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Author Blogs: Are You Hiding Your Contact Information From Your Readers?

I recently blogged about author’s lack of supplying contact information in their ebooks and how they miss the opportunity to connect with their readers.

Since then I have started a new blog to help authors get more attention focused on their books and their Internet presence. Much to my dismay most author blogs and websites are failing to supply their contact information to their audience.

The goal should be to get interaction with readers and create an audience to communicate through social media and the Internet. RIGHT!

After reviewing several hundred author sites, in most cases, readers had to be a detective to find the author’s contact information. It was like it was a closely guarded secret.

Author’s Blogs and Websites

In over half the cases, they did not have a contact me link. Oh they had a Twitter bird or a Facebook link but no other contact point.

They did have their books highlighted, sample chapters, giveaways and lots of beautiful covers. Surprisingly way over half the covers displayed did not have a buy link attached.

Some had blog links to other pages if they had both a website and a blog. The more cross-links the better say our SEO gurus.

The question I have to ask is: We are trying to build a reader/follower/buyer base, aren’t we?

HBS Author’s Spotlight

Like I mentioned before, my new blog requires lots of research of author sites and blogs. I am looking for interesting authors to blog about. One of my objectives is to give current contact information to readers so they can interact with the author. The blog will only be posted if the author approves the content including the contact information.

I have had one author so far go through the draft process of the blog and put it on hold when I required an email address to complete the Q/A section of the blog. (By the way, displaying any of the contact information is up to the author’s approval.)

I expected some resistance to some of the questions because I ask untraditional questions to make the blog more interesting.

Marketing Online vs. Traditional Marketing

Traditional signing, giveaways, events, conferences & book shows and personal appearances still are a part of the author’s strategy. But research is showing the Internet interaction shows more results for less cost.

On-line is the fastest way if you have a new book to announce. In fact with the relationships that are developed, the development of the plot, the cover and the characters can all be a part of the pre-publishing plan.

I have one author, Joanne Penn that I follow regularly because her website has a lot of good information for authors: The Creative Penn. She was quite successful at publishing her book, Pentacost, because she got her reader base involved in the book development process including picking the cover. With her online audience she was able to do what traditional marketing would have found impossible. If she hid her contact information, she wouldn’t have had a chance.

So you lead your audience along through book development, cover design, launch, reviews to the shelves but not without keeping in contact.

If you see a lot of reviews for a book, I’ll bet that most of them were keyed by the author’s contacts online.

Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest

Social media keeps the whole thing going. You must keep your followers in the loop. Write something meaningful in your tweets or posts if you’re going to use social media. If it is all ads, readers will skip right through it.

Here is a footnote in the middle of the blog. I am writing a blog for author David Bain @davidbainaa. Like Joanna Penn above, he also has a blog that helps authors. One post that he has that I found real interesting: For Writers, Social Media Should Be Little More Than Playtime. David has over 30K Twitter followers. He came to an interesting conclusion after doing a quick tweet study.

There is a lot of noise out there. I turned off a couple of followers because of all the tweets.

I can just imagine the number of tweets David goes through to filter out the meat.

One author I have in the Author’s Spotlight is M. R. Mathias. He has over 87K Twitter followers. (@dahgmahn)

Besides being an award-winning, best-selling Fantasy author, he has written a must read book for author who want to use social media to market; The First Ten Steps. It is a great source if you’re just getting started in social media marketing.

Goodreads + Linkedin + Retailers

A brief note on two other groups that author should engage. Goodreads and Linkedin are good author sources to interact with other authors and readers. They present great profile opportunities. You should include their links on your blog or website.

Email

I saved this one for last. You know sometimes 140 characters are just not enough? In my author research one of the most glaring things missing from the contact information was the email address. Almost no one had an email address published. (Reviewed over 300 sites.) They just left it up to Twitter and Facebook.

Oh some had email forms with CAPTCHA security to prevent spam and hacking. The first question I ask when I fill a form out is: Did they get the message? Then when I don’t get a reply, I have no clue what has happened. (Most regular email systems report undelivered mail.)

I understand keeping your personal/favorite email account to yourself. Try getting another free email account to communicate with your followers. It keeps the mail separated. I have three email accounts. (2 are free) One I have with my website. The others are Gmail and Mail.com and I use them for different purposes.

There are many free email services available. Get a free account somewhere and try it out. I just did a search: free email accounts and got a list of 18 freebies.

Conclusion

So you write a book, you notify your audience and the downloads start happening. That is not really how it works but it is a plan. You must make it easier for your audience to communicate. Don’t make them have to be a detective to communicate with you.
First question to ask yourself: Can your readers easily find your contact information?
Remember your goal should be to develop a following that will buy your book.

I feel authors miss the same opportunity in their ebooks. Check out my blog:
eBook Marketing: Include Live Contact Information in Your eBook

For an example, check out how I think contact information should be presented.
HBS Author’s Spotlights – View the Author’s contact information and some interesting Q/A sessions.

