Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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July 9, 2018

A Simple Method to Market Your Book

Penny Sansevieri

Have you ever wanted to engage with popular blogs and people in the book biz? Following publishing experts and influencers on social media is not enough—you need to be proactive by standing out. Book promotion and marketing utilizes many tools, but there is one simple and efficient thing you can do that will help you connect.

Have you ever posted a comment on a blog? Maybe a topic you wanted to chime in on, or posting a thank you to a blogger for covering a story you were interested in? What if you attempted to do this professionally, with blogs and people you really admire and want to connect with? Did you know this can also help you rank higher in search results, too?

Author Marketing Experts have been using blog commenting for years as a book marketing tool to help promote our authors, and while the structure of the blogging campaigns has changed over the years (as has Google), the idea has remained the same.

What is Blog Commenting?

The concept of blog commenting is nothing new, but using it for virtual networking is a solid strategy that a lot of authors don’t initiate enough. As a book marketing tool, it’s an effective way to connect to people of influence.

Blog commenting, however, should not be confused with a blog tour, of which there are a variety of iterations. This isn’t an opportunity for you to place content on another blog, but rather to comment on an existing post. When it comes to sound book promotion, a blog tour can be good, but blog commenting, from my viewpoint, offers a better advantage.

Why Commenting is Important for Book Marketing

People love to receive comments on their blog posts. I know I sure do, but oddly enough so few people take the time to network that way. So, commenting, in and of itself, is a great way to build on a relationship and get to know a blogger—and to get the blogger to know you. By connecting with a blogger over a period of time and offering insight on their posts, it helps to bring you to the forefront of the blogger’s mind, when and if you should pitch them for your book. For many, book marketing is an uphill battle, and much of this is because authors lack the interactions they need to gain more exposure for this book. Blog commenting is an excellent way to fix that and boost your book promotion efforts.

Is there Any SEO Value?

SEO means “search engine optimization.” Years ago, when blog commenting first became a “thing,” many SEO experts were using it to attract incoming links to their page. Why links? They can aid in your Google ranking. Incoming links from high traffic websites can help boost your overall website visibility and thereby, help you get found for your keywords. So, SEO is definitely a consideration, but moreover, the comments help to foster your relationship with the blogger.

For those of you who want to geek out about SEO, here’s a basic overview of links (in case you want to check which links are coming to your website).

Backlinks are valuable to have, moreover backlinks from high-quality websites with lots of traffic. This is one of the main factors by which Google measures Domain Authority. Formerly, Google referred to this as Page Rank which was, as the name implies, the rank of various pages on your website. Google no longer uses this metric and instead uses a series of benchmarks to determine your domain rank.

Domain rank varies by industry. For example, our domain rank is 48, which is on the high end for our industry. You can check your own domain rank by visiting: https://www.semrush.com which will also show you how many incoming links you have!

Figuring Out Your Goals: Which Blogs to Comment on and Why

It’s maybe tempting to go after big names and big news sites like CNN, FOX, or MSNBC. While those are all potentially useful sources, I’d encourage you to get a clear focus of your blog commenting and book promotion goals. What do you want to accomplish?

While it’s tempting to do this work just to get links into your site, it’s not the full picture. At the beginning of this post, I talked about virtual networking, and that’s where your book promotion focus should remain. So, who do you want to network with?

Maybe you have a list of blogs you’d like to get featured on. Perhaps the blogger reviews similar books to yours or does author features, and you think you’d be a perfect candidate for that website. They may also accept guest post requests. If you didn’t receive a response to a pitch you’ve emailed, this could be an opportunity to elevate your status. (Want to work with a blogger on book reviews? Check out this recent article I wrote.)

Not all blogs do reviews, but some could be a worthwhile place to be interviewed. There’s another opportunity to get to know the blogger, and that’s by posting thoughtful comments.

How to Find Great Blogs in Your Industry

You probably already know whom you’d want to network with, but if you don’t, then you’ll need to get on Google to do some quick searches on your topic. You can use the same site I recommended previously to find other sites that are linked to yours. I’d recommend watching these sites for a while (maybe a week or more) to get a sense of the content they post, how often, etc.

Make a list of 10-15 blogs you want to follow, but don’t feel like you need to comment on each of these sites every week. A good pace is generally five comments a week on five different websites.

