8 Proven Ways to Attract More Visits to Your Author Website

WOMANThere is a myth floating in the minds of some writers out there, that once you have written the book and built your author website that the book will sell like hot cakes and you can sit back and simply enjoy the praise. Unfortunately this is not the case, and as an Indie author, it is down to you to market and push your book to reach its potential in what is a very overcrowded marketplace.

There are many tools online to help you achieve this, and with the bonus of social media and an author website, you can reach a market that would be impossible to reach in isolation. That being said, you need to make the most of what is possibly the best marketing tool you have. An author website is dedicated to you and your work. There is no competition and you can design it to attract your target market and update it as and when you need to. It should appear much like a ‘bonus DVD’, in that it offers information and ‘extras’ that cannot be found elsewhere. So to help you continue on the path to author success, here are 8 easy and proven ways to attract more visits (and repeat visitors) to your author website.

1. Deleted Scenes

Do you remember that really laborious editing process, where you deleted entire scenes that you may have realised weren’t entirely necessary? Well, don’t waste them! Put them aside, and once readers have finished your book, you can offer these ‘deleted scenes’ online to prolong their interest in your work.

2. Alternate Endings

Much like the deleted scenes, you may have tried several endings before deciding on the final edit. These can be really interesting for readers to see. If you’ve always had the same ending, why not have some fun yourself and write something totally different!

3. Short Stories

When a reader finds an author they really connect with and enjoy, they like to keep an eye on new and upcoming books. But of course writing a full book takes some time to complete, so why not keep their interest by offering an ‘interim’ story? It can be something completely different, or you can even include ‘spin-offs’ from existing characters. You can even theme them to different seasons. Imagining your characters around the Christmas season, or even taking a holiday.

A high percentage of readers admit that they visit author websites to read the free material, so why not take advantage and add it as a bonus for subscribing to a newsletter or similar? One thing to remember is that your short stories need to be edited to the same quality as your published works, otherwise you may put your readership off.

4. Exclusive Signed Copies of Your Book

One thing that Amazon (and other large retailers) cannot offer is a signed copy of your work. If you sell your books direct via your website, why not entice them to order from you rather than the easier option of a large online retailer and offer exclusive autographed copies of your book? Autographed copies make great gifts too.

5. Character Catch-up’s

This is something I came across when working with a children’s author. He very cleverly posted a transcript piece of his characters ‘chatting’ to him about the book and story. The author ‘interviewed’ them about different aspects of the events in the story. It was a very clever way of reiterating the important morals in his work, and very entertaining for his readers.

6. Competitions and Quizzes

Everyone likes to win at something, and if you have your reader’s attention on your website, then a competition to win a quiz or perhaps a competition in order to win something is an ideal way to gain contacts. You can even integrate this with your social media and offer a free signed copy of your book if the person ‘follows’ you on social media etc. It’s a great way to build interest and create a buzz around your website. It doesn’t need to be limited to your book though. You can offer book vouchers, or even something related to the book. One author I worked with recently gave away a necklace which featured on her book cover.

7. Articles

Everyone’s work speaks of some kind of experience or expertise, and this can be another way of reaching out to your audience. Whether you write fiction or non fiction, you can write articles about the topics of your work and knowledge. If there is no real ‘topic’ to discuss, why not talk about your writing journey, what you learnt along the way or even what research you performed in order to make your work accurate. One author I have worked with, who writes historical romance, creates mood boards for each book, including pictures of historic rooms and places, a map of the area where the book is based and portraits that suit the character she is trying to portray. Showing this to your readers can further build that author/reader connection.

8. Featured Reviews

If you’re gaining a good number of reviews, you could create a ‘featured review’ area, and encourage readers to send their thoughts by attracting them with a prize. At the end of each month you can announce a winner and ‘feature’ their review on your website and across your social media accounts.

I hope these hints and tips will help you attract more visitors to your website, but I’m always happy to hear more of your ideas. What do you do to gain website visitors? You can comment here or tweet me at @authordesigner with your experiences.

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How to Ensure Your Author Website is Working to its Full Potential

Author Design Studio

Once you have a website as an author, there is a myth that it will just work and pull in thousands of new sales. To some extent it will work, but as with anything, people (most importantly readers) will need to know it is there to benefit from any sort of promotion, and this takes some time and effort. If your website isn’t pulling in as much attention as you hoped, here are a few elements you may wish to check you’re doing correctly.

Is Your Design Working?

