Best Business Advice for Writers is a monthly link round-up where I share the best online articles focused on the business of writing and publishing. Share any best reads you’ve found lately in the comments.
6 “About Us” Pages That Are Probably Better Than Yours by Sonja Jacob (@sonja)
Authors—and, frankly, everyone—often struggle with what to say about themselves on the “about” page of their website. While this post focuses on businesses, authors can find some valuable takeaways and suggestions, such as using the power of storytelling to create more gripping copy. Click here to read the entire post at Hubspot.
8 Data-Based Tips for Optimizing Your Content on Pinterest and Instagram by Dan Zarrella (@danzarrella)
Get excellent nuts-and-bolts advice on using Pinterest and Instagram—a must if you’re using either of those channels as part of your online platform.
The headline makes an outsized promise, which is an eye-roller at minimum. However, the information presented is worthwhile, especially for newer authors. Here’s a snippet on the section about researching your idea or genre:
Your first order of the day should be to spend a few hours around the Amazon Kindle marketplace. Browse through the top sellers, be generous with your clicks and read up as much as you can – user reviews, book descriptions, Amazon’s editorial reviews (if any). You want to get an intuitive feel for the market, what sells, what doesn’t. How many non-fiction books end up in the top 10? What genre do they belong to? What is the average price of a Kindle bestseller? What do their covers look like? How many reviews do they have? What is the average rating? What is the correlation between rating and current ranking?
Even if you already know the basics, this post offers numerous links to other experts and articles that you may not have seen already. Click here to read the entire post at Tim Ferriss’s site.
For bonus points: Read the following brief post (which is quite complimentary), A Few Thoughts on Content Creation, Monetization and Strategy by Tim Ferriss.
The Ultimate Guide to Goodreads for Authors by Mayor A. Lan (@TheSavvyIndie)
If you’re new to Goodreads as an author, this post is a great place to learn the basics. Click here to read the entire post at The Creative Penn. Once you’re more advanced, check out this Goodreads 201 presentation by one of the folks at Goodreads, to help authors and publishers use the site more effectively.
The Real Costs of Self-Publishing a Book by Miral Sattar (@MiralSattar)
How much will it (or can it) cost to self-publish your book? Sattar offers a solid overview—though the comments section is very active with a range of viewpoints. Click here to read the full post at PBS MediaShift.
This is the best post I’ve seen explaining the benefits of the Scrivener software, which can export ebook files. Click here to read the full post at Michael Hyatt’s site.
Agent Rachelle Gardner offers a helpful round-up of links to her timeless posts on how to get published. Click here to read the post at Rachelle Gardner’s site.
Improving Book Publicity in the 21st Century by Cory Doctorow (@doctorow)
This is more of an insider’s rant about how publishers don’t have very effective marketing and publicity departments (at least by professional marketing standards). I share it here because it helps authors understand what good marketing looks like, especially if they’ll be doing it themselves. Click here to read the full post at Locus.
Why a Free Chapter Is a Lousy Thing to Give Away If You Want to Sell a Book by Andy Traub (@andytraub)
Traub begins with the following:
Giving one chapter away has lost its value because of, you guessed it, Amazon.com. I can download a “free sample” of every book in the Kindle library and Amazon doesn’t require me to join your email list. I also get to see the reviews of other people who have already purchased the book to help me decide if I want to download that free sample.
He then follows up with OTHER valuable things to give away. Click here to read the full post at Take Permission.
Your Book Is a Startup: Tim Ferriss, The 4-Hour Chef, and the BitTorrent Publishing Model by Matt Mason (@MattMason)
I know, a lot of Tim Ferriss–related content this month. But it’s good stuff. For Ferriss’s latest book, he used BitTorrent as a marketing and promotion tool. If you don’t know what BitTorrent is, it’s peer-to-peer file sharing, which enables what many authors fear most of all—piracy. However, Ferris approached BitTorrent as an opportunity to reach new fans and reward existing ones. His strategy, as described by Mason:
To promote The 4-Hour Chef, Ferriss released the first chapter of his book, in addition to 680MB of behind-the-scenes content on BitTorrent. This content was downloaded by over 2 million people, who in turn:
Clicked on to the book’s trailer YouTube: 293,936 people
Clicked on to the author’s website: 327,555 people
Clicked on to the book’s Amazon page: 880,009 people
Read more about Ferriss’s strategy, and its results, at the BitTorrent blog.
Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.
In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.
Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.