Writing Thoughtful Comments

You need to post something of substance and be thorough in your commenting, more than just a standard congratulatory message like “Great post!” Give your comments more thought, offer your own perspective, maybe even (gently) mention something related that you address in your book. Don’t push your book too hard, though mentioning it is acceptable as long as you don’t do it every single time you write a comment.

Your Website: To Link or Not to Link

Within your blog post, you can certainly link to your website via the login most sites have. For example, when you post on our site, the commenting system will ask for your name and website. Most commenting systems offer this, but always list the website as “optional.” This should never be an option. Always list your website when you’re signing into the comment portal.

But we talked about linking earlier and getting incoming links to your website. It’s sometimes prudent to list your website URL within the comment itself, but I’d only suggest doing this if it’s appropriate to your comment. So, if you reference a blog where you wrote about a similar topic, it’s okay to mention that in the post and link to it as well. You should do this sparingly, and I’d recommend dropping the “www” from your URL, because a lot of blogs now have no-follow rules, meaning they won’t approve comments with full URLs linked in them.

Blogging on Your Own Website

We all know that blogging is an excellent book marketing tool, but in reality, it’s much more than that. In order to network with others in the blogging community, you need to also be a blogger—even if you’re only blogging once a week, which is enough to develop a presence online. However, if you’re trying to build more traffic to your website, I’d recommend blogging twice weekly if you can. It’s a solid book promotion strategy.

Following up on Social Media

The next step should be following these bloggers on social media. In most cases, they’ll be on Twitter, which makes it pretty easy. (Here’s a recent post I wrote about connecting with influencers on Twitter.) Wherever they are, I’d suggest following at least one of their social links. If you’re a frequent Facebook user, you may decide to follow them there as well. The point is that you want to follow and also share or comment on things they post on social media too. Networking on blogs via blog comments is a great idea. but following this up with a social platform or two can really be helpful to your book promotion efforts. Not sure which social platform is best for you? Take our new quiz!

Just from personal experience, I can tell you that there is a lot of merit to this. I have “followers” on our blog and social platforms who are always engaging with our content. I don’t know them, per se, but I “know” them virtually—and their emails always go to the top of the pile when they write.

While in-person meetings with people in your industry is a fantastic way to connect and gain additional exposure for your book, blog commenting can be a successful tool when used effectively. Along with social networking interactions, these combined efforts will create a heightened awareness for you and your book. 

Do you comment on sites, or do you lurk? What other questions do you have for Penny?

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Author Marketing - Penny Sansevieri photoPenny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert and an Adjunct Professor with NYU. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. She is the author of fourteen books, including How to Sell Books by the Truckload. AME is the first marketing and publicity firm to use Internet promotion to its full impact through online promotion and their signature program called: The Virtual Author Tour™

To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at http://www.amarketingexpert.com or subscribe to her free newsletter.

Copyright @2018 Penny C. Sansevieri

30 comments on “A Simple Method to Market Your Book”

  1. Thank you for this article. While I've commented on blogs before, I didn't realize how valuable it was to getting my name (and my books) out to others.

  2. What about the reverse? What's the best way to get people to leave comments? I have "call to action" questions, and also click to tweet, but I'm not seeing the results I'd like.

    1. Terry, I try to leave an open ended question at the bottom of the post. So like: "Have you done something similar? If so I'd love to know how this went for you!" that kind of thing!

  3. WOW! So much wisdom and helpful information in 1500+/- words! Promotion is the bane of my existence and social media and I have a love/hate relationship. Thank you for explaining the important concepts in a succinct, easy to understand manner. This article has given me the info for how to focus my social media efforts instead of using my usual scattergun approach. Why I didn't figure this out for myself shows how little I really understand about the rules of social media. You've brought a little sunshine into a dreary, rainy south Texas day.

  4. Penny, you make social media connections--which I sometimes find daunting--seem so easy and sensible. Thank you for such an informative post. I have slowly been taking steps to be more visible online, and to my surprise, the more I do it, the more fun it is. I have made some really good friends by commenting on blog posts by other writers, especially--I have even met a number of these writers and hosted them when they've had author events in my area. Commenting on posts is a great way to not only promote your own books, but to help otehr writers as you learn about every aspect of writing and publishing--and make friends in the process. I love your encouragement here.

  5. Great post, Penny (as always - go Belgium, btw!) I think it might be important to also mention NOT to promote your books in said comments (unless the post calls for that). I believe its great to comment, but I've seen people do BSP which becomes more like spam instead of a genuine response.

