Selling books online means that you need to get interested readers to your website or to your Amazon listing. One great way to get people to your website is writing articles for republication.
My author friends asked me to share what I've learned about writing articles for the Internet. I've spent thousands of dollars learning what I'm going to share with you. In return, please help me grow my ezine subscriber base.
There are six categories you need to understand about article writing:
1. Article Structure
This article follows a typical article structure for email delivery. Note that articles you submit directly on websites need a different format. Each website explains their individual requirements.
a. Article Title: (How to Write Articles to Sell Your Book) You need a title that gives a benefit to the reader. There are hundreds of articles telling you how to create a sizzling title. Learn how to use keywords (more about this soon). My first title for this article was "How to Write Articles to Promote Your Book." A stronger benefit to you, the reader, is "sell your book." Another title tip: change your titles when submitting to various websites so you know which title gets picked up more. Another title for this article could be "Sell More Books: How to Write Articles." After you submit your article, search for the title and you'll see where it goes and which title works best. For instance, my article "Feng Shui, Design Psychology and Bed Placement" posted on EzineArticles didn't do as well as "Feng Shui, Design Psychology and Sleeping" posted on thephantomwriters.com.
b. Article Author: (Jeanette Joy Fisher) A comment on names: if you haven't started with a website or published yet, don't use a name that can be spelled different ways. I wish I used another name because Jeanette can be spelled many ways. At least Fisher only has two spellings. I'm doomed to having ten websites for my book titles instead of just one for me. If I had used Joy Fisher, my life would have been easier.
c. Article Copyright: (2005, All Rights Reserved) Don't forget to Copyright everything!
d. Article URL: This is the website link where your article is posted for either preview or copy for others to use.
e. Article Autoresponder: (mailto:[email protected]) This is an automatic email service which sends out the article if you send a blank email. Click on the link and get this article in your inbox. You may want to replace letters inside the email address with... so you don't get a lot of junk email.
The person asking for the article needs to fill in the blanks. This is because spiders search for email addresses on the Internet. Unscrupulous, mean people use them to send viruses. I lost two computers when I first created a website and listed my email address.
f. Author Contact Email: (mailto:[email protected]) Notice how the joy is left out. People who post your article are supposed to notify you, but many don't. And they will post your article without the byline, without links to you. Just accept that some of your hard work will be stolen, but most of your republications will help you.
g. Word Count: Number of words in the body.
h. Formatted to (65 Characters per Line) You need TextPad or another way to keep your articles formatted to 65 spaces per line - -letters, commas, spaces, etc. I talked my author friend Pamela Armstrong (SurvivingHealthcare.com) through TextPad; this took a couple of hours. One easy way to shorten the lines is to sign up to gmail, yahoo, or hotmail, and email your article to yourself. When you do this, you may find that many of your words have strange marks in them -- this leads to the next article component problem.
2. Article Format
Most writers use a program like Word to create their masterpieces. Word has fancy "curly" quotes, apostrophes and other smart fonts that don't transfer into email and onto some website reader's screens. You can remove the smart quotes in Word; avoid using the emdash and other symbols such as three periods. If you copy your Word document into TextPad, you will see black bars in the problem areas and the spell check will catch the curly quotes. To remove the smart quotes in Word: go to Tools, Auto Correct Options, Autoformat, uncheck "straight quotes" with "smart quotes," and the same in Autoformat As You Type.
3. Keywords and Article Titles
The keywords are the words people search for related to your topic. When I first wrote "Staging Homes for Top-Dollar Sales," I had the keywords mixed up. There are 3,160 results for Google's keyword search for "staging homes" and 35,300 for "Home Staging." However my article, "Staging Homes" is listed at the top of the search and my article "Home Staging" is on page two. Your goal is to use the keywords in your title that people interested in your topic search for and to get your article listed on the search engines where it's easily found.
4. Article Content
If you cut and paste information from your book, tone down the writing style; make it informal, and concise. Your content needs to relate to your book's benefits without being a sales letter. Chose a major benefit that the reader will enjoy from reading your book. What is your answer to: "Why should I read your book?" "What will I get?"
a. Introduction or Hook: Just like home shoppers won't get out of their car if curb appeal doesn't attract them, you need your first sentence to grab the reader with a benefit for reading your article.
b. Body: Web readers need short paragraphs filled with BENEFITS. You must give a strong reason to motivate a stranger to want to read on. Keep giving reasons why your information gives answers to their problems. PAIN. Feel the reader's pain and offer solutions. Your title should open the way for this with something like: "Change Your Credit and Buy Your First Home." STORIES. Use stories to illustrate the pain felt by your target audience. For instance, tell a story about a family who fixed their credit and bought a home.
c. Headlines and subheadings: Use other keywords to break up your article with subheadings. This makes your article easier to read online. Tip: before you start writing your article, check for keywords and make a list for reference to cover in your article.
d. Conclusion: Even when you write a list, such as "Top 10 Ways to Save Money," you should end with a summary inspiration. You want to leave the reader wanting more so they follow your link to your website.
5. About the Author, Author's Resource box, Bio, Biography
I've seen so many articles on this one topic, there's most likely a book on it. Examine the way experienced writers create motivating calls to action. Your purpose is to show that you're the expert with the solution to the reader's problems. Your goal is to get the reader to follow your link for help. Refuse to list your articles where you won't receive a live link to your website or to your book page on Amazon.
6. Article Submit
You can submit your articles through article distribution services for a charge, by email to article announcement groups for free, or
directly to hundreds of websites online. One way to find websites matching your niche market is to do a Google search, such as: "real estate investing" + "submit article." I use Bill Platt's thephantomwriters.com service and EzineArticles.com. From these two services, my articles appeared on over 11,000 websites. I simply don't have the time to submit to all the other places.
If you write a compelling article in the proper format, your message will be picked up by ezine publishers, web masters, and maybe newspapers. And, like me, you will sell your books.
(c) Copyright 2005 Jeanette J. Fisher. All rights reserved.
Jeanette Fisher, Design Psychology professor, is the author of interior design and real estate books. She is part of the Writers to Authors group whose mission is to help writers sell their books. For help writing and selling your books, go to http://www.writertoauthor.com/. Please sign up for Jeanette's newsletters and help her increase her subscriber base in return for this article. For more about Jeanette, see http://www.jeanettefisher.com