The number one question I get asked is “how do you do that?”
As much as I’d like to say that I harness my magical powers to do things no one else can 🙂 the fact is that there are a bunch of very cool tools (most of them free!) that are easy to use and ANY AUTHOR that can use a word processor and a web browser can do most of the things that I do. Here are the resources I routinely use and recommend:
At some point, you are going to want your own domain name and hosting service, it will become the hub of your marketing activities. If you have no other budget, a domain is what I would get first. There are actually two expenses that are often bundled: a domain name (about $10 a year) and a web host which is a monthly fee – expect $10 a month for a good one.
WordPress: There is a reason it’s the number 1 blog platform. It’s free, easy to make it look good, and has a ton of plug-ins for customization. You can install WordPress on your own domain or use one that they host. If you don’t have money for your own domain (www.YourAuthorName.com), get a free account at www.wordpress.com and you’ll get a blog address like “YourAuthorName.wordpress.com.” This is a great place to start if you don’t have much of a budget. I would advise against using their paid service, it’s the same cost as your own host.
Dreamhost: My favorite domain host – the one you should use if you can afford your own domain (YourAuthorName.com). I pay $119 a year for a domain name and all my web space, but you can pay monthly or even buy several years at a time. I started with them because they do private domain name registrations for free (a MUST HAVE feature for authors – it protects your home address, phone number, and email from the public) whereas companies like godaddy and network solutions charge an extra $10 a year per domain. In addition to free private registrations, it’s so easy to use that you can set up WordPress with the push of a button, have your own custom email (like mike@YourAuthorName.com), unlimited domains hosted and bandwidth (in case you want a separate site for each book!), 24/7 support, and a money back guarantee. Note: Dreamhost has agreed to give authors $25 off of the service using coupon code “KILLERBOOKMKTG” without quotes.
My Favorite WordPress Plug-ins:
All of these are FREE, in your WordPress Admin page, just go to plug-ins, “add new” – and search for the plug ins below!
All in One SEO Pack – A free download that makes all your blog posts and pages search engine friendly!
Digg Digg – Adds the cool bar on the left so the article can be shared easily be shared on Facebook and Twitter.
Disqus Comment System – replaces the comment system of wordpress. It makes it look more professional, integrates with Twitter and Facebook, and allows you to respond to comments via email!
Google Analyticator – Google Analytics tracking helps tell you what marketing is working and what isn’t. This plug in ads the code to your pages to enable analytics for your site.
WordPress Backup to Dropbox – I don’t like thinking about backups, but I’d rather have one than not! I use Dropbox for a lot of things, but here’s an easy one. I let it back up my site without having to think about it.
YouConvertIt.com – A free online conversion tool that allows you to easily convert documents, pictures, videos etc … EASILY! Just select the item you want to convert and what you want to convert it to.
Survey Monkey – Create a custom survey and get feedback from readers quickly!
Dropbox – a service that lets you easily share files/photos/docs on multiple computers and give you access if you’re on someone else’s computer. I’ve used a free account for over 2 years and love it! A must if you switch between a laptop and desktop regularly. This is a great place to keep a backup of your books – you always have access to them I even back up my websites to it and still have space left over in my free account!
Google Analytics – The BEST freebie to track where your visitors are coming from to find your website!!! Is it Facebook? Twitter? Your publisher’s website? A interview on another blog? You’ll never know unless you track it! This is an amazing tool that will chart out where users come from, what they were searching for, and how they got to your site. When you’re marketing your book, you need to know what works and what doesn’t – this will let you see right away so you can make adjustments and know where to focus your time.
Author Tracking Tools:
Google Alerts: You should know when blogs are getting posted about you or your book! Using google alerts, they come to you! Even better, it’s completely free! Check out my video of setting it up here.
Novel Rank: Ready for something crazy awesome?Novel Rank gives free Amazon Sales Rank tracking of book sales on Amazon, including BOTH Kindle e-books and printed editions for a title. http://www.novelrank.com/track.php Note: this won’t track any data on your book until after you add it to be tracked…After you add your book, wait a few days and then you’ll start to see more accurate sales data.
Sales Rank Express: My favorite, based on Novel Rank, gives you a constantly updated view, estimated sales and international sale rankings. Note: this won’t track any data on your book until after you add it to be tracked…After you add your book, wait a few days and then you’ll start to see more accurate sales data.
Metric Junkie: Another FREE service, you create an account, add your books, and every hour they create a chart of your sales rank. Like colorful charts? Me too! This is best used during book releases and when you’re doing a specific marketing technique – you can make the change and see when it impacts your sales!
Honorable Mention: I like Rankforest.com because it also adds Barnes and Noble tracking but only lets you track one book with data updates every 8 hours with the free account.
Self Publishing Resources
Amazon KDP: If there is only one place you can publish, this should be it. It’s the biggest, has the most readers, and will likely help get you the most sales. Be sure to check out Amazon KDP Select which will let you distribute via the Kindle Owners library and make the book frr for a period of time (BOTH WILL INCREASE YOUR SALES). Also check out Amazon’s Createspace which can allow you to make print copies of your book.
PubIt!: Like Amazon’s KDP, it’s the Barnes and Noble vesion to self publish your book.
iTunesConnect: Upload into Apple’s iBookstore.
SmashWords: Upload your book to Smashwords, set your price, and it will publish out to Barnes&Noble, Kobo, Sony eBookstore, Diesel and iBookstore. Pro: Quickly upload to a bunch of places. Con: Less control including daily sales tracking, 400 character description, and limited ability to make updates to things like categories.
TweetAdder: I’m recently switched over to TweetAdder, it is consistently rated the best follow/unfollow tool in the industry. To manage one twitter profile is $55, but since it fully automates the process of finding, following, and unfollowing to build your Twitter list – it’s well worth it. I have to say it has the nicest interface and is MUCH easier to use than any other tool. They have a demo version that allows you to try it out for up to 250 follows so you can see just how it works.
Tweet Whistle: I’m also a big fan of Tweet Whistle, the tool I used to use. It works great, but has more of a learning curve. This is a paid tool (currently $39) that automates the process of finding, following, and unfollowing to build your Twitter list. They have a free demo available to check it out.