an author, your website is not complete without a showcase of your publishing accomplishments. Dedicate a page (or two) to showing off your published projects with snippets of great reviews.
Use your showcase to incorporate keywords, like the titles and genres of your books and popular character names. Sprinkle in direct links for users to follow to buy your books from your distributors. These two simple tasks will culminate in a search engine friendly page capable of drawing attention.
5. Career Marketing
If you’ve published a technically sound and creatively epic book, you’re sitting on something special. If that book lands in the right hands, it could be likened to an actor’s big break.
Take, for example, Tom Hiddleston. An exceedingly talented actor, his big break came in 2011 when Thor made its mark in Marvel film history. He produced excellent work up to and after this point. However, it was his role as Loki that put him on the map.
Placed in the right hands (i.e. Marvel), Loki turned him into a highly sought after professional. He’s since completed two additional Marvel projects (The Avengers and Thor 2), and he’s about to release a second Avengers movie, Age of Ultron. There’s also talk about Thor 3. As if all this were not awesome enough on its own, 2015 has been dubbed the “Tompocalypse” because he’s exploded with a list of big movies due to hit the box office, including Crimson Peak.
In like manner, your e-book is a career marketing tool. Once it lands in the right hands, it can propel you straight into your big break. It’s entirely possible a traditional publishing house, a film maker, or another material eating pro will find it, read it, rave about it, and offer you one appealing contract or future project work. But you’ll never get your big break if you don’t:
- Write and publish a good book
- Market the living daylights out of that book
- Write the next one and publish it
- Keep repeating the pattern while expanding your reach
Content marketing is an indie author’s best friend, and it’s all on you, at least for now. Make the most of it. It doesn’t have to require a mammoth chunk of your time. However, make no mistake regarding the hard work involved because…
… It Takes Time
Writing a book and building a website requires dedication. It can quickly turn into a job, and with the proper time and planning, it can become a real bill-paying job. Indie authors can turn their passion into lifelong careers. The hitch is understanding and learning how to market.
So, the next time you scoff at content strategies and marketing, take a moment to ask yourself:
“Do I want to turn my passion into the job I will love forever? Or am I happy spending the rest of my career bellyaching about how it’s only a spare time gig and I’ll never make a living at it?”
It’s your vision. It’s your limits. It is ultimately your decision. So, what are you going to do?
Feature Image Credit: Ivonne Wierink via 123RF Stock Photo