Monday, March 25, 2013

Please VOTE for Grandparenting Through Obstacles!

Great news! The book I co-authored with Renee Gray-Wilburn has been nominated for "Book of the Year" at Christian Small Publishers Association! We need your vote if our book is to win!

Voting is open only through March 31, 2013. Would you please click through right now and cast your vote for Grandparenting Through Obstacles here? 

It's in the "Family / Relationships" category which is the second category down. The book is on the right (third row of books down) with the blue cover.

If you want to check out the book further, read the reviews on Amazon or check out some pages on Amazon's "Look Inside the Book" feature.

After you vote you can snag a print or an e-copy of the book from Amazon for Kindle or for Nook.

You're allowed to vote for one book in each category. A Familiar Shore  in the fiction category is published by the same publisher and I know the author, Jennifer, would appreciate your vote for her book too.

It would help us a lot if you'd ask your friends to vote also. You can send them to .

Thank you again for voting for one of my books. As you know, winning "Book of the Year" is great publicity and would help get the word out about Grandparenting Through Obstacles: Overcoming Family Challenges to Reach Your Grandchildren for Christ so people who need it will hear about it.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Building Your Landing Page

Cover Story:

If you're selling a product, whether a book, an e- book, a workshop, a CD or DVD, or other product, you need a Landing Page. As usual, the topic of this month's newsletter is something I'm working on learning and implementing myself. But also, as usual, I want to share with you what I'm learning so you can put it to use yourself and so we can progress together along this writing journey. So here is what I know so far about building a Landing Page.

What is a Landing Page?

I'm sure you've seen them. When you read a piece of advertisement online and it's something you're actually interested in and it says "for more information click here," and you click, and you land on a page with all the information about the item, that's the landing page.

I'm sure marketing people get paid and lot of money and companies spend a fortune to have some expert build their landing page. But as poor, starving writers who can't spend a fortune and therefore want to build our own landing pages, what can we learn from observing the landing pages of others?

A Landing Page is many things. It is advertisement, and it is persuasive. Even if you don't think you want the product, by the time you read the Landing Page to the end you might well be convince you need or want that product after all! A Landing Page also tells you what your options are to get the product and makes it easy for you to act. A Landing Page's purpose is to sell your product.

Examples of Landing Pages:

I suggest that you find one or two landing pages and use them as your template. Here is one example from Terry Whalin's product Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams.

Another place we can find examples that I believe we can follow is not online at all but in our regular snail mail. The next time you get one of those big, colorful envelopes with an advertisement in the mail, instead of tossing it in the trash unopened, open it up and take a look. A few days ago I got an envelope from a popular general-market women's magazine. If I renew my subscription by a certain date, I'll get the opportunity for a "FREE PREVIEW" and "FREE GIFT" of their new cookbook! This envelope had several pieces of paper in it, including these:
  1. a letter to "Dear Reader" with some peel off stickers, 
  2. a colorful letter on slick paper to "Dear Smart Cook,"
  3. a beautifully designed half-sheet flyer called "Kitchen-Tested & Tasted,"
  4. a couple of free recipes,
  5. a response card with instructions to paste the peel-off stickers from the letter on it and mail it, 
  6. and a colorful piece of paper that unfolds to a large page with lots of beautiful pictures of their wonderful food along with a photo of a page of their cookbook with arrows pointing to the different parts of the page, including these: 
  • Cooking times!
  • Time-saving tips!
  • Prep times!
  • Low-fat recipes!
  • Full-color photos!
  • 8 1/4 x 11-inch hardcover
  • Helpful hints & historical tidbits!
  • Nutrition facts!
  • Meal-planning menus!
I didn't add those exclamation marks; I just typed it as I see it.

This envelope full of advertising is basically the same as a Landing Page.

Parts of a Landing Page:

So from my observation, a landing page or advertisement comes in several parts and we can mimic those and build our own landing pages.

I've observed that online Landing Pages have multiple "breaks" as you scroll down, often between different parts. Take a look at Terry Whalin's Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams page. Every so often there is a break where you can order either the paperback book or the e-book and a "Buy it Now" button. The breaks between sections are often opportunities to buy the product. That way, if you're already convinced you want the product, you have opportunities to act immediately without having to scroll to the bottom or trying to figure out how to get it.

Building Your Landing Page

So now that we have some basic information, let's begin building our own Landing Pages. Build a Landing Page for each of your books or products.

