Topic: General

Q.

As an author, why do I need my own Web site?
A. Because readers, booksellers, and the media expect you to have one. You're at a terrible disadvantage if you don't embrace the Web and use it to its maximum potential. You need a strong Web site. Period.


Q. Why do I need my own Web site if I have a page on my publisher's site and on Amazon Connect?
A. Your page on your publisher's site or on Amazon connect is just that - a page on someone else's site. You need to control your own Web site and create your own layout and personalized feature set. Your site needs to have its own look and feel that reflects your unique character as a writer. Otherwise, you're just another author in a catalog.


Q. Why do I need a Web site when I already have a blog?

A. Blogs are great (see next question). But a blog should be an integral element of a site. The site allows you to incorporate content and features that you couldn't (at least not without great difficulty) place on a blog.


Q. If I have a Web site, why do I need a blog?

A. Blogs are critical tools for outreach. If someone links to a blog entry, and someone else links to the second person's blog entry, and so forth, you get a "viral" effect and increase your exposure in the blogosphere. Using keywords and tags on your blog entries also increases the chances of someone discovering your blog, and hence, your site. One BIG caveat: blogs are fabulous tools if used properly and regularly (at least once a week). If you write one or two blog entries and then stop, you'll have wasted your time. The "blogosphere" is littered with the empty or near empty carcasses of blogs from well-intentioned authors who simply didn't have the time to create entries, or wrote one or two, didn't see immediate results, got discouraged and gave up. Be honest with yourself; if you don't have the time and can't make a commitment, don't blog. You'll probably wind up just asking us to remove the blog from your site, and you'll incur unnecessary costs.


Q. Once you build a site for me, how often does it need to be changed?
A. When it comes to Web sites, there are two types of change: routine change and transformation. Routine change is the day to day stuff - new blurbs, awards, events, the issuing of a new paperback edition of a title, a new book, new articles - the list goes on. Transformation is about a total overhaul. Some authors routinely ditch their sites every two or three years; they wake up one morning and realize they're no longer in love with their online image, and lust for a new look. Others are perfectly happy with their sites and keep them as is for many years. It all comes down to these questions. Does your site reflect who you are? Are you still satisfied with the look and feel? Does your site look contemporary or is it starting to look dated, even long in the tooth? And does it take advantage of the latest technology so that it offers a great user experience? Your answers, along with your time and resources, will dictate when it's time to go back to the digital drawing board.


Q. What happens when my site goes live?
A. That's when the real work begins - using the site to promote your book(s) and build your brand. That's what AuthorBytes is all about.

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Topic: AuthorBytes Content Manager

Q.

What is the AuthorBytes Content Management System?
A. It allows you to easily update content on pages requiring frequent changes. You can add, edit and delete items such as advance praise, media coverage, news and articles (for authors who are also journalists). Or perhaps you'd like to tweak your bio or add a link to your resources page. Our content manager also includes a robust event manager designed specifically for an author's needs; you'll have total control over the display of your media events, book signings, and other appearances. You can even schedule a time for your past events to be automatically removed from your Web site. In short, the AuthorBytes Content Management System puts you in the driver's seat.


Q. What's different about your content manager?
A. Most content management systems are based on templates. We built ours from scratch so that it can be used with any design we create. That means we have no constraints on what we design, and as a client, you get the best of both worlds: creative, elegant design and an easy-to-manage site.


Q. Do I need any specialized knowledge to use the AuthorBytes Content Management System?
A. No. If you can type, you can manage your site. That's our tagline, and it's true. We provide general training; after 30 minutes, you'll be a pro.


Q. Can I use your content management system with a site designed by a firm other than AuthorBytes?
A. Sorry, not at this time. The AuthorBytes Content Management System is exclusively for AuthorBytes' clients.
 
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Topic: Professional Web Development
Q. If I can't afford a professionally-designed site, what's the best alternative?
A. The Author's Guild has basic template sites at a bargain price. That's www.authorsguild.net.


Q. My current site needs "sprucing up" — can you retrofit it so it's more exciting?
A. Good creative design is part of a site's DNA; when you do "genetic re-engineering" on a Web site, you usually wind up with a hybrid monster. Small touches usually have little or no effect on the site. Do it right. Start from scratch.


Q. Isn't it better to work with a local company — can you really work long-distance with a Web firm?
A. Welcome to the boundary-less digital world, where you buy products and services from companies across the globe. We have clients living in major cities around the world (and a handful that live nearby). We communicate via email, telephone, and Skype. We use the Web and email to collect their copy and photos, and to display designs and prototypes. While we love getting together for lunch, coffee, or drinks with clients when they come to town, those offline occasions are almost always social; the real work happens over the wires. If not being able to get to our offices for face-to-face work is a deal breaker, then you shouldn't hire us.

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Topic: Hosting

Q.

If you create my site, do you have to host it for me?
A. Yes and no. Yes, if you want to take advantage of the AuthorBytes Content Management System. No if you want to maintain your own site and have other hosting arrangements. Ninety-nine percent of our clients do host with us. Here's why.