The first question to ask yourself is whether your design is working. A website design, and in fact all elements of your book promotion should appeal to your reader in the same way that your book cover needs to. It needs to be branded, professional and targeted to your market. Lack of branding can confuse a reader to believing they haven’t come to the correct website and lack of professionalism can damage your author image. It may be that if they see a badly edited or designed website, this may reflect onto your writing and books. If you put them off with your promotion, you are going to lose their attention very quickly. Professionalism creates a great sense of legitimacy in you as an author and your work before they’ve even picked up the book.

If you feel your design isn’t as professional as other authors that write in your genre, spend a little time on some design research. It is likely that as an author, you read, or have read, in the genre you write, so take some time out to browse popular authors to see what they are offering from their websites, and how their design is pulling in your potential readers.

Another question I come across a lot is authors who write books in two genres. Do you really need two websites for each market? The answer depends really on what the genres are. If they compliment each-other, then it’s possible that you will be offering books to readers that read both styles; for example historical fiction and historical non-fiction. However if your books are polar opposites (I’ve seen websites offering sweet historical romances and modern erotica), then you need to consider using separate websites. You want to avoid deterring readers at all costs. You also need to ensure that your brand is represented, and it may be that this isn’t consistent over your two different genres.

Remember, statistically you have three seconds to convince your website visitor to stay on your website. I will give you a few tips on how to do this, other than having the correct design, in a later post.

Is Your Content Working?

After looking at the design, you will want to concentrate on exactly what your author website contains. Is your existing content offering visitors something they are looking for? As I just mentioned, it’s down to the three second rule. You need to immediately let you visitor know they are in the right place (design), where you want them to go (content and design) and how to get there (content).

Assuming you have covered the first point of design, you then need to let them know what you want them to do. You can do this by ensuring your content is clear and not overwhelming. Your book/s should have prominence, with an immediate link to ‘find out more’ and purchase links. You also need to provide a clear navigation to other pages. This can be done through a menu, making sure the links are clear and concise. Don’t name your pages with quirky titles – you may know what it means, but you readers may not. In other words, the page that contains information on your books, should be labelled in your menu as ‘Books’, not ‘My Library’, ‘My World’ or ‘Offerings’. Keep it simple, so that people can easily navigate around your website. You will also want to ensure that any references in your text to your book are linked to the Book page. That way, if people are reading, they don’t need to scroll to the top of the page to find the menu again. I know this sounds particularly lazy, but any encouragement is essential.

When it comes to the amount of content you provide in your website, this can vary enormously between author’s websites. Some have thousands of words on each page, which quite frankly, unless you’re JK Rowling, people aren’t going to read or take that much of an interest in. You want them to read your book, not pages and pages of content on your website. Remember that your website is ultimately a selling tool, and a place for current readers to find out more about you and your other works. People get very bored, very easily, so keep what you write shorter (around two to three paragraphs is ideal) in order to keep their attention. I will be talking about exactly which content you want on each page in a later post (exactly so as not to overwhelm you…and keep you coming back – I do practice what I preach!).

It’s not just the amount of content you need to consider though, you will also want to consider the quality. Does your website offer something that readers can’t find anywhere else? People love to believe they have found something exclusive, so offer just that on your website. For example 43% of readers agree that they will return to a website if it offers free short stories from an author they like, and 33% admit to wanting a free sample chapter prior to buying a book. Both these can be offered on your website.

Another way to bring people back to your website is via Newsletters and Blogs. If you have the time, you can spend a short while on a daily, weekly or monthly basis writing a few hundred words to let your followers know that you have something new to offer them, some news to share, or an interesting discussion on the topic of your work. It is important again not to overwhelm them with too much information, or too frequently. A newsletter does provide visibility, but people will all too quickly delete a newsletter emailed to them without reading it if it lands in their inbox too often. A blog on the other hand allows them to drop in when they have the time. There are obvious advantages to both, and some authors will use both for assurance that they’re reaching as many readers as possible.

If you have any questions about design and content, or would like a friendly critique of your website, get in touch with me at contact@authordesignstudio.com or tweet me on @authordesigner.

I will reiterate the point that if you keep your website updated (no reader enjoys an out-of-date website), then you have more reasons to pull in visitors to your website. And of course, a website is one of the best promotional tools, which you can update as often as needed, so take advantage of it! It doesn’t need to take very long, but can have a big effect.

Using Your Author Website to the Full – Part Two

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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 contact@authordesignstudio.com.

Thanks for reading!

