Why do some authors (whose books may not be any better than our own) end up on bestseller lists, while our books languish on the shelf? On August 12th, the NorCal Chapter of Mystery Writers of America invited guru Jane Friedman to unravel a bit of this mystery.

Marketing, of course, is a large part of the answer. But what works? Jane Friedman shared three hours of best practices in her presentation “Marketing and Promotion in a Digital Age.”

Here are five recommended and fairly easy changes that I plan to implement as soon as possible.

  • Make my buy links into buttons and move them into positions of prominence. “We love to push buttons.”
  • Install Google Analytical on my website to harvest data. Then I can professionally analyze what works and what doesn’t. What brings people to my site? What do they look at? Where should I put my energy?
  • Edit my profile in Amazon Author Central, taking advantage of the 4,000 characters allowed. If I don’t have enough to say about myself, include reviews or influences.
  • Make bold the info “above the fold,” before the “read more.” Do this across platforms.
  • Improve my language. “Language matters.” As if writers don’t know, but amazingly we probably don’t give the idea enough thought when it comes to promotion. For example, see the nice purple button to sign-up for my newsletter? There’s no “enticing” language. For the record, my quarterly newsletter offers 3 R’s: recommendations (of mysteries), release updates, and raffles. I’ve also never conducted Google searches incognito to see what pops up with my name to determine effective tags. I’ve not studied key words in reviews to know, not how I see my books, but how readers perceive them.

With only these five tips, I have plenty of work to do. But as Jane Friedman reassured the audience, a website “is always a work in progress.”

Because I can’t summarize the entire content of the presentation in a blog post, here’s the link to her slide show: http://bit.ly/norcal-friedman.