Book Publicity Essentials: Author Website Tips

Monday, November 26, 2018

A great book publicity campaign can be derailed by a poor author website. A quality website is essential in our increasingly digitally-based world, and is a powerful book marketing tool to introduce audiences to you and your book.

While some viewers may be interested in you, audiences need valuable content in order to stick around. What’s in it for them? Know who your readers are and what they want. Ideally, you want people to share your website’s content, comment on your work and book, and come back for more.

We recommend you visit websites/blogs of your favorite authors, especially ones covering similar subject matter. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel! Sometimes if you are too creative, it may be confusing to audiences used to looking at standard categories of information. When someone visits an author website, they are looking to learn more about your ideas, solutions, news, and topics related to you and your book.

You can be flexible with how you organize these elements, but here are some features to consider adding to your author website:

Make It Easy for People to Buy Your Book

  • Showcase your book cover on the homepage, offering links to retail sites (Amazon, B&N, IndieBound, etc.).
  • Let readers know all the formats available (hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook).
  • Ideally, purchasing links should be on every page.

About the Book/Bonus Material

  • Sample chapters, table of contents, and/or introductions are KEY to attracting interest.
  • Testimonials, professional book reviews and reader reviews are great to give your book credibility and help potential readers learn more about your book.
  • Bonus information is great for giving people a reason to visit your author website. Examples include blogs, podcasts, author interviews, links to articles, etc.

About the Author

  • Add your author bio—some people have a long and short version. Include your professional and educational background; add humor and any personal hobbies and passions. People like to connect with people. Let your personality, voice, and writing shine. The “About the Author” section is one of the most popular pages on an author website.
  • Include a headshot of yourself as well so visitors can put a face to the name! No selfies! Use a high quality photo.

Media

  • Add press releases and offer them as downloads.
  • Add your book covers to download (high resolution and low resolution options), your photo (high resolution and low resolution options). Online outlets/bloggers use low resolution for faster download speed. Print media use high resolution for higher quality printing.
  • Add your publicity contact information, email, and telephone. If you are not working with a publicist, still offer a contact name and email. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to reach you.
  • Add links to media placements and reviews as they come in.

Appearances and Events

  • Let people know where you will be! Add photos and feedback from events. Invite people to sign up for news on upcoming appearances.

Newsletter/Alerts

  • Email addresses of people interested in you and your book are a terrific asset. Your author website should be set up to allow you to capture the details of your visitors (ask them to sign up for a newsletter or download the first chapter of your newest book) to build a direct and long-term valuable relationship. Newsletters can include a preview of a future book, media appearances, or events. 
  • Give something to get something! Don't be overly promotional. Provide fun facts or create a contest with winners getting a free copy of your book or other giveaway item, etc.
  • Use a service like ConstantContact, MailChimp, and iContact to help you look professional and easily manage email addresses/opt outs.

Selling the Book Yourself

  • Some authors choose to sell books from their website (which, if you are self-published, will make you more money than splitting your sales with a retailer). If you do set up a way for people to buy your book directly from you, give them incentive, perhaps with an autographed copy, extra chapter, worksheet, etc. Note: It is very hard to entice “strangers” to purchase a book from an unknown site. Book buyers overwhelmingly purchase from sites they know and trust, like Amazon.
  • Mention if any of your book's profits are going to charity.

Social Media

  • Add icons of all the places you are active on social media. This will encourage audiences to follow you on the platform of their choosing. Remember, if you are offering a social media platform, you need to be regularly active on it.

Blogs

  • A blog is a great way to show audiences your personality, share opinions about other books, (hopefully mostly positive). Fresh content—some say weekly or more—is key to a successful blog.
  • Use keywords and phrases related to your book for SEO purposes.
  • Industry statistic: websites with blogs receive 55% more traffic.

More on Author Websites

  • Don’t be tempted to use a free website with low quality graphics and bad ads, it’s a turn off to viewers.
  • Less is more. Busy fonts, too much text, flashing graphics, and slow loading pages are sure to discourage people to spend time on your website or blog.
  • Add photographs and illustrations related to your book and topic.
  • Podcasts and links to interviews give audiences another way to get to know you and your work.
  • Check your site on a regular basis to ensure it’s not outdated. Sites that haven’t been updated or have wrong dates, etc., can turn visitors off. You may want to consider setting calendar alerts for yourself to remind you to check your page.

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Dan Smith

Dan Smith is CEO and Founder of Smith Publicity, the most prolific book marketing agency in the publishing industry, with over 3,000 books promoted since 1997. From first-time, self-published authors to New York Times bestsellers, Smith Publicity promotes every genre, and has secured media coverage for authors and books with every top media outlet in the U.S. and Canada. The firm has offices in Cherry Hill, NJ, and Toronto. Contact Smith Publicity at info@smithpublicity.com.