Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Using the Internet for promotion

Blechta here.

I know this isn't the most exciting title for a blog entry, but I was part of a group of workshops for Crime Writers of Canada that preceded the Arthur Ellis Awards Dinner last week. My contribution was part of a discussion on do-it-yourself promotion for authors.

Anyway, I thought this might be a good topic for a blog. I'll probably say a bunch of things everyone already knows, but maybe you'll pick up a few odds and sods that you can use.

1. For the most part, an author can promote on the Internet for very little money and many times for free. You also control what you do, rather than having to rely on others (publicists, your publisher, etc.). This is a very important point.

2. All authors should have a website, even if you're not published yet, even if you have no content for it. Why? All web hosts allow you to bounce email through your website to your real email address through your ISP (Internet Service Provider). You do not want anyone to know this address because you may decide to switch providers somewhere along the line, or they go out of business, or whatever. If you've used your real address, then you have to remember who has it and tell them what the new one is so you don't lose contact with them. (Blechta's Email Rule #1: you will forget a whole bunch of them.)

If you bounce email through a website email address, you can change ISPs daily if you wish and just change the bouncing rule on the website. Your address on the website (the one everyone uses to contact you) remains the same. If you're not ready to put up a website yet, you can just put up a page saying "Under Construction" and post your website email address.

Fall-back position #1: If you don't want to get involved in any website rigamarole, then at least use a hotmail or gmail address for this purpose. Same thing applies for these as for websites as far as bouncing to your ISP, but seriously consider a website. They are very inexpensive.

Fall-back position #2: Consider myspace or facebook. While they aren't as good as a website, they can accomplish many of the same things for you (dissemination of information and personalization of you as a writer).

3. Once you have decided to have a website, make sure it reflects what you want it to. Your website is YOU. If it looks sloppy and amateur that reflects on you. Designing these things might not be a skill you have or wish to acquire. In that case, find someone who has the skills to design it for you. Get involved with the process so that it turns out to be exactly what you want. Templates can help, but make sure they get the stamp of your personality on them. A good example of a terrific and personalized website is charlesbenoit.com. Do yourself a favour and check it out.

Again, it doesn't need to get expensive. Contact a high school or college near your home and ask if they have courses on web design. The people taking those courses are eager to get hands-on experience and they will work cheaply.

4. Get some content on those web pages, interesting content that should not be just about your writing. Show people the whole person. It should also be visually rich (lots of photos and the like). And don't forget to keep it up to date! Get those visitors coming back to see what's new!

I can go on and on with other ways to promote on the Internet for little or no money. If anyone is interested, let me know and I'll continue!

1 comment:

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