BY LAURA PHILLIPS
Speaker: Liz Maverick
Liz Maverick, best-selling author and former senior manager of the St. Martin’s Press Heroes and Heartbreakers romance blogging website, had a few great tips in her workshop, the Discoverability Toolkit, and focused on those she’d found most effective in her career.
The first was intended for authors struggling to keep up with the increasing number of social media sites, newsletters, websites, SEO (search engine optimization), our own blogs, blog tours, and . . . well, writing new books.
“We can’t do it all, so we pick the things we can do.” Do those well and connect them, she advised.
“Don't do anything that only has one opportunity. Try and do things that have more than one opportunity and feed into your general strategy.” For example, write blog posts that contribute to your SEO and make sure your newsletter sends traffic to your website and your blog.
Maverick, who doesn’t have her own blog, recommended guest blogging on high-traffic sites. “You can put a post on a big site and get 50 times the traffic, plus the SEO boost and the link to your site.” The author gains presence in front of a wider audience and get links on those sites, which is SEO for his or her web page.
She said most authors don’t realize how hungry many of the big, high traffic sites are for content. “You have to feed the beast, and it has to be great content. So they are very open not just to guest blogs but to new ideas.” In general, the big sites want fresh content, but each has its own managers and its own policies.
Online reads also are a good means of free marketing, she said. A few recommended venues for short genre fiction to publicize your other work include the websites or forums on www.romantictimes.com, www.heroesandheartbreakers.com, www.avonromance.com, www.tor.com, www.criminalelement.com, and www.romanceatrandom.com. She also emphasized the need to take the time to study the sites you choose to write for and tailor the material to suit each site. She noted that not all of the sites are publisher-neutral.
Maverick strongly recommends newsletters as a great tool for driving reader traffic to your website.
“People don't return over and over to an author website with their daily coffee. They’ll read a newsletter with the coffee and return to the website.”
As for frequency, she recommended a monthly newsletter, at least. ‘If you have the content to support it, weekly is awesome,” she said. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are the best days to deliver and garner the highest readership, based on observations of all the genre fiction newsletters inside Macmillan. The online newsletter service MailChimp also recommends these days, she said.
The best time of day for an emailed newsletter to arrive can vary. “Different kinds of audiences have extremely different kinds of behavior. We always sent ours at noon Eastern. That’s a morning coffee open on the West Coast and a noon open on the East Coast.” To test your own audience’s response, she suggested a test, sending three monthly newsletters at noon, then the next three at a different time, and analyze the open rates according to what you know about your customer list.
She said the newsletter should be optimized to get people to take an action, to look at something specific on a website, and/or to buy a book. She also recommended including original material, something intriguing that suits your reader base. “You need to set up expectations for something they can’t get anywhere else.”
A great subject line is important for the emailed newsletter, and Maverick prefers the editorial approach over the marketing approach. Her method? Use the first two words to indicate value, i.e. “Enjoy a sneak peak of the new Sullivans book!” vs. “Get the new Sullivans book!” She said she’s found that more blatant