Aug 062014
 
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By Sherry Ziegelmeyer

Some authors don’t put much thought into who their target reader is—and it’s one of the most important questions in the publishing game! In some cases, authors slave away for years on a genre where the audience is so miniscule that so much time and effort spent writing a novel for that reader is simply bad business. But ultimately, no matter what genre or niche you prefer to focus on, every book will benefit from a good understanding of who will ultimately buy it. Researching your book’s audience(s) is definitely a step you can’t afford to skip.

As important as it is to research your book’s target audience before writing, it’s just as important to research your audience before embarking on a publicity campaign, so you don’t end up wasting time chasing consumers who will never buy your product.

Be Realistic About Your Audience

Too many authors start publicity campaigns with an unhelpful combination of vagueness and overconfidence, imagining a giant throng of people clamoring to buy their books. Most have some nebulous audience profile in mind that includes millions of potential consumers—with erotica writers, this profile is often built on the assumption that any and all erotica is perfect for “people who like sex.” Don’t we all like sex? I think most of us like sex.

Yet, how many male readers “like sex” with a cock in their bum? That’s a subset of the population of “people who like sex”. And while male/male anal sex does not only relate to gay male readers, trying to entice most heterosexual men into buying gay erotica is going to be a fruitless waste of time and money (time and money better spent targeting the many heterosexual women often found flocking to m/m erotica and erotic romance . . . but more on that later).

The same can be said of authors who specialize in high-end, literary erotica. The type of novels with a fair amount of fetish elements and/or elaborate storytelling involved in the sex scenes . . . that’s a very specific genre, appreciated by an equally specific audience. Even people who “like sex” may be turned off by long passages describing the room in the scene in excruciating detail.

Hit the Right Target the First Time

Whatever type of sex you portray in your books, you probably have a particular vocabulary with which you like to illustrate it—words that not only describe the physical action in a scene, but which also set a specific tone and mood. So take advantage of that insight when creating press releases, cover art, synopses and blurbs, as well as in your social media and any other forum you use to market your books.

How you word the copy of all your publicity, and your overall image branding, will help your target audience decide whether your books will suit their taste—and you can use this to your advantage in your press releases and other publicity activities. Pay enough attention to the connotative qualities of your verbal and visual language, and your target readers will not only know your book is for them, but will start getting excited about it long before they open it up or click “Look Inside!”

If you are writing “fuck books”, for example, your press releases should contain words that arouse the interest of a hardcore just-get-to-the-sex reader (suck, fuck, cunt, slut . . .). Remember that those words tend to attract entirely different consumers than those looking for, say, literary or romantic erotica—writers of the latter, on the other hand, should give potential readers an idea that their story contains “sensual explorations of Sapphic desire, embellished with the heated ecstasy of erotic foot worship.” Sure, there’s some language overlap within the books themselves—literary erotica might talk about cunts and sucking; fuck books will describe something as sensual, etc. As a writer, you want to keep your word choice open and interesting. But as a publicist, you want to remember the tone and mood you’re trying to convey at first glance, so stick to the terms that really get to the heart of your genre (or subgenre, or sub-sub . . .).

The description of the Sapphic desire/foot worship book appeals to a very targeted audience—one who is now aware that this book contains their favorite dynamics and kinks, but who is also aware that your writing style will tend to avoid blunt, fuck-book-esque terms like girl-on-girl sex and foot fetish and, instead, describe things as sensual/ecstatic/erotic. Using the right “keywords” helps you to relate to the person you most expect to pay money for your books. After all, if you have created your stories around your personal likes, you already have a connection to the ultimate buyer for what you are selling. Use that to your advantage, and seek your target consumer where you like to spend your time, using words that you like to see when looking for your own “smut”.

So How Do I Target My Audience?

You can begin to narrow your audience down by asking yourself the following questions:

Which gender(s) am I writing for?

Like it or not, almost all sex novels are marketed—and purchased—at the furthest ends of the gender spectrum: For Women. For Men. If you are presenting an idealized version of sex and romance with sentences like “he approached her jade step, pausing to gently fondle her glistening pearl”, your target audience is probably women. You may be able to sell that book to men, but your target audience is certainly women—and a very wistful, romantic kind of woman at that. Alternately, if you write books that feature rough treatment of sex partners who lack much characterization . . . “the whore gobbled my jizz like a good cum-dumpster should”, you should probably target male readers. While it’s true some women like rough sex and dirty talk, the male demographic for that type of sexual depiction is still much larger.

Whether you choose to play along with these expectations is up to you, but know the risks and do not expect that your groundbreaking, stereotype-smashing stories of gothic heroines who curse and carouse like sailors will support your writing full-time or enlighten the masses in one glorious fell swoop—if you play your cards right, however, you will find the small-but-enthusiastic segment of readers who love your work and hunger for as much of it as you can write.

It’s also worth considering who your viewpoint characters are. In a hetero story, does the male or female lead end up doing most of the speaking and thinking? In whose head do we spend the most time (though, if the answer is “no one’s”, it’s probably a marketed-to-men kind of story) and which characters are secondary and viewed from outside? Roughly speaking, books marketed to women have primarily female viewpoint characters and vice versa.

Is my writing of interest to a particular orientation, kink or lifestyle?

There are many, many ways to be sexual—and thus many, many erotic genres. From homo- and bisexuals, to swingers, to the myriad kinds of fetishists, to bikers, to bisexual swingers with a biker fetish . . . and that’s only the tip of the iceberg to consider. Think about the way your target audience spends their time, their typical philosophical or political outlooks, the words they would use in their daily life and any specific sexual activities they would practice. Think about how your stories fit within different groups and eliminate the groups that your writing tone, style and plot don’t fit well with. Once you have the exact reader profile your writing style fits best with, you’ve found your target reader.

You may have the potential to narrow down your reader to lesbians over 50 years of age, with a penchant for leather and Harleys. Good for you! That’s a very specific audience that you can appeal to in a very focused way.

What words “turn on” my target audience?

Fetishists look for words that describe what they are into: feet, shoes, stockings, smoking, masks . . . the list goes on, but it consists of very specific objects and characteristics. Men who like to read about women being dominated often look for words like humiliated, broken and whore. Gay leather men often look for words like military, rugged and stud. You get the idea. Figure out what words work to get the attention of your target buyer.

How does my target reader describe the way they have sex?

Unless your target audience is very similar to you, spend some time with the type of consumer that you are looking for, learn what words and terms they use for sexual acts. Also pay attention to how they describe themselves by sexual orientation or culture. It will give you a wealth of insider information that will not only make your books more plausible and exciting, but will help you create keywords that you can use to make your product more appealing to a particular consumer. It’s obvious to say “gay sex”, but is that the way a gay person actually describes their sex life to a “breeder”? You won’t be able to answer that unless you do your research.