Using Your Author Website to the Full – Part One

On behalf of myself and the entire team who put together The Self Publishing Conference 2014, I would like to thank any of you who attended. It was a brilliant day and we have all received a huge influx of positive feedback.

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As promised in my last session of the day, How to Use Your Author Website to the Full, I am blogging some of the points we discussed in a series of posts. We got through most of them, but with all of you taking part, you will know we run over by half an hour. At least you were enjoying it and taking away lots of useful tips!

I spoke about why an author needed a website in my first session of the day, which I have blogged about previously. Once you have a website as an author, there is a myth that it will just work and pull in thousands of new sales. To some extent it will work, but as with anything, people (most importantly readers) will need to know it is there to benefit from any sort of promotion, and this takes some time and effort. If your website isn’t pulling in as much attention as you hoped, here are a few elements you may wish to check your doing correctly.

 

Is Your Design Working?

The first question to ask yourself is whether your design is working. A website design, and in fact all elements of your book promotion should appeal to your reader in the same way your book cover needs to. It needs to be branded, professional and targeted to your market audience. Lack of branding can confuse a reader to believing they haven’t come to the correct website and lack of professionalism can damage your author image. It may be that if they see a badly edited or designed website, this may reflect onto your writing and books. If you put them off with your design, you are going to lose their attention very quickly. Professionalism creates a sense of legitimacy.

If you feel your design isn’t as professional as other authors that write in your genre, spend a little time on some design research. It is likely that as an author, you read in the genre you write, so take some time out to browse popular authors to see what they are offering from their websites, and how their design is pulling in your readers.

Another question I come across a lot is authors who write books in two genres. Do you really need two websites for each market? The answer depends really on what the genres are. If they compliment each-other, then it’s possible that you will be offering books to readers that read both styles; for example historical fiction and historical non-fiction. However if your books are polar opposites (I’ve seen websites offering sweet historical romances and modern erotica), then you need to consider using separate sites. You want to avoid deterring readers at all costs. You also need to ensure that your brand is represented, and it may be that this isn’t consistent over your two different genres.

Remember, statistically you have three seconds to convince your website visitor to stay on your website. I will give you a few tips on how to do this, other than having the correct design, in a later post.

 

Is Your Content Working?

After looking at the design, you will want to concentrate on exactly what your author website contains. Is your existing content offering visitors something they are looking for? As I just mentioned, it’s down to the three second rule. You need to immediately let you visitor know they are in the right place (design), where you want them to go (content and design) and how to get there (content). 

Assuming you have covered the first point of design, you then need to let them know what you want them to do. You can do this by ensuring your content is clear and not overwhelming. Your book/s should have prominence, with an immediate link to ‘find out more’ and purchase links. You also need to provide a clear navigation to other pages. This can be done through a menu, making sure the links are clear and concise. Don’t name your pages with quirky titles – you may know what it means, but you readers may not. In other words, the page that contains information on your books, should be labelled in your menu as ‘Books’, NOT ‘My Library’, ‘My World’ or ‘Offerings’. Keep it simple, so that people can easily navigate around your website. You will also want to ensure that any references in your text to your book are linked to the Book page. That way, if people are reading, they don’t need to scroll to the top of the page to find the menu again. I know this sounds particularly lazy, but any encouragement is essential.

When it comes to the amount of content you provide in your website, this can vary enormously between author’s websites. Some have thousands of words on each page, which quite frankly, unless you’re JK Rowling, people aren’t going to read or take that much of an interest. You want them to read your book, not pages and pages of content on your website. Remember that your website is ultimately a selling tool, and a place for current readers to find out more about you and your other works. People get very bored, very easily, so keep what you write shorter (around two to three paragraphs is ideal) in order to keep their attention. I will be talking about exactly which content you want on each page in a later post (exactly so as not to overwhelm you…and keep you coming back – I do practice what I preach!).

It’s not just the amount of content you need to consider though, you will also want to consider the quality. Does your website offer something that readers can’t find anywhere else? People love to believe they have found something exclusive, so offer just that on your website. For example 43% of readers agree that they will return to a website if it offers free short stories from an author they like, and 33% admit to wanting a free sample chapter prior to buying a book. Both these can be offered on your website.

Another way to bring people back to your website is via Newsletters and Blogs. If you have the time, you can spend a short while on a daily, weekly or monthly basis writing a few hundred words to let your followers know that you have something new to offer them, some news to share, or an interesting discussion on the topic of your work. It is important again not to overwhelm them with too much information, or too frequently. A newsletter does provide visibility, but people will all too quickly delete a newsletter emailed to them without reading it if it lands in their inbox too often. A blog on the other hand allows them to drop in when they have the time. There are obvious advantages to both, and some authors will use both for assurance that they’re reaching as many readers as possible.

