Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Last week I identified some web options for authors looking to create a website. Shortly after, I received an email, asking me if I would consider talking about book websites. And I’m happy to oblige.
THE PROBLEM WITH A BOOK WEBSITE
Many authors wrongly assume that by creating a site dedicated to their book, they will generate sales. But I’ve never ever seen this work. Sure, it may feel like you’re really nailing the marketing thing by having a book site, and it may look impressive and make you seem like you’ve got things under control.
But a book site is no different than an author website or a blog or anything else that you create and then put up on the Internet. NO ONE WILL VISIT THE SITE UNLESS THEY KNOW THAT IT EXISTS.
And furthermore, for those who DO visit the site, they certainly won’t revisit if they don’t have a reason to. Why? Content on these sites is very stagnant. There is usually one draw to get people there (maybe they clicked on an ad or were promised a quiz or a download), but once that bait has been taken, there is no reason for them to return. I know that I certainly don’t spend my time visiting book websites. Do you?
So the mentality that a book site is a great option is false, in my opinion. You are spending time and energy pushing people to a site that will not keep them. Will not engage them. Will offer them a simple YES or NO option (do you want to buy the book?) and once they have made their decision, they’re gone forever.
BUT WHAT ABOUT POTTERMORE?!
Sure if you have billions of dollars, a site like Pottermore is great! But 99.9% of authors, however, don’t have billions of dollars. So my example of a stagnant book site is the norm.
DOES A BOOK WEBSITE EVER WORK?!
As with all marketing, there is always an exception to the rule. So the answer is yes, there are times when a book site does really well.
A book website has a chance at doing well when:
- There is a marketing plan in place to drive traffic to the book website (ads are big here, social media campaigns, etc.)
- The author is a speaker/blogger/person with platform and can easily direct an audience to the page to buy the featured book
- The site presents some kind of takeaway that appeals to a large audience. Most book sites are all about buying the book. But when a site also features a free download or some kind of incentive to visit repeatedly, that’s when it can take the hard-sell-strategy and turn it into a softer sell.
A book website would do BEST when all three of the above are implemented.
My two cents? If you don’t have a reason for creating a book site (as opposed to a blog or a tumblr or something else that is more frequently updated and encourages returning visitors), then don’t create one. But if you have a vision for how you could truly benefit from a book site–for how you can get out there and drive people to your site–then by all means give it a shot.
BookLaunch as a Book Website Option
A really neat option is to go through BookLaunch.com. In fifteen minutes, I set up a web page for my book, The Extroverted Writer. No joke. And it was free. They do have a Premium version that you can use to showcase all of your books (now THAT could be a really cool tool), but if you’re iffy on whether or not a book site is for you, then this may be a great first step. Set it up. Put your marketing plan in motion, and see if it’s worth it (they have an analytics tool that makes tracking the numbers easy!).
REMEMBER! What works for one author, won’t work for another. So while I may say that book sites are typically a bad idea, that doesn’t mean that you won’t see great success with one! It’s all about the plan BEHIND the product. How will you market your site? How will you ensure visitors do what you want them to do? How will you engage with them beyond the site? If you have answers to these questions, then give a book website a whirl!
What do YOU think about book websites? And if you try the BookLaunch feature, I want to hear about it!