Is my reader of a specific age?

Some storylines, plots and language will appeal to younger adults, some to a more mature audience. Memories of a World War II fly-boy getting laid in France may get some younger readers, but the majority will be well over 30 and most likely male, depending on what wording is used to describe the ins-and-outs of the story.

Do I have a sub-segment of consumers?

Every type of novel has a main audience, but sometimes there will be cross-over segments and you may want to do two different publicity campaigns, one for the target and one for others that will have an interest, but who but aren’t your main consumer audience. As we’ve stated, for example, gay male erotica sells with both gay men and straight women.  So consider using words that attract both audiences in press releases, book covers and book synopses. If you are selling a book titled Billy Kidd and the Long Gun of the Law, using words like rugged, dominant and fisting will more likely appeal to gay men. Using words like romantic, surrender and pursued will likely play better with females. If you do so skillfully, you can combine these terms in a way that appeal to both audiences.

Use Those Questions as a Springboard

Keep asking the above questions (and adding your own!) until you find the perfect reader for whatever genre of literature you are selling. The more details you can attribute to your target consumer, what they are looking for in a a “good read” and what will convince them your books will be better than what is already available, the better. Then you can work on making your publicity campaign much more attractive to that specific buyer.

So Why Am I Doing This Question Thing?

A targeted publicity campaign should be focused on making sure your publicity activities are taking place where the largest concentration of your target audience gathers. For your publicity to be successful in reaching your perfect reader, you have to identify their haunts and learn their habits! I’ll share some secrets on how to find those places—and how to work within them to your advantage—in my next Write-Sex publicity column. Stay tuned!

***

Do you have specific questions concerning how to generate publicity for your books? Please email questions and comments to Sherry; answers will appear as future WriteSex blog topics.

Sherry Ziegelmeyer is a professional publicist and public relations representative, who happens to specialize in adult entertainment (in all its various forms). She resides in Chatsworth, California, affectionately known as “ground zero of the adult entertainment industry.” When not working on writing press releases, arranging interviews and putting together review kits for her clients (among dozens of other career related activities), she reads a LOT, loves cooking, appreciates beefcake eye-candy, spending time with friends, family and with her assortment of furred and feathered “kids”.

Get to know Sherry at blackandbluemedia.com or www.facebook.com/sherry.ziegelmeyer.

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Apr 252014
 
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By Sherry Ziegelmeyer

Last month, we discussed media kits; as you may recall from that post, media kits are important for making that first approach to any writer or editor. When you initially begin a relationship with a new media contact, I don’t suggest that you immediately start giving them product for free. If you want to bribe them (and, in the context of getting people to write about you at all, bribery can be a good thing), then do so with something on which you’ll lose nothing, in case they hand it to some civilian, non-writer friend. And no, I don’t think “word of mouth” is worth enough to be handing over your copyrighted, produced-for-profit, material to just anyone; reserve your copyrighted product for writers who indicate a willingness to write about it (themselves, as opposed to passing it on to someone else) and hold off on sending review kits otherwise.

But once you have established that a writer is interested in giving your book a spin, it’s time to set them up with a “review kit”. Review kits can be very important for an author’s publicity campaign—good publicity is based on getting as many other people talking about you as you can. This is especially important with adult entertainment products, be they sex toys, print books, ebooks or adult videos. The consumer has no way to know exactly what the book, product or movie is about (or what it does)—and they certainly don’t know whether they’ll like it or not—until they can actually get their hands on it.

Since a lot of your books are sold online (and often there is no return or refund option for an e-book, or any book), giving an adult-media reviewer a copy—so they can offer their readers a third-party opinion and synopsis—helps you to make the potential consumer more aware of, and interested in, your product to begin with. In the mind of the consumer, the reviewer is going to have more credibility regarding the book’s worth than you are, so reviewers are an essential publicity force.

Review Kits

While a review kit is similar to a media kit, it will contain less information about you and much more about the book. A review kit must include the following, or you’re wasting your time and that of the reviewer:

A Copy of Your Book

Insert a physical sample of the book you are submitting for review. If you only sell e-books, for goodness sake, include a CD containing the book in an easy-to-open and easy-to-read format, such as a Word document or a PDF file; don’t just send them a link to some download. And I have to say, if at all possible, a printed book is much more impressive to a reviewer than only sending them a digital copy, unless you load it into a brand new Kindle or Nook.

An Art Disc

Include a CD containing all relevant artwork concerning your book. You will want to include the book’s cover art, but also include any images that you are using in your book’s overall marketing effort. Sometimes your publisher has created sales slicks or fliers, ads or other marketing tools, any of which may suit the reviewer’s taste, or fit into the layout of the review, better than the book cover does. (Be aware the media will not run ads without you paying for them, so we’re talking only about art to accompany the review itself.)

As with media kits, make sure the artwork you provide in review kits is capable of being reproduced in a print format. This means that images, logos and photos included in your art disc are all capable of being printed on paper at a minimum size of 8.5 inches by 11 inches when set at an image resolution of 300 dots per inch (DPI) or higher. You will also want to include web-resolution artwork in your art discs, so that an editor can immediately use the image on the publication’s web site. Web resolution is usually 72–78 DPI, and all images should be sized at a minimum of 600 pixels by 800 pixels.

If you have Adobe Photoshop, or your publisher has Photoshop files of your book art, include these in their original .psd format—including all photos, logos and book covers—saved as unlocked and layered. This gives the publication the ability to resize and reformat them in any way they may need to run them in print.

Please be sure to label this disc as “Art Disc for [Title of Book] by [Author name]“. You should also write a list of the disc’s contents on its label, or as an insert into its case—this way, the writer can take one look at it and know they have all the art they need to complete their review.

To be safe, write your name and your phone number and/or email address on that label as well; if it gets separated from the rest of the package, or if there are problems opening any of the files, they can contact you quickly and easily and proceed with the review of your book.

A One-Sheet

For all book review kits, you should put together a one-sheet containing all the information the reviewer needs, outlined in a convenient and easy-to-read format.

The top of the page should contain the full title of your book. If you have a second line, or “kicker”, to the book title, such as Sex Slave: One Chick’s Journey into Submission, please make sure you indicate that so the reviewer won’t mistake it for two different titles. Sometimes a book’s cover design won’t make it clear that the book contains one novel with a kicker and not, say, two novelettes (though it should—but that’s a subject for another column), and it’s never a good idea to end up with a reviewer giving their readers the wrong title of your book!

Right under the title (or left aligned with it and all the following text, if you want to be professional) embed an image of the front of the book cover. Sounds odd, but especially if you are sending digitized books, the reviewer needs to be assured what they have in their hand is definitely the book you sent them to review.

