Thursday, October 29, 2009

The five reasons to do it....

Today I had lunch out, without a child chaperone, with two author friends. It was wonderful just briefly feeling like a human being - able to enjoy lunch in a cafe without that nagging my child going to throw up... be impossibly demanding... hog the conversation...spill something across the table.... Of course the other authors are mothers too but they weren’t bringing their kids along for a working lunch in a cafe...and neither today was I. Yippee.

So at the end of the working lunch, one author leans over and says...” Pippa you have another book coming out... you need a website...” (the famous words that Fifi said to me 18 months ago)

“I’ve been thinking about it,” came the reply. This started the discussion of author websites.

“I blog every Thursday,” I said

“Its Thursday today, what are you going to blog about today?”

“I have no idea,” I replied, but the conversation started me thinking...

Over the last year of learning about marketing for authors these are my five essential points to putting together an author website...and how you go about it...

1. Research.

Have a look at what other authors are doing, especially in your genre. Decide what you like and what you don’t... Make a list. Some things you will need straight away...some you can work up to...

Have a look at my link list on the right. In the cool websites lists... there are a range of authors who are doing a superb job with their websites. Take a tour...

2. Who is the website for? Children? Adults? Other writers? Potential publishers and agents?

As Pippa is a children’s author... the content and language of the website matters as children researching her and her work will be ‘googling’ her name first. This is not the place to be showing pictures of your holidays at the Sunshine ‘au natural’ park.

3. Have a budget. It could be zero or thousands.

If it is zero...look at the biggest impact you yourself can do...learn techniques on free blogs. Blogging software is simple to use, it’s drag and drop technology. You don’t need to know any computer languages. You can play in private while you get the skills to put a website together...or play in public which is what I do...(coz I like learning)

If you have money, talk to a website designer about what you want...but be careful. A site that has lots of flash and whizzy stuff can take ages to download. Studies show that people are prepared to wait only about 7 seconds for a site to download...and many not even that....If you need a degree in website design to upload new content on your site it probably isn’t for you. Clean (uncluttered) easy to navigate around works every time.

3. Authors must have...names of their books, what they are about, where to buy them and some way of being contacted.

Remember that this is your public brochure to the world. If you are waiting to be published then find some other point of difference which will be of interest to a potential publisher who might be ‘googling’ you after they see your manuscript.

If you write for the Young Adult market consider having a myspace page as well. This is all part of your marketing. I recently heard of a YA author who was turned down by a publisher because they had no ‘social media’ presence. If myspace is where your readers are... that is where you should be.

A free email address can be the difference between getting a paying workshop job or making a manuscript sale.

4. When looking for a dot com name...look around for the best deals available.

You can set up a free blog and change the domain name to a dot com for very little money. There are deals out there for ten years for around $10 US...and with the exchange rate at the moment that’s almost $1.20 NZ a year (worth thinking about) If you invest some time in a free website and get a domain name, It doesn’t look any different from one that has been designed costing lots of bucks...Check out Ribbonwood designs ( to see what I mean. (hi your site)

5. Be committed to updating your site regularly.

Old, out of date information is a real turn off. It shows your readers that you don’t care that much about them.

Tell them where they can buy your latest book...have competitions or extra content just for them or recipes...songs...etc that inspired the about the hidden meanings in chapter 5... Make your site fun, interactive and interesting. Not only does this show the reader that your books might be just great to buy... it keeps the search engines noticing that your site is updated, which moves your page up the rankings on a general search....Would you rather be on page 1, of the google search on your name, or page 20?

Here endeth the lesson

On another note - The Spinning Gold team are very excited for three people who in the last week have had their manuscripts accepted for publication as a result of the Pitch Slam at the conference.

We are toasting you all...


pic...the seedling...because it's the beginning of a new life...(online life)

P.S. Jon from CBICLUBHOUSE put together this video on how easy it was to get started yesterday... great minds think alike... so take it away Jon....(and to think that when I started blogging 18 months ago posting video was so out there......)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

And the theme this week is....

This week I want to take some time to explore theme weeks as it pertains to author marketing. (finally getting back to reason I blog every week)

In particular I want to introduce you to Readergirlz and the YALSA theme week.