Amy Metz – HBS Author’s Spotlight
Anne Allen – HBS Author’s Spotlight
Henry Baum – Author Spotlight
James Moushon – Author Spotlight
Kelly Abell – HBS Author’s Spotlight
Monica Mathis-Stowe – HBS Author’s Spotlight
Ron Fritsch – Author Spotlight

Follow me as I try to keep up with the eBook Experience. Do you think we should ONLY give the reader access to our Facebook or Twitter account? Should your email address be published? If not, why not?

Follow Me on Twitter: @jimhbs
Or EMAIL at: jim@jamesmoushon.com
View my website: James Moushon – Mystery Writer
Or visit my blog: The eBook Author Corner
Take a look at my Author’s blog: HBS Author’s Spotlight
Check out the Jonathon Stone Mystery Novel: Call Off The Dogs

 

About James Moushon

Avatar of James Moushon
I am a published writer in the electronic document field. Starting over 15 years ago, I helped lead the startup of the electronic forms industry in the creation, conversion and usage of electronic forms by supplying that industry with a continuing source of published literature, software products and training seminars. I worked with over 200 companies and organizations like the IRS, Commerce Clearing House, Nutrilite, UPS, MGM, Sony International and Royal Paper Box with their conversion from paper forms to electronic forms. In 2003 I changed my focus to ebooks and their development. I commented in a recent interview: “The start of the ebook industry as a major publishing method in many ways parallels the start of the acceptance of electronic forms by businesses in the mid 1990’s. Back then major companies controlled the process but with the advent of inexpensive technology (laser printers), the ease of entry and the development of software to drive these devices, the electronic forms industry was formed. Today the ebook reader and new software are driving the startup of the ebook industry.”

8 comments

  1. Avatar of Ron Fritsch

    James, this post is so right. I’ll give you a good example. I recently bought and read an ebook I found delightful. I’ve written a glowing 5-star review of it and wish to post it on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, and all the other sites. Before I post a review, I like to pass it by the author to make certain it doesn’t contain any factual errors or spoilers. (These can hurt the reviewer as much as the author.) In this case, however, I can’t find any “contact me” information for the author anywhere, not even on his website. What a shame. I surely wish to have and maintain contact with readers who want to post 5-star reviews of my books.

    (Here’s a side note, James. Your including my name in this post got me a Google Alert. Thanks very much!)

  2. Avatar of James Moushon

    Thanks Ron as always. Good point on the reviews. I should have had that in this blog. It is not only the reader/buyers you want to keep in contact with, it is the reviewers/promoters/bloggers. When an author gets a 5 star reviewer on his side, that is like having gold in his hands.
    As I do the research for the Spotlight, I spend about an hour digging through different locations just to see if I want to blog about someone. I have 5 authors on a hold list now that I have about 70% of their blog complete. The stumbling block seems to be giving up their email address for the Q/A. I just don’t understand. (Ron, get a twitter account so I can get you involved in the spotlight messages.)

  3. OK, I’m a real newbie at this and I freely admit I’m not getting it.

    Why isn’t it sufficient just to be able to contact an author on Facebook? I mean, sure it’s nice to be able to email someone, but do we really expect a busy author like, say, Karen Traviss, to answer ten million emails a day (although she does, God bless her, and I don’t know how she has time.) If you can find a person on Facebook, and you can send them a private message on Facebook, it’s gonna go through same as email. Why do you have to give people an email address? Why can’t people just use Facebook?

    Just call me,

    Duh.

  4. Avatar of Ron Fritsch

    No need to apologize, P. D. You can always say there’s at least one self-publishing person more clueless than you. That’s me. I should wait for James, the expert, to answer your questions. But I can offer this. I’ve assumed one has to be another person’s friend on FB in order to send that person a private message. Maybe I’m wrong. In my own example, I looked up on FB the author whose book I wished to review. I saw no way to leave a message for him without requesting to become his friend. I’m sorry, but I simply can’t do that with somebody who has no knowledge of my existence. (I have gotten in touch with him, but it was difficult.) I think most of the persons reading this post would love to have Karen’s problem: 10 million emails from fans per day! Anybody in that position could easily afford to pay for a slew of persons to help her answer all those messages.

  5. Avatar of James Moushon

    Good comments by both of you. That’s why the suggestion to setup a different email accounts from your personal one as a filter. I think if I want to create a social media presence and keep in touch with my readers, I want them to have multiple ways to contact me.

    There are a lot of people that don’t have a Facebook account or Twitter account for that matter that want to communicate to an author.

    P. D., you have a great point. One million emails is a lot. I know I would need help. I work with about 100 a day. I know how much of a problem it is just to filter through the noise on my twitter account.

    Here is my thought on this: if you got it, use it. Don’t hide it.

  6. Avatar of eileen

    I think it’s a great idea to give contact information as an self published author. I included my email address in the back of both of my books and have received some great fee back and heartfelt emails about my books and writing.
    Also, when returning my fan emails, I ask that they leave a review on Amazon. Every single person I’ve asked to give me a review has done so.

  7. Avatar of James Moushon

    sometimes a message bigger than a tweet can form a more lasting relationship especially when it is from a reader. that reader will always remember and keep coming back as long as you write quality books. thanks for your comment.

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