The Challenge of Promoting, Part 5

#authors, #ebooks, #books, #novels, #promotion

Time to cover a few details left behind and then move on. First we (re)address one previous topic and a question.

Networking on LinkedIn

Some took exception to comments concerning this social system. Everyone has the freedom to promote anywhere and anyway they choose, but consider if you are being both efficient and effective—for real and not just assumed. You cannot ignore either, and do not sacrifice the first for assumptions about the second…

See also “The Challenge of Promoting” Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4

Numbers are what matter. Amid the e-self-publishing boom, other authors are not an effective way to promote your books. The savvy ones will not be interested in taking away attention from their own work(s) unless you offer something verifiably effective in return. Those who do not seek verification from you are the desperate looking to use anyone; this accounts for the notable majority in the LinkedIn author forums. If they cannot in turn provide verification of their own readership… well, you know what that means.

Most of those hanging out on LinkedIn forums cannot provide this verification. Those that can, tout numbers that in the ebook age amount to nothing worth shouting about. Those who can verify and have exceptional numbers are generally not found on LinkedIn.

We will get to proper (professional) conduct in “author networking” and its hurdles later on; it is not a place to start in promotion. Until you finish setting up your own autonomous promotional system—and have a verifiable following—you have nothing to offer in such arrangements. By jumping in too soon, you will only attract those looking to use you for something they cannot or will not do for themselves.

Recent Questions

Q: Last time you mentioned some promotional systems as ineffective for authors Barb and J.C. Hendee.  If so, why should I bother with them?

A: Because what works or not for them is different for you and every other writer not in the top 1%; they do not count themselves in that top category either. It is a matter of your positioning (or rather that of your books) in the global (e)book market. As to the specifics…

Aside from changes in social system popularity, individual readers will shift in how they get your news due to one other factor: YOU! Not all of them stick to how they first learned about your work if they take interest in knowing what is coming next. (The books are what really matter to them, not you.) 

Some switch to direct newsfeed access or email subscription. That will decease traffic from the system by which they once followed you. Or maybe they move to another social system and find your news there. The more your public presence grows as an author, the more different systems will wax and wane in effectiveness… because of you and your books on top of all else.

Only abandon a system for news distribution when both its effectiveness and efficiency are negatively impacted. This is why Barb and J.C. maintain news flow to certain systems now statistically less effective; there is no loss of efficiency in keeping them. Repeat the mantra again, “efficiency first!” Effectiveness will change based on factors that differ from one author to the next… and at different phases in their careers.

1.4 Optional (Not Anymore) Email Subscription

As social systems become glutted with advertising and extraneous content, some people are now turning to other ways of following personal news, including from authors and others. Not all want to bother with an application or online site as a newsreader. Email subscription may not ever return to the level of use it once had, but there has been a notable rise of late.

If you have a site on a host system with integrated RSS (and we will assume you now do), then your newsfeed might be accessible via email subscription. On the Blogger system, it definitely is. If you are on another system, you may have to look into this option for yourself. There is also a free third party subscription option (like with for newsfeeds) that we will look at last.

To setup email subscription to your established newsfeed, do the following:

  1. Enter your site’s administrative interface (login at or the main Google systems login).
  2. If you have more than one site in the list after login, select your author’s site.
  3. Select “Layout” in the left side menu.
  4. Among site sections shown, those that can accept a new “Gadget” (Widget) are marked with “Add a Gadget.” You should choose one in a sidebar that appears on all pages of your site.
  5. Select “Add a Gadget.”
  6. In the pop-up window, look for “Follow by Email” and click its “+” sign.
  7. You will be stepped through an automated connect to your native RSS newsfeed via a account. You will never have to directly deal with that site.
  8. Once the subscription form is added to your site layout, you can drag it to a new position in that same sidebar. Right below your social/RSS links is a good position.
  9. Now, do not forget to click the “Save Arrangement” button in the upper right corner of the administrative interface.

You are now offering email subscription to your own newsfeed for any visitor. There is nothing you need to do to manage it. Anyone who subscribes will receive the same news that goes out in in your feed. Simple, yes? And this is the way it should be for efficiency.

In this case, it is easier (for you) to look at the system’s own instructions for adding the “Follow” widget to the front of your site. A word of warning goes with this.

If (like at NDAS) you use for a “satellite” page, do not setup email subscription there. If you do, news emailed to subscribers will contain a “read more” link leading back to the satellite page. You want subscribers coming to your main site instead.

NOTE: Excerpts posted to satellite pages should do that as well; never duplicate a whole post on your main site to a satellite site. Later we will cover how to “excerpt” a post for your main site to then publish to a satellite site. If you use Live Writer (see Part 4), this will be even easier.

These rules apply for a reverse setup when you use for a main site and Blogger for a satellite. If so, you want email subscription on WP and not on Blogger.

If this is your site host, unfortunately you may be out of luck. We were unable to determine how to setup a native email subscription (without third party service) through access to our Tumblr satellite account. If you know of something we missed, do share for others using Tumblr as their primary site’s host.

Also note that the same warning about satellite vs. main site for also applies to

Other Site Hosts

The list is too long to cover any others. Many do not support a free version of email subscription or do so very poorly. There is a way to use with an additional service to deliver email subscriptions, but it is even easier if you simply use that other service directly.

You will need the free version of a account, which is good for up to 2,000 subscribers. Rather than (re)iterate the instructions for this, you can look to MC’s RSS to Email Tutorial. It is pretty straight forward.

MailChimp’s Subscriber Limit

Let us be perfectly frank about email subscription. Much as it is on the rise again, it is not anywhere near the level of use for social systems or even direct newsfeeds. Just the same, you should offer it as a convenience to those who prefer it… for now.

The 2,000 subscriber limit for a free MC account is more than enough to get started. It may be more than you will ever need. You will be notified regularly of your subscriber count. If it ever nears 2k, you can then consider upgrading. Do not do so until necessary to maintain your near $0 cost promotional system.

Time for Another Pause

Get started now on an email subscription option for your site’s visitors. It might be a while until you get any subscribers, but even that you offer such as an added convenience will work in favor of your professional image.

Next time out, we step forward into the rest of the list from Part 2 upto a domain name. Watch for Part 6 of “The Challenge of Promoting” by a week from this Monday. And once again, thank your for stopping by.

—J.C. Hendee