Websites are an important part of today’s book promotions. Readers, reviewers, book buyers, and perspective publishers use author websites as a source of information.
The basic rules of good general design apply. However, writing is an unique craft with unique needs.
There are 4 website musts specific to authors.
1) A Printable Booklist
Readers are looking for a booklist and a printable booklist. Fans like to read all the books written by their favorite authors. They wish for the ability to print out the booklist and take it to their local bookstore. They want to be able to cross off the books they already own. And by booklist, readers want ALL the books written, regardless of publisher.
Bonus features include series information and inter-related characters.
2) Book Cover Art
One of the best methods of retaining a memory is to make it visual. Seeing that appealing cover art makes the reader more likely to remember the book when he sees it on shelf. Remember it and buy the book. Isn’t that what promotion is all about? Selling books?
3) Back Cover Copy Of The Book
The quickest way to get a reader engrossed in a book is to provide, at the very minimum, the back cover copy. This information is usually specifically designed to drive interest resulting in book sales.
Think of how a reader shops for books at a traditional bookstore. She glances at the cover, and then flips the book over to read the back copy. If the book is still intriguing, the first few pages are read.
Including the first few pages or first chapter is also a great way to capture readers. However, this should not be included at the expense of the back copy. Give the reader a taste so he is more likely to buy the entire book.
Which leads to the next point…
4) A Direct Link To An On-line Bookseller
The reader loves the cover, is sucked into the story, but wait…how does she buy the book? Will the author make the reader change out of her pajamas, drive to a bookstore and then hunt for the novel, hoping, just hoping, that no one has snatched up the last copy? There is no reason, not when the reader can be easily linked to an on-line bookseller and buy when she wants to buy…right now.
A direct link increases sales. To make the linking worth even more of the author’s time, many on-line booksellers like Amazon provide incentives to do so. It’s called an affiliate program and using their linking code, the website owner receives a portion of the book revenue. All for selling their own books.
Authors do have special website needs. Printable booklists, cover art visuals, back cover copy, and direct links are the top 4.
Kim Chin is the Admin for www.BookWebWarehouse.com, a free on-line published author database. The majority of her time is spent each day looking at hundreds of websites and talking to authors, readers, reviewers and publishers. In websites, she has seen the good, the bad, and the just plain ugly.