As I mentioned in my last post, I got the idea to add the “Subscribe!” box to this blog (and my other blog) from Steve Weber’s Plug Your Book! Online Book Marketing for Authors, Book Publicity through Social Networking
Weber sent me this book a few months ago with the hopes that I’d review it for the American Society of Journalists and Authors newsletter. They’d already schedule a review by someone else, so I put the book on my shelf to read when I was ready to start using the web to promote my book, The Jersey Shore: Atlantic City to Cape May: A Complete Guide. And now that I’m done the book, let me tell you, I have a lot of new ideas.
I’m not an internet newbie. I understand the basics of HTML and had a rudimentary website when I was 15. For all my programming needs, though, I turn to my brother, Jim Miller. He designed my magazine writing website, which you can see here. He’s also designing a website for my book, and did the maps for the book as well. I write, he designs. It works out well.
I also started blogging at Down the Shore with Jen in July — almost a full year before the book was slated for release. I thought I’d blog a bit as a way to talk about the book writing process and maybe get a few new readers, but it’s turned into a major marketing vehicle, and is drawing more hits a day than I ever expected, especially when you consider that the book doesn’t come out until May 5.
But blogs are just the tip of the online marketing iceberg. Through Weber’s book, I learned all about tagging, blog subscriptions, blog tours and exactly what features my book website should have. I also learned why I should make Amazon my best friend. I order books from Barnesandnoble.com, but I learned how much bigger Amazon is in terms of book sales, and how to marketing and promoting my book there can lead to even more book sales.
Since this blog is a site about books, I also followed Weber’s instructions on how to become an Amazon Affiliate, so if you see Amazon ads popping up on the site soon, that’s why. I’d like to operate in a bubble, but if I’m going to link to books anyway, I might as well get a small referral fee anyway, right? I assure you — this will in NO WAY affect what books I review. I might just be able to buy the nicer bottle of wine the next time I hit up one of Collingswood’s fabulous BYOBs.
Anyway, if you have a book — if it’s already out, too — I highly recommend Weber’s book. Even if you’re not up to creating a book-centric blog (though I recommend that as well), it gives you an easy-to-understand snapshot of how Amazon sales and ranks work.
Now my quibbles:
First, according to Weber, “the truth is, many ‘professional’ reviews are simply rehashes of publisher-generated publicity.”
Wha, WHAT?! Paging the National Book Critic Circle (of which I’m a member). That is a unfair statement. As any reader of this blog knows, I review a lot of books, and I spend a lot of time doing it. I’m not the only one either, and to cast blame on an entire group of professionals because of a few numskulls is not only unfair but dumb. I like a lot of what you say, Weber, but I almost stopped reading the book after that comment. Which brings me another point: I hate this idea that reviewers and writers work against each other. It shouldn’t be this way. We’re all book lovers. They can’t all be winners, though, and it’s the reviewer’s job to say so. If I had to point the finger in someone’s direction, maybe — MAYBE — I’d point to write ups in select vapid women’s magazines. How else would a terrible book such as this one get so many positive magazine write ups? But that’s a completely different soap box topic, and I’m already teetering up here, so I’ll step down now. Thank you.
ANYWAY, I starred and highlighted (and wrote a few choice words) next to that quote in Plug Your Book!. After tossing the book across the room, I picked it up again a few hours later and kept reading. I’m glad I did because I learned a lot, but still — yeesh.
The web is a fickle thing. First Friendster is grooving along, then Myspace moves from band promos into everyone promos. Then spammers ruin Myspace, and Facebook opens itself up to everyone (not just college kids) and is the top choice of social networkers (at least those I know).
Weber gives a lot of Myspace tips, and I’m sure to use a few of them (my profile is here if you want to friend me). But I’m going to focus more on Facebook. I like it. It’s clean, it’s simple, and it’s fun. People use their full names — they’re not shy about saying who they are and what they do. I just ‘facebook friended’ a slew of editors and writers yesterday, and no one shouted boo or ‘leave me alone.’ A few even joined my “Down the Shore with Jen” facebook group. If you’d like to join, too, click here. And my Facebook profile, if you’re interested, is here.
I’ve already seen a tangible result of increasing my Facebook presence. My shore blog is now linked on the Philadelphia Inquirer “Downashore” blog. It was my number one “wish list” blog to be linked from. I tried by sending an email to so to no avail. But through Facebooking a few Inky people? Done.
So is Plug Your Book! worth the money? Sure. But I’d hope that Weber might reconsidering blasting all reviewers in one blanket shot. We’re not all evil. Promise.
If you’ve been following along, no, this is not the “weighty” non-fiction book I started to read after Not Tonight, Mr. Right. Plug Your Book had moved into a valued spot in my, um, second office, and once I started in and saw a lot of good ideas that I could apply to my blog immediately, I kept reading through. That weighty book will be going with me on a plane to Arizona tomorrow…so stay tuned.
Read more at Steve’s Amazon profile.