How to use Squidoo to promote your ebook

When it comes to marketing, I’m a firm believer of promoting in as many places as possible. The internet makes this quite easy as you can sign up to article websites and PR providers all over the place, helping to spread your author name and novel titles. Increased exposure helps to build both branding and awareness, and so getting as many mentions across the Internet is a GOOD thing.

I should say before I continue, that Squidoo is no quick fix or easy way to promote your ebook. Like most other platforms, it requires time and patience, and if you’re looking to only invest a couple of hours on squidoo and reap huge benefits, then you’re probably wasting your time. It’s probably not the best way to market a book, and I’m also fairly new to the website so I’m not a pro either. It’s a huge time sap too, and I’ve been spending hours on there over the past few days when I could have been doing better things. However, I like to take a time out between writing books to formulate plans, and squidoo has been quite fun to use, hence this post. In addition, recent reports listed by the site showed that it was the 64th most visited website in the US, and gained 2 million hits in just one day this year, so there is big potential to attract readers.

BUT, what exactly is Squidoo?

Simply put, squidoo is a website where you create articles (called lenses) about specific topics using the platform’s ready built webpages and modules. Think Ezine Articles, About.com etc. Anyone can join, anyone can build, and the best feature is that anyone can earn money from their Amazon modules. Amazon modules that can point directly to your books.

HOW can it help me promote?

The best way Squidoo can help you promote your books is by building an online encyclopaedia of your work. You can create lenses for your books, link these to lens of your characters, or places, or book themes. Think Wikipedia, but a wiki for your work created by you.

So far I’ve created an Inside Evil lens, The Tower of Souls lens and several others. I’ve linked them together. I’ve added Amazon links, a poll of favourite characters, a simple cast list and a ‘Did you know?‘ section.

 

The more ‘likes’, comments, tweets etc that you get for a page, the higher it’s visibility becomes. And, of course, in the same way that you should be commenting on blogs, responding to tweets, and pasting FB marketing material to promote your book every day, a few updates on your lenses can work wonders. Once you’ve spent the time creating, you can simply check in every day, update, respond to comments and factor the time into your marketing schedule.

EARN points and level up

Whilst Squidoo isn’t a game as such, you do start at level one and earn points as you go. These points are equal to expertise, and each time you level up, you unlock new features for your lenses and additional ways to climb up the community ladder. It’s a fun side to squidoo, and you’ll keep wanting to earn points like mad just to see what’s waiting. You can breathe a sigh of relief when you reach level 85 as that’s the top, but as I’m currently only 22, there’s a fair way to go.

BEWARE,  it’s a time suck

Like many social platforms, Squidoo is a total time suck and isn’t for everyone. You need to enjoy the experience of making lenses and taking part in the community if you’re to benefit at all. Looking at it only as a promotional tool probably won’t work. In addition, you’ll probably need to create more lenses than just your book ones, and this means that you need to actually enjoy using the website. I’ve created lenses in Pets,  Entertainment and How To as a way to draw traffic to my profile and build my squidoo presence.

I’m not advocating that squidoo is about to be a ground-breaking new promotional too, but I’ve enjoyed using it over the past couple of days. If it proves successful, I’ll drive traffic towards my books whilst earning commission on their sales (and any other items I add to my Amazon modules). If you have some spare time, then take a look. You can find my profile HERE, and start exploring this world of virtual squids.

Book Promotion; The importance of thinking outside the box

I know I keep harping on about promoting and getting book sales, but unless you’re one of those lucky few who release a few novels and then see sales sky-rocket, you’re like me and have to contend with the Amazon Beige Bar of Shame (BBOS) for many weeks and only a trickle of customers. I’ve tried advertising on Goodreads and doing a LibraryThing giveaway, but to no avail (though I have had a few good reviews from the latter option). I’ve tried posting, not spamming, on forums, but haven’t seen any direct sales as a result. I’ve used Twitter to my advantage and have found a handful of new customers here, and word of mouth (mostly by my sister) has got me the majority of my sales.

