Having a good website is something many authors struggle with, which I understand, but the effect it can have on your book sales cannot be ignored.
Maybe you’ve been plugging away at your book promotion for a while, or perhaps you’re just beginning your author journey, but having a good website is a serious piece of your foundation and getting it working for you and generating book sales isn’t as complicated as you might think.
I’m sure you’ve told you need a website, but there’s a big difference between a website and a book sales tool.
There are subtle ways to build this into your website’s book marketing to sell more books, without screaming it from the rooftops. Let’s have a look:
Creating an Author Website is Like Shopping for Toothpaste
When was the last time you went shopping for toothpaste?
Maybe you have a brand you love and go right to it, but if you’ve ever decided to try another brand, or couldn’t find the one you’re looking for, you will be faced with a myriad of choices.
So many, in fact, that I bet at some point you just grabbed one, with a flavor you liked, and decided to just make it work.
I always talk about smarter book promotion, not more book promotion. So when it comes to websites, consider the toothpaste aisle. The confused mind isn’t really a shopper. In fact, when it comes to online shopping most confused minds won’t decide at all, they’ll just pop off and go somewhere else.
The moral here is: don’t give your audience too many options. If you want to sell more books, you’ve got to narrow the choices.
Pick One Goal and Really Go For It
Before you even begin to decide what your site will look like, you need to decide on what your goal is. I wrote a piece on goal setting that’s super motivating, and you can find it in the Resources and Free Downloads section at the end.
If your goal is to sell books, then your book should be front and center.
If your goal is to sell services, then that should be the first thing your visitors see.
While you may have lots of books and a lot of goals for your entire book promotion plan, you’re only allowed to have one objective for your homepage.
Understanding the Book Sales Funnel
If you look at our homepage, you won’t see our marketing funnel but it’s there.
A good book marketing funnel isn’t obvious to the consumer, but it’s obvious to you as you put together your website.
Our goal on our website is to gather new business, so the entire site is set up to funnel potential authors to our book marketing services and then our contact form.
We don’t have a store, we don’t have a ton of options.
We limit their choices, help them focus on our book promotion services, thereby limiting any confusion as to what we do, and how they can get started working with us.
Components of a Successful Website
When it comes to designing a website, less is more. By this I mean don’t have a ton of pages on your site or a lot of navigation options.
Your website navigation should be simple. We have six options on our navigation but no drop downs underneath those options. You’ll see some websites that have limited navigation but beneath each option there is a drop down with more options.
Remember: it’s about funneling. Don’t give consumers too many choices or they won’t know where to go.
This is why it’s always a good idea to work with a professional, and a lot of book marketing companies have consulting and evaluation options.
So what pages should be on your website?
Well the Home Page, Contact, and About are pretty standard, and what you want to add in beyond that is sort of up to you.
If you have a newsletter you can have a newsletter tab, if you have a speaking career or are doing a book tour, you can add that in as well. Check out some of the sites we love:
Choose Your Words Carefully for Your Author Website
Consumers don’t read websites, they scan.
So the fewer words you can have on any page, the better.
My general rule is 250 words or less. Bullet points are also great, so any text that they can be applied to is always a good idea to do so. Remember it needs to be easy to scan.
In terms of website copy, this isn’t always easy. I generally hire someone to write mine but if that’s not in your book marketing budget, be careful of the words you use.
Make sure the verbiage makes sense to your consumer. This isn’t about you it’s about them. Only mention your dog if it’s relevant, or if it’s a fun one-line in a bio.
If you’ve written a self-help or some other non-fiction book, any words on your website should clearly show the benefits to the reader.
If you’ve written fiction, your quick elevator pitch on the homepage should pull new readers into your story. This is book marketing 101.
How to Really Sell Books
One of the main reasons an author builds a site is not just for their book promotion platform, but for book sales. But it’s important to note that most people won’t buy a book from your store, at least not right away.
Most website book sales are made over time, as you build a relationship with your reader.
You could opt to just send them to Amazon, and many authors do. But sometimes you want to try to keep sales to your own website and for that, you may need a little special something to make that happen.
So, let’s say that you have a book out in paperback, eBook, and also hard cover. In order to entice readers from Amazon you could offer the hardback on your site only (so it would not be on Amazon).
And to make it extra special, you could offer an autographed copy of it!
The other piece here is for book marketing to be effective, you should try to get in front of your potential reader multiple times.
Newsletters are a great book marketing tool. I’m a huge fan of every author website having a newsletter sign up.
If you don’t have any idea what you’d write about, or don’t have a list yet, don’t worry. We all had to start somewhere. Just get that sign up on your website to start building your list.
Having an author website that actually helps you with your book promotion and sells books isn’t an impossible goal. It just needs to be done in such a way that you are actually selling your potential customer.
Many book marketing companies will offer you a myriad of book promotion services. As a book marketing company, our goal is to help you develop a brand and establish a platform that can help you sell books. Definitely contact us if you’re ready to make a big change, or if you’re simply looking for an affordable assessment of your current efforts, and recommendations, check out the assessment we offer in the links below.
Resources and Free Downloads