Monday, March 16, 2015

Desert Delight – The Tucson Festival of Books 2015

Another Tucson Festival of Books with thousands of book enthusiasts and outstanding authors gathered in the sun this last weekend. This was the seventh annual festival with the estimated attendance over 130,000 and 250 authors. The TFOB is now the third largest book festival in the country.

I got to see many of my friends and Spotlight authors and make some new friends. This year I met up with J.A. Jance. Judith’s interview and book releases/promos have been featured many times on my HBS Author’s Spotlight Blog.

Judith is a Tucson-based bestselling author and a graduate of the University of Arizona (Festival host). She has been very instrumental in the success of this book event. Her novel ‘Cold Betrayal’ was released this week and showcased on the HBS Author’s Spotlight. It is her 50th full-length mystery.

So let’s have some fun in the sun. This is my third Festival and I have a mission.

My mission is to talk to as many authors as I can, take some pictures and to see how the authors are trying to market their books and themselves. I did my homework this year. My ‘must see list’ had over 50 booths.

The first booth I came to had one of my Spotlight authors, Rebecca Dahlke. She was joined by D. R. Ransdell and Lala Corriere.

Author’s Goals

A Book festival presents a unique selling situation. In this event, you have thousands of people with lots of authors trying to gain their attention. You must have a set of goals and a game plan right up front. Here is a short list of possible goals.

  1. Sell your book on-sight – requires a sale process in place
  2. Talk with the readers/prospects and have something to say
  3. Spark their interest enough to check your books out on-line
  4. Arouse visitor interest enough to tell someone else about meeting you
  5. Many more….

A book festival definitely requires a different approach than a regular book signing at a bookstore.

Observations – Sales Tools

I am always interested in an Author’s sales literature. To many authors, this is a major expense. They must do it right. And each year there is always something new.

I like to give credit to the top items in each category of sales items. Here is a list of my criteria I use to judge if the author is getting enough bang for their buck.

Good features

Clear Author’s Name
Contact information
Cover - 4 color-process
Readability
Stars and brief review clips
Use front and back of media

Bad criteria

Bad color contrast
Same copy on both sides
Blank backside

New item
I am starting to see more matrix barcodes on literature to accommodate our electronic age.

Matrix (2D) barcodes – more data for the space

Business Cards

The business cards ranged from 4-color quality cards with cover pictures to stock business cards to none at all. My top picks of all the cards I reviewed were:

Alan Black - Empty Space
Shelley Young - Plain Dealing

Bookmarks

Most of the bookmarks met my basic criteria although some were difficult to read. Most of the bookmarks were professionally done with covers, review snips and contact information. I had several in my little bookmark contest that stood out.

Sharon HamiltonSeal’s Promise
Morgan Kearns - Hard Break 
Lynn RushCryostrom

Post cards

The authors this year had their act together with this sales piece. Most of the post cards had copies of the author’s book covers. All the authors who had them had professional jobs done. My top picks for this item are:
           
Rhys BowenThe Edge of Dreams
Robin Mahle - Law of Five   (Spotlight Interview)
D.R. RansdellMariachi Murder

Book Displays

The same great quality was displayed here, many with cover blowups. It was hard to pick this category. These stood out.

Terry Ambrose - Big Island Blues   (Spotlight Interview)
Sabrina DevonshireCzech Mate
Leslie Kohler - Disposable Lives
Camelia Miron Skiba - Me Tarzan-You Jane

This year I added some new Spotlight award categories.

CD award

Kris had a CD prepared with excerpts from her novels and some other information. Look for more of this in the future as digital works continue to expand.

Kris Tualla - Loving the Norseman

Button award

Erin had a nice 4-color button with a cover with her name and web address.

Erin QuinnThree Fates of Ryan Love

Group Hug

Western Writers of America’s booth featured four authors dressed in unique western outfits fitting their genre to a tee. The booth banner announced the Three Amigos and a Lady.

Doug Hocking - Mystery of Chaco Canyon
Bill Markley - Deadwood Dead Men
Miles Swarthout - The Last Shootist

Unique Stories
Well here I am making my rounds and checking my author planning list. As I approached the next author table, I did a double take. I had two female writers next on my list. I must have surely made a mistake. Standing there were two males talking to visitors. After a quick list check I approached the table. The two authors were away and their husbands where manning the store. A note for authors: Have a backup plan.