Under the photo, include the date of publication, the author name (yours and those of any co-authors), the publisher’s company name, the ISBN number, retail price and any information on where your book is available for sale.

Don’t add in direct links to the book on Barnes and Noble, Amazon and the other retail outlets unless you know for a fact that the publication has an affiliate account set up with a specific retailer. If they do have an affiliate account, make it as easy as possible for them to find your book listing and link their affiliate account to it. Money makes the entertainment world go around, darling.

Next on the One-Sheet is a synopsis of your book. Please don’t just copy this from the back of the official book jacket! Make an effort to tell your reviewer the plot of your book in easy-to-understand words. You can be dramatic and a bit flowery, but save the “heart pounding adventure on the high plains” crap for the consumer market. Less “hype” is more with the press . . . they get spun each and every day, so they don’t need more spin from you. ;)

In your synopsis, spell out the names of all the principal characters, the location of the story, its period and timeframe (2014? Two hundred years into the future? 410, BC? This matters enough to indicate to a reviewer from the getgo, and will increase your chance of a good review.)

If you have strong supporting characters, or just a lot of them, it’s wise to make a list of their full names and character synopses, so the reviewer can reference this after reading your book. You’d be surprised at how often some minor character in your book ends up getting “star treatment” from a reviewer, when you always thought your leading lady (or man) was the star attraction. So make sure you cover all your bases, and list the cast of characters so the reviewer can easily locate each one’s name and part in the story line.

Digital Copies of Everything

Always include a CD with digital files of your One-Sheet! You may be able to fit this on your Art Disc but if you can’t, include a separate disc that contains them. So many reviewers copy and paste whatever they are writing; you want to give them something to copy from quickly and easily. It won’t hurt to include a digital copy of your book, even if it is available in print. You never know when a reviewer may lose the copy you sent—and it’s better for them to have a backup than skip the review all together.

Your Business Card

A review kit should always have a printed, actual, hold-in-your-hand business card. Most reviewers will end up requesting one at some point, so include one in your review kit (and in your media kit, for that matter). Who says print is dead?

You should also include an Outlook Contact Card on your art disc, or at least a Word .doc containing all of your business contact information.

Goodies!

Seriously, did you think reviewers do this out of the kindness of their hearts? Review kits should come with “swag”! You don’t have to go overboard and include the keys to a brand new Ferrari (that’s reserved for the music industry) or stacks of non-sequential $100 bills (that’s for political lobbyists), but it never hurts to bribe a reviewer to read your book, as long as you’re subtle. Look at retail stores like Dollar Tree or Big Lots with an eye toward items that resonate with your book’s storyline and are easy to pack into a shipping container. Alternately, you can choose useful, everyday items that complement the book you are sending to your reviewer.

In the case of print books, it’s perfectly acceptable to include a beautiful bookmark (if you have some printed with your book title, send along a half dozen of those as well) or a small reading light that can attach to a book, shelf or airline seat. Just make sure that if you include a book light, you also include batteries for it, along with some spares—it’s always good to over-gift and never good to under-gift.

If you want to get more creative, go for it! If you wrote a western romance—how about sending along a bandana or a cowboy-hat-shaped keychain fob. For bondage-themed books, send along a pair of cuffs or some other toy (not a dildo!) featured in the plot. None of this grabbing you? How about a ceramic mug printed with your book title and artwork and a $10 Starbucks card or a box of upscale tea bags? Maybe you gave the reviewer an actual Kindle or Nook containing your ebook . . . think about adding a $5 or $10 dollar Amazon or B&N gift card to the package.

But please beware of sending along goodies that could backfire on you. Nothing ticks off a reviewer who is post-rehab, more than being presented with the object of their former addiction. Cigarettes, booze . . . anything that could possible offend someone should be discounted when choosing swag. That also goes for sending chocolates to someone with diabetes or muffins to someone with celiac disease. Unless, of course, you know a certain reviewer has diabetes or wheat intolerance and you send them something “free” of whatever their personal poison is—in that case, you don’t need my silly columns to be a damn good publicity agent for your books!

Looks Matter

As with the media kits, it cannot be stressed enough that the better your packaging looks, the more interest the reviewer will have in its contents. Be creative, and remember that appearances matter in all aspects of publicity.

This is a physical representation of your professional image—and that of your book—which you are presenting to the reviewer. This is not the time to reuse an Amazon packing box, or use Band-Aids as the shipping tape on a mailing carton. Unless of course your book title is Naughty Nurses, and then maybe the bandages would fit the theme—but really, it’s still better to keep them to the inside of the packaging so your media contact’s first impression of your kit isn’t “…What?!”

Bottom line . . .

Include every possible thing that a reviewer could ever need to go forward with their review of your book. If you aren’t sure what a specific publication needs, ask! And more importantly, write it down for future reference.

Your contact list should contain detailed notes on each and every publication (and each individual writer and reviewer) you are working with. This is part of that all-important relationship that a publicist (you) will build with your media contacts. This level of understanding and cooperation makes a huge difference to a reviewer as they decide whether to work with you or not. If you are willing to give them everything they ask for, and make yourself available for anything else they may request later, it will go a long way toward making them want to work with you as often as possible.

 

Do you have specific questions concerning how to generate publicity for your books? Please email questions and comments to Sherry; answers will appear as future WriteSex blog topics.

Sherry Ziegelmeyer is a professional publicist and public relations representative, who happens to specialize in adult entertainment (in all its various forms). She resides in Chatsworth, California, affectionately known as “ground zero of the adult entertainment industry.” When not working on writing press releases, arranging interviews and putting together review kits for her clients (among dozens of other career related activities), she reads a LOT, loves cooking, appreciates beefcake eye-candy, spending time with friends, family and with her assortment of furred and feathered “kids”.

Get to know Sherry at blackandbluemedia.com or www.facebook.com/sherry.ziegelmeyer.

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Mar 202014
 
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By Sherry Ziegelmeyer

Publicity does not start and end with a press release. It certainly doesn’t end with your social media feeds, either. The one thing that no one selling “social media marketing services” will tell you is that the press doesn’t go looking for Twitter feeds and Facebook pages to fill their publications with content. I can say a hell of a lot of bad things about “social media” as a marketing tool (and will in the future), but for now I’ll refrain and tell you about what does work to get press attention, namely media kits and review kits.

You send out a media kit or press kit to get the initial attention of media outlets and introduce writers to you—and whatever you may be selling. It’s a friendly way (and in the case of media kits, a proactive way) of saying Hey, I want you to get to know me and do a story on me, so your readers or viewers will get to know me too.

“Media kits” are a general term for a package put together by you to give to the media. It is a prepackaged set of materials distributed to members of the media for promotional use. Media kits should contain both printed and digitally formatted images, your biography, a fact sheet about your book or series of books, and a copy of recent press releases or some other type of document that tells the press about your most recent newsworthy accomplishments or activities.

