Most people no longer rely solely on phone books and fold-out maps. The library’s reference section is growing obsolete, because we rarely turn to an encyclopedia when a Google search provides abundant real-time results. These days, nearly any information expected to be available online.
Likewise, readers expect published authors to have a website. To ignore this expectation suggests that you are out of touch, you do not value the support of your fans, or that you are not truly serious about your work. A website serves as the authoritative source for all news and information about you and your books.
At a minimum, a newly-published author’s website should list the name of their book, the publisher, the price, any positive reviews, the book’s “blurb,” a means of purchasing the book online, and, if possible, an excerpt or two from the book. However, such a static website meets only the minimum standard for modern websites.
Often, new authors think of their website merely as a place to announce their books and to post information about themselves. However, such a fixed and self-reflective website is akin to the words, “For a Good Book Call John Doe, Author at 555-555-5555” written in a bathroom stall. Those words may be seen by many, but people are not going to visit the stall just to read them, nor will they take you seriously, nor will they give you a call.
Your website should provide value to your potential readers. You want them to learn about your book, but, more importantly, you want them to become loyal fans. You can’t do this if your website is simply an exercise in narcissism.
Face it: until you build a strong fan base, most readers do not care about you or your book. This is why your website should focus on the needs of your potential readers. Instead of pictures of your cats and kids, you should provide supplementary materials only available at your website: guides to the world of your book, podcasts about the trials and tribulations of writing your book, pictures or drawings of your settings and characters, and so on. Be creative. Think of your website as a place your potential readers will want to return to, rather than just a shelf for your biography and awards.
A modern website may contain, in no particular order:
While creating an active website is one of your best moves in terms of self-promotion, there are numerous other ways you can promote yourself online.
For instance, you can join online writers’ groups and make relevant comments (and subtly mention your book and website). You can write articles about your work, both on your website and as a guest on other’s websites. You can schedule interviews with literary websites. You can create a Facebook and Twitter account specifically for author-related posts, and use them regularly. You can offer copies of your book as prizes to competitions on various literary websites.
The sky’s the limit. The internet is vast. Explore every avenue for favorable online publicity and you will be richly rewarded. Remember that you are competing against over 200,000 novels published by the large publishing houses each year. Therefore, you should be serious about marketing yourself online and should devote time to it each week to make your book and, ultimately, your brand, a success.