Two Essential Tools for Effective Book Marketing
by Dharma Kelleher
It shouldn’t come as a shock that marketing a book can be as challenging as writing it. With all of the Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, emails, and other tools that authors use to promote their books, readers are so inundated that virtually all of it gets lost in the cacophony of “Buy My Book” requests.
Today, I present two tools to help you make the sale. One is a WordPress plugin; the other is a link generator that helps you reach readers outside the United States.
MyBookTable is a plugin for standalone WordPress sites (not WordPress.com sites) developed by the hosts of the Novel Marketing podcast. MyBookTable allows you to create a virtual bookstore of your work with links to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. so readers can buy your books there.
It is not intended to sell books directly from your website. There are other plugins you can use for that. But it does a decent job of helping visitors to your website connect with the major online booksellers. And the links to Amazon are globalized, so they will connect users with the version of Amazon (.uk, .fr, etc.) the visitor normally uses, based on the country where they live.
There are two versions of the plugin: a free version and the premium version ($49 for a single-site license). With the free version, you can create pages for your books with links to the online booksellers. You also get a number of tutorial videos on how to set things up. It also allows you to integrate your Goodreads reviews for your books that have ISBNs (International Standard Book Numbers, issued by Bowker).
The interface allows you to assign authors, tags, and genre categories to the books you add, much in the way that you can categorize and tag blog posts. You can also add a series of books and designate where each book falls in the series.
The premium edition allows you to create affiliate links. If you’re not familiar with them, affiliate links (such as the ones used by Amazon and other online booksellers) allow you, as a registered affiliate, to get paid a tiny percentage for books sold when people purchase via an affiliate link. So if you’re selling your books on your site using affiliate links, you get paid twice – once as an author and once as an affiliate.
The premium edition does everything listed above and also has pre-order links and a grid view (as opposed to a list view) of the books on your virtual book table.
There are a few things about MyBookTable I don’t care for. When I installed the free version of the plugin, it came prepopulated with several random books already entered. I had to waste time deleting those books, authors, genres, tags, etc. – kind of a cheesy move on their part.
Also, there is not yet support for ASINs (Amazon Standard Identification Numbers). ISBNs are not inexpensive. Buying a block of 10 can run you about $300. And a single ISBN can only be used for one version of your book.
If you post Kindle versions of short stories on Amazon, you might not want to invest that ISBN in a product selling for 99 cents. So entering books on MyBookTable is a more manual process. It’s not the end of the world, though, and the developers of the plugin have promised to look into adding this functionality.
All in all, it appears to be a useful plugin, and out of 21 reviews as of the time of this writing, the free version has a 4.5 star rating on WordPress.org.
If you’re a regular Twitter user, you might already be familiar with apps like bit.ly that can take a regular web address and modify it. For example, bit.ly creates a shorter link that redirects to the original address.
So let’s say I want to create a link to my short story “Sappho,” which in the U.S. can be found at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003FGWUZ4. I paste that link into BookLinker, create or log into my free account, and it generates the link http://mybook.to/Sappho.
If you’re in the United Kingdom, it will take you to my short story on Amazon.uk. If you’re in France, Amazon.fr. The same holds true for the dozen or so different Amazon locations.
And if you have an Amazon author’s page (and you should!), you can create a globalized link to that as well. Brilliant, huh?
Dharma Kelleher writes gritty, engaging fiction about gay, trans* and queer-identified characters. She works as a professional web developer for ZenPunk Web Works. Her hobbies include riding motorcycles, making snarky comments on Facebook, and shocking people with her latest haircut. Learn more about her and her writing at dharmakelleher.com.