Websites and Newsletters

May 6


Michael LaRocca

Michael LaRocca

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If you are selling ... you should have a website. If youare selling ebooks, you should consider it ... How ... do you know who read ebooks but don't access the ... come t


If you are selling anything,Websites and Newsletters Articles you should have a website. If you
are selling ebooks, you should consider it mandatory. How many
people do you know who read ebooks but don't access the Internet?
None come to my mind.

The best thing about having a website is that you can quite
probably do it free. Later, once you know what you're doing, you
can choose to buy a domain name and pay a hosting service if you

You can pay someone to design a gorgeous site for you, loaded
with graphics, complete with a secure server and the option to
buy right there, but I didn't. My publisher does the selling.
Writing a site yourself, loaded with information and a place to
click to send someone to your publisher, is simple.

For the actual mechanics of web site construction, send a blank
email to

So let's talk strategy.

"Hi, I'm Michael LaRocca and these are my books." This approach
will guarantee that anyone looking for Michael LaRocca will find
my site. But when we consider that no one's heard of Michael
LaRocca, how many people will seek out my site?

Here's a possible solution.

Let's say you've written a book where most of the action happens
on a snowmobile. Put together the best damn snowmobile page in
history. Everything that anyone wants to know about snowmobiles
should be on your site. Make it the kind of resource that any
snowmobiler will go visit again and again. Then slip a little
note in there mentioning your fiction book. People will find your
site, and during one of those repeat visits they'll buy that

Basically, fill a need. Give folks a reason to keep coming back
even if they think they'll never buy your book. And please, put
more on there than just your book. In my case, I kept a high-
traffic site running for almost a year without a single product
to sell. My site is a reference source for readers and writers.
More writers than readers, probably, but writers read too. Maybe
not the most original approach, but I write in so many genres
that I haven't come up with anything better yet. I might later

Being helpful is my "sales gimmick," but I just so happen to
enjoy it. People don't log onto the Internet with the purpose of
spending money. They log on for information or entertainment,
then maybe make an impulse buy while they're at it. Give them
information and/or entertainment and they'll keep coming back.

If you throw in just a little soft sell, and do it right, they'll
eventually make that impulse buy as a favor to you. Hopefully
after they read one of your books, you'll hook them and they'll
come back specifically to buy the rest.

Search Engines

The single most important and effective way to bring traffic to
your website is to place it in the search engines, in the
appropriate categories. You want to place it in the top ten or
twenty slots.

The best way to learn how to do this is to send a blank email to You'll receive a free five-day
course by email, over 200 pages long in all, that will tell you
more than you ever wanted to know.

Also, visit Search Engine Watch and subscribe to the free
newsletter. Useful advice on a
monthly basis.


Why do I have a newsletter? To tell you when my books are for
sale, of course. To announce each new book as it becomes
available. It also comes in handy whenever I change the address
of my website, as a way to tell folks I've moved.

But of course, almost nobody will subscribe to a newsletter just
for that info alone. Just groupies. I've got over 600
subscribers, and certainly they're not all groupies. Nope, I'm
actually providing useful info and filling a need again. And
slipping in occassional the "read my book" message while I'm at

If you don't feel you can write a newsletter, you can use the
"free content" sites to get someone else to do the writing.
Instead of paying contributors, you simply allow them to include
their URL. They'll appreciate the free advertising, and you won't
have to write for your newsletter unless you feel like it.

But really, why have a newsletter? There are ways to promote web
sites (search engines) and there are ways to promote newsletters
(announcement lists). Each generates a different type of traffic.

Your newsletter can mention your website, your website can
mention your newsletter, and you will gain more users in both

Newsletter Promotion

One quick and easy trick for promoting your newsletter or
discussion group is to take advantage of the free announcement
lists. It'll take you about two minutes a week.

What is an announcement list? Put simply, the Internet has users
who enjoy receiving newsletters, and receiving regular
announcements of what newsletters are out there. These are people
with some time on their hands, probably the same people who will
be the most receptive to buying your books.

The way I've set things up on my computer is, I've written an ad
for my newsletter. I send the same ad to the announcement lists
as often as they'll allow it. In the same file with my
announcement, I have a "monthly list" and a "weekly list" of
email addresses that I send this ad to. Also in the file, I
record when I last sent my announcement to them.

Once a week, with a two-minute copy-and-paste job, I'm
advertising. Every time I do this, more subscribers arrive.
Apparently different people are always joining these announcement
lists, and some of them are joining my newsletter subscriber

You have to join any announcement list before you can announce on
it, but you don't have to receive the announcements yourself. All
the major newsletter/discussion group hosts will allow you to set
your options to "No Mail/Read On The Website."

Visit and
pick up a copy of the file I use. It's called NewsletterAd.rtf.
All typed in and ready to go, except for the "signing up" bit.
(If you're not receiving my free newsletter, you might want to
join while you're there. *grin*)

Once you join each group -- that might take you an hour or two --
you'll be ready to send out those weekly emails.

To join the SmartGroups lists, log onto Each group address is{listname}

{listname} refers to the part of the email address before the @

To join the Topica lists, log onto
Each group address is{listname}

To join the YahooGroups lists, log onto
Each group address is{listname}

Free Content is a good starting
place. Also in Yahoo Groups are articles_announce,
articles_archives, Free-Content, and publisher_archives.

You can also look in any search engine for "free content" and
find some more.

I recommend Media Peak ( and Nerdworld

Newsletter Unveiling

I'm not going to list all these sites in my article. You can
find them at
There are 31 of them. When I visited them all, I watched my
subscriber base grow by about 200 in a month. I don't know which
sites should get the credit.

Most of them allow you to list your newsletter for a month. I may
or may not visit them again at some point, because they take a
lot longer than the two-minute job I mentioned before.


Okay, that should keep you busy for a while! Set up your website,
set up your newsletter, and do some announcing. If you have any
questions along the way, write to and
I'll do what I can.