There are two common types of media kits: the press kit and the review kit. There is a slight difference between the two, but they both have some things in common, so let’s look at each one individually. We’ll start with press kits this month and take a look at review kits in Part 2.

 

Press Kits

A press kit contains information about you and product. It should include a “sales slick” (a printed page with images of book covers, synopsis, distribution and price information) or a sales catalog of the various books you’re selling, and other items that help the media consider running a story, or arranging an interview, with you about your books.

Here’s a list of what items should be in your press kit and explanations of what they are:

A One-Page Biography Sheet

Think of this as a cover letter. You can include photos of yourself, and you should include a header or footer with your email address, phone number and mailing address. But overall, the Bio Sheet is intended to present the press printed information about you.

The bio and personal information sheet should include a full biography, touching on everything from your life story to why you originally started writing smut—and do include where your ideas for your book(s) come from. The more information you can offer about yourself, the better.

However—and this is an important caveat—don’t drivel on for three pages! Keep the content of this biography focused and in bite-size, easy to read and digest, “sound bite”-type statements. You really want to give your whole story in about four paragraphs—you’re not writing your memoirs. Don’t get sidetracked with the yellow crayon incident and how your best buddy pulled you back from the brink of destroying the world by re-telling it for you. (If you don’t get that reference, google it!—your pop-culture history knowledge is lacking. ;) )

Include a “Company Information” Sheet

This should be a separate sheet from your bio! Make sure that your Company Information Sheet includes all of your business emails, phone numbers, addresses and any other contact information the press could possibly need to get in touch with you and your publisher(s).

The Company Information Sheet is also where you can give the media your website URL, your social media feed information and information on anywhere else you “hang out” regularly online.

An “Art Disk”

A professionally packaged press kit always includes Art Disks, so the media has all the graphics they will need to complete the story or interview for publication. Art disks should have multiple, different, photos of you, your book jackets, your company logo and any other graphic elements you are using in your publicity campaign. If you are including any video or audio in that campaign, it should be included on the art disk as well.

Many people forget that all entertainment—especially adult entertainment–is a visual medium. Most websites and publications make heavy use of photos to attract and retain viewer attention.

Make sure the artwork you provide in press kits is capable of being reproduced in a print format. This means that images, logos and photos included in your art disk are all capable of being printed at a minimum size of 8.5 inches by 11 inches (the dimensions of a standard piece of printer paper) when set at an image resolution of 78 dots per inch (DPI) or higher (ideally 300 DPI). You will also want to include web resolution artwork in your art disks, so that an editor can immediately use the image on the publication’s web site. Web resolution is usually 78 DPI or less (generally 72), and should be sized at a minimum of 600 pixels by 800 pixels.

If you have Adobe Photoshop, do include the .psd files of all photos, logos and book covers with all of the original, unlocked layers you ended up using in the final image. This gives the publication the ability to resize and reformat them in any way they may need to run them in print.

Digital Copies of Everything

Always include a CD or DVD with digital files of every page you created for your press kit! You may be able to fit this on your Art Disk but if you can’t, include a separate disk that contains them. So many editors copy and paste for news stories, you want to give them something to work with quickly and easily.

***A Word about File Formats: Please make sure that all your files included in art disks and the digital copies of your other press kit pages are created and saved in standard file formats. And always try to include file formats that will work with both Mac and PC systems. So create your page copy in Word—and, especially, do your best to use a “compatible” version of Word, so if the person at XYZ magazine is still running Windows 98, they can open your file! Don’t assume that just because you’re sending the kit to a magazine, everyone at its office will have the newest software. Some writers won’t even be able to open a .docx file! Above all, never include a PDF of anything—it just frustrates your recipient.

The same goes for image files . . . While you should include images and logos that are created in Adobe Photoshop, don’t assume every reporter has Photoshop (or that their versions are up-to-date, if they do). You’ll also need to include JPG files of all the images associated with your press kit contents, so the writers can use the files no matter what software they have. And be careful about including PNG files, as lots of online publications have older software that can’t read them.

Supporting Evidence

If you feel you need to substantiate your place in the pantheon of erotic writers, you can also include photocopies of any publication’s reviews of your books, or other published news stories about you and your books.

However, it is best to err on the side of caution and include less of these types of enclosures than more of them. No editor wants to feel like they are out of the loop on a big news story other publications have already covered. There is also a natural feeling of competition between publications, which could make the editor receiving your press kit feel like you are comparing them unfavorably to a rival publication that already covered you. You want to avoid pissing off any editor you approach in all aspects of your publicity campaigns!

Making a Good Impression

Always package your press kits as if they are a gift to the person receiving them. First impressions are so important . . . you can’t afford to slack off on how the package you’re sending to an editor looks, smells and feels. While you may have a limited budget to work with, your press kit should be as beautifully packaged as you can possibly make it. This is the time to spend the $150 or so to have stiff, coated paper folders with your logo or other suitable images printed. Alternately, use one of the clear acrylic cover, sheet folder, binders that are available at all office supply stores. This makes a nice presentation for minimal cost.

Make sure you label your Art Disk not only with your name and book title(s), but also with exactly what is included in it. You should list things like “box covers”, “author photos”, “Bio in Word” and so on, so when they see the disk, they know what’s in it!

Put your Art Disk in a CD/DVD envelope. Whether it’s a “teabag” paper cover or a thin, plastic case. You may want to take a look at the local office supply store and purchase the plastic, stick-on, CD/DVD wallets to attach your Art Disk to the folder. Having everything attached together makes it more difficult for a harried reporter to lose a crucial piece of your press kit!

The outside of your package should look as good as the inside, so this is a great time to invest in specialty envelopes to enclose your materials. There are a wide variety of them available for minimal cost, everything from coated paper envelopes with full color images, suitable for sticking a mailing label directly on the front along with postage, to colored plastic envelopes that are opaque enough—and strong enough—to stand up to Postal Inspector standards. Be creative! A stunning packaging job arriving in the mail will get noticed among all the crappy flat-rate USPS envelopes.

And don’t forget—all press kit mailings must include your full name or company name, full address and a “regarding” line on the front of the envelope. Media members tend toward paranoid types, with good reason. Tell them on the envelope who you are, where this package came from, and write “[Author Name/Book Name] Press Kit with Art Disk Enclosed” on it. You’ll be much happier with the response your press kit gets if you don’t have Homeland Security knocking on your door because a reporter thought you sent Anthrax to their office and wants you investigated.

 

In the April WriteSex publicity column, we’ll focus on Review Kits, because while they are similar to press kits, there are some differences in the content you will need to include.

 

Do you have specific questions concerning how to generate publicity for your books? Please email questions and comments to Sherry; answers will appear as future WriteSex blog topics.

