Some Simple Ways to Monetize Your Online Presence

images-1When you’re a self-publisher, every penny of added income helps — especially when you’re just starting out and can’t immediately rely on a strong personal brand or passionate base of fans. If you can, though, even better: there are more and more ways to monetize your online presence so that your fans will be able to help you offset some of your costs without even trying. Third party ads, affiliate programs, and reward tools are all great ways to make your personal website work for you!

Remember, the internet user is a fickle beast, and too much advertising might lead them to believe that you’re some kind of sell-out. Be careful about the number of ads you allow on your page, or you might not get any page views at all!

Let’s look at some of the ways you can subtly and easily add revenue to your site:

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Tired of updating Twitter? Check out Buffer

urlObviously you don’t want to spend all day updating your Twitter in real time when you could be writing your book or working on other projects. That’s why there are plenty of programs that schedule tweets and even Facebook updates in advance, like LaterBroTweetdeck, or SocialTomorrow.

Duolit writer Shannon recently discovered a really great tool called Buffer that is wonderful for composing and scheduling tweets. According to her, Buffer works with your web browser so creating a new tweet out of an interesting link is as easy as clicking a button on your toolbar. It also schedules your tweets at completely random times rather than on the hour or half hour, so it looks less like a scheduled post and seems more natural.

That’s not all — with Buffer, you can schedule tweets days in advance, freeing up plenty of time for writing! Shannon says:

If you tweet five times a day, Buffer’s free option will give you space to add two days’ worth of tweets at a time and literally takes a matter of minutes.

Here’s the easiest way to do it — go on Twitter, add three or four retweets to your Buffer stream, then go about your daily blog reads, add a few of those with your handy built-in Buffer browser button, and then jump on bufferapp.com to type up a couple of statuses or mentions.

Once you’ve got ten tweets, hit the “Random” button and your messages will be shuffled into a random order — tada! Two days’ worth of quality tweets are set to go, just like that.

Check out the rest of the Duolit article to see all the great features that Buffer provides — or if you’re already convinced, go check out the Buffer website and download it for yourself. It even comes in a phone app so you can take it with you when you’re on the go!

An Intro to Social Media for the Self-Publisher

browseWhether or not Facebook loses popularity and goes the way of earlier websites like Myspace or Friendster, it’s clear that the social network is here to stay. Huge companies like Barnes and Noble or Penguin all have social media experts that use Facebook and Twitter accounts to alert their audiences to new books they’re publishing, but when you’re self-publishing, all you have is yourself! That’s why it’s important to know the basics of which social networks are worth your time and which you can choose to forgo.

Remember, don’t let worrying about social media get in the way of actually writing! It can be tempting to spend all day on Facebook waiting for people to say something nice about you, but it’s much more important to actually put out work that people will enjoy. Marketing is great, but you need to have a product to market!

Check out some of the best social networks to focus on after the jump:

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A Digital Shift: Libraries, Ebooks and Beyond

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about copyright over the past couple of weeks, and with good reason — electronic texts are reaching a wider audience than ever before, and as they become more and more ubiquitous in our culture, the discussion of how to make sure authors rights are protected in the best way is paramount. A lot of authors feel that DRM is absolutely essential for protecting their copyright, but don’t necessarily know how it works.

Cory Doctorow recently spoke about the problems inherent in the current method of digital rights management in a lecture delivered to the Library of Congress. If his name looks familiar, it’s because we’ve covered his work before — he’s a science fiction writer and contributor for BoingBoing, as well as an avid opponent of DRM.

Thanks to the magic of the internet, the entire video of his lecture is available to watch for free and is absolutely worth a view. Clocking in at almost exactly 60 minutes, it’s definitely longer than the average Youtube video, but if you’re interested in learning more about DRM then it’s time well spent. Check out the lecture below, and let us know what you think.

Alternatives to Google Reader for Keeping up on Publishing News

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Photo Credit: Ubergizmo

Like every online blogger and journalist right now, we at Bookworks are scrambling to find new RSS feed programs to get our important news from now that Google Reader is set to end. For those of who don’t use RSS feeds, this a big deal: they’re perfect for aggregating and syndicating articles automatically. Think of it as a sort of Twitter feed for news articles: you choose where the information you want will be curated from all over the internet, and the RSS feed does the hard work of putting it in once place for you. Our Google Reader, for example. is full of great information from The Book Designer, Huffington Post Books, Digital Book World, Mediabistro’s Galleycat, and other great websites.

We all have until July 1st to figure out where to go from here, at least, but if you’re like us and want to get a jump on figuring out which reader will be right for you, here’s a bunch of different resources and reviews of all the alternative RSS feed readers out there today:

Five Great RSS Reader Alternatives to Google Reader at Forbes

Three Great Alternatives to Google Reader at PCWorld

Google Reader is Shutting Down: Here are the Best Alternatives at Lifehacker

Alternatives to Google Reader for OS X and iOS users at Tuaw

From the looks of it, Feedly, Newsblur, and The Old Reader are definitely the frontrunners. We’ll definitely be trying them all out — which do you think is the best? Let us know in the comments!

Ins and Outs of Publishing Your Book Via The Web

There’s a great article in The New York Times today in which Alan Finder discusses the many benefits and drawbacks to online self publishing, and how it’s evolved from a last resort for artists who’ve been rejected everywhere else to a burgeoning industry in its own right:

Not long ago, an aspiring book writer rejected by traditional publishing houses had only one alternative: vanity publishing. For $5,000 or $10,000, or sometimes much more, he could have his manuscript edited and published, provided that he agreed to buy many copies himself, often a few thousand or more. They typically ended up in the garage. 

Digital technology has changed all that. A writer turned down by traditional publishers — or even avoiding them — now has a range of options. Among them are self-publishing a manuscript as an e-book; self-publishing through myriad companies that print on demand, in which a paperback or hardcover book is printed each time it is purchased; and buying an array of services, from editing and design to marketing and publicity, from what are known as assisted self-publishing companies.

Though he notes that like vanity press books, most self-published works “sell fewer than 100 or 150 copies,” he also concedes that authors who choose to self publish typically have much more control over their work than they would with a traditional publishing house, and that you have a better chance of getting ahead all these smaller efforts with a clever marketing campaign and an original idea.

It’s certainly worth reading the rest of the article to get some tips on which kind of self-publishing is right for you, whether it be simple like an e-book plan, or something a little more elaborate like Lulu’s print-on-demand system. Either way, we’re sure the market for self-published material is only going to get wider in scope!

Photo credit: Jakub Krechowicz, via The Stock Exchange