Where and how to start? The other day I took a piece of paper and did some brainstorming on what the different sections could be of my Landing Page for my book Deliver Me. Some of my ideas were inspired by the cookbook advertising. Here are a dozen ideas to inspire you:
  1. The cookbook advertising letter to "Dear Reader" started with this: "When I walked into Susan's kitchen, the counter was piled high with magazines. 'Where is it?' she wailed. 'Where's that...recipe we love? And the Best-Ever Chocolate Cake recipe John told m never to forget about ... company's coming and I CAN'T FIND THEM!' "  That opening inspired me to think about the person my Deliver Me book is written for and how they feel panicked about their unplanned pregnancy or the hopeless feeling some have about the decisions they made in their past. Who is your book for and what are they thinking that you can voice for them and then show them how your book is their answer?
  2. What are the Features of your book? If you didn't recognize it for what it is, the list above of the different parts of the cookbook is that book's "Features." Features are tangible. My Deliver Me book has lists of interesting statistics and helpful resources. My Prophecies Fulfilled books have Bible readings and application questions. What "Features" does your book have?
  3. What are the Benefits of your book for the person who reads it? What will it gain them to have read your book? What will it help them with?
  4. Who can use this book? And how? Is it for individual readers? For book groups? For Bible study groups?
  5. Give something free. Offer a download of a free excerpt, perhaps a chapter or a portion that is helpful to the person reading your Landing Page.
  6. Give some compelling quotations from your book.
  7. Colorful photos, such as your book's cover. You can also use photos of you at a book signing or speaking engagement with your book.
  8. Special offer: Are you running a special on Kindle? A special price for bulk orders? Can your book be a "Value Added" opportunity for an organization? For example, can an organization buy a bulk order of your books and give one to each person who comes to their conference? Tell them about any special offers or create a link to another page with that information.
  9. Give some testimonials. Take a few quotes from your Amazon reviews, reader's comments, or endorsements from inside your book. Notice Terry Whalin has testimonials running down the left side of his page.
  10. Links to author interviews you've done or guest blog posts you've written on the topic of your book. Make sure your links open in a new window so no one leaves your site. An alternative may be to include quotes or snippets from these other sites.
  11. A video or your book trailer. Don't have one? Make your own 30-second book trailer free using Animoto.
  12. Thank your reader for visiting or, if appropriate to your product, offer a money-back guarantee like Terry Whalin does for his product at the very bottom.
Now, write each section. Keep it short -- probably no more than 100 to 200 words. Then insert your divider with a link to where readers can buy it in between each section.

Where to put your Landing Page

This is kind of a problem for me. I use Expression Web to build my websites and it is ridiculously difficult to add a page. I finally learned how add a page but have yet to figure out how to add new pages to my menus. It's possible I might make my Landing Pages (one for each of my books) in Word, save it as a PDF, and then load that document to my web site and link to it. That's a round-about way to do it, but the advantage to me is that I know how to do all that.

An alternative, or more likely in addition to, that option is to put my Landing Pages as pages on my blogs. Drawbacks here are that I'd end up with so many pages and tabs on the menu bar that it might be too much and too confusing. (I now have four books out with a fifth coming next month.) Maybe I should make my one "Dianne's Books" page (see the tab at the top of this blog) simpler and just have a link for each book to the aforementioned PDF Landing Pages, which would be loaded on my web site. I'm still trying to figure out what to do here. If you have ideas or suggestions, please leave a comment below.

No Hype Needed

I have a low tolerance for hype. I suppose we each have different tolerance levels for hype or high-pressure selling. I also supposed it is used by the experts because it works. However you feel about this, build your Landing Page accordingly. In my opinion, nobody has to use a lot of hype or high-pressure selling to sell their products. Just be honest, tell people why they need your book or product. Give them the benefits they will gain by reading your book. Tell them the features you included and how they will interest or help them. Give them good, solid information that is interesting. Add some testimonials.... In other words, just tell them about your book and let those truths do the selling.

How to Use Your Landing Page

Once you have your Landing Page written and posted on the internet, use the link to that page not only on your sites but also in your Twitter and Facebook posts. (See 3 Parts to a Great Tweet in the July newsletter.) Any time you have the need or the opportunity to tell someone where they can find more information about your book, send them to your Landing Page.