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Being able to effectively publicize and promote books on the Internet is a vital marketing skill essential to small, mid-sized, and specialty publishers being able to succeed in today's fiercely competitive marketplace. Selling books on the Internet is not a luxury for a bit more cash flow, it's a necessity for sheer financial survival.
Here are some "tips, tricks & techniques" for identifying and accessing Internet newsgroups, e-mail lists, Web sites, and online bookstores that will enable the independent publisher to succeed in this new and growing medium:
For all other service provider (ISP) accounts, go to Deja.com at: http://www.deja.com
On the home page of this search engine for newsgroups and e-mail lists you will find a "Quick Search" function. Type your key words (Steps 1 & 2) into it (one word per search) and locate those Internet discussion groups that are thematically appropriate to your book and/or author.
Note #1: Netscape will work smoothly on Deja.com. For some reason Microsoft Internet Explorer may not work -- there's some kind of bug in the one I tried and I'm not a good enough computer expert to figure out a way around it -- or it may be site specific and fixed by now.
Note #2: All publishers, regardless of the nature of their book, should include alt.books.reviews because that is a generic or generalist book oriented newsgroup of librarians, bookstore retailers, and the general reading public that has about 90,000 subscribers worldwide.
There you will find a section devoted to Search Engines. Go down them (you might want to start with Google, it's my personal favorite) entering in your key words to locate thematically appropriate Internet discussion groups and Web sites.
There you will find a huge section for on-line bookstore links. It contains links to hundreds of specific bookstores, as well as to Web sites that have bookstore databases of hundreds more. Bookmark this page for future use.
Explore the bookstore Web pages to determine if they are a general store or a specialty dealer. All general online bookstores are feasible for future promotional contacts. Specialty stores only if your book fits within their area of focus.
You will want to register your individual Web page with some of the Search Engines. Some of them want the short description, others the medium, still others allow unlimited (long) descriptions). This is all material that can be easily drawn from your PR write-ups.
More about what goes into PR e-mails and article a bit later.
Send your book's publicity release in the form of an e-mail to all the thematically appropriate bookstores.
Contact thematically appropriate Web site owners with an offer to exchange links.
Take the same information that is to be found in any competent paper format PR statement and re-write it within the body of an e-mail document. Never, ever, attach a PR to an e-mail document -- ever! Put all of your information into the body of the e-mail cast in the form of a letter to the recipient. As follows:
The descriptive content of your book here.
The citation of your author's credentials and background here.
The ordering or contact information here.
Your signature and Web site URL here.
Prepare an article on the subject matter of your book. Pretend that you've just been invited by a major magazine to do a couple of hundred words on the subject and given permission to cite your book as a reference for further study on the matters covered.
If you don't see this "posting" feature on the Web site, then send such positive reviews (as they come in to you from reviewers) to the bookstores as simply e-mail messages.
Currently, every review generated by the Midwest Book Review is posted to Amazon.com, Review Index (a Gale Research Company interactive CD-ROM), and the newsgroup alt.books.reviews (rec.arts.comics.reviews for comic books and graphic novels).
Internet Bookwatch e-mail subscription list: 420
Children's Bookwatch e-mail subscription list: 178
Particular review columns (cookbooks, parenting, theater/cinema, money/finance, metaphysics, etc., etc.) are sent via e-mail to their own list of subscribers -- folks who didn't want to wade through an entire IBW issue to get the reviews in their particular areas of interest. Several of these folks use the reviews (giving credit to MBR as the source) to bolster the informational content of their own Web sites.
By the way, you will also find a list of links to online magazines on our Web site in our Periodicals section -- consider any of these for submitting that article drawn from your book for publication. Just another way to get a bit of promotion on the Internet.
Incidently, once you have joined a newsgroup, you don't have to download their messages automatically or forever. You can set them to simple store up, then after a period of time either flush them, or scan them for headings that you might want to respond to. Same for e-mail lists.
The technique for successful e-mail marketing posts is:
And remember that Internet marketing has a lot in common with door to door selling. You may need to make a hundred contacts to get a single sale. Some folks will object to being interrupted by you. Others may be to busy to respond. But the virtue of the computer is that you can knock on those cyberspace doors with just the touch of a keyboard button -- and without the overhead costs of gas for the car, stamps for the envelopes, or dogs going for your pants cuff.
Midwest Book Review
James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive
Oregon, WI 53575-1129
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