Readergirlz are a group of young adult authors who were looking for a way to connect with their readers..thinking teenage girls, where they could talk about writing...books....inspiration and reaching out to others in the community. The Readergirls Divas the five host authors have fourteen books between them and are active bloggers and social media players as they do a superb job at connecting with their audience. Check out their website and have a look at their support crew...

This week the Readergirls have got behind YALSA the Young Adult Library Services Association Teen Read Week. The theme is Read Beyond Reality and the Divas are hosting live chats throughout the week. They are also hosting Justine Labalestier on the blog and they have an author in residence on their website.

Take some time to see how this group of authors have used all sorts of ways to market to their audience and promote others and themselves in side by side marketing....and making it cool to be a Readergirl...there are also spin off groups affiliated with them.

Here is their promo trailer for the live chat sessions.

By having a theme week or getting behind and promoting a theme week for someone else...there is a win win situation set up for marketing. The bang is bigger for the bucks and it is spread further and wider than just one persons blog post saying ‘and I really support this worthy cause.’ Of course like Readergirlz you can have a whale of a good time promoting the cause and yourself along with it.

The other interview of note is on Shelli Johannes Market My Words blog with Michael Stearns of Upstart Crow Literary.

Upstart Crow has been in business Ten Weeks! In that time they have doubled their agent staff and sold six big deals. Shelli interviewed Michael about the three things every author should and must do to promote themselves and their books.

This was interesting as first up Michael said a web presence and yes he googles potential author clients to see how web savvy they are. One of the best things he has seen is groups of debut authors like The Class of 2K8 and 2K9 which I have talked about before and Readergirlz getting together to promote themselves.

As Michael says

Seriously, in web searches I look to see what I can learn about the author—crazy as a soup sandwich? (as Harlan Ellison might say); secret author of porn?; star of her own reality television series? It’s all part of the research to see who I am dealing with. As for “platforms,” If the core audience for your platform is 500 people who read your blog, that’s great but hardly something that will sell a books. If your core audience is, however, five million, then that’s something else entirely.

Finally here is a link to the New Yorker who currently has a sharply humorous piece on author marketing just to keep it all in perspective.

have a themed week...(CNZ report theme for me)


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Celebrate The Brilliance, people...

So It’s New Zealand Book Month....the poor cousin to New Zealand Music Month....

Michele Powles, the unsung heroine Director of New Zealand Book Month (her budget barely covers her salary and she has to fundraise to get paid at all) together with a small but committed team have put together a series of cool events to get behind. You can contribute to an ongoing judge the Sunday Star times short story competition...attend free workshops...enter competitions etc etc. There is lots happening on their website...

ASB Bank have come to the New Zealand Book Month party with a cool competition for kids,

Read a Kiwi book, write a letter about it, deposit your letter in an ASB Wordbank and be in to WIN!

The competition opens in October so you can start getting ready by reading New Zealand books!
NZ Book Month
next - choose a favourite book by a Kiwi author

then - write a letter to the Kiwi author of your favourite NZ book. We want to hear what was so great about that book

And in October - get that letter to us between 1-30 October and you could win BIG!

Encourage any kids you know to Jump on the ASB website and download an entry form

(thanks ASB)

I was disappointed that my local Library had not done any displays about NZ Book Month...but they have beautifully printed flyers asking their patrons to tell them how they can I did just that by telling them to lift their game in New Zealand Book Month....and gave them lots of suggestions...including ‘and you could put my book on the shelf’...

It is embarrassing when local kids come up to me and tell me they can’t find it in their library.

I have been having a discussion today with various people about what writers are worth... Gavin Bishop at Spinning Gold made a comment directed at the Illustrators but it applies to the writers too...we spent years trying to get recognition and a decent fee paid to us for talks and workshops...don’t do things for free....

And he does have a point...but how do you go about asking for money?

On the other hand does your plumber work for free?

I am struggling with very negative feeling towards my child’s school who booked me to do eight workshops over two days after Spinning Gold...I presented to half the school and got paid...a small bunch of flowers.

So New Zealand Book Month....Get out there and support New Zealand writers...(and pay them...)