Sherry Ziegelmeyer is a professional publicist and public relations representative, who happens to specialize in adult entertainment (in all its various forms). She resides in Chatsworth, California, affectionately known as “ground zero of the adult entertainment industry.” When not working on writing press releases, arranging interviews and putting together review kits for her clients (among dozens of other career related activities), she reads a LOT, loves cooking, appreciates beefcake eye-candy, spending time with friends, family and with her assortment of furred and feathered “kids”.

Get to know Sherry at blackandbluemedia.com or www.facebook.com/sherry.ziegelmeyer.

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Feb 102014
 
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By Sherry Ziegelmeyer

Now that 2014 is well underway, you’re probably starting to get antsy about what kind of publicity you can generate to increase awareness of your books this year. As I said in my last Write-Sex.com column, used properly, press releases are a viable tool to generate public interest in your books—and in you, as an author.

The unwritten catch in that above paragraph is that first your press release must make it through the vetting process of an editor. …If you’re thinking of the benevolent and helpful copy editor who goes over your manuscripts before they’re published—you’d be wrong. News editors are only interested in a press release that catches their attention, tells them all they need to know within the first paragraph of the text and has enough “meat” to make the story newsworthy, or at least to make their readers stay on the page long enough to see their own advertisers’ sales pitches.

So how do you go about writing a press release that will evoke a positive reaction in an editor? One strong enough to convince them to do something with your press release, beyond deleting it? The following example will probably help you—let’s “deconstruct” a press release!

Since I happen to have a press release that the wonderful M. Christian put together for Sizzler Editions’ website launch a while back, let’s use that as the example…

Formatting for Professionalism

You will need to let the media know when your news is applicable, and that is handled by the release dateline notice (part one—there are actually two parts to the dateline, but we’ll fill in the second part once we get to the body copy), formatted as:

For Immediate Release: [Insert the actual date you are sending out your press release.]

Now you will need to let the media know whom to contact for more information concerning your news, so add this line:

Contact: [Insert your name and direct phone number or email, or those of another designated contact person.]

Within the body of a press release, there will be a couple of additional formatting rules you should keep in mind; however, it would be too confusing to jump ahead, so for now please focus on these two—they are the most important. Editors are a finicky bunch and they have been known to automatically delete press releases that do not follow standard formatting rules at the beginning of the copy they are presented.

Giving Good “Headline”

Now we can start building the actual press release.  We need a headline, which is a title that describes the information contained in your press release. A headline should be brief, yet it also should make the reader (the all-important editor!) interested in what you have to say in the press release that follows that headline.

Sizzler Editions Launches Exciting, New, Erotic eBook Site

Please notice that this headline uses proper grammatical form, and avoids the crime of “shouting” that would be committed if the entire headline were capitalized instead of in Title Case. It also has no exclamation points or other punctuation. All of those effects detract from a good headline, and annoy most editors.

However, what should be capitalized in title case is capitalized. This headline also fits on one line, which is important for most publications—and yet, it still tells you who the company is, and what the company does, so readers will have an idea of the information included in the press release.

Lead Paragraphs

Your lead paragraph should contain at least three of the necessary pieces of information essential for an editor to determine if your submission is worthy of their further attention.  These questions are termed by many editors as “The 5 W’s and the H”, which stand for Who, What, When, Where, Why and How?

Leading off the first paragraph of your press release, you’ll want to include the second part of the “dateline” that tells the editor where the news was generated. Sometimes it’s very important for an editor to know if your press release has a local news angle, and sometimes it doesn’t matter—but in either case you will look more professional and interesting to an editor when the location of your news is appreciable at a glance.

(San Francisco, California) Sizzler Editions, the premier publisher of erotic eBooks since 1998, announces a new site for erotic literature junkies to access their catalog of 1500 titles, sizzlereditions.com. [http://sizzlereditions.com]

The lead paragraph of this press release answers three of those journalistic test questions which determine whether a story is actually newsworthy: “Who” (Sizzler Editions), “What” (A publisher of erotic eBooks) and “Why” (they launched a new website with a catalog.)

This type of lead paragraph also gives the editor an idea of what the lead of their own story should focus on, should they choose to rewrite the press release for their publication. Remember this rule and you will make friends with many people in the press. Forget this rule and you will leave people wondering about your level of professionalism.

Guess what? The hard part is done! Now, let’s give our press more information to back up and expand on what we have already said in our lead paragraph. Let’s move to the rest of the body copy:

Built on a new, more flexible, platform with additional layers of subcategories, the new Sizzler Editions site features the ability to see related books by theme and series. Next to each book cover, readers will see convenient tabs featuring the book’s description, direct purchase links and other information. The updated site also incorporates video trailers for featured Sizzler Edition titles, and expanded Author Bio pages.

While the second paragraph is enough to fully cover all the “5 W’s and an H”, you still want to wrap up this story with some more supporting information, and make it more interesting. You can do that with quotations. Breaking up blocks of informational text with quotes also helps keep your press release from reading like an advertisement.

Of the new site, Publisher Jean Marie Stine says, “Perhaps the biggest change is the fact that we no longer host and sell books ourselves. Readers will instead find a link, which takes them directly to a book’s page on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and other such sites. At the redesigned Sizzler Editions site, readers can not only easily find the book they like, but they can buy it from their preferred vendor in a new tab—and have it downloaded instantly into their ebook reading device— without ever leaving the Sizzler Editions site.  It’s a win-win for both readers and for us!”

Stine reveals that the site is continuing to add improvements above and beyond the update unveiled April 2, 2013. “The new site is still very much a work in progress. We will add audio interviews with our authors, include even more features to enhance the visitor’s search experience and more titles from new erotic authors are always being added to our catalog!”

Debut releases at the new site include bestselling bondage author Powerone’s new Cold War spy shocker, Slave of the Kremlin, two novellas of paranormal romance by Sarah Bella, author of Bound by Blood, and a first-ever collection of Herotica editor Marcy Sheiner’s stories, Love & Other Illusions. Also scheduled for release in the coming weeks are Love’s Storm by Margie Church and K. B. Cutter, the second installment of their controversial trilogy about polyamory, plus a new collection of erotic science fiction stories, Skin Effect, by M.Christian. Coming soon to Sizzler Editions are the first of three books by sexologist Amy Marsh reporting back on Love’s Outer Limits, and new books by Terri Pray, David Jewell and other bestselling authors.

You’ll notice that the quoted bits of the sample press release are all flush left aligned and use block paragraphs with a single return between them. That’s the proper way to present a press release to an editor.

