Is your website a good book marketing asset for you? When I ask this question at writer’s conferences, often very few hands go up. Most authors aren’t really sure if their website is working or not – and they really aren’t sure if it’s helping them sell more books. And with all of the ways to build a site these days – it’s often hard to know what a website really needs in order to be successful.
In most cases, the main goal of your site is to sell your book, and this is kind of a given for most of us. If you’re selling a service, and your book is your business card, then your website goals will be different. But regardless of whether you’re selling your book, your services, or trying to book more speaking. The key factors in having a successful site are always the same.
- Proofread your copy: Every single page must be carefully edited. There’s no quicker way to lose a sale than to present readers with typos and other needless gaffes. Your website is your 24/7 book sales and book marketing tool and you want to create a stellar first impression if you want to sell more books.
- Check your traffic: You can see who visits your site, where they come from, and much more. Google Analytics is free and easy to use. You want to review the reports regularly so you understand who visits your site, how they find you, and what they do once they’re on your site. Then you’ll learn what works (and what doesn’t). This is particularly true if you’re trying to figure out where the lion’s share of your traffic comes from, as it relates to social media. Knowing where you are getting traffic can be a big help when trying to determine where to spend your time trying to sell more books.
- Be media ready: Every website should have a media room with downloadable materials ready to go. This includes a photo, bio, book synopsis and book cover. Offer the downloads in small files, people will appreciate that. In addition, your media room can have a Q&A, book reviews, book group questions, events calendar, and more. Make your media room the one stop source for easy to obtain information. If you’re doing a lot of pitching, this will be a great resource for the media, too. If they need a book cover, current picture or excerpt from your book – they can easily grab it!
- Keep the website copy simple: People don’t sit down to read web pages, They scan. A home page of 200 to 250 words is ideal, in simple, layperson language. I mention this because sometimes folks want to offer complex descriptions of your book. Trust me, this won’t entice readers to buy. Keep the language simple. Also, your site needs to be easy to scan and it has to have a call to action – what is it you want readers to do? Buy your book? Sign up for your newsletter? Whatever it is, you want your site to direct visitors to a specific action. You may or may not have a store on your website, but certainly there are other ways that a good website can help you sell more books. Good exposure and an easy to navigate site is one sure way to gain more readers as is a singular website goal. You’ll see our site is a funnel, it’s not obvious (and it shouldn’t be) but it’s definitely there. It directs people to just a few options. Remember that the confused mind does not make a choice, they simply click off and go away.
- Your Website Bookstore: While it’s a good idea to have your products available at a number of online stores, you should have a spot on your site dedicated to sales – even if you direct people to Amazon.com or another site for the actual purchase. If you are hoping to sell more books from your website, make it easy for visitors to buy from you, otherwise, you’ll lose the sale. By easy I mean: make sure that you have your store linked to Paypal, or Amazon pay, which is another easy way to sell more books directly from your website.
- Design: I have two major rules in life: you should never cut your own hair and design your own website. Period. End of story. Why? Because much like editing our own books, we’re just too darned close to our message to be able to do it justice. Also, most of us are writers, not designers. Hire someone, invest the money, you’ll be glad you did.And though I’ve mentioned this previously, it’s worth repeating: When you’re designing, also remember that your homepage should only do one thing. Your website can sell a lot of things, including any consulting or speaking services you offer, but your home page should be focused in on one major item: selling your book. Website visitors spend on average of 1/50th of a second on a website, if they have to stop and try and figure out what your site is about they will leave. I call it surf shock or analysis paralysis. Don’t make them guess what your site is about or you will lose them and they most likely will not return for a second visit.
- Blog and other contact points: Having a blog ensures you have regularly updated content on your site as well as a page on your blog where visitors can participate. Believe it or not, he number one thing authors often forget to put on their website are their contact points. And whatever social media sites you are on should be listed on your contact page, too so readers can follow you there.
- Freshen up your content: This works well if you have a blog and while I know writing a blog seems like daunting work, it doesn’t have to be. Blog posts can be short or really long, it’s entirely up to you. Try to update it once or twice a week. The updates are a big plus for Google, which will reward your site with a higher search ranking if it has fresh content. That ranking will help with search because you’ll be listed before your competition. And that’s what you want – for people to be able to find you (instead of someone else) when they’re searching books in your genre or for authorities in your area of expertise. And that’s the key if you want to sell more books. If you could use some help here, I recently shared these ideas for blogging. And you can also download my free monthly marketing planner to help you plan and schedule your posts.
- Add social widgets: All of the major social media sites have widgets you can add to your site. This makes it easy for others to share content, whether it’s your latest blog post, book synopsis, or events calendar. When you make it easy to share content you’ll get results. (Not sure which sites are best for you? Take our quiz.)
- Build a mailing list: A great book sales tool is an email list and besides being a valuable tool, it’s a great way to build your super fans. It’s easy enough to build a mailing list into your website, too. Create an ethical bribe, give them something to get something such as a sample chapter, a free report or checklist, or maybe you want to enter them into a monthly drawing. As I mentioned, those email addresses will come in handy when your next book comes out.
- Contact information: Make sure your site offers a way for people to get in touch with you. Don’t make visitors hunt for that phone number, email, or contact form – they won’t. They’ll just leave your site and they won’t come back.
- Placement and remarketing: First off, make sure that you understand how people surf, meaning where their eyes go to when they land on a website. The first place is the upper left-hand quadrant of a site, that’s where your primary message should be placed. Then their eyes go to the center of your site. These two primary places are significant in conversion. You should have a clear message, and a clear call to action (whatever that action may be). I also recommend funneling your visitors into a mailing list. You can do this via a sign-up on your home page and then an ethical bribe to encourage them to sign up. What’s an ethical bribe? It’s something you give them (of value) to get something: you might give them an eBook, a checklist or a special report. Just make sure it’s something your readers want.
Finally, make sure that your website is mobile ready. Google will actually ding you if it’s not. Most WordPress sites have a very simple plug in you can use to turn your website from desktop to mobile ready. If you’re not sure, ask your web person to help you!
Your website is a critical to the success of your book, so don’t take it lightly. Invest the time and money to get the best, most professional site possible. When you take the time to do it right, you’ll have a website that’s a valuable book marketing and book sales machine.
What are some specific strategies you’ve used to sell more books with your website? Let me know in the comments!