1) ALWAYS have a link to where your book can be purchased in your signature line. Never send an email without it. You can link to a website, your blog, newsletter, etc. as well. Keep the number of lines between two and four – it’s considered good ‘netiquette’ especially when posting to regulated groups or forums.
2) Request to do a chat in every available online spot you can. Offer to send a freebie as a ‘door prize’ but DON’T offer your current release. This could slow sales as prospective chatters might wait to find out if they win one for free. Book thongs, markers (very cheap to mail,) older releases, and other related promotional items work well . You can also offer a critique if the chat is writer-related. Get creative.
3) Target websites and blogs that are in the genre you write and offer to do a Q&A or an interview on the site or blog. (See above for possible prizes you might offer.)
4) Get your own website. This is important because no matter how much advertising or promotion you do, it’ll be hard to generate internet interest without a web presence. Even if it’s a smaller, free site, it’s better than not having one at all. Check into some of the more prominent websites that cater to authors and look into their specially discounted hosting/design packages.
5) Create a newsletter. Try to make it fun and interactive for both writers and readers. In my newsletter I include chocolate recipes and a family-friendly joke section. Depending on the genre you write in, you can even gear it toward your target audience. If you write YA, you can make it more teen-friendly.
6) Start blogging. Write as often as you can on your blog, even if it’s just a few paragraphs every other day or so. When you blog, try to include links to other places (even if it’s just to your own website) so that you’ll generate more ‘hits’ from searches to your blog, and hence to your title(s). Don’t forget that you can comment on other people’s blogs as well, leaving again, a link back to you.
7) Join groups and use them wisely. If you’re on MySpace, send bulletins out when you blog (which can be cross-posted between your MySpace blog and your personal blog.) Visit your ‘friends’–try to aim for at least five a week, for just a moment, to drop them a note. Keep it casual and friendly. Join other groups on the net that are for readers (like book club groups) and post occasionally–where your signature line will be seen by everyone. Aim for groups with large memberships.
8) Once you have your website, do “link” or “banner” exchanges with friendly authors or others that you know. Cross-promotion is fabulous for getting your links in front of new internet users.
9) Enter your title into internet contests, usually for free, but you may consider a nominal fee. Whether it’s a cover-art contest, or just a contest decided by voters and even if you don’t win, your title will be listed on the internet in yet another place.
10) Write press releases, articles, and reviews and post them in the appropriate places. If you set up a “virtual tour”, if you have a new release, if you win a contest, you can write a press release. Write articles and submit them to free-to-use article places where content seekers can grab your article (with the source box including your links) and use it on their site or in their newsletter. Every time you finish reading a book, write a review for it and submit it everywhere you can–like online booksellers such as Amazon.com. (If you alter it a bit, you can even send it out as an article.) Of course, with a link back to you.
Make friends everywhere you go. Be helpful to others. Volunteer your time. Offer congrats and commiserations when someone else needs a friend. Most of all, be sincere. This is more valuable than any of the above because it not only makes your internet existence bearable, but you’ll get help, inspire others to promote you, and have a host of opportunities already in place when your next release comes out.
J.R. Turner is the author of the award-winning novel, My Biker Bodyguard and the Knight Inc. adventure series. Visit http://www.jennifer-turner.com to find out more.