And, just as potential customers of restaurants and clothing brands expect them to have websites, so do potential readers of your books.
It’s extremely important to have a website—or even multiple websites—to provide information about you and your books. If you don’t have at least one website, you are missing a major opportunity to impress and interact with potential readers.
- Readers expect authors to have websites. Don’t disappoint them.
Authors' websites (and blogs) follow several formulas, and you can have one or more.
- You can have a website to promote one book.
- You can have a website to promote a series of books.
- You can have a website to promote a cause you support, and also promote a book.
- You can have a website to promote your publishing company.
- You can have a website to promote you as an author.
- You can have a website to promote you as a person.
- You can have a website to promote the subject of a book.
- You can have a website that promotes an organization or location related to your book, and also promotes the book.
- You can have a website that deals with a subject unrelated to your book, but also promotes the book.
- Many potential customers don't know that your book exists, and don't care. While some people will find your site(s) by searching for the book title or your personal name, it's likely that many more will search for a subject—such as the JFK assassination, movie monsters or Italian food—that your book deals with.
- If your book is not nonfiction, but is a novel or poetry, it will be much more difficult to attract customers with web searches. Some genres such as dystopian fiction or romantic poetry include so many thousands of books that it will be very difficult for your work to stand out.
- If you have a website for one of your books, it should also help to sell your other books!
A blog usually consists of some introductory text plus multiple entries (“posts” or “postings”) displayed with the newest post on top, followed by older posts. The main page of a blog typically displays three to ten posts, and there are links to older posts that may be grouped by year, topic or both.
I (mostly) like Blogger, which hosts this blog. It's owned by Google, and it's free. I pay extra for my BookMakingBlog.com address. The Google connection makes it easy to “monetize” a blog by carrying small "AdSense" ads on it. I like Wordpress, too. Many authors use it.
A blog can be "free-standing" or it can be a section of a website.
- Anyone searching for topics you’ve blogged about can find links to your blog, find your blog, and see an ad for your book and maybe buy it. Google typically indexes this blog less than an hour after I publish it. A robot thinks I'm important. Wow.
- It’s tougher for fiction. Many novelists’ blogs seem to attract only other novelists—not readers. If you are a novelist who specializes in post-apocalyptic gay teenage albino vampire sex, how many blog posts about your novel could you come up with over the years? Three? One? Maybe a better strategy for a novelist would be to blog with news and opinions about something remotely related to the book topic—like teenage sex, vampires or albinos—that might catch searchers who might be interested in reading a related novel.
[below] Website for Bette Isacoff and her book Star Crossed
[below] Website for my book, Do As I Say, No As I Did (no longer online)
[below] Website that provides help for victims of internet harassment, and promotes my book, Internet Hell (no longer online)
[Below] Website for my publishing company, Silver Sands Books
Fortune magazine once said that a website would take six months to develop and cost $500,000. A well-known book marketing expert wrote that a writer’s website could cost as much as $6,000 to set up. Both costs are very wrong and could needlessly scare off writers who would benefit from having websites.
Try not to get a URL with a hyphen in it (unless it’s a product name or term that is already hyphenated). If the name or term is hyphenated, your website should work both with and without the hyphen. The Coke website can be reached by typing Coca-Cola.com or Cocacola.com. Or Coke.com
Make sure your website is well-written, complete, accurate and has no dead links, wrong links or template artifacts (below).