PS Here’s some maths for you...average print run in NZ. 3000...Writer gets between 3% and 10% of RRP....Most print runs barely sell out.....of course we are rich....not.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Up And At 'Em...

The Buried Editor has come back up out of the slush pile with a bang....responding to a blog question....

Dear Buried Editor,
Do you plan to come back this decade or did the baby drain away all chances of you ever blogging again?

Madeline has always been good value in the blogosphere. She works for a small press in Texas has her own imprint with this press and also works in a bookstore to keep in touch with kid readers.

P J Hoover and Stacy Nyikos are both published by her. I first came across The Buried Editor Blog when she decided to have an online pitch slam as a practice before she went to hear pitches at the huge Book Expo Conference of 08...

She is an editor a publisher a blogger and now she has added online critiques to her busy lifestyle.

With a new ning forum on her blog she posts a weekly question and forum members comment or send in samples of’s what she wants to do with the forum.

But, what I'm most excited about is the new forum Get Me Out of the Slushpile! that I've started. Every Monday I'll post a writing prompt here and on the forum. Then, the rest of the week you and I can post the work the prompt inspires and critique one another. I have been so impressed with the quality (and kindness) that people have shown when critiquing on this site, that I wanted to have more opportunities for all of us to help each other with our writing.

Martin Taylor of the Digital Publishers forum has a workshop in Auckland in December on internet marketing strategies.

Martin spoke at our Spinning Gold conference and was well received....He has made it his mission to try to up skill everyone in NZ in digital publishing.

One of his speakers is a kiwi, Sean D'Souza who has a (global) small business marketing and branding advisory business. PSYCHOTACTIC

I recently trawled around on Sean’s site and I liked what I saw. Go and check it out.

I have been working this week! One MS out the door, another is being revised after a few years in the wilderness. Updated my blog sites (spot the changes) and I’ve done some dusting!

I still have a ton of must do’s before I can get back to Mars...I’m still trying to come up with one word title (...coz I like one word titles) for the Mars wip (work in progress)...that conveys mystery, culture collision, identity issues and space exploration....any suggestions?


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Golden Germination

I have been jumping around this week never quite settling down and definitely needing some quality time to get my head together...however that is in short supply...what with school holidays...tsunamis etc... In my jumping around I found this on Editorial Anonymous.

So, I follow quite a few authors (and wannabe authors) on Twitter. One of them just Tweeted a link to her new web site, which is from the POV of her main character (of an unpublished book for which she is unagented). The site is professionally done and looks great, but I'm wondering how smart it is to have (and promote) a site for something that a. readers can't even buy yet, b. readers may never be able to buy, and c. potential agents might see.

Editorial anonymous responded to this query this week. It is an interesting read and the discussions that follow her post are insightful...whether you should have a website before you are published, whether you should post any of your work in progress on it or post by your main character....the jury is still out and debating.

Gone are the days when the publishers marketing team swung into action for you. The marketing of your work is increasingly up to you. You generate interest as the author and you have to find out what works for you. Melinda has posted some interesting thoughts on this.

A cool spin off from Spinning Gold is the opportunity to skype the author. Derek Wenmoth of CORE, who was on the educational publishers panel, is right into added value for kids in an educational setting. He has some amazing ideas and one of them is to have a New Zealand version of skype the author. If you want to learn more jump on over to the Spinning Gold Blog, which is still going and read all about it. Derek has also posted his thoughts on Spinning Gold.

A big thankyou to all the people who have contacted us with emails of congratulations.

We have been overwhelmed with your generosity. This was also a feature of the conference for me. Everybody’s willingness to help out and make it work.

A long time ago a friend said you need to get involved to learn the most about your chosen path and boy were they right.

I have learned and am learning constantly from you all. The variety of business cards out there (I got 17...nowhere near Frances Cherry...) the range of websites, the skills of the multi talented Children’s Writers and Illustrators who give of their time to made the conference for me. There is still so much to process...and I am mulling over and chewing the bones of learning.

I think we all are.

I will be interested to see what germinates from Spinning Gold.


blogger having difficulty with posting pics...just imagine a germinating seedling....

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