Leslie Jones - Night Hush
Shelley CoriellThe Broken

Another story: A great thing to see. Natalie had her kids in her booth. What a great experience for them. 

Natalie Wright - H.A.L.F.: The Deep Beneath

Action

Like I have said before, I like confronting authors at their sales.

A book festival is an on-the-spot sales opportunity. An author gets to sell himself. To me, the most effective pitch was the short, quick one, after qualifying the prospect.

Some authors saw a live one and jumped right into their sales pitch.

Most of the authors qualified me this year. They offered questions like this. Do you read Mysteries? Do you like Suspense? What type of books do you read? They even knew what a blogger was this year.

There was a large variety of people at the festival again this year.

You had readers. You know people that love to read. The bookstores tents were over flowing with them.

You had tire kickers. These were people who were there for a good time but were not buyers. Note: Tire Kickers sometimes buy books and a good impression will last, if you give them something to remember you, like good sales literature. “Check me out on-line” would be good parting words.

Authors needed to work the prospects. Talk to them. Hand them a copy of your literature. “Here take a look.” You never know.

With this many people walking by; the authors that do nothing at the point-of-sale will get the same thing in return.

My Takeaway Ideas


Idea 1
I always check the trash cans for sales literature. Again like last year they were filled with author’s literature and plastic bags. They didn’t get the message.

Give your prospect something of value. Something they won’t throw away. Not expensive stuff. Maybe a pin with your book title, your name and web address or twitter tag. This year I saw collectables, dog tags, light bulbs, bracelets and tote bags to list a few. All the items had a way to contact the author after they left the event.

Idea 2
Like I have said before, a book festival is a perfect place to offer free or discounted ebooks to readers. I had several authors mention they were running a promo. (This could use some signage or some literature to hand the visitor.)

Idea 3
J.A. Jance made the Tucson Festival of Books part of her book launch for ‘Cold Betrayal’. She released here book on 3/10/2015 and four days later she was selling and autographing copies at the festival. Maybe an idea for the next festival or another event.

Idea 4
Name plates are still a problem. This year a penciled name on a white sheet was the primary ID vehicle again. 

Face time with a prospect is very important. Have a name plate made up and placed on the table beside you. Something like: Mystery Writer - James Moushon – the Jonathon Stone Mysteries.
(Same idea as last year. Notice the visitor qualifying by listing the genre.)

A Book Lover’s Dream

Another beautiful day in Tucson. Lots of Sun. Lots of Food. Lots of Writers. Lots of Readers. Lots of Fun.

To authors: ‘Qualify’ is the key in your sales effort at the festival.

Remember, the person who approaches you may be a reader/buyer or a tire kicker or maybe someone who will write an article about you for their Internet blog.

Related Articles:


Follow me:


Or visit my blog: The eBook Author’s Corner
Take a look at my Author’s blog: HBS Author’s Spotlight

Check out the Jonathon Stone Mystery Novels:

Friday, February 13, 2015

Authors: Improve Your Twitter Messaging and Control


Social Media is crucial for people who are trying to break into writing. Today our focus is on Twitter and how you can improve your messaging and communications.

Twitter allows you to reach more people on a daily basis because of its global reach. Authors have known for a long time that word of mouth is still the most effective marketing tool for them to market and sell their books.

It is all about meeting, connecting and interacting with people whether they are readers, resources, support groups or other authors. Your followers can be a source of inspiration and encouragement as well as a sounding board.

Plans and Goals

For indie authors, having a social media plan is critical. You need to let people know about your books. A well-constructed plan with firm goals is a must to help market and save time.
You need more than just an account. Authors must engage the users. Here is a check list of goals.

1.      Build an audience for your books
2.      Break through the barrier of obscurity – gain exposure
3.      Focus more on communication - authors simply must engage
4.      Building name recognition by participation
5.      Include links everywhere and hashtags in your tweets
6.      Compose tweets in advance for marketing your books
7.      Stay accessible to readers

A well-constructed plan is a must. You will find out quickly what works for you and what doesn’t because you are going to get immediate feedback

Content

One quick word about the content of your tweets; make your posts informative and interesting. Share links to interesting information like articles and essays. Offer something of value to your readers. Also be genuine and authentic. Tweets with only the ‘buy my book’ message will be quickly passed over. Your main focus should be to avoid overloading people with nonsense.

