Quite a few of our clients are authors or have books to promote on their websites. We’ve recently updated the website of a long-term client to showcase his new book.
The point of the website update is to focus narrowly on the new book. The homepage is essentially a landing page we can use for his social media. It contains the essential information: what he has to offer and how to get it.
There is a bio page, styled to match the new landing page, and a product page for the book. Again, it’s providing the information visitors need to get the book, but it also has the author’s description and thoughts about the book.
We updated the author’s history of the world he writes about and his blog to match the landing page as well. The content did not change, but the whole website has a cohesive — and spiffier — look.
Book promotion and publishing
Until the book was published and featured on Amazon, the author was primarily a publisher at his website, sharing short fiction, essays, and personal experiences. For a writer, this is a great way to display the goods in the shop window and build a following. With nothing to sell, a writer’s blog provides interesting reading for visitors.
When the book is published, the writer needs to shift from building an audience to selling the book. A sales page, either offering the book for sale directly or linking to the places where it can be bought, becomes the focus of the website.
People who have already enjoyed the writing at the website will be inclined to want to read the book. They know the author is a good writer and they have probably already enjoyed the posts about the fictional world the author is creating.
Making it easy to get the book is the first job. A compelling description and an appealing book cover will also bring in new readers. But the regular readers who are excited to know that the book they’ve looked forward to is now available — they are the primary target audience.
If you have already built up a following, it’s very important that your website shows up for searches for your name and the title of your book or series. The chances that your new book will show up in a search for “science fiction” or “new novels” are slim.
Narrow your keyword choices to the long tail keywords that might be less competitive. Another client of ours writes Southern Gothic novels with specific settings in time and place; those keywords are more useful for her than “books” or “novels.” Narrower genre labels like “dystopian fiction” or “cyberpunk novels” will give you a better chance of ranking. People may also search for local authors, authors like a favorite of theirs, or a leading character of a particular description.
However, social media’s probably going to be a major source of traffic for you as your work becomes better known. Advertising is also probably a good idea. Google, Facebook, and Amazon are likely to work well for you.
Finally, reviews of your book are very important. It makes sense to send copies to reviewers, bloggers, and fellow authors. Ask directly for reviews and make use of sites like Goodreads and Amazon to collect reviews.
Simple positive reviews like “Great book!” are not likely to get much traction for you, and lots of reviews like that cause readers to feel suspicious. Instead, ask people who write reviews of books to review your book. There are many people who enjoy reviewing books and will be happy to do that for you if you send them a copy. An email asking for this favor is completely appropriate.
You can then excerpt positive reviews at your website.
These steps should hep you get the word out about your new book — or your longstanding book, if you haven’t already done these things.