Because I’m in the process of setting my action plan for AK Anderson in 2013, I’m doing one of the first things I usually do for clients who are ready to dig into internet marketing: a complete competitive analysis.
I know that there are at least 5,000 other English-speaking authors who are currently querying speculative fiction novels. I know this because Harper Voyager received 4,563 submissions during their 2-week submission window in October.
I might have to compete with the town of Anderson, Alaska in SERPS for AK Anderson’s name, but in reality I am competing with the other science fiction novelists shopping their novels. I can’t analyze their query letters. I can’t analyze their plots, or their first few chapters. Those are the most direct forms of competition for a writer at this stage of the process – staying out of the slush piles.
However, I can analyze a few other author platforms online. First of all, because they’re out there on the internet for me to find them. Second, I’m actually qualified to assess that sort of thing.
Sizing up the Competition
I want to state outright that I’m not doing this to be spiteful or snarky in any way. (In fact, I hope some of these authors have pingbacks at the ready to come read my assessments and act on them!)
This Sci Fi author, whose name is “DB” – as far as I can find on the site – is pitching sci fi books in the midst of another business.
- Pros: By far the best SEO of the authors I’m assessing. I googled “science fiction author seeking agent” and this page appeared. Site includes synopsis and excerpts of completed and querying works. Clicking on the homepage, the site says it was last updated within the past few weeks.
- Cons: Only means of contacting the author is an email link. The design is outdated, and the sci-fi page is not easily findable from the home page. This makes me wonder whether the author is actively pitching these books, or whether they were an old effort now trunked. The old design also makes a person wonder how often the site really is maintained, as does the lack of social media.
During the same Google search, I found SA Clark‘s blurb on LinkedIn. That had a link to the website, which I clicked over to check out.
- Pros: Professional site, fairly modern design. Includes sample works and short stories on the website. Is a published non-fiction author. He has his own domain name.
- Cons: The blog is there (which is a pro), but it has not been updated since July (con). The combination of no social media links and a very dry bullet-list biography make me feel like SA Clark’s personality has nothing to do with this site. I get no feel for the author as a human being.
This next site is even better. I discovered LF Sarrouf‘s site because she posted it on Facebook. I went to college with this author, and we’ve been friends for nearly 20 years. In fact, her posting her link recently was what spurred this analysis.
- Pros: She has her own domain name. She has sample work available. There are links and clips for her published clips. It’s a professional, clean and modern design.
- Cons: The blog is there (which is a pro), but it has not been updated since July (con). There is no way to contact her via the website, and there are no links out to any social media.
Last but not least, the best of the four sites I’m analyzing: Melanie’s Becoming Author blog. Melanie is a pro at using the WordPress tools to discover other blogs and inspire bloggers to follow her and comment. That’s how I found her.
- Pros: Sample work available, Twitter available (and I follow her as a result of following her blog), Facebook, Good reads, email submission form. Yes, yes, yes. Regularly updated blog with engaging content (character sketches!) And, as stated above, a master at gaining readership via WordPress.
- Cons: Melanie has very little to do from an internet marketing perspective. She could link to Pinterest if she really wanted to. She could get her own domain name. Mostly, she just needs to keep doing everything right to continue growing readership and engaging her audience.
If I were to analyze my own blog in the same fashion, I’d certainly give myself the same advice I’ve given Melanie – consider getting my own domain; keep growing audience. I need to improve my WordPress discovery work, and get more people over to the blog more regularly (I only have 2 regular readers). I also need to get some excerpts or short stories up and available on the blog. Currently, I only have one true WIP post, and it’s not even permalinked. Also, while my design is “clean” it is also “dull”. I need to punch up the look of the site.