Tell them about book releases, Cover reveals and book giveaway, but keep this kind of message to a minimum.

Action

The most important point here is you must be active. Look at Twitter like it is an information exchange. Expanding your message is important. You must use links to your website, your blog, and your buy pages whenever possible.

Another important action is to manage your twitter feed. The flow of tweets allows you to only catch a glimpse of the traffic on Twitter. Use a program to filter your messages.

Also, enhance your message with pictures.

Twitter is a cost effective way to promote and communicate with readers but you must built your audience one follower at a time.

Enough of me rambling about things a good socialite already knows. Let me share with you some red meat. The following is a group of activities that will help you deal with the Twitter world.

Some Twitter Action Activities:

Expand your message past the 140 character barrier

Use the Twitter picture feature.

Here is a sample tweet with extended text discussing a previous post about Book Boxed Sets on the HBS Author’s Corner: 

Book Boxed Sets Gain Exposure and Sales - A Study x Outstanding Authors HBS Authors Corner http://bit.ly/1fOKXQH #RT


How do you create an extended tweet?


1. Create an extended message to add to your regular tweet and save it as a jpg file.

I use a simple ‘Paint’ program. A picture frame with the size of 500px by 245px fits nicely on the screen. This size will hold a message of 12 lines and over 1000 characters using 12pt TNR.

Of course, the extended message can be longer but the reader would have to expand the view to read the entire message.

2. Create your regular tweet. Remember when you add a picture to your message; the message can only be 116 characters long because of the link twitter will add for the picture.

3. Add the jpg file to the tweet using the ‘Add Photo’ option below the ‘What’s happening’ text box.

4. Post the tweet and the extended message to the world.

Here is another example of extended messages. This tweet highlights my novel, Game of Fire.

Original Tweet
Game of Fire by James Moushon Top Amazon #Espionage book: #Mystery #Action Now 99 cents http://amzn.to/19YUiX6 #RT plus ‘Add Photo’ used.

This is how it appeared on the Twitter feed.

Game of Fire by James Moushon Top Amazon #Espionage book: #Mystery #Action Now 99 cents http://amzn.to/19YUiX6 #RT


As you can see, I got a lot of bang for my tweet using the ‘Add Photo’ feature.

Using ‘Add Photo’ to expand your message

A picture is worth a 1000 word as someone once said. Adding a picture to your post greatly increases the value of the message. Here is an example of a picture of a boxed set cover with some text added to the picture.

Killer Femmes Boxed Set - 5 suspenseful crime novels set in exotic settings http://bit.ly/1uJmN5E on HBS Author’s Spotlight.






















The ‘Add Photo’ feature allowed me to not only give the reader a link to the Boxed Sets post but to have a picture of the cover and a list of the books included and their authors. My use of pictures and in this case a banner (picture + added text) has doubled the views on the blog post.

Use Links in every message

You should always have a link in your tweet. That gives the user some place to go. Because of the 140 Twitter character barrier, you need to shorten the link ( URL) to a smaller size.

Twitter shortens all links (URLs) using their t.co service. The shortened version of the original URL will be displayed in each tweet. The original URL will be altered to 22 characters.

The only problem with Twitter’s shorty is that I want to use that shorty URL on Facebook, in my emails, on my blogs and other communications. So I opt to get my shortened URL from other source to be consistent.

Here are two good programs that will allow you to do this easily. I use Bitly and Tinyurl to shorten my links. For more information, check on each site link above for instructions. This will save you valuable space in your tweets and provide consistency.

Use Amazon short-links to expand the tweet

This is a special type of short link. When it is posted, it triggers a display of a book cover with a link to the buy page. I have included a sample that shows how a tweet for my novel Black Mountain Secrets triggers the Amazon buy page.

This is the Bitly version.
CIA Agent Jonathon Stone encounters Murder & Espionage on the Colorado River in Black Mountain Secrets #mystery amzn.to/PMC5T2#RT

This is the Tinyurl version.
CIA Agent Jonathon Stone encounters Murder & Espionage on the Colorado River in Black Mountain Secrets #mystery http://tinyurl.com/nsfrv7j #RT

Slow the messages down by managing and filtering

There is lots of traffic on Twitter. Tweets are there for a few seconds and then they are gone. You need a way to slow things down so you can digest the stream of information. 

