Thank you for coming back to read part two of ‘Using Your Author Website to the Full‘, which I recently spoke about at The Self Publishing Conference 2014. If you weren’t able to attend, this information could prove extremely useful. If you were there, then this is a great re-cap on such a lot of the information that we spoke about on the day.
In part one, I spoke about ensuring your design and content was targeting the right people. Your website isn’t there to convey you as a person with family photos and every hobby and interest you may have; it is there to portray you as an author. Now that you may have had a chance to sort through this in you mind, it’s time to look at making it work. The very best website and author can go no-where if it doesn’t reach the correct people and work in the right way.
Keeping Visitors on Your Website
Once you have people on your website, preferably potential or existing readers, you need to learn how to keep them there. Bounce rate, which refers to people who almost immediately click on and then off of a website can be very high if there isn’t content interesting enough or a design worthy enough to obtain their interest. The further you get in your writing career, the more content will naturally grow. You will need to add fresh new ideas to your website on a fairly regular basis in order to bring back readers and visitors.
I spoke last time about sample chapters and short stories, but there are many other options.
Book trailers are fairly new in author promotion, but you may have noticed more and more appearing on your TV advertising, as well as buzzing around the social media websites. When book trailers are done well, they can create a great sense of intrigue towards a book, much like a movie trailer. They certainly shouldn’t depict the entire details of your book, but it is another avenue to visually entice readers to your work. Websites such as Youtube have a huge impact in the world today, and utilising these can portray further professionalism and interaction between author and reader.
What’s more, website visitors tend to spend 88% longer on a website that has a video on the Home page – giving you more opportunity to convince them to buy that book! Whether it’s a book trailer, an interview or a welcome message from yourself, videos are a people pleaser. Also, if you ever find yourself presenting your book at a fair, show, launch or signing, it is something to have on display. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t dream of their book being on the big screen!
Remember those words and pages you threw away or changed through that long editing process? Utilise them! Another movie related piece of enticement, would be to add deleted scenes or an alternate ending (if your book is fiction). Extra chapters can also be added if your book is non-fiction.
Another idea is to carry on using your characters. Your existing readers may have come to your website to find more information. Whilst they’re there, amuse them with telling them what your characters have been up to since the book was finished! This works particularly well with children’s books, as does colouring sheets. Add downloadable ‘sketches’ of your cover/characters and ask your readers to colour them in with their own ideas! You could even have this as a competition.
All exclusive content should bring people back to your website. Let them feel they have stumbled upon something they won’t find anywhere else.
It wasn’t until recently that website browsing on Mobile and Tablet devices has become vital to how you should review your website. Many website builders or older websites didn’t convert to a mobile/tablet friendly system until last year (or perhaps still haven’t) so make sure your website is presentable on these devices. Some may be viewed as a ‘mobile site’ (a simplified version of your website), which is fine as long as it is presentable and still branded/targeted to your audience. Others now offer to display your website in exactly the same way as it would appear on a computer, which is ideal, as long as the content is suited to this size of screen. Much like the thumbnail image of your book cover has effected cover design (viewed as a tiny image on a book retailer website), this style of internet browsing on smaller screens has also affected website design. Elements must be clearer, bigger and even more easy to navigate.
Search Engine Optimism (SEO)
To some degree SEO is something your website designer will handle (if you have one). Upon building your website, they should create keywords and phrases for Google to pick up when they look through (crawl) your website for listing in their results. They should always contain the obvious, including any book titles, your genre/s and your author name, as this is most likely how people will look for you. Be cautious though, too many keywords, or unrelated words will flag your site with Google and will have an impact on where your website is listed. Your web designer should help with this, if you have one.
If you’re designing and building a website yourself, you will need to submit your website address (e.g http://www.authordesignstudio.com) to Google. There are many companies who offer to do this for you, but there is no need. You can easily do this yourself and it should take anywhere between three days and three weeks to list – depending on how busy Google is(!). Once you have done this, you can do the same with other search engines, but it is most likely that it will list automatically once on Google.
Another way for you to encourage your website to come higher in search results is links. A link to your website (wherever it may appear) is very valuable to your SEO. Ensure there is a link to your website from any social media or author profile’s you have on the internet, including any interviews you may have. Google will pick up on these and believe your website is of better interest than it perhaps initially was, therefore moving your website up the rankings on search results.
Try not to expect too much too soon. Google is a waiting game, and it pays to keep an eye on things and keep trying new ideas. Visit your website once in a while too (which you should do to check for errors anyway),but go via Google. It will pick up on your ‘hit’ and count it towards how ‘popular’ your website is.
I will go into more detail on how you can use Google in a later post.
Selling Your Book Online
It goes without saying really (although I have come across some before!), that your website should offer direct links to where your book is available to buy online. I hear from a lot of authors that they aren’t ‘in it for the money’ and they just love to write:- well that may be the case, but if you have published your work, and it is for sale, you need to sell it in order for people to read it! So don’t be ashamed to offer links to a few online retailers, to make it super easy for potential readers to buy the book with one click. Don’t overdo it however. Too many authors get a little excited that their book is available (rightly so!) on Amazon, Waterstones, WHSmith, Book Depository as well as numerous others, but keep it to two or three links to make it clearer. You can always add ‘and all good book retailers’ if you want to make it obvious that it’s elsewhere.
Another thing I hear a lot is authors who dislike having a link to Amazon. We all know the profits (or lack of) that authors make from sales on Amazon, but it is the biggest book retailer in the world, and therefore all those readers out there have an Amazon account, making it very easy to buy books instantly. The question you may have to ask yourself is do you want to sell more at a smaller profit, or less with a bigger margin? If you only sell via small retailers or yourself directly, it’s a more long winded system for your reader to go through. That being said, it is now very easy for authors to sell editions themselves from their own website. With payment systems such as PayPal (which again a lot of people hold an account with), it’s easier than ever to offer your book for sale on your website. If this is something you do, or are interested in doing, consider offering them something else (again something exclusive) such as signed copies, to entice them away from the big retailers, and to buy direct from the author instead.
Well, I think that’s probably enough for Part two. In part three, I will go into Website Statistics and how best to use these to further advance your website.
If you have any questions about this post, visit me at my website (www.authordesignstudio.com), on Twitter (www.twitter.com/@authordesigner) or at Google+ (https://plus.google.com/+Authordesignstudio). You can also email me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading!