Which Ducks? The Author’s Promotional Toolbox: Part II
(This blog post is the second in a two-part series. Read Part I here!)
In the first part of this post, I discussed the important of having blurbs or varying lengths for your book and a set of cover images ready for any occasion. You might also find the following handy to have around when you’re neck deep in promoting your newest title.
Almost every online opportunity to display a book also includes a chance to show off the author. Don’t miss this chance to sell yourself!
- Short bio
I haven’t seen any particular requirements here, but think of it like your book: having a one-sentence description of yourself as a writer can never hurt. If you come up against a “describe yourself in twenty words or less” request on a site, you’ll be ready. Bits like this can be useful for Tweets and Facebook posts, as well.
- A medium bio
This is handy for the Amazon “About the Author” section. Mine is 99 words long, is chunked into two paragraphs for easy reading, and mentions two of my novels (though both are currently unpublished. I would recommend having a “generic” bio that doesn’t assume your book title(s) are nearby, as mine are in my Amazon bio). You’ll find you’ll need this description for author bio sections on Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, Librarything, ScribD, and many more sites.
- A long bio
Your medium bio will probably be your workhorse. However, I’ve seen interesting one-two punches on authors’ personal sites where they have both a short and long form. The more interesting the author, the more likely–and useful–a long bio might be. Use your best judgment: if you write spy novels and have twenty years of experience as a CIA operative, you can get away with 400 words on yourself. But probably not if you write cookbooks.
- Awards and testimonials
Have your testimonials and award nominations ready. Check spelling, dates, and facts. If you are lucky enough to have multiple awards or testimonials, arrange them according to impact or length; you may not have the luxury of using them all.
This is a little nerdy, but I have a .txt file of all the URLs that matter to my career or to my books. There are many occasions when you may want to include in an email or blog post not just the URLs where readers can buy your books but also your Goodreads profile, a positive reader review, or a place readers can review/rate your book directly.
Here’s an excerpt:
AMAZON/KINDLE [Author page] http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00642SZQO [Three Shorts] http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0062OM416 [Hard Way] http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0062OMHD6 [Match] http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0062OMGBY [Kind] http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0062OMW9A
The primary objectives here are convenience and accuracy: you don’t want to have to Google your own Amazon page or try to type these things from memory with the chance that you’ll screw it up and send valuable readers to a “404 Not Found”.
(Again, I use a text file to avoid unnecessary errors; since you’ll often be using this text file to copy and paste links into websites, don’t take a chance that hidden word processor formatting will mess up your links.)
(Also, make sure you keep the “http://” in the URL.: many sites do not add it for you, with the result that if you copy and paste just the “www.” part of the URL into an input box, for instance, it will error.)
As a former IT professional, I can tell you that this next piece of advice is normally a security no-no: keeping your usernames and passwords written out. But let’s face it: you’re going to have a half-dozen or more (maybe many more) accounts related to your writing career and its promotion that have nothing to do with your “regular” online life.
I didn’t have any of these accounts before I started epublishing:
- Web host and (separate) email address
- Amazon KDP/Author Central/Amazon Affiliate
- Twitter (separate from personal)
- Bing Webmaster Tools
- MailChimp/Constant Contact/TinyLetter (mail programs)
- A half-dozen writer-centric accounts that existed before the epublishing jazz began (Sisters In Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Virginia Writers Club, etc.)
Many of them can use the same user/password combo, but others have different requirements. With this kind of madness, I ignore my inner IT Manager and keep accounts listed in a document* on a secure site with one strongpassword (a capital letter, a number, a symbol, and a minimum of eight characters,). As a backup, the passwords in the document are also just strong hints for myself, not fully written out.
This saves me immense time when I’m trying to do promotion: I don’t want to waste time and energy trying to find or remember my Twitter, Facebook, and website password to promote a simple blog post.
*I treat sites that deal with my financials [Amazon KDP, where you have payment info] differently. I do not list these in the master document I describe above.
This section is entirely up to you, but I find it handy to have a spreadsheet of any part of the promotion process that is iterative. For instance, I have a spreadsheet of all the book bloggers/reviewers I’ve discovered and keep running tabs on: Name, Date Contacted, Date Submitted, Queue (i.e., wait time), email, blog URL, Affiliations (do they blog for a group or just themselves), and Notes.
For my blog posts, I keep a running tally of the Title, Date Posted, and whether it was a Guest Blogpost or not. You get the picture. Anything you might likely lose track of is often best kept in a worksheet.
With promotion being a large chunk (some might say the larger chunk) of an epublished author’s job, keeping well-written, carefully constructed information about yourself and your books accurate, up-to-date, and accessible saves time…time better spent writing the next book.