Here are two outstanding programs aimed at managing and filtering the tweet activity.

Hootsuite

Here is a list of some of the features Hootsuite offers.
1.      Auto-Schedule Unlimited Messages
3.      Manage All your Accounts Together - connect with more than 35 popular social networks
4.      Schedule up to 350 messages in advance to make campaign planning infinitely easier
5.      Measure social media performance and demonstrate ROI across your networks with Enhanced Analytics Reports
6.      Use Hootsuite's pre-made reports

Tweetdeck

Here is a list of some of the features Tweetdeck offers.

1.      Real-time tracking, organizing and engagement system
2.      Create a custom Twitter experience - Organize and build custom timelines, keep track of lists, searches, activity and more - all in one interface.
3.      Find exactly what you're looking for - Create searches to track topics, events and hashtags. Refine the results with filters.
4.      Manage multiple accounts - Tweet, monitor and follow new accounts from all—or just one of your accounts.

I use Tweetdesk because I want to keep track of my Spotlight Crew (authors I have interviewed on the HBS Author’s Spotlight). I just maintain a list of the authors on Tweetdesk and I can view all the tweets the Crew posts.

Plan your messages by Pre-writing the tweets

Have you ever created a tweet only to find out it is more than 140 characters? Now you have a task of shorting the message to make it fit. Because I tweet the same message about my books and blogs periodically, I needed a way to be able to cut and paste the tweet and know it is going to fit the input box. Also I wanted to keep track when the last time I posted that tweet.

So I use a simple Word document, create the tweets and keep track when the last time I posted that tweet. I call it my HOT LIST. Here is a sample of my list. Maybe this will give you an idea or two.

A Hot List – 021515

Developing an Author Website – A Marketing and Communication Study Post

Outstanding authors incl in Developing an Author Website Study –Marketing and Communication at Authors Corner http://bit.ly/1yMCxUT #RT
012215/012615/020515

Develop Reader’s List

Authors: Develop & Use a Readers List. - A Study. Check how over 25 outstanding authors use a readers list http://bit.ly/Ukhzw3 #RT
072314/072614/073014/081314/082414/011815/012215/012615/012915/020515

Ebook Marketing: Boxed Sets are Gaining Exposure and Sales (BANNER)

Ebook Marketing: Boxed Sets are Gaining Exposure and Sales. Check how outstanding authors use sets http://bit.ly/1fOKXQH #RT
012115/012315/012715/013115/020515
(This is the tweet from the Expand your message section above.)

The list goes on for over 30 pages. I keep the hot items on the top of the list especially when I am in the middle of a new release, a promo or I have posted a new information blog at HBS Author’s Corner.

New Twitter Feature: #AmazonCart

Twitter has added a new Amazon Buy feature to help readers buy your books directly from the Twitter platform rather than exiting Twitter and loading the Amazon app. The user can do that by clicking the View Summary. The reader can view the display of the cover, a link to the Amazon buy page and the hashtag (#AmazonWishList)

This is what Twitter announced:
“The user will be able to add products they see on Twitter to their Amazon.com Shopping Carts without leaving Twitter. Now, when you send a tweet that includes an Amazon.com product link, Twitter users who have connected their accounts to Amazon will be able to add the product directly to their Amazon.com Shopping Carts simply by replying to the tweet and adding “#AmazonCart.” They will receive a reply tweet and an email confirming the Cart add, and they can complete checkout on Amazon.com at their convenience. You may begin to see replies containing “#AmazonCart” to your tweets with Amazon.com product links.These replies can also give you a good idea of which followers are engaging with your tweets.

For more information about the feature, visit www.amazon.com/AmazonCart. To learn about how you can leverage #AmazonCart to drive your next book launch or promotion, reach out to amazoncart-partnerships@amazon.com.”

I think the jury is still out on this new feature. You can accomplish the same thing by using a short URL from Bitly and let the reader have complete control over what they buy. Here is the link to my novel, Game of Fire. http://amzn.to/19YUiX6

You will see by clicking the link you are sent to the Amazon buy page. You can return to the original tweet by just exiting the Amazon program.