Calls to Action

Every press release should include a Call to Action at the end of the body copy. Remember though, a press release cannot read like an ad! So always keep your calls to action vague, such as “Bookmark sizzlereditions.com now…”, which is used in the last paragraph of this press release, as you will see next:

Bookmark sizzlereditions.com now, and start exploring the new features rolled out in the first phase of the update, and be sure to come back for the official grand reopening on May 1st, when there will be free eBooks, special prizes and other delights.

Wrapping Up

Let’s sign this thing off with the all-important sign that your story is now finished and let your editors get back to their deadlines, shall we? To give the press the signal that you are finished, use this traditional copy writing convention:

-30-

Please don’t bother yourself with what “-30-” means or where the convention came from; most reporters today are also clueless of its original origins, however they all know it when they see it.

If you still don’t think that you have included enough information for the press to consider your press release newsworthy, let’s add the optional “boilerplate” copy, in its required format (again, both paragraphs should be flush left aligned):

About Sizzler Editions:

Sizzler Editions is one of the leading ebook publishers of erotica on the internet. Sizzler issued their first ebooks in 1998, and since that time have published over 1500 titles. Sizzler Editions prides itself on presenting the finest in erotica for every sexual interest and orientation.

You never thought we’d finish that did you? Well, that’s the entire press release, with all of the formatting in place and enough information to convey to an editor that the news it contains will be of interest to their readers.

The truth is, anyone can write a press release. The problem is that very few people know how to write a good one; let alone one that news editors will find professional and credible. There are many other details (and potential pitfalls) that you should be aware of when writing press releases, from the adverse reaction editors have to “bullet points” in them, to the use of “hype”, to the appropriate length and number of topics that should be included in any single press release, to headlines, “burying leads” and much more.  If you’d like to learn more about these and other common “editor’s grievances”, with examples and explanations gathered directly from news editors, please visit The Press Wire Writing Tips page.

 

Do you have specific questions concerning how to generate publicity for your books? Please email questions and comments to Sherry; answers will appear as future WriteSex blog topics.

Sherry Ziegelmeyer is a professional publicist and public relations representative, who happens to specialize in adult entertainment (in all its various forms). She resides in Chatsworth, California, affectionately known as “ground zero of the adult entertainment industry.” When not working on writing press releases, arranging interviews and putting together review kits for her clients (among dozens of other career related activities), she reads a LOT, loves cooking, appreciates beefcake eye-candy, spending time with friends, family and with her assortment of furred and feathered “kids”.

Get to know Sherry at blackandbluemedia.com or www.facebook.com/sherry.ziegelmeyer.

 

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Dec 302013
 
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By Sherry Ziegelmeyer

The first thing most authors decide to do to generate publicity for their work is to send out a press release. However, there can be some confusion about what a press release really is, so here’s the official definition:

A press release is a prepackaged news tip distributed to the media. It is a complete news story, written by an anonymous “third party”.

Because your press release is a self-written news story, serious journalists will regard the accuracy of its information as suspect. This is especially true of mainstream media. While mainstream editors and show producers may read press releases, they won’t run a press release in its entirety—and most mainstream publications don’t run press releases at all. If an editor or producer decides your story is worth a follow-up, they will use the contact information you included in your e-mailed press release to arrange an interview with you, or a review of your book.

While, for the most part, the adult entertainment press takes the same view of press releases as their mainstream counterparts, it’s definitely worth sending a well-written press release (with supporting graphics) to most adult media outlets. Porn news sites tend to run press releases you submit “as-is”; this means the editor does not re-write much (if anything) of what’s already written in your press release. Many adult news outlets will run it just as you wrote it, on some part of their web site, just to have fresh content for their site’s readers on a daily basis.

Because all journalists understand what a press release truly is—a subtle sales tool masquerading as a news story—consider your press releases less as a media manipulation tool and more as a technical tool that can help increase visitor traffic to your own commercial websites, even if they don’t directly help you sell your books and whatever else you’re offering.

That said, one thing that can be very confusing when you first start doing your own publicity is knowing when it’s appropriate to issue a press release and when it is not.

When to Issue a Press Release

You should consider issuing a press release when the following news takes place:

You have written a new book and you have the official release date.

You sign with a new publishing company.

You have a scheduled appearance—be it a book signing, a seminar/class or an audience participation interview (every time you are interviewed, however, is not newsworthy on a press-release scale to anyone but you, so share your interviews on your own site and social media feeds, but not with press releases).

You have some very special life event occurring, such as a legal action or a serious illness.

You introduce a new author website.

You win an award.

You form, or become involved in working with, a charity or do some noteworthy work for a cause.

You have something notable take place that could be considered controversial or of broad public interest (your book being called obscene by Christianity Today, or your series being optioned into a movie script, are good examples).

However, even the above circumstances sometimes do not necessitate issuing a formal press release. The next thing you need to consider is whether what you have to say is actually newsworthy.

If you read entertainment news sites (adult or mainstream), you may think that every time a celebrity farts, there’s a publicist issuing a press release about it. Unfortunately, that is true of many publicists—and it’s something you should avoid in your own publicity activities.

While the idea behind publicity is to keep your name in front of the public—which you use the media to reach—there is a saturation factor that takes place when you overuse press releases. If you are sending a press release out on yourself and your books every week, you are abusing the press release system. After a very short time, reporters will direct all your e-mails to their spam folder. Press releases should only be distributed when you have actual news to convey to the media.

Is What I Have to Say “Newsworthy”?

Take a look at any press release you are planning to send to the media and ask yourself the following questions:

Does my press release actually say anything of merit that isn’t just grandstanding, chest thumping and making vague claims to prominence, excellence or exclusivity?

Do I have at least one verifiable and credible outside source that I can quote, to substantiate what I’m claiming?

Does my press release have a broad, general interest to the target audience of the publication I’m sending it to AND a strong news angle?

Does my press release inform the average reader of something new about my books or me?

Does my press release avoid sounding like an advertisement?

Does my press release answer all the required questions that constitute a hard news story: Who, What, When, Where, Why,  and How?

If you cannot answer all of the above questions with a resounding “yes,” then there is no reason to send out a formal press release. Post your news on your social media feeds, and wait until you have information that is more credible and newsworthy, before alerting the media.

Since the art of how to write an effective press release is rather detailed, let’s pick that up in the next WriteSex column. In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday season and a bright and shiny New Year!

 

Do you have specific questions concerning how to generate publicity for your books? Please email questions and comments to Sherry; answers will appear as future WriteSex blog topics.

Sherry Ziegelmeyer is a professional publicist and public relations representative, who happens to specialize in adult entertainment (in all its various forms). She resides in Chatsworth, California, affectionately known as “ground zero of the adult entertainment industry.” When not working on writing press releases, arranging interviews and putting together review kits for her clients (among dozens of other career related activities), she reads a LOT, loves cooking, appreciates beefcake eye-candy, spending time with friends, family and with her assortment of furred and feathered “kids”.

