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Virtual Author Tour How-To Guide

Jun 21, 2008
After years of working with authors on Internet tours, talking about blogging, podcasting, social networking, and all other assorted online promotional tools, the basic questions still remain: How the heck do I promote myself on the Internet? Broken down in simple steps, this article is designed to give you a good starting point to kick your Internet promotion into high gear. It's not difficult but you have to start somewhere. Let's start with your web site.

Web site: Why would someone visit it? Why would anyone care? Before you start marketing yourself online, ask these basic questions. You can get anyone to a web site once, but getting them back a second, or third time is where authors often lose momentum. Studies have shown that less than 14% of web site visitors will buy the first time they visit. It's only on the second or third visit that they decide to make a purchase. Anyone can drive traffic to your site, it's getting them back that counts.

The point of your tour: getting incoming links

Here's the thing: anyone can get incoming links, the point is, you want GOOD and quality incoming links from sites that can actually send you traffic and readers that will buy your book. We get numerous calls from authors who have bought into inexpensive programs that do nothing more than drive unqualified, "tire kicking" traffic to their web site. This kind of traffic is not going to do you any good; in fact, if you're not careful, getting a bunch of errant links from sites that Google doesn't feel are right for your topic or market can get you downgraded online instead of a better ranking. So how do you beat this?

First, you'll want to download the Google toolbar. This toolbar comes with a Page Ranking piece (in some cases you may have to download this separately). This Page Rank is important because it's an indicator of how important Google thinks a particular site is. Ideally sites you target will have a Page Rank of 4 or above. We like to target sites that have a ranking between 4-6. Then look at the nature of the sites you're pitching. Are they related to your topic? Do the sites have lots of great content? Would they consider reviewing your book, maybe interviewing you or excerpting your book? Regardless of what they're willing to do, the idea is to use these sites to help spread the message about your book and give them great content. All sites are looking for great content and if you can offer it to them, it's a win-win. Here's what not to do: don't just link swap with your friends. I know writers who belong to writer's groups and just swap links with other writers. This isn't good for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that the site you might be linking to (or getting a link from) has nothing to do with your topic.

Slow and steady wins the race: The idea of 'touring' or promoting yourself online is about building traffic, links, and authority status within search engines. I tend to reference Google a lot since most of us default search there. People ask me how long they should promote themselves online, I tell them for as long as they need to. As long as there are sites you can pitch yourself to you can continue promoting. Our web site, Author Marketing Experts, has never been promoting in an aggressive fashion. Yes, we use new promotional techniques and cutting-edge Web 2.0 trends but it's never been about a fast push; it's always been about slow and steady growth. Because of this we have great ranking, linking, and placement on Google. I've never paid for a single ad-word placement or fancy traffic program that leverages links only.

Using blogs, podcasts, and article syndication: the Internet is full of tools to use. Blogs are a great way to promote to but consider this: why not comment on blogs in your market that are getting a lot of traffic? You may not be able to get a review but you can always comment and, you'll get a link back to your site in the process.

Podcasting is another great tool, there are a ton of podcasts out there that you can promote yourself to. Check out iTunes and Podcast Alley to find some that might suit your topic and market.

Article syndication: another powerful but often overlooked market. Write a piece between 500 and 2,000 words and send it out into cyberspace via sites like Isnare, Ezine Articles and Article City and watch the links start building to your site.

If the idea of social networking, social bookmarking, video and the like are overwhelming then I recommend that you start simple: begin by pitching yourself online and see what you can grow from there. Most of the time the main reason an author abandons any thought of an online campaign is because they are overwhelmed by their choices. Start small and build from there, this is how we did it and how we grew our market. You can too. Then, when you've gotten your 'sea legs' when it comes to Internet promotion, you can branch out into other areas.

Good luck, here's to your Red Hot success!
About the Author
Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a book marketing and media relations expert whose company has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. Visit AME.
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