So, you are set up with a domain name, you have a place for your site to live (aka web host) and you have a pretty new design filled with…what?
As a writer, what content should your site have?
Let’s start with the absolute MUST HAVES.
- First and foremost, your BOOKS!
- Backlist, Available Now, and Coming Soon. Include a blurb, cover image, available formats (paperback, audio, ebook) and links to buy them or a way for readers to order directly from you.
- Links to your pages on Twitter, Facebook and any other Social Media or blog sites you frequent. Like it or not, social media is huge.The beauty of social media for book marketing is that potential readers are already there. You don’t have to struggle to get them to your site to read about your contest or new release. They are already at Facebook or Twitter or wherever. If you are there too, the information you relay will just show in their feed, etc.But, of course, they have to know where to find you on these sites…thus provide the link on your personal website and help them out.
- Your Appearances. You have appearances planned. You want people there. Sure, ideally, tons of new-to-you people will flood in and discover you, but trust me, there is nothing better than an existing fan searching you out at that book signing. Plus, they are an existing fan. They deserve to know when you will be where, so they can get that book signed or photo taken.I like to use Booktour.com for this. It is easy to load your appearances there and the site provides some handy widgets that you can post to your site or social media page. BookTour.com also interacts with Amazon Author Central. In other words, with BookTour.com you can enter the information one time in one place and it will automatically post everywhere you like. You really can’t beat that.
- Newsletters – There is a statistic lost somewhere in my brain on how much more it costs to gain a new customer than it does to resell to an existing customer. Trust me. It is a lot more.If you can get readers to sign up for a newsletter, you can send them all kinds of great stuff about you, your books and your events. You can use a Yahoo or Google Group for free. There are also newsletter service you can use for free if you agree to let them post advertising in your newsletter.My suggestion, however, is that you pay a service like Your Mailing List Provider for a commercial free service that allows readers to opt in and opt out. (Your Mailing List Provider does also provide a free service. Check it out if ads don’t bother you.)Whatever you do, do not abuse your subscribers. Do not sell or loan your fan’s email addresses and don’t send them a notice every week about every piddly thing you’ve done. Set a schedule, like quarterly for a full blown newsletter and save other announcements for big things, like a new contest, or a new release. And do not put people on your list who haven’t asked to be on it. There is no easier or quicker way to tick off a potential reader or friend.
Now for some NICE TO HAVES
- Press Kit – Get the media to your site. Reporters are notorious for misplacing press releases and photos. If this happens to you all you have to do is give them your web address. Include everything you would include in a snail mail press kit. High res. pictures, press release, list of previous books, a Q & A, etc.Having this information on your site makes a reporter’s job easier and if they are considering writing about you–you certainly want to do that.
Other THINGS TO CONSIDER
- Message Boards – Message boards are, quite frankly, a bit 2005. However, some authors still like them and some readers still look for them. If you or your readers fit into these categories, message or bulletin boards may be effective. I do think for them to work, you have to either have an active fan base or some other big draw to get people to your boards.Message boards can cost a lot or be free. ILike all things on the Internet, it is all in what you want and are willing to put up with.
- Blogs –If message boards are 2005, blogs are probably 2008. Which doesn’t mean many authors and readers don’t still love them. They are, however, work. If you expect regular comments and visitors at your blog, you have to be entertaining and you have to be consistent. This, in addition to trying to write more books, can be draining.You also need to think about who you are writing your blogs for…exisiting readers? other writers? new potential readers? your mother? Knowing this should dictate what you write. Ideally, I think you should go for a mix of this. Just don’t expect to get tons of new vampire loving followers if all you blog about is growing beans in your garden. Target the message to the audience.If this sounds like too much work, you can also set up a blog and simply use it as a spot to post news. Or instead of blogging at your own site, you can guest blog other places. As I said, keeping a blog going is hard work. Other authors are often more than willing to host a guest author.
- For Writers – How many people do you know who would like to write a book? A ton, right? And writers read AND as a writer you most certainly have accumulated information on writing that you could share with others. If so, consider adding a For Writers section to your site. It can help to make your site more of a resource which will help you get links, which will help you rank higher in search engines, which will help you get hits, which will help you get…Okay, I think you get the idea. For Writers…if you have the information, you might as well share it.
- Deleted Scenes and other Freebies – Readers like extras. Correction: People like extras. If you have scenes that you loved but didn’t fit in your word count or didn’t add to the plot, why not put them up on your web site as a free extra? You can also provide tangible send-reader-in-the-mail freebies like bookmarks and book plates. I do this and I am constantly surprised at how many people ask for them. You don’t have to eat the postage either. It is completely reasonable to ask them to mail you a self-addressed stamped envelope. You are, afterall, providing the actual freebie.
I do this on my site and I also provide links to images that readers can post on their sites. The use of these images, like the “OFFICIAL HELLHOUND LOVER” bumper you see to the right, is a bonus for both of you. Free fun bling for their profiles/sites and free advertising for you.
So, that’s it for content. If you have anything you as a reader love to see at an author’s site, or if you have some fabulous page on your site that others need to check out, please leave a mention in the comments!
Thanks for the enlightment, LORIS.