Hullo, I've been deep in the land of course creation and one of the things I've been thinking about for the self-publishing course is the importance of promotion and marketing, which every author or illustrator needs to do these days, starting with a good website. My old assistant Leda and I put together an easy-peasy course on using Weebly, which is what I've been using for years. This site is made with Weebly and is what's known as a WYSIWG where what you see is what you get using drag and drop modules. So instead of doing a book review or talking about why our self- and indie publishing is a game changer, I decided to write about the 3 great things your website should do.
1. It needs to help you establish your credibility as a professional who knows what she or he is doing. You do this by having a professional looking website that's clean and clear and easy to navigate with lots of spaciousness and great graphics. You can take fabulous photos with your smart camera or pay for images from sources like fotolia or iStock or find free ones at sites like morguefile or Unsplash.
You need to have a home page, which can be among other things, a blog, a welcome page, or examples of your art if you are an illustrator; an about page where you share about yourself including any qualifications you might have as a writer or illustrator, any interests or fun stuff. For example, Nicole Popel has a lovely site where she shares her passion for the Little Free Library movement. Below that check out Yuyi Morales's about page for some more inspiration.
You'll also want a contact page so folks can contact you, and a blog if you can post regularly (I'll speak about this a little more in #3) and if you are published, you definitely want a Books page.
2. Develop your author/illustrator platform with social media like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Instagram (as much or as little as you can handle) by adding share buttons or links that enable others to share your content to their social media accounts and where they can connect with your social media accounts. Share This is a great spot for getting free widgets to do this. The thinking is that the more friends and followers that you have the more folks who will buy your books when they come out and who will also help spread the word and promote them. When I was an agent, one editor I visited with in New York said that the first thing she did when getting something she was interested in was to look them up on Facebook and if they didn't have many friends it was a deal breaker. Sad but true. Authors and illustrators must help market their books these days unless they are a huge name in which case the publisher will do it. But if you're not a big name, just like self-publishers, you need to be actively promoting your work.
3. Share resources and connect with others through your blog. Like any niche area with mutual interests, forming communities of mutual support is both extremely helpful and deeply meaningful. No one gets anywhere on their own and helping others by providing resources or sharing your own process will not only inspire warmth but will also contribute to the betterment of the community. Tara Lazar is one of the nicest and most generous people in the business and has helped many through her website and annual Picture Book Idea Month. When her first book was published and Barnes & Nobles wouldn't carry it in their bookstores because they were feuding with her publisher, Tara's friends and followers rallied and emailed and called B&N until Tara's books were on their shelves. It was quite wonderful. Have a peek at her website - clean, clear, lots of white space, easy to find social media buttons, helpful, interesting and funny stuff.
And finally I wanted to share Barbara Bottner's website for it's aesthetic qualities that also might inspire. Barbara either has a slide show or animated gif at the top that tells a great little story welcoming you to her world and describing her itch. It's quite delightful. Once again check out how minimal and spacious it is.
Mira Reisberg has worked in the children's book field since early 1988, writing a 370 page dissertation on children's literature for her PhD. Over the years, Mira has helped many authors and illustrators get published. Her new exciting venture involves helping authors and illustrators publish with new technologies for self, indie and e-publishing as many traditionally published as well as courageous creatives are choosing to do. Students in this course with Mira and Jed Alexander will also learn to make websites, develop a social media following, make promotional videos, and self-publish their books with little to no personal expense. Self- and Indie Publishing with Crowdfunding starts soon on March 23rd. Click here to find our more.
Please leave a comment and share any websites that you think are well designed.
Mondays with Mandy or Mira consists of Mandy Yates and Mira Reisberg. Mira is the founder of the Children's Book Academy and was so impressed with Mandy when she was a student in one of the interactive courses, that she invited Mandy to share the blog. Mandy has as an MFA in creative writing from Spalding University and has been published multiple times in Highlights Magazine. We hope you enjoy and find our offerings helpful.
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