Providing up-to-date information about an author is essential to his or her book marketing efforts. The best way to do this is with a basic, easy to navigate, and easy to find website. You have a choice: pay someone to do it for you or do it yourself.
Paying someone else to do it may ensure it has a professional look, but you run a risk of a website designer putting far too much into it. Doing it yourself is not that difficult these days. You don’t need to be an HTML programmer anymore. It is very important to keep it simple and not use too many bells and whistles. Speed of loading and navigating is critically important. There are a number of excellent alternatives to website construction. Some are fill-in-the-blanks, generic sites (many major publishers provide these, as well as author support sites). Others allow you to build it from scratch or base it on an excellent template.
First, let me provide some resources for these and then I’ll discuss what needs to be included on your site. The following resources are ones with which I’m familiar. A simple search of the internet will provide even more possibilities.
Building Your Own Author Site
This is the web host I use. I’m not saying it’s the best, but it fills my needs just fine. The important thing is that it provides a free copy of Intuit’s “Sitebuilder” software, which includes some excellent templates and very easy to use website construction tools. They have a number of different programs for different levels of support.
This is an author specialty web host with a version of Sitebuilder. They have three different versions of support, ranging from $3 to $6 to $9.
Smart Author Sites is an author web design company.
If you go to http://www.spearsminteditions.com/books.html , you will see my books opening and riffeling thru pages. Book Buzzer provides the aps which make this happen. It’s a good book support company.
Author Support Sites
This is an excellent author support site (free) which provides a page to each member.
This is the ebook service I personally use and recommend. They translate your book into all the different ebook formats, sell it for you, and provide each user their own author pages.
Has hundreds of official author sites.
This is a paid author book marketing support service.
This is a free author website directory.
Provides free to premium levels of author supports, including websites.
The Importance of Getting Found: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Whole books and seminars exist on this topic. It’s imperative that your website comes up on the first page of the results of a search. I’m unusual in that I am willing to go down 5 or 6 pages of search results for something I’m interested in. Most searchers are not, which is why you have to optimize your website for the internet search engines like Google and Yahoo. They send out software routines, called spiders, throughout the internet to find and categorize wites by their key words. The two best ways to do this is through the use of:
- Metatags: keywords most likely to be important to the people you want coming to your site
- Links: Links to your site from other sites
What to include on author websites
Author Contact information: every contact info you want others to have to be able to get a hold of you for commercial purposes.
Publishing house and Distributors
Bookstores and libraries need this info to buy your books.
Contact information for a publicist and / or lecture agent
If you have someone setting up book tours for you, be sure to include their info.
Contact information for your literary agent
This is for folks seeking rights to your book, such as movie makers and foreign publishers and distributors.
A media room
This is to provide to the press and reviewers downloadable materials they need to talk about you:
- 300 dpi author pictures & book cover
- Press releases
- A Bookbuzzr picture of the cover with a short downloadable teaser
- Powerful short synopsis
- Trailer (optional)
- Buy / shopping cart link
About the Author
An interesting background that explains why you were the guy to write this book.
Page Links (Permalinks)
Usually on the left or top of each page that allows you to navigate around the site easily.
Usually called a shopping cart. This provides the site visitor the means to purchase your books.
A schedule or calendar of where you will be appearing and when.
A community / discussion function / Blog
If you are able to create a significant book buzz, this is a discussion page for your fans to talk about you. It’s an excellent way to get interesting feedback. An on-site blog or a convenient link to one is an excellent way to tell fans what you think.
What not to have on your book website
Flash may be neat, but it slows down page loading and automatically knocks off fans with older computers and operating systems.
There are no permalinks: That’s just crazy. If visitors can’t readily see what they want to look at, they’ll leave immediately. Make your site ultra easy to navigate.
The blog lacks an RSS feed: Allow your blog readers to be automatically alerted whenever you post a new article. That is the function of an RSS.
Failure to include a contact email address: If you are concerned about your privacy, create a separate email address that’s only used for your writing efforts. Don’t give out the ones that go directly to your family.
Dark backgrounds and small / multiple fonts: you know how I feel about these aspects when it comes to book covers. The same goes for websites.
Unused features: Don’t put up a feature like a blog or a touring schedule and then never update it. That’s a big turn-off.
Forgetting to post downloadable hi-resolution images of / from / about the book: As a bookstore owner, I put out ad flyers, emails, and website postings advertising upcoming author signings, for which I need the info in authors’ media rooms.
Book trailers that play automatically: When I click on a home page link to a site, I do not expect to have to wait while a book trailer plays or a cutesy teaser door promises glorious mysteries if you just click on. DON’T DO THAT!!! I hate having my time wasted. It really agggravates me. If I want to watch a book trailer, give me the option to click on it. Your synopsis better be really good for me to want to do that.
Sample Author Sites
Nancy is a beloved Kansas mystery writer who is a major force in the Sisters in Crime, an international mystery writers’ organization. She’s a national level author, so her site is more complex than some.
This is how a major publisher handles author sites.
Important Book Marketing Blog Posts
The following book marketing posts from the Bookbuzzr folks’ blog will help you understand that you need to know your target segments when designing a site or a campaign.