Part of an effective book marketing campaign is a website – after all, what is the first thing people do when they hear of something interesting and they want information? They -œGoogle- it. Your internet presence needs to grab the potential reader the same way the opening chapter of your book does. Your site should look professional, be informative, and be easy for people to find. But how to do all that? A single page provided by your publisher or P.O.D. printer is not enough. There are many ways to get a website, from custom designed solutions to do-it-yourself sites. The most effective time- and money-saving solution for authors is a complete managed website. With a managed website you choose a professional design from a selection of templates, then have it customized for you. You get a domain name, your website hosting, and professional site updates all in one package. No software to learn, no time spent building it, and no huge custom design fees. These strong, professional sites are that easy – the only time you’ll need to spend is in organizing what information you want on the site, and these three tips will help you prepare.
Domain Name As an author, it is recommended that you register up to three domain names for your site. If you used a P.O.D. provider for your book, you may have chosen a publishing name (Backyard Books, or Patio Press, etc.), and you should register that as a domain. Register your own name (or pen name) as well, because people often search for a site by author name. Then, of course, you’ll want to register the title of the book. The domains can be set to go to specific pages within your site, so I recommend using the publishing name (if you have one) as your main site, with the other names going to pages in your site that are specifically about the book or about you. If you don’t have a publishing name, use your author name as the main site. The book’s domain name will go directly to the page on the site about the book. If you write more books, you can then add them to your site under your publishing name or author name, each book with it’s own page within the site. Your site can then promote your new books as well as your back catalog, and will continue to grow with you. Site Content Your home page will immediately present your new book, as well as having links to the rest of the site. Promotional excerpts, quotes and pictures of the book should greet visitors to your site. Other pages you will want to add include the above-mentioned author page (your bio, picture, etc.) and a page dedicated to this specific book. Including a sample chapter is often a very effective means of drawing readers in to purchase your book, and of course images of the cover art will need to be included. If you are selling your book yourself, you will need an order page set up so people can purchase the book right from your site. If your P.O.D. or other booksellers are selling the book, your order page should include links directly to the page at their site where your book can be purchased. You may want to include a page for press releases and book reviews, as well as endorsements. If you don’t have many of these yet, you can always wait to include this page until you have a few to add. It can give the wrong impression if you have a full page dedicated to a single accolade – better to wait until your book has garnered several notable quotes before giving them their own page. In the mean time, you can always position quotes and review snippets throughout the other pages of your site. Include any other pages you think are relevant, but remember to write. You’re a writer, after all – provide your website builder with real content for your pages. Be clear, be concise, and remember to mention the title of the book and the topics involved in your text. If you wrote a story set in the world of motorcycle racing, for example, be sure to speak about the sport in your site’s content. Search engines, like Google, will be reading every word on your pages, so you want to feed them the words that people will actually use to try to find your book. Finally, you will want to include a site map, which is simply a page that lists links to every other page of your site. Even if your site is small to begin with, site maps do help search engines find their way around and through your site, and that is what you want them to do. Promoting the Site Yes, that’s right, you need to promote the website that is a promotional tool for your book if you want it to be effective! Luckily, if you’ve had the site built well, this doesn’t have to occupy all your time. There are several things you can do besides providing good site content to help your site be found. One of the big ones is to get some links coming in to your site, which often involves making some links out from your site. Approach other website owners for an exchange of links, but only relevant, decent quality sites. Some sites to consider: Your publisher or P.O.D. If these companies provide a simple book page or mini-site for you, be sure you add a link to your own site from that page. Did a graphic artist design your cover? Exchange links with them, as well as with any photographers you may have used for pictures on the cover or back cover. Do you belong to any writers’ groups or other professional associations? Trade links. If someone has reviewed your book, see if you can exchange links with their publication – or at least ask that they include your web address in their review of the book. Is there a group associated with your book topic? In the motorcycle example above, send a sample chapter to the webmaster of the motocross group and see if they’ll trade a link. If your book is non-fiction, consider writing some short articles (like this one) about your topic and submitting them to article directories or related websites. All articles should have a link in the resource box back to your site. Make use of any print materials you have – business cards, flyers, ads, etc. to list your website address. You should also have a marketing page at the end of the book itself, which should include your web address. As time goes on, make sure to email updates in to your site provider. They can update the site with dates and places of readings or book signings, posting the transcript to any online Q&As you may have done, adding to your list of reviews as they come in, and listing any other information as you get it. Make use of this service to keep your site fresh and keep people coming back. Marketing your book with a website does not have to be difficult and time consuming. Prepare the site’s content correctly, and find a good company to build and maintain it for you. Then you’ll have a world-wide billboard, 24 hour store, and information kiosk about you and your book all working for you! Debbi works with complete, managed web site solutions at WebFox (http://www.webfox.com) and web hosting domain name clients at 4Domains, Inc. (http://www.4domains.com).
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