I published my first book two months ago, but it’s not selling. I’m thinking about building a website. What do I need to know?
Last month, this Facebook group question inspired me to explain how publishing a book is like owning a business. You can’t just create a product, you also have to package, market, and sell it. For authors, there are three components necessary to that process:
- A website
- A newsletter
- A social media presence
Today we’re going to look at what you need on your author website.
Hard truth: just because you passed your college English class doesn’t mean you can (or should) write your own website content.
Harder truth: just because you can write a novel that sells doesn’t mean you can (or should) write your own website content.
Too many people think they can slap any info they want onto a website and it will work. That is not true! Your website is an advertising and marketing tool. As an author, it’s your primary tool, so you need to get it right. If you’re not an experienced marketer (or haven’t taken copywriting courses), then you need to hire someone who has. There’s too much to explain in one blog post, but here are some tips:
- Less is more (especially on the home page).
- People like white space.
- It’s not about you; it’s about your reader.
- No one cares about your credentials; they want to know how you can help or entertain them.
I would love to believe that stellar content is enough to attract people’s attention, but that’s not the case. Your website has to be visually appealing too.
There are a lot of inexpensive options available to help you create your own website. If you have a background in the visual arts, go for it! Building your author website isn’t for everyone, though. It’s tempting to go for the less expensive options, but it might not be a good idea if:
- You have no experience or talent with visual arts.
- You’re a perfectionist who will spend more time tweaking your site than writing.
Remember: your website will be one of the first impressions you make on your readers. Don’t scare them away with 1990s clip art and bubble letters.
As is the case with learning to write, as you build your website you’ll need to invest something—either the money to hire professionals or the time to learn how to do it yourself. The only wrong answer is to do it yourself with no experience and no training—that’s like buying a building for a new store and trying to repair it yourself without any construction or remodeling experience: it might be functional, but it won’t be pretty and it will likely turn away more people than it attracts.
Come back next month to learn more about author newsletters and how they can help you grow your audience (and sell books!).
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