In our business, endorsements pack a distinct wallop. If you haven’t already, one day soon you will be asked to blurb books by other folks.
There’s a legit craft to giving good quote. When I first started writing fiction I was surprised at how few reviews provided clear pull quotes. These are critical in promo campaigns and presumably anyone wanting to help a book find its audience would be larding their blogs with them. In old-school showbiz, one of the classic traditions is the moment when the whole production team meets around a conference table to pick through the reviews messengered over from the newspaper offices and loading docks to find the zowie-wowie snippets around which to build an ad campaign.
Growing up, I was something of a “free-range” kid. That means my parents weren’t terribly concerned where I was at all hours of the day, and I was given a lot of freedom to go anywhere I wanted, including riding public transportation into nearby New York City. This might have been the beginning of a worrying downward spiral for some kids, who would have used this power to get into all sorts of trouble, but I was a glasses-wearing nerd. I used this power to go to bookstores.
Just between us, I’ve never been a fan of official street teams. I love my fans deeply, and I’ve had loads of active, chatty gaggles of gung-ho readers advocating for my work on- and offline. I’ve had lots of book clubs undertake self-directed projects on my behalf. Frankly, I’ll support any folks that want to find ways to put my books in more of the right hands. That’s just good business.
Most readers have experienced the magic of discovering a new favorite book series. There’s nothing like rushing out to buy the next book after you finish one that ends on a major cliffhanger, or anticipating a new release for months. When a favorite character appears again, it can be like meeting up with an old friend.
So…everyone already has an online presskit on their website right?
Online presskits work. Any author interested in building their career can only benefit from having all their necessary press details gathered in a single easy to navigate location on their website. In fact, not having one makes zero sense. My presskit saves my butt at least once a week, giving media and bloggers access to the necessary specifics with minimal handholding.
I am pretty terrible with titles, in the professional, hello-I’d-like-to-sell-you-a-book sense (also, to be fair, in the aristocratic sense, as I have so far utterly failed to convince anyone to refer to me as The Comte Somers). When I got an agent many years ago, she wrote to tell me that while she loved the novel, I would have to change the title immediately because a) the original title was also the title of a Dave Mathews Band song (What can I say? I was young and unaware that using Dave Mathews Band songs is universally disqualifying in every aspect of life) and b) it was so bad it made her feel all-new kinds of sadness.
I used to be a newsletter agnostic.
A confession: I can’t stand spam. Everyone says that, but because of the different showbiz segments of my life, I am continually buried under heaps and heaps of email and shoveling my way toward the light, so the idea of authors piling unwanted puffery and self-congratulation on anyone’s virtual mountain makes me shudder. And as many authors do, because I hated bad newsletters aimed at me I’d built up an irrational revulsion that splashed out in all directions. Every time I spotted a frantic, shrieky newsletter signup beg, I skirted it like a sewer drain.
Can you recall the arched trail of a shooting star behind Cinderella’s castle? That’s Disney’s logo: joy, fantasy, creativity, and magic. What if people could instantly recognize your author brand, like they recognize Disney?
An effective author website is something of a magic trick: a hybrid of flimflam and scaffolding designed to hold attention and direct it artfully.
Every writer launches their first professional website with some obvious basics…a bare-bones setup to get the job done: a bio, a headshot, a book list (either published or planned), contact information, and maybe some social media links. With those meat and potatoes basics and a little savvy branding, anyone can slap together a site that does the minimum for their readers.
Your website is the centerpiece of your business, unifying promotion, outreach, newsletters, social media, and ads. It’s the definitive source on your brand, your persona, and what your author career means. A poor website confuses and dissuades, while a great website engages and excites, transforming strangers into contacts, allies, and fans.