One of the most frequent questions I get from new authors is, “Should I make a website for my book?” The answer is, it depends. Here’s why.
My first question is, why would you want a website for the book? So people can find the book? You don’t need a whole website for people to find the book. Google does a great job of indexing Amazon book pages already, so people searching for it can find it without a whole website being there. Is it for marketing the book? Marketing can be done anywhere, so a whole website isn’t really needed for that either.
Here’s the thing with building a website with the intent of it being a tool to help your book get found. Search engines these days are always looking for fresh, relevant content that answers people’s questions. So if you build a full website for the book, then it really needs an active content strategy so that fresh content continues to produce relevancy for search engine users. This means you probably shouldn’t build a full, stand-alone website for your book unless you plan to have a long-term strategy for content development. So I’m not saying don’t do it, but if you do, then there are some things you should consider…
How To Make a Website for My Book
The trick here is that any website you create should provide some sort of value to your potential audience, not just the fact that you can help them out by selling them your book. Whatever topic your book is on, the website should provide a wealth of information on that subject. Provide additional stories, resources, and information on the topic. Maybe even ride the wave of current news and events that connect with your theme.
Here are a few considerations for a strong book website strategy:
- Don’t just make it a sales landing page. Make it a valuable resource. The more you can position the book and the website as something valuable, the more likely they are to want to buy the book. You should be shooting for a show-don’t-tell approach to website development. Forget the snazzy sales copy, and show them how helpful all of this is for them.
- Have an ongoing content (blog) strategy. Plan to continue to produce valuable content, especially if you can focus on current news and trending topics. This will show that your book is always valuable, not just during the first 90 days after you launch it.
- Sell more than just the book. Specifically, sell yourself as the author of that book. Leverage the site to help you book speaking engagements and cross-sell other book projects you may have going on.
- Grow that mailing list. This is probably the most important item on this list. Offer a free download, maybe a short e-book or special audio/video just for subscribers. Get them on your blog subscription email list. The more you can build that list, the better off you’ll be when you’re ready to launch that next book.
Book Website Alternatives
If you don’t plan to have an ongoing blog content strategy, or if your project simply doesn’t warrant it, then there are some simple alternatives. You can still buy the domain name for your book, but then you can point that domain name anywhere you want.
For example, one of my books is The Unlikely Missionary: From Pew-Warmer to Poverty-Fighter. I used to have a stand-alone website for it at theunlikelymissionary.com, until I realized how much work it was trying to maintain relevancy there in addition to the work I was also doing on my main blog (which lead up to that book project). It was simply too much to manage. Now, the domain name points to a book page on my blog, which is where my primary focus is.
The process is simple. First, you can buy the domain name for your book. If the .com name isn’t available, then try one of the hundreds of other not-com names, many of which may work better (i.e. you can get names ending with .life, .family, .community, and many more). Many of these can be bought for under $30 per year, so it’s not expensive to maintain.
Once you have the domain name, then you can point it anywhere you’d like. A couple great options are:
- A book landing page on your website. One awesome way to do this (for WordPress users) is to use the MyBookTable plugin to create the book landing page. The plugin has a strong template for building the basic page, and then you can add whatever other information and resource you want to the rest of the page. It’s a good idea to include things like endorsements, social media shareable resources, and maybe even links to blog posts on the site that dig deeper into the topic.
- A Facebook book page. This would also require some ongoing content strategy, but it might be easier to manage when you’re sharing posts from your main blog related to the topic of the book. You could also share other links and micro-content (graphics, quotes, etc) that would help readers connect at a deeper level. This could be an amazing tool for keeping conversation going, and continuing to market your book (as part of a solid Facebook content strategy).
Whichever direction you go with this, the key is to add value and simplicity for the user on the other end. There are many more factors to successfully launching a book, but regardless, it’s a great idea to own the domain name to the book title. The important thing is what do you want that experience to be like for the potential reader who goes there.
— Fistbump Media (@FistbumpMedia) June 10, 2016