The Value of Book Websites

It’s not like the old days.

 

Fifty years ago, authors would rely on their publisher to promote and market their books. That’s not the case today. Contemporary authors who have a strong desire to see their books become successful have to make sure that they have a solid marketing plan. One of the things the plan should include is having a definitive internet presence by way of an author website.

 

Having an author website is an essential marketing tool that every author should be using. Understanding that today’s authors are responsible for marketing their own books, allows the author to choose how best to accomplish the tasks of marketing and promotion. So it only makes sense that authors have the right tools available to them to create effective marketing for their craft. In the numerous discussions that I’ve had with marketers over the years, it’s clear to me that creating and operating an author website is the first and best tool to utilize. But why? What can an author website offer an author? Well, hopefully we have some valuable insight for you that will allow you to make a best decision as to whether an author website is right for you.

 

One question I get asked quite often is, “Is an author website worth the investment?” I’m not sure there’s one set answer for this question, but overall, I would say, “Yes!,” especially if you look at it from an BOI sort of way (Benefit of Investment). Benefits of investment can be tracked in several ways, there are direct benefits and there are indirect benefits. Direct benefits are those benefits that are immediate, concrete and for the most part measureable. Indirect benefits are less concrete and may not pay off except in the long term and are difficult to measure, but yet they exist.

 

One of the primary direct benefits of having your own author website is selling your book online. Selling your book through your author website can be profitable. Typically you can purchase your book from your publisher at a discount price and then resell it on your author website at the retail price. The difference between the two prices is your profit, pure and simple. The more books you sell, the more profits you make.

 

However, in most cases the indirect benefits outnumber and outweigh the direct benefits. For example, you really can’t judge the success of your author website on how many books are sold directly through the author website itself. Why? Well, many people will want to go to other venues to purchase it such as a local bookstore, or Amazon, or Barnes & Noble. Many buyers have accounts with these other vendors where they get discounts on their purchases and so they prefer to utilize their websites. The point here, is that they visited your author website and then went to purchase your book and a copy of your book was sold.

 

And what if you are working on your next book? Well, with your author website you have a dedicated website designed specifically to promote you and all your future works! With an author website, you can tout your next book before it’s available. You can even collect email addresses of people who want to be notified when the book becomes available for sale. You can also do pre-sale orders by selling copies of your next book before it’s even published.

 

Maybe you want to be picked up by one of the major publishers or a publisher that you feel will really push you in the direction you are looking to go. In some cases having an author website can give you a big boost within the industry. Agents, publishers and the media may be far more inclined to reach out and contact you if you have an author website as they realize you are self- motivated and have taken steps to promote both you and your books.

 

Author websites can be one of the most effective ways for promoting your services. Do you give seminars on a routine basis? Do you provide a series of lectures throughout the year? Do you teach classes on a given subject matter? Maybe you’re an educational professional who offers coaching classes for people to be successful. Perhaps you’ve found the secret to eternal youth and want to spread the word. Your author website can be a great tool for promoting your services as well as your writing.

 

And we don’t want to forget about big announcements. Author websites can be a great way to spread the word about book signings and other author events. You can promote upcoming events on your author website to help increase the turnout. The indirect benefit is that you can sell more books at the event and increase the buzz about you and your books.

 

Author websites are also great for integrating your social media efforts. You can easily create links and other apps that will allow your readers and followers to be up-to-date with everything you are doing. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumbler, YouTube, etc… can all be integrated into your author website to help increase traffic and make customers aware of you and your book.

 

So how do you go about making the decision to create an author website? First, give some reasonable thought as to whether an author website is right for you. If you prefer to sit in a cubicle or other small room, away from the world, interacting with no one and simply write stories…well then it’s probably a good assumption that a website is not your game. And that’s OK. You just can’t expect anyone to buy your books. However, if you are interested in engaging readers in conversation, providing them with information about you and your books, selling your books, letting the world know that you exist and that you are a creative and intelligent individual and that you have value to add to the lives of others, then most likely an author website would be a great fit for you.

 

Second, once you decide that an author website is a good marketing tool for both you and your books then you’ll want to investigate the best way to get an author website up and running. There are literally thousands of website companies out on the internet; large and small, expensive and cheap, competent and incompetent, those that will work with you in a creative manner and those that will give you a canned website in a box. There are lots of choices, so it’s important to do your research. Be sure to determine what your level of involvement will be and that you will be able to work comfortably with the company or person. And of course, if you have the ability and the time, to create and operate an author website on your own, then we encourage you to do so.

 

After you have decided who will create your author website you will need to decide what to include on the site itself. Here are a few things that we feel are a definitive must:

 

  • A booklist (with full color covers and descriptive text and preferably each book should have its own individual page)
  • Where to buy your books (either directly through your website using PayPal another third party venue and/or links to Amazon, B&N and any other site that might sell and distribute your books)
  • Coming soon (let everyone know what you are working on and what to expect, help build the curiosity and the excitement)
  • Author bio (this doesn’t have to be detailed, but should provide interesting facts about you)
  • Contact information (but only if you are going to converse and/or reply)
  • Chapter excerpts (this truly helps get the reader interested)
  • Book reviews and comments (make sure everyone knows how great your book is and what others have said about it)

 

Other optional items that lend excellent value to the author website and can easily be included are:

 

  • book trailer videos
  • links to other social media venues
  • links to other websites who are sponsoring events that you may be participating in
  • freebies that you may be giving away such as bookmarks, magnets, etc…
  • blog

 

If you understand that internet users want to be engaged in a website, just like they want to be engaged in reading a good book, then you stand an excellent chance of creating an author website that can be used as a first-rate marketing tool for both you and your books.

 

If you already have an author website up and running then we supportively give you tons of KUDOS for your efforts and for understanding the importance of having an online presence in today’s internet world. If you are still on the fence or need more information about what’s right for you, we would love talk with you and/or help you get started. Services for author websites are available through Maple Creek Media for $275.00 per year. We can provide personalized one-on-one service and great pricing, along with creative content to help you make the most of your investment.

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