There was a nice thread on Kindle Boards called ‘Places to Promote Your Book‘ and I took advantage of some the listed options to sign up at Novelscribe, and place very cheap promotions at YourBookAuthors.com and BestIndieBooks.com. When I say cheap, I mean it, and I think I only paid around $15 in total for both the features – it’s not exactly going to break the bank. Nor is it going to get huge exposure, but only a few extra eyes seeing my work could be beneficial.

I’ve increasingly been thinking about how important it is to think outside the box and create a stir, a buzz. Placing a banner on a high traffic website is all well and good, but how many people actually click that link and then buy a book? Branding strategists and advertisers keep banging on about how important engaging with customers is, isn’t it about time us indie authors followed suit? Engaging with readers and potential fans isn’t just about tweeting replies and creating a fan pages though. It’s about really trying something new and innovative to capture people’s attention.

I’ve had a couple of ideas over the past few weeks for marketing ploys which could be fun for people to take part in and could increase book sales. When it comes to thinking outside the box, I think it’s best to think global, to think all conquering, to think of ways to go viral on the internet and become a sensation. I doubt that either of my ideas will do this, but they might work in creating more of a buzz than a simple website banner or Goodreads advert.

Exclusive Content

Rewarding readers and luring new customers in can be done with providing a worm on the end of that newsletter fishing hook. I’ve seen many people talking about getting subscribers onto their newsletters by offering free books and giveaways. However, I’ve also seen authors saying that as soon as their giveaway is over, people un-subscribe, defeating the object of the exercise.

To counter this, I’ve developed a little plan for creating ongoing exclusive content only for newsletter subscribers. I was playing Mass Effect the other day, collecting codex’s as I went, and I suddenly thought ‘I could offer codex’s for my Inside Evil series.‘ The codex system is basically like an encyclopedia, and in Mass Effect you collect titbits of information relating to characters, places, weaponry, lore, as you journey through the game. This helps you become more involved in gameplay and really creates a gripping universe to explore.

Being the complete nerd that I am, I already have a lot of notes on characters, hotspots, creatures etc that appear in the Inside Evil series, some of which is never even mentioned in the book. So, I’m currently developing my own series of codex’s that will be released on a monthly basis to newsletter subscribers. These will give tasty extra information for fans to enjoy, and for die hard fans, they’ll be downloadable so that the image codex’s can be kept and collected. I’ve started making some mock ups and have an artist doing some provisional sketches for each entry.

Whilst this content might only appeal to the nerdiest of nerds who read my books, it does offer an incentive to stay on a newsletter list rather than taking the one free goodie on offer before un-subscribing.

Paperback Treasure Hunt

I haven’t yet delved into the realms of paperbacks, but the time is drawing near as several people I know have asked if my work is available as an actual book. In Book Three of Inside Evil several famous spots from London and other cities will appear in the book and this got me thinking, ‘What if I hid a copy of the books at each of those locations for readers to find?‘.

My thinking is that copies of Inside Evil, The Tower of Souls and the new book would be left in paperback form at certain locations. They’d be sealed in a bag with instructions guiding people to take the book home, enjoy the read, name, date and location stamp it in the front cover, and then either return it to where they found it, or pass it on to a new reader. Or they could simply leave it somewhere for someone else to find. Over time, names and dates would fill up the covers and hopefully the books would move around the country, even the continents. Of course, some would get thrown out, some would end up on people’s dusty shelves, but I’m quite intrigued as to what could happen. It’d be like sending off a note in a bottle, or letting go off a helium filled balloon with a tag tied around its string.

Both of these ideas are still in development and I’m planning how they could be done to achieve the maximum buzz. However, I do believe that thinking outside the box is the best way to get your marketing plan noticed, and if you’re going to do something, then you may as well think big.

What are your promotional plans? Had any great ideas outside the norm to shift books?