Having a great website is so important in your book marketing efforts. The main goal is to connect to your ideal readers, the ones who sing your praises and love your work. Give your readers and fans an easy and fun place to learn more about your work (have they missed any of your books? What is the next book in the series?), live a bit in your world, and link up with other fans.
1) Great Homepage
Your first impression sets the tone for your entire site (no pressure, right?). Your site’s design should reflect the mood of your books, and immediately answer your readers most pressing questions, like:
- What type of books do you write? (this should be obvious, like, super obvious. You write novels about zombies there has better be pictures of zombies front and center on your homepage)
- Where can I find a list of books you have written?
- What is your latest book, and where can I buy it?
- Where can I learn more about you?
- What’ new? (Are you appearing at any events? Having a sale? Running a promo? Doing a read-along?)
Questions to ask yourself:
- Does the design match the mood of my subject matter (Lets’ go back to zombies (what? I like zombies), If you write dystopian zombie novels, pink glitter might not portray the right mood, or hey it might. Valley-girl Zombies anyone?)
- Can readers find the most important info about you and your books?
- Did you limit the info on your homepage to just the important stuff (nobody wants to hunt through a cluttered mess)?
Draw your readers into your world, and represent the image you want to portray, while providing the info your readers want, and you’ve got a winner.
Search engines love new content, and one of the best ways to consistently add new content is by writing articles to your blog. Not only that, but your fans will also love to read your blog. You don’t have to blog about your personal life, you can write about anything. Keep in mind your target audience and think about what they might be interested in.
- A behind the scenes look: What does your typical day look like?
- What tools do you use?
- What books do you read, who are your favorite authors?
- What do you listen to while writing?
- How do you get inspired?
- Do you have any hobbies that your readers would be interested in?
- Short stories taking place in your worlds with side-characters
- Review an event you attended
3) About / Biography Page
Don’t skip this on. I know it’s a real PITA, but this one is not optional.
Some things to include:
- Your professional experiences
- Your professional memberships/associations
- If applicable, your education
- Something about you that’s interesting/newsworthy
- Any literary prizes you have won
- Your latest or best-selling book titles
- Add some personality, keep in mind the mood of your books
- Keep personal info to a minimum. Short and sweet
- Include your head-shot
Take a look at some of your favorite authors and take note of what they include. Are there any patterns to how their bio is structured?
4) Book list
It may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many authors don’t do this:
- Have a nice, big, high-quality, cover-shot for each book
- Include a compelling blurb for each book
- Be clear on where your readers can buy each book (include links), and include the publishing date and ISBN number (so it’s easy to find).
- Organize your book by series and then by reading order (if you write anthologies)
5) Event list & Calendar
This doesn’t have to complicated. If you are attending many events, you may want to use a calendar so that everything is easy to read. If you only have a few events a simple list will do. Be sure to include all of the relevant information (like, date, time, address), and don’t forget to include more specific information like: when and where you will be speaking, when and where your fans can meet you, if your live-tweeting: your hashtag, if you will be signing books, if you will be running any promotions or contests.
6) Media / Press Kit
A media kit is a collection of relevant information about you and your books. It’s meant to provide an easy to find reference for the media (Bloggers, Reviewers, Journalists, Retailers, Event Coordinators (for book signings) etc…) so that they can easily (and quickly) find key information (that their, and your, audience would be interested in) about you and your book. Everything that they might need to write an article, write a review, promote your event, or stock your book on the shelves.
Read: Building Your Online Media Kit to find out some of the things you should include in your media kit.
7) Social Media Stuff
There are 2 types of social media interaction you want on your website:
- You want people to be able to find, and like/follow, your social media pages, and
- You want people to spread the word, by sharing your content on their social media accounts
In the marketing world there is a term: “Call to Action,” this means that you need to tell people what you would like them to do. What is the next step to interacting with you? Not everyone will notice your social buttons, or remember to share, so it’s important to remind your readers that you would like them to like/follow your media, and share your content.
8) Optin Form to Grow Your Mailing List
Please start your mailing list early. Your list might be small now, and you might not have much to say yet, but having a list of your biggest fans, and being able to connect directly with them is an incredible privilege that will help you grow your fan-base exponentially. The people who sign up for your mailing list are the most likely to buy your next book, or share your big news with their friends.
9) Contact Information
Let people know what the best way to get a hold of you for several scenarios. For example, if fans want to discuss your latest novel, point then towards social media. Publishers, Media Inquiries, and Agents can reach you by email.
Also using a contact form can help you organize and prioritize your inbox, you can add a drop-down to ask what the nature of the inquiry is, and use that to flag important emails, or send out auto responders.
Every interaction has potential, so make it easy for people to interact with you, and respond promptly.
10) Fun Stuff / Extras
This is the ideal place to welcome your readers into the world of your books. Be creative and have fun! I’ve seen everything from mix-tape style playlists to a blog written from the perspective of a lead character.
- Sneak peek of a new book cover
- Beautiful illustration of a map of your book’s world (bonus if it’s print quality and frame-worthy). If it’s a real place, how about a walking tour?
- Book club guides
- Fun facts about your characters/world
- Book trailers
Keep in mind how much work it would be to keep the “Fun Stuff” up to date. If you want to include a blog from the perspective of a character, are you willing to commit the time to add new articles? If you are pressed for time, maybe consider something that requires less of a commitment.
Is there anything you like to include in your website? Please share it in the comments below.