  1. Unless you have a red-hot site with tons of traffic and require your own server, the cost is nominal. (For small sites, we typically include free hosting for the first year of the contract.)
  2. AuthorBytes is an NTT/Verio reseller, a leading provider of high-end servers. We currently have more than twenty servers at a data center with redundant power supplies. Your site would be hosted on a Verio server with a fraction of the sites that would be on a server at a typical Web farm. (Again, if you need your very own server, we can provide one.) Since we control the server, we can create custom programs and develop author-specific applications; most commercial hosting facilities are NOT going to let you upload software to their servers.
  3. Server health is monitored 24/7 and problems are often pre-empted. That translates into a 99.9 percent uptime record. We'll never be asleep when you need us.


Q. Do you provide email with your hosting?
A. Yep. We provide email that you can use with Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird, or Entourage. We also provide you with web-based email so you can check and send mail from any computer with an Internet connection. We can also simply forward [email protected] domain to an existing account.


Q. Do you put "hit" counters on your sites?
A.

We offer far more; we provide in-depth "analytics" (a fancy term for traffic statistics). We'll also teach you how to read the numbers (and explain why measures like "hits," taken out of context, are meaningless) so you can learn what features are most popular in terms of page views and length of visits, where people are entering the site, where they leave the site, what's referring traffic to your site, and other key metrics. In short, we teach you how to read the stats so you can make informed decisions about your promotion efforts. BTW, we've found that even the most statistically-challenged and/or number-phobic authors become keenly interested in the analytics once they see the connection between site traffic and promotional/outreach efforts. (Hey, in the world of the Web, as in the most of real life, nothing improves unless you can measure it.)

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Topic: Online Promotion

Q.

What's the difference between traditional PR and online PR?
A. Let's start with the similarities: the goal of both forms of PR is to garner exposure for your book. That's where the similarities end. Traditional PR entails creating and distributing a media kit (at a minimum, a press/media release, bio, and sample questions) to newspapers and magazines, radio shows, and television shows. Distribution can be via snail mail, fax, or email (although, these days, the vast majority of folks in the media prefer email as the delivery mechanism). Some campaigns involve "multiple media releases" distributed via the Web. Typically, the publicist will conduct telephone or email follow-up to the original pitch to answer questions, convince a reporter, host, or booking agent who's on the fence about interviewing you and/or writing about your book. This requires a lot of basic footwork and pounding on doors, which is why it costs a lot. (Three month campaigns, the minimum that you need to promote a book traditionally, will run $2,500/month on the cheap side and up. BTW - NO publicist has magic connections with the media. Oprah is NOT going to book you if your work doesn't fit into a show's theme. Ditto for any other media outlet. Choosing a traditional PR firm comes down to this: who's going to take the time to understand your work, craft a compelling pitch, then work their buns off to get you bookings?

Online PR is far more than using the Internet as a substitute for snail mail. It's about using communication/networking venues that only exist on the Web. That means blogging (writing your own and serving as a guest blogger); leveraging social news networks like Digg; publishing keyword-laden media releases to online news venues; creating podcasts and making them available for syndication; placing bylined content on Web sites and article banks; and similar activities. That's just for today! Whereas technology has had minimal impact on traditional PR in past years (it's still a labor intensive numbers game), online PR is a moving target. Most online PR venues didn't exist two years ago. New technologies and Web offerings will continue to create new opportunities for authors to promote their books and build their brand. Change is the only constant thing about the Internet. Count on it when it comes to online promotion.


Q. Which is better for my book — traditional or online PR?
A. Which is better: an apple or an orange? Traditional and online PR complement each other, (just as apples and oranges do in a fruit salad). Given the fact that nearly 200,000 books are published each year, you need to do whatever you can to rise above the noise. Traditional PR is still the primary way to get booked on television and radio and to gain coverage in print. Online PR reaches Internet only outlets, but more importantly taps into a whole world outside the control of traditional gatekeepers and tastemakers. It gets you into the realm of virtual word of mouth and shared opinions through social networks (which cuts both ways, by the way—rants and raves).


Q. Why does a Web firm like AuthorBytes offer PR services?
A. Because PR, both traditional and online, drives people not only to your book, but to your Web site. The same campaign that brings you potential readers will bring visitors to you online. Therefore, you want to unify the messages you're sending to audiences, and you want to coordinate the timing of your campaign - and you want to see the results both online and in increased awareness of your brand.


Q. Why does a Web firm like AuthorBytes offer media training?
A. Happenstance, in part. Back in the dark and very boring days before the Internet, AuthorBytes founder Steve Bennett used to be a full-time author who promoted his books the old-fashioned way, through traditional media. Steve was a popular guest on national television and national radio shows, and a sought-after guest in magazines and newspapers from coast to coast. He enjoyed teaching the skills he'd garnered through experience, so he became a media trainer. Then the Internet and the Web (they weren't always synonymous) came along, and Steve was hooked. While the focus of Steve's media training now is on building a dynamic online presence and leveraging the Web to build name and brand recognition, many of his messaging and communication skills smoothly carry over into the online world - and many of his clients wouldn't dream of hitting the airwaves or facing the press without a media coaching session or two.


Get started—contact AuthorBytes today!

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