Perhaps you’ve heard that you need a website to succeed as a self-published author. Or maybe you’ve wondered if it’s completely unnecessary—just have your book available on Amazon and you’ll be fine. Or you’ve possibly thought that you could just use a Facebook page as your website, not bothering to run a full-blown author site.
What’s an author to do? Let’s look at the question together.
The Answer (Spoiler Alert!)
This article is the first in a series asking what an author really needs to promote their books effectively. You’ve probably been told that you need a website, a blog, a mailing list, a Facebook page, a Pinterest account, business cards, and on and on ad infinitum. With this series, I intend to examine the “you should have” things and help you decide which ones are the right choice for you. Every author is different, so your marketing strategy will be different as well.
For most of the things on this list, we’ll be looking at pros and cons, then I’ll give you some questions to help you evaluate whether you really need each item. For two or three, though, I’m going to come right out and say that you absolutely should have this thing. In the case of today’s topic, an author website, the answer is yes, you do need it. Let’s take a look at three reasons why an author website is so important.
Reason #1: People Can Find You More Easily
A website gives you a way to point people right to information about what you do. You don’t have to tell them to go to Amazon and find your books. Nope, you can give them your link and they’ll be taken right to where you are online.
Not only that, you’re also in a better position to be found when people search the internet for you or your books. Because, quite honestly, when was the last time you used Facebook search to find a new book?
Reason #2: All Your Stuff in One Place
When you have an author website, you can collect everything you’ve written into one convenient place for people to peruse. Think of it this way: When a reader gets to the end of one of your books, what do you want them to do next? You’d like them to find out about (and buy) your other books, right? So how do the options for online author representation play out?
No website: The reader comes to the end of your book and wonders, “What else has this author written?” There’s perhaps a list in the back of the book of your other titles, so the reader goes to Amazon and searches for one of those. Maybe. It’s possible that once the reader loads up Amazon, they get distracted by whatever’s on the front page (hello, shiny new Kindle!) and forget about your book entirely.
Facebook page only: In this scenario, the reader gets to the end of your book and finds a link to your Facebook page. They check it out, maybe like the page, and then… Well, there’s not a lot to do on this page. You could try to create a list on your Facebook page of all the books you’ve written, but this assumes the reader will look past the page’s main feed. Chances are high that they won’t do that—Facebook is intentionally designed to make the feed hard to ignore. Plus, the reader might have a Facebook notification waiting to act on instead of liking your page, so there they go, away from finding out more about you.
Author website: With an author website link in the back of your book, you send your reader to a dedicated place where all your books are laid out neatly—without the distractions of Facebook or Amazon. The reader can also read about you, check out your blog, sign up for your mailing list, see what books you’re writing, and so on.
Reason #3: Total Control
Total control is probably my biggest reason to recommend that every author have a website. When you can send a reader to a website that you have designed to showcase your books, you have a lot of power. Want to call out that wonderful review you have? You can! Think you can offer a better free sample than Amazon? Go for it!
The list goes on and on. You can organize your books by series, offer free bonus chapters in exchange for joining your mailing list, list your yet-to-be-published novels—the sky’s the limit. You have control over what your reader sees on your website. The only rule is that you should tailor everything toward making the reader interested in following you and reading more of your books.
Contrast this with your Amazon book page, where you can’t decide which reviews should be shown first and you don’t get to control how long the sample is. And then think about a Facebook page, where you really can’t show book reviews or samples without posting them in your news feed—where they generally disappear into history after a short couple days.
So Do You Need It?
I spoiled the answer way up at the top of this article, but I’ll reiterate just in case: Yes, you should absolutely have an author website. Having a base camp for your readers to come to and keep updated on your books is crucial, especially when you add in some of the other website features we’ll look at later on.
I’m really excited about this series examining what “stuff” an author needs. What things would you like me to cover in upcoming installments? Leave a comment and let me know!