Another New Twitter Feature: Pin Your Messages.

This new feature lets you set one of your tweets as the first tweet when someone views your Twitter profile.
I chose to PIN a tweet about my novel Black Mountain Secrets with extended text discussed above. You can change the first tweet by just going to the More option (…) and selecting a new tweet to PIN. You can also UNPIN your primary profile tweet by using the More option (…).

Here is a sample of my profile primary tweet. It will remain the first tweet a viewer will see when they visit my profile.


 

Conclusion

Hopefully some of the ideas presented here will help you expand your Twitter message and give you more control. Twitter has a huge potential but it is time consuming. The challenge is to strike a balance between the time spent writing and interacting with others. And there definitely is a learning process here.

The landscape of the book publishing market has changed and Twitter is not a magic marketing bullet. But Twitter can be a powerful tool for reaching out to readers.
As one author told me in a recent interview, “Without it, I doubt anyone would have ever read my books.”

Post authored by James Moushon, a Mystery Writer and writing industry blogger and HBSystems Publications, a Publisher of ebooks and the sponsor of the following blogs:


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Developing an Author Website – A Marketing and Communication Checklist Study

What is the goal of your website? What is going to be the title of your website? How will people find your site? How do you make it easy to find your books and buy them? What are some of the topics you should include in your site? These are all questions that authors have when they create a website to sell their books..

I have spent the last several years studying, interviewing and writing about authors (250+). One of the first things I do is review the writer’s website. You can tell a lot about the author from their site. Some are complex. Some are simple. Some communicate their message. Some barely qualify as a website.

It is time to share a study I just completed using the HBSAuthor Spotlight Authors and their websites. This is a group of outstanding authors with bestselling credentials and a great net presence.

Title

In many ways the title is the most important part of a website. It’s like the title of your novel. The visitor immediately knows who the site is for.

The title should identify the author and the type of novels that are featured. A well-constructed title helps in any search the reader does on the Internet. Here is a sample of authors who use their name and genre as part of their title.


Several in the study use their credits to sell themselves in the website title. Here are a couple of samples.


Many authors in the study put a subtitle after their name with a catchy phrase. Here are a few example of some of the HBS Spotlight Authors with extensions in their websites title.


A few of the websites used a meaningful title other than their name. Something related to their novels or series in most cases.


The thing to remember here is when people start looking for you, the author; they may have a problem matching you to their search if you try to get to fancy.

In my case, if I use my book title ‘Game of Fire’ (my latest novel) or the Johnathon Stone Mysteries (my mystery series), I probably would miss much of the traffic that I get today. Plus when I write my next novel, the title of my site won’t match with the new book title.

Metadata

I think it is important to know a little bit about Metadata. What is Metadata, you ask? Metadata helps people searching the Internet for information about you, to find it more easily. (This type of information is used in the card catalogs of libraries.)

Metadata is inserted into an Internet Homepage as the page is developed. It is expressed as a set of keywords or tags. Descriptions and keywords in meta tags are commonly used to describe the Web page's content.

So the bottom line here is when your home page is constructed you should include your name, genre, title of your series, publisher, and protagonist in your metadata so readers, visitors and prospects can find your website.

Main Menu

The next important thing in a website is the main menu. It is the key to communicating to the reader. With a quick glance, the reader should be able to move to an important area of your website. Therefore the menu should be simple and easy to follow. The main menu appears at the top of every page of your site.

Here is a list of items the study found most common in the standard main menu.

Home – This is the first or front page of your website. A visitor should be able to click this option anywhere on your site and return to the front page.

About – This option is used for your Bio or Profile. It usually includes your picture and your background description. Profile control is a topic for another time but you are required to furnish a profile for your marketing effort including retail outlets (Amazon, etc.), organizations (Goodreads, etc.) and social media. You should try to keep your site profile consistent with the other profiles.

Books – If you’re an author, a list of your books is one of the main reasons for having a website. The site visitor should be able to click on this option and move to information about a particular book.

Blog/Newsletter – This is a link to your direct communications to your readers. I recommend doing both a blog and newsletter but there is a time factor in making this decision.. Besides broadcasting new releases and specials, they can help you develop a reader list.