Get to know Sherry at blackandbluemedia.com or www.facebook.com/sherry.ziegelmeyer.

 

 

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Nov 282013
 
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By Sherry Ziegelmeyer

There’s an adage in Hollywood circles that is very relevant to your own publicity efforts: “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.” This is never more true than when you’re trying to grow an audience for your books. Without media support, all of your publicity and marketing attempts will fall flat.

Start with a media contact list. With this, you can target specific writers, editors and bloggers with whom you can form good working relationships. Once formed, those relationships—and, of course, your own pitch—may convince them to introduce you and your books to their existing audience.

The best way to put together your media contact list is to go online and start searching for websites that specifically run news and reviews related to novelists working in sex-themed and erotic literature, as well as other adult entertainment news outlets.

Read everything on the sites you find. These sites will give you a feel for what type of content they focus on, what they’re looking for from other writers—and whether your book will arouse their interest, or just go into their trash bin.

Once you have targeted a few news outlets, your next step is to get contact information for a real person at that website or publication. Some sites will have a form for submitting news. Some will have a list of editors and writers, including their company email or a phone number. And sometimes you can’t find any contact information on a site at all!

While you’re looking through these sites and publications, be sure to note individual writers who work for them. Once you have a list of the actual content writers, do a bit of research on each one. Read what they’ve written recently for that particular publication. Learn a little more about them from their company profiles, or look up their bios on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media.

This research will quite likely pay off. You’ll find out what a particular writer is interested in covering—and that can make or break your initial contact with them. The more closely their interests align with your work, the better received you’re likely to be—and the more they’ll ultimately value you as a news source in the future.

It never hurts to appeal to a reporter with a sincere compliment on what they have done, or how their views on a particular lifestyle topic match yours. Just remember that sincerity is crucial; anyone working in a media-related field can smell false flattery a mile away. Trying to deceive someone on how much you know about them—or agree with them—can turn them off to getting to know more about you.

Now that you have a few names and email addresses, possibly phone numbers (or—heaven forbid—a fax number) from your research, put together an introduction letter that tells these media members who you are, what you write about and how to contact you. There are a few rules that apply here, so pay attention!

Be polite.

Be professional.

Use their full name and title (if they have one at the publication).

Keep it brief.

And above all, don’t try to do a hard sell on why you are the bestest and onliest erotic novelist out there. People in media have heard (and read) it all before and are, on the whole, not easy to impress.

Your next step is to make initial contact with the targeted writers on your list. For this, you’ll need to set aside some time to create a personalized, introduction-style cover letter, for each writer you plan on contacting. You can template parts of this, as long as you are aware each letter will have to change to suit its targeted individual.

The best form of initial contact is along the lines of:

Hi Writer’s Name,

Your article on the backlash from the “50 Shades of Gray” phenomenon, and how it affects new erotic authors, was very enlightening. I wanted to thank you for the information on why sales have stalled for “mommy porn”, while growing for the male, college aged, demographic of readers. You perfectly illustrated why the shift in focus has moved away from feminist-friendly, yet kinky, erotica and why fresh voices are necessary in adult novels.

My name is . . . and I am an author of erotic books. I wanted to know if I could send you news on my new book releases. If that would be alright, please confirm the correct email address to use for news submissions, so I can add you to my contact list.

Thank you so much!

—You

Your phone, email, website, Instant Message program of choice and handle, et cetera

Obviously, you will substitute the vague references in the sample letter above with the writer’s name and your specific compliment or point of reference to them, your own name and information about your specific writing genre. Always include all of your contact information with the email signature. You want to make it as easy as possible for media people to get in touch with you.

If you only have a phone number as a media contact point, then you can use the above strategy with a few considerations due to the change in format.

Before trying to contact anyone by phone, rehearse what you want to say in advance. If at all possible, practice with a voice recorder so you can hear exactly what you sound like to another person. This gives you a chance to keep your focus on what you want to convey when you call a potential media contact and keeps you from getting sidetracked. It also helps you to edit down your message to 60 seconds or less, without speaking so fast that no one can understand you, in the case you need to leave a voice message for a reporter.

If you are forced to leave a message (highly likely), speak slowly, clearly and repeat your phone number and email at least twice during the message. No matter how easy you assume your email address is to spell and remember, spell it out completely if you are giving it to someone verbally.

If they answer in person (rare, but it does happen), remember to keep the call brief, polite, professional, stay on point with your rehearsed message and most important of all: Listen to what the person you call has to say, rather than focusing completely on what you want to say.

No matter how you initially contact a media member, don’t expect them to drop everything and respond to you immediately. They’re busy people and don’t have time to reply to every email or phone call they receive—immediately or, sometimes, at all. Give them at least a few days to get back to you.

If for some reason the writer you contacted doesn’t want to be added to your media contact list, thank them sincerely for their time and move on. If you don’t hear back from them after a week, go back to your research and contact another person at that same outlet, using the same tone of message. Since many writers are freelance, the person you found contact information for yesterday may not be at that publication today.

Above all, don’t give up. Your media contact list is an ever growing and changing organism. You may start out with only two or three writers that respond positively to your introduction letter. In many ways, it’s much better to start with a small number of media contacts. Focusing on a few individual writers gives you a chance to develop strong professional relationships with each of them. Once you start to develop working relationships with individual members of the media, that’s when you will begin to understand the nature and value of media contacts: It is all about who knows you, not just who you know.

 

Do you have specific questions concerning how to generate publicity for your books? Please email questions and comments to Sherry; answers will appear as future WriteSex blog topics.

Sherry Ziegelmeyer is a professional publicist and public relations representative, who happens to specialize in adult entertainment (in all its various forms). She resides in Chatsworth, California, affectionately known as “ground zero of the adult entertainment industry.” When not working on writing press releases, arranging interviews and putting together review kits for her clients (among dozens of other career related activities), she reads a LOT, loves cooking, appreciates beefcake eye-candy, spending time with friends, family and with her assortment of furred and feathered “kids”. Get to know Sherry at blackandbluemedia.com or www.facebook.com/sherry.ziegelmeyer.

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Nov 012013
 
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By Sherry Ziegelmeyer

You may not have thought of it this way, but successful publicity for an erotic author starts with a website. Your website acts as the hub of all your marketing efforts. It’s where you have the greatest number of options to showcase your personality and your product, give your readers news and information and communicate with both dedicated readers and those who are just discovering your work.

Without a website, where are you going to send the consumer who is looking for a place to buy your books—Amazon or BN.com? While it may make sense to go that route, it’s not the most efficient way to get people to buy your books. Once a potential buyer is on a site like Amazon, they get distracted by the multitude of other options for spending their money. Your own website is where you have the best chance to intrigue a potential buyer into focusing directly on your book and convincing them to get out their credit card in preparation to purchase it.