    1. Karla hi there - yes VERY good point you made. And GO BELGIUM! (I'm watching the game and responding to comments 🙂

  6. Thank you for your post. I always like to leave comments on blogs because it's a courtesy, a "thank you" because posts take time to construct. And your advice was very helpful. It made me see I've been too shy when commenting, because I always comment under some made up name LOL. This is the only blog where I comment as Magge because it leaves me no choice haha. Now I understand how important it is to leave my author name and web site, and I will begin doing so as of today.

  7. Thank you. There is so much great advice packed into this short post.
    Marketing is the bane of my life. Like a lot of authors, I prefer to work away at my desk and forget about the world. But I realise that is not a helpful strategy in terms of getting my name and work out there.

  8. I know that I can be tracked with my user names, so I do try to be careful what I post. I post under my real name and not my author name, so it won't help that way.

    I have built relationships with bloggers and have a "network" of people I can turn to as a result. It worked with my first book--I had people I was able to turn to for some features which were not part of the blog tour.

    In fact, I've had three bestselling author friends offering to help me with my current MS. One is mentoring me, another has offered to beta read, and the other has offered to help me when I'm ready to pitch.

    What's so nice about my circle is they offered the hand up--that means so much more. They believe in me.


  9. Great tips, Penny, and I'm glad to know that I'm doing at least something right in building an online presence and improving my SEO! I comment fairly regularly on a small number of sites, but I will follow your advice to expand my network.

    1. Penny, your post shows that it truly "takes a village." The days of authors "just" writing books is long gone.

  10. This a great article, Penny. I’ve had better results driving traffic to my website writing guest posts than nearly any other activity I’ve tried. AdWords works well, of course. I haven’t commented a lot on blogs recently but I used to quite a bit and actually made a few friends along ng the Way. Thanks for reminding me about it’s effectiveness. ?

  11. I do have certain blogs that I read and comment on regularly, like WITS. I'm all for learning how to connect and learn something new in publishing and writing. I never thought of myself as being good enough to guest post on other blogs. I don't really have anything to "sell" at this time except for my knowledge and experience, as most of my publishing success is in YA magazine short stories. Thanks, Penny, for showing me how to at least attempt to move up my social media "status."

  12. Thanks, Penny. It's amazing how important the simple things can be. Comment consistently on a blog, and before you know it, you're getting emails from the blogger or other commentators!

  13. Penny, I have a question about how you compile the list of blogs that would broaden your own audience. For example, do you look for the target market for the book? A niche hobby the book explores? Other writers? What is your system for this?

    1. Jenny hi there --- I would Google your topic and simply find top blogs in your market. So in other words blog you wish to connect with, that are maybe out of the scope of your normal pitching -- or places that you wouldn't normally pitch. So, for example, commenting on a book reviewer on HuffPo, or Hello Giggles, etc. Make sense?

  14. Thanks for a great post, Jenny! I'm linking to this on my Friday Week In Review post this week on my blog (harmonykent.co.uk) so that more folks can see this. Marketing is an area I find so difficult. 🙂

  15. "A lot of times I see authors who only begin to engage with folks when they want something – which is typically a review." I love that you wrote this in the 'recent post ' link. I have had people ask me to review their book so often by contacting me on my website. There is no mention of reading my blog, looking at my books, or even an understanding I am struggling to get noticed myself because they have made no effort to know about me not even media contact.. Hello, its an author's website. I too have books but the conversation goes like this. "You reviewed "XXX", my book is similar, can you review?".I don't understand that attitude at all. What ever happened to good manners, to caring, to authors supporting authors. Together we can work magic but on our own it is hard. Asking for help is not a crime but offering nothing in return is especially these days when Amazon is so quick to assume things.
    Thank you for a helpful post Penny, and thank you writers in the storm for the gift of information every single time.

  16. Thank you, Penny, for such an informative post! I've had the good fortune to have signed a contract for my first novel, and the publisher is encouraging me to step out into the marketing world to promote the book. Finding your blog is a godsend!
    From the other comments posted here, I can see that blogging and commenting can be valuable for building relationships as well as marketing books, and that's exactly what I want to do.
    And I really like your suggestion about finding great blogs in my industry. I think I just found the first one.

  17. Thank you -- after a long illness I am trying to get started again. I'm not of the "tech" generation and all this is baffling!
    This is good information and I'll keep it in my inbox!
    Thanks again!

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