Contact – This is another important option for your website. Your readers need a way to interact with you through social media and email (sometimes a form). This option makes it easy for them to click and communicate.

Extras (called many things) – This option can be a variety of things important to your audience. Some use it to broadcast services they provide. Others provide pictures or lists, etc. This option should be important enough to make the top rung of the menu system.

The following is a sample of some of the Spotlight Crew’s Main Menus. Like I mentioned before, there are more than 250 crew members, all with outstanding websites. Room would only permit to have a few examples.

Sparkle Abbey

Bestselling Mystery Authors Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter write under the name Sparkle Abbey @sparkleabbey. They have written the bestselling Pet Mystery Series. Their main menu is a basic, simple presentation allowing the visitor to easily move through their site.

 

Dianne Harman  

Author Dianne Harman @DianneDHarman is an Award Winning Bestseller Romance author. Dianne has another simple presentation.

 

Diane Capri   

Amazon Bestselling Author Diane Capri @DianeCapri is the author of The Hunt for Reacher series. Her main menu is simple. She adds an important topic, ‘Get Involved.’
















I have included her sub-menu, ‘Get Involved’ so you could get an idea. Communications is important to her.





Author Carmen DeSousa @Author_Carmen is the Author of the Southern Suspense Series. Carmen provides useful information to other writers so she includes an option for easy access.





Her ‘Writing, marketing, and life...’ section is a group of memo entries on giving advice on all sorts of things. Very interesting helpful tidbits.



Stacy Eaton   

Stacy Eaton @StacySEaton is the International Best Selling author of the popular My Blood Runs Blue series. Her main menu includes an option for her street team.





Her ‘Join My On The Beat Street Team’ selection says this:

Do you enjoy reading?

Are you a social butterfly who likes to share?

If you are, then you are going to want to join the On the Beat Street Team!
What you’ll receive:

·         Advanced review e-copies of upcoming novels
·         Promotional discount codes for your family and friends (applicable paperbacks)
·         Special street team giveaways, including personalized autographed paperbacks
·         If you host a book club or writers group, I’d be happy to schedule an online (or in-person, depending on location) discussion about my books, writing, or publishing


Melissa Foster   

Award-winning Author Melissa Foster @Melissa_Foster is the author of several International bestselling novels and the founder of the World Literary Café, Fostering Success and the social and support network for women, the Women’s Nest.

She has an option ‘FOR WRITERS’ so authors can go quickly to useful information. Also, she adds her social media and contact information as a second line which I like a lot.


Jan Romes 

Jan Romes @JanRomes is a Contemporary romance author. She is writer of the Texas Boys Falling Fast and the Twelve Brides of Christmas series. Jan also adds her social media links to her main menu.


Jake Needham   

Author Jake Needham @jakeneedham is a best-selling Mystery & Thrillers Author of the Jack Shepherd crime thriller series. Jake includes a link to his Audio Books.






Audio books are becoming a lead topic on websites as authors move their digital book versions to audio.

Chantel Rhondeau  

Chantel Rhondeau @ChantelRhondeau is a Romantic suspense author. Chantel writes the Agents in Love series. She adds a special cause to her main menu.





Chantel has '#DV Awareness' as one of their main topics on her site. Like many authors, she fights for something worthwhile and includes that on her site.

Domestic Violence Awareness : Readers of all my books know that somehow, someway the message that abuse is not okay makes it into my stories. I don't go in with the intention of this being there, but it sneaks in.

Multi-Line Menus

Many authors use multi-line menus. Remember to make this version simple enough that the visitor can easily travel around your site. Use multi-line menus cautiously.

Eden Baylee

Eden Baylee @edenbaylee is the author of a psychological mystery/thriller and three collections of erotic novellas and flash fiction. Her main menu has more options but it is easy to read and follow.


John W. Huffman   

Award winning Indie Author John W. Huffman @johnwhuffman writes Historical Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers. John’s main menu is more complex but the style of his menu makes it easy to read.




Joanna Penn   

Author Joanna Penn @thecreativepenn (J. F. Penn) is an Action-Adventure Thriller Author creating the ARKANE thriller series. Also, she is a leading consultant in the book industry. Joanna’s double line menu is another example of a simple design.


Vertical Main Menus

Some authors use a vertical menu. This version of menu allows more options but simple to follow is still the key.

