This Friday, the latest installment in my long-running Adventures in Self Publishing series at my other blog will focus on all of those things that you need to do to take advantage of the Internet to promote your book, not in the dynamic sense (e.g., Twitter), but in the comparatively static sense, as described below. The essential moral of the story will be that it is time consuming in the extreme at the front end, and a significant time sink on an ongoing basis, because if you don’t commit to continuously update what you’ve spent a lot of time creating at the front end, most of that time will have been wasted.
This WordPress site is a case in point. I spent a reasonable amount of time creating it over a year ago, and then quit updating it. Instead, I focused my primary Web efforts on ConsortiumInfo.org, the host of the site mentioned above, which I’ve been maintaining for over ten years. That’s worked well enough, but doubtless not as well as maintaining a more broad-based Web presence would have done.
So also with several other beachheads I established and then neglected – my Amazon page, and a GoodReads page, to complete the triad of sites that I’ve concluded are likely most worth maintaining (even though, until now, I haven’t). Each has it’s own associated trials and tribulations. For example, my Amazon page – a vital piece of Web real estate – has been problematic to update. The directions that Amazon offers for adding a feed from my blog and for adding tags do not, in fact, match what I can access via Amazon’s Author Central site, so I haven’t been able to add that data. Why? Who knows.
Similarly, my WordPress site does not make it obvious how to derive an RSS feed from my blog, so that I haven’t been able to add that information into my GoodReads profile. I’d like to be able to do that, because I’m paying a monthly fee to GoodReads that would result in my book being presented on a high-traffic page every time I blogged at my WordPress site, giving very worthwhile exposure, if only I could figure out how to connect the blog to my GoodReads settings.
But for over a year, this hasn’t happened, because the way to do it hasn’t been intuitive, and because I’d have to figure out how to get the information from WordPress, and then how to get into the Amazon form in a way that would be successful. Neither would probably have taken that long if I’d contacted the help foks, but when you’re busy, it’s one of those things that you have to get around to – and I haven’t. Mea Culpa.
There’s another, related theme here, which is that doing anything yourself on an occasional basis is a pain. WordPress is clearly a hugely successful service (meaning that it must be fairly intuitive to use), but unless you use it on a regular basis, you still have to re-learn what is found where, and how to work with it. Since nothing is *that* intuitive, it means that you need to burn some time every time you do so, unless you use it often enough to retain the knowledge. And so it goes, through all of these monetarily free, but temporally expensive services: Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Amazon, Resizer, Bitly, and so on, and on, and on.
Similarly, while there are many things you can do easily, there are still limits. Create a header for this site? Not that hard in principal – just upload an image. But a banner requires cropping, and for who knows what reason, WordPress does not allow a free hand cropping option, which would be pretty handy, given that no pictures naturally arise in 1x by 10x dimensions. Using the WordPress cropping tool, all you can do is crop and lose in both dimensions, rather than just one.
So I had to take my cover image and go to a cropping/resizing site I’ve used for years called Resizr to get a good width and crop it appropriately, and then bring it back to the WordPress site to upload. And because I don’t have the right tools, I had to get someone else to add the review quote to make you see above. I wanted to add that not only to make the banner more effective, but to introduce greater consistency between the book cover, FaceBook site, and Twitter page.
The moral? One of the things that spending a few bucks on promotion can do is to help you establish a more sophisticated Web presence than most people could create on their own – and in a whole lot less time. Hopefully by the end of next week, all of this will be done, and I’ll be off to the races, or at least a renewed starting line.
Look for further thoughts on this subject this Friday, when I post again on this topic here and also at the Standards Blog.