Creating a personal website becomes even more important when you begin to expand your publicity and marketing efforts, because every press release you submit to the media, every appearance you make getting the word out on your books, every social media post you compose—they all need a link to more information focused on YOU.

Having your own website gives you a concise, easy-to-remember link to use in press releases and ads. There isn’t an editor in this world that will include an active link to “http://amazon.com/search+1990867/erotic-authorxyz/return=htm_book.html” with your press release. It looks just as bad on an ad as it does here on the WriteSex blog. It’s much better to use something like “IAmAnEroticAuthor.com” to direct would-be readers to a central location for your book synopses, bio and social media feeds, and—of course—a place to buy your books, be it directly from the site or via links to Amazon, BN and other storefronts.

Websites don’t have to be expensive to create and maintain. You can find very budget-friendly hosting in which to create your site and use free web building tools for design and content management. If money is a serious issue that prevents you from owning your own website (we all have money issues, so you aren’t alone), a free blog site (WordPress, Blogger and many others are out there) is an excellent and oft-used alternative.

Regardless of what form of hosting you decide on, you will want to purchase a good domain name—one that reflects who you are and what you do. Using your own name is fine; as an author, your pen name is your brand and you should claim that as your domain name before someone else does! However, you may also want to consider purchasing multiple domain names that go along with your books’ themes or the names of your series. You may find that something like “TwistedTales.com” is perfect to get your website ranked high on search engines and attract three times as many potential buyers as you might with your own name.

As you’re reading this, a web designer friend is trying to convince an author that a one-page website with no author bio or information other than his book’s title and synopsis is a money-wasting, bad idea. And I agree with her. You don’t have to create an enormous, comprehensive site, but you do need to include certain essential pages and elements in order to give your books the best chance to be seen, purchased and read. An inviting and serviceable author website will include the following:

The first web page: an introduction to you and your books.

The first thing your site’s visitors should see is copy that makes them want to stick around for a while and explore. It can be a famous quote, a couple of lines from your own book or a “welcome message” like Enter a world where your every fantasy is explored… . Whatever you choose, make sure it’s interesting and fits the tone and theme of your writing.

Also include a cover from your latest book on this page (directly linked to where visitors can buy it) with a synopsis and a release date. If the release date is “available now”, say so! You can also add glowing reviews of your books on this page, but keep those to two or three short reviewer quotes, not three-paragraph opuses.

Bonus points if you have a sample chapter and/or a video trailer for your book to go along with the synopsis and cover! The more interesting the presentation, the longer a consumer stays on your site. The longer someone stays on your site, the more likely they are to pull out the wallet and buy your book.

The second web page: your bio.

People want to know about you! You may not think it’s important for your readers to get to know you—but at this point in human history, the “Cult of Personality” is what sells product. Your books are your product, and creating a personal connection between yourself and your readers is as important as writing a great novel.

Don’t skimp on photos of yourself and personal information in your bio. For one thing, the internet is a visual medium and the average website visitor will expect to see images on your website. If you don’t have interesting images, it’s going to be hard to keep the viewer interested in staying on the page. Photo slideshows are always a compelling way to present visual content, and many of them are available as plugins for your site, so you don’t have to learn fancy coding to create them. Just make sure that you have a few “candid” photos along with your official portrait. In some cases, those candid photos don’t even have to include you—a photo of your writing area, your hotel rooms during a signing tour or a landscape view captured from your window will also work—visitors are just as interested in your life and world as an author as they are in your face or sartorial style.

Your second web page should also include some contact information about you, such as your email address or social media link—and, if you’re working with a publisher or several, don’t forget to include their name(s)!

The third web page: detailed contact information.

Please name this page/tab “Contact Info” or “Contact [Your Name]“, or just plain “Contact”, because otherwise you end up confusing people. If you stick contact information on a page labeled “News” or some other obscure title, readers won’t find it easily.

Include as much contact information as you are comfortable with sharing with the public. That means using a real email address (you can direct-link it to open an email client, if you don’t want to disclose the address online for some reason), include a P.O. Box or some other mailing address, list all your social media links and—again—if you’re working with a publisher, definitely include their full contact information.

You can fancy up the third page with more review quotes, linked to the publication that wrote the review, or information specific to media that might want to contact you. This is an excellent place to add contact information for any publicist or marketing manager working with you, or information on how a reporter can get a copy of your book for review.

The fourth page: some type of “blog”.

If you chose to use a content management system (CMS) to build your website (such as Word Press or Joomla, Blogger’s user interface), designate the fourth page as the link to your blog. If you choose to build your site from scratch with pure HTML, then you will need to create this page in such a way that it’s easy to update on a regular basis.

Placing a blog on your site is the perfect way to present your book, tour and personal news, as well as updating your readers on what is going on with YOU! Again, readers are interested in more than just the books you wrote; they want to make a “connection” with you, even if it’s just reading your blog and vicariously following your adventures.

One important note: All blog posts should have a descriptive title or “headline”, so readers know what each post topic is. Avoid titles such as “So, what do you think?” Some people think those kinds of titles will ensure readers, but they usually have the opposite effect because they’re too vague. By contrast, specific, to-the-point titles like “I Just Got an Amazing Review!”, or “All My Books Are $10 – Today Only!” will draw in your readers and pique their curiosity.

An easy-to-use site map or page listing: a MUST!

Regardless of whether you choose a CMS or an HTML-coded website, you should have a sidebar and page tabs or header links, which give the visitor one-click access to each individual page of your site, from each individual page of your site, so it’s impossible for them to get lost or confused. Include links to your social media accounts in that sidebar as well. If you can, add an RSS feed subscription button for your blog in the sidebar, as well as links directly to your newest posts.

You can also use the sidebar area to showcase your upcoming book releases, appearances that you are scheduled to make and direct links to buy your existing books. Just go easy on repeated mentions of books that are already on sale and that you’ve already showcased on your first page—nothing annoys a site visitor more than a “hard sell”. Definite and specific “calls to action” to purchase your books are a beautiful thing; hammering them with buy, Buy, BUY! is another entirely.

 

Sherry Ziegelmeyer is a professional publicist and public relations representative, who specializes in adult entertainment (in all its various forms). She resides in Chatsworth, California, affectionately known as “ground zero of the adult entertainment industry.” When not working on writing press releases, arranging interviews and putting together review kits for her clients (among dozens of other career related activities), she reads a LOT, loves cooking, appreciates beefcake eye-candy, and spends time with friends, family and her assortment of furred and feathered “kids”.

Get to know Sherry at blackandbluemedia.com or https://www.facebook.com/sherry.ziegelmeyer

Do you have specific questions concerning how to generate publicity for your books? Please email questions and comments to Sherry; answers will appear as future WriteSex blog topics.

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