Catherine Bybee   

Author Catherine Bybee @catherinebybee is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Romance Author. Her main menu is simple but complete.





       

J.A. Jance   

J.A. Jance @JAJance is a New York Times bestselling author. Judith is the author of the Joanna Brady series and the J. P. Beaumont series. Her main menu is another example of vertical, easy to follow presentation.


Judith adds an interesting option: Sugarloaf Café.

The Sugarloaf Café section of her site has a wealth of good food recipes. Check out the Tuna Casserole recipe. In one of her books the lead character refers to her mother’s tuna casserole.






Connie Flynn  

Author Connie Flynn @ConnieFlynn is the bestselling award-winning author of many Mystery, Fantasy, Paranormal and Romance novels and short stories. Another example of a simple, vertical menu. Connie works in her Bootcamp link.









BOOTCAMP FOR NOVELISTS IS ACCEPTING ENROLLMENT FOR CLASSROOM WORKSHOPS

Something of value

Another main menu concept that I like is giving the reader something of value besides your books. It gives the visitor another reason to visit the site.

Terry Ambrose   

Terry Ambrose @suspense_writer is the author of the McKenna Mystery series and a member of Murder, We Wrote. Terry has a topic to help readers avoid scams and cons.






Scams & Cons topic

Book Pages

Here is your marketing opportunity.

Your site should have a page for each book. This is your opportunity to market your book. At a minimum it should include the title, cover, product description and a BUY LINK. The authors in this study are all over this important marketing item.

Some other items I found on the book page where:

Reviews
Book trailers
Awards
Excerpts
Story backgrounds 
Access to author signed copies

Dropdown Menus

Of course, the main menu leads to drop-down menus. They in turn have links to your information pages. Simple, straight forward titles provide an easy path for you reader. The number of items in a dropdown has a limit for readable. Several sites in the study had so many items in the submenu; a laptop lost control of the menu because the reader had to scroll down to view an item or two.

If you are fortunate to have written a ton of books, you should create submenus and split them up my series or genre or fiction and non-fiction, something the reader can quickly navigate through to your information. Remember the reader may not have much patience if they have to struggle to find information.

The following is a list of popular items I found in the submenus.

Events/Appearances
Interviews
Book Stores
Media Kit
News release
FAQ
Work In Progress       
Services

Side Bars

The side bar usually includes your current action items and links. Here is a checklist of some of items found in this area. Most of these are not found in the main menu or their sub menus.

Join Newsletter          
Latest News/next event
Recent comments       
Books –Thumbnails with excerpts/Buy links/Trailer/Sneak peek
Guest Book sign in
Subscribe to blog via email
Contact me
Follow me
Site search
Social media icons with links
Advertise services
Story progress

Here is a list of other item usually found in the side bar that adds credibility to the author.

Great sites to visit
Badges – Groups/Publishers/Goodreads/Book tours
Profile summary         
Acclaims
Tweet feed
Facebook list
Blog list/recent posts
Interview list

Bottom Menu

Usually this echoes the main menu although this is an opportunity to expand the information selections without getting in the way of the communications. Also, included in this area should be a copyright notice and the web developer credits. Don’t spring something new there if it relates directly to marketing your books. Many readers never go passed the second or third screen looking for information.

Conclusion

Whether you’re a current author or a new author, your website is your gateway to your novels and sales. The goal is to get visitors to your book buy links.

Most of the authors in this study have outstanding websites. That is why they were the best source for this study.

Hopefully this post will give you a direction in developing and maintaining your website. If you keep it up-to-date, it will change frequently. The sites I reviewed had two main purposes: Marketing and Communications. They all had links everywhere. And they provided useful information about the author, their novels and how to contact them. Please visit them by clicking the link connected to their name.

I’ll end with an old saying: “You can write great content but if you don’t market your book or communicate too your audience, it will be like writing in the sand.”

Follow me:

Or EMAIL at: james.moushon@gmail.com
Or visit my blog: The eBook Author Corner
Take a look at my Author’s blog: HBS Author’s Spotlight
Or my Mystery blog: HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

Check out the Jonathon Stone Mystery Novel: Black Mountain Secrets
NEW RELEASE: Another Jonathon Stone Mystery: Game Of Fire