I’m a book nerd. You only need to visit my list of books I’ve read to see proof. I’m always looking for new books to read but there is one thing getting in my way.
Bad book sites.
I would rather put 20 minutes into researching whether a book is worth buying or not, instead of 2 hours reading something that is truly awful. The book site is a large part of my decision. A quality book site shows that you have faith in your book. It shows that you expect that people will be talking about it long after the initial launch buzz.
If your book site/page looks like it is geared for a launch – such as the Business Book of Awesome – then I’m more inclined to think any conversation is based on hype. I’m not saying this to criticize. I, like many others, have so many demands on my time. I’m incredibly discerning when it comes to the type of books I read.
In this post, I’ll be talking about the book sites that stood out for me. I’ll highlight the awesome stuff they have done, and riff about how we can apply these ideas to our own blogs.
I’d love any feedback or suggestions you have on creating sites for books or information products. I really think we can learn a lot from exploring this idea.
Before you start: Read my article about online media rooms. It’s an interesting concept that applies to both books and blogs.
Life After College
Jenny Blake is an incredibly intelligent woman. While I am not a fan of the overall book site, she did have some really awesome strategies.
- She created a page dedicated to telling the story of the road to publication. It included first book signing, signing the contract (+ outtake) and seeing her book for the first time.
- She created a spreadsheet that she used to keep track of all her marketing activities. She shared this with her audience. Seth Godin ended up writing about this on The Domino Project.
- Followed up multiple times asking (nicely) for Amazon reviews.
- Leveraged her book marketing list to promote a project that she had spoken about in the genesis stages. This was her Making Sh*t Happen course.
- Had an Interview Q&A Master Doc. This is a great idea. I recommended that you take the concept and modify it for your book site. How about a list of common interview questions?
- Post launch, she did a post summarizing the booktour
Her post-launch analysis is worth reading. I was particularly interested in the following:
- Creating a template email for friends, family and inside scoop subscribers to forward was particularly effective. This is possibly something people can explore – low key swipe copy for people to adapt for their friends and close contacts.
- Wished she had followed up on those who had received advanced copies. This is something that multiple people have brought up. Maybe there is a low-key, strategic way to do this? My thought is that you should tell those that get advance copies that you will be touching base with them closer to the launch. This email will be low key and non pushy – and perhaps customized. I can expand on this idea if people are interested
The Life After College book is an incredibly useful book – I highly recommended it people between 15-25ish.
I remember seeing the Wrecked book site and being speechless. It was the first time I had seen all my ideas collected in the one place. It was beautiful; the perfect combination of organic word of mouth and awesome design.
Here is what also stood out:
- The simple, printable action guide. This helps turn a book into part of something bigger – especially if there is additional study involved. People may connect their personal transformation (if one occurs) with this book.
- A page dedicated to the stories. This goes beyond a normal endorsement. I noticed they were all podcasts. I would be curious to see if there are variations of this idea
- On his spread the word page, he had images that people could use on their social media profiles. Do people actually use these?
- He had a Pinterest page dedicated to his book but it just collected some of the shareable images from his site.
Love with a Chance of Drowning
I may be cheating here. I helped Torre come up with ideas for her media page. Actually, this post is based on the notes that I sent her.
Here is what she did brilliantly:
- Explicitly stated the ‘hook’ of the book. You have no idea how helpful that is
- Shared some of the brilliant images from her adventure. This makes it so much easier for people to tell the story of the book, and not have to track down pictures from elsewhere
- Had separate pages with commonly asked questions about publishing, and about her journey. This can give people a solid starting point.
- Had a mailing list for those interested in getting an advance copy.
She also had this fantastic competition as part of her launch. Srinivas Rao came up with that. He’s accidentally-on-purpose developing a brand as a book launch strategist.
I loved this site. It isn’t pretty, but it has everything an advocate could possibly need. The introduction – “You’ve got deadlines, we want to help you meet them. All the resources you need are here.” – was awesome. It made me feel valued. Don’t underestimate this; sometimes influences can feel like a cog in someones launch-machine.
This page contained the following:
- Book factoids
- Business Journalists: Fast Facts about Social Media Examiner
- Pictures with captions (cover, author, illustrations…)
- Videos you can embed
- Who should read Launch?
- Book description
- Press release
- About the author
All of these were listed at the start, and each section was linked to.
He had a separate page for ‘spreading the word.’ I think that having two pages can be useful. The media page can remain static while the latter page can be update with new tools for sharing.
Ape: Author, Publisher, entrepreneur
I’m not a huge fan of this page. Having everything on the one page feels too messy to me. What do you think?
Regardless, there are a couple of things that stood out:
- Having a page dedicated to all the hyperlinks in the book. If you saw a page like this, would you be interested in more context, and perhaps additional links?
- A pinterest board. This is probably my favourite Pinterest board based on a book, although I think there is room for improvement. Hmm… I feel another post coming on.
- Fun badges, and banners for google plus: badges
I haven’t read this book yet. Would love to know what you think of it.
Eat Awesome Now
I’m not a huge fan of Laportes work – it’s not my style. However, it is worth exploring her blog because she is awesome at giving her loyal fans everything they need to talk about her writing. Even better, she is creating spaces to bring these fans together.
Circles of Fire
She created a page dedicated to those interesting in creating information groups to work through the content in The Fire Starter sessions. She called these groups ‘Circles of fire‘. This page had:
- A facebook group where people could go to find others to join their circle. She linked to this via a shortlink? to make it easier to share. She also had a ‘master’ list of all the groups – this serves as social proof
- Tips on creating your own circle
- testimonials about how effective the circles are.
- Copy for email reminders about group meetings
- Badges dedicated just to these groups.
You aren’t just buying a book. You are buying into a community.
(Sidebar: This ties into the concept of giving your fans a name that Jackie Huba talked about in Monster Loyalty.)
- The group for the desire map is just an extension of the original idea – but with a few improvements.
- Created a pinterest board for desire mappers. I linked how she had a picture of the board on the book club page. I wasn’t a huge fan of the board itself though. The descriptions seemed spammy, even though they were designed to be shared. She also pinned images from Instagram with the original comments, which seemed out of context. Still, you have to give her kudos for experimenting.
- Tweetables for the book club. These would be simple enough to add to older products and books.
- Suggested that you use the quotes – which are highly sharable by themselves – as talking points.
Unrelated: love how all the freebies here have similar branding . Want to adapt this for my resource page… once I’ve finished all the resources
Over to you
These ideas can be adjusted for many kind of information products, and can tie in with other word of mouth concepts. I’ll be writing more about this in future posts.
In the meantime, what book/product sites stand out to you? What role does it play in your purchase decisions?
Also, this type of post is an experiment to me. It is meant to show my thought process and provide inspiration, rather then be a ‘how-to’ post. I’m interested to know whether you like this kind of post or would prefer ones which ask less questions.