I will reiterate the point that if you keep your website updated (no reader enjoys an out-of-date website), then you have more reasons to pull in visitors to your website. And of course, a website is one of the best promotional tools, which you can update as often as needed, so take advantage of it! It doesn’t need to take very long, but can have a big effect.

I hope this initial lot of information has been useful. I will update you with the next section of ideas and tips to offer your readers in the next post, so watch this space! If you want to get updates of when these will appear, follow this blog or keep an eye on my Twitter and Google+ feeds. You can of course also find some information at www.authordesignstudio.com or email me at contact@authordesignstudio.com

 

Until next time,

Aimee 

Website vs Blog – What’s the difference?

Many authors will use a blog in one form or another during their career, whether it be as an online base, through book tours or guest interviews. Blogs build valuable social circles and can offer exposure to authors trying to reach a wider audience. Being a guest on a blog and giving an interview, for example, reaches out to a much wider audience than an author could ever hope to achieve in isolation.

There is however a mistake some authors (and other professionals) have come to make, and that is to use a blog as a website, when it simply cannot function in the same manner. There are some certain blog software’s which enable a more ‘website based’ display of content, but this can be tricky to build and usually requires a professional.

The difference between a blog and website is critical, and when considering your online promotion, you need to be fully aware of ‘what’s what’.

  • A blog could be classed as an online newsletter. It consists of continuous ‘posts’ of new material or articles which keep visitors coming back to see what’s new.
  • A website contains more static content and elements, each page having information that doesn’t change constantly, but that is updated when necessary and most importantly easily navigable and visible at all times.

Each have their own benefits, and should be used in conjunction with eachother  but a blog is not a website and a website is not a blog. Sounds like someone trying to explain cricket rules, doesn’t it?! Let me give you an example:

  • Blog – An author can use their own blog as an interaction tool, much like Twitter or Facebook. It’s a fantastic way of reaching your adoring readers, encouraging conversations and researching what your readers like and want more of. Authors may also use blogs to post news of what they’ve been up to, where they’ve been or the latest news on their work in progress. This can be very captivating, and the constant updating of the latest post keeps it fresh (as well as being search engine friendly), however what happens when a potential reader wants to know the link to buy that book you mentioned a few weeks ago? They would need to search through the blog archive, or spend an age scrolling down and down the page to find it. Realistically, that’s simply asking for them to close the page and look elsewhere. It’s too much hassle, and we all know how impatient internet users can be. Blogs are fantastic additions to a website, but to stand the best chance of making the most of online marketing, you will need a website. Blogs can also be very time consuming, and in order to prove useful, they need to be updated frequently, so before venturing on one, ensure you  have the time to post at least once a week.
  • Website – A website is set out much like like a book. It may have several or hundreds of pages, but they’re all laid out in an easy to navigate menu, where the information relating to each page is kept. For instance many authors will use a combination of these pages: Home, About the Author, Books, News & Reviews, Excerpt, Contact. You see how easy it would be for any potential reader to find what they were looking for? This is the vital difference between a website and a blog, and it’s creating that ease of navigation which will encourage visitors to explore and find what they need, whether that’s more information on the Author (go to the About the Author page) or a new book (go to the Book page). Because the information is static, it’s always there. It can be updated from time to time, but it won’t disappear in a multitude of posts like on a blog, making that important information visible at all times. The nature and frequency a blog is updated however, makes it extremely search engine friendly, and if embedded or linked with your website can increase its popularity even further.

So lets end with a cliche this time, shall we? It’s Quality, not quantity.

Why Authors Need A Website.

The question often arises of exactly why an author needs a website, and there are many reasons to consider. One of the most vital being because agents, publishers and most importantly readers expect you to. So what are you waiting for?! Not explanation enough? Read on…

‘I really wish every author had either a website or Twitter account. Makes me sad they won’t be interacting with readers.’  –          @readingGals

The above was genuinely taken from Twitter, written by a fairly disappointed reader. Whomever the author is that they’re referring to is making a dreadful mistake. Doesn’t it just say it all?

As an author, you are unknowingly losing out on a vast amount of opportunities (not just sales!) if you do not have a website. Readers take more and more time to research authors and their books online in today’s market, and you are losing out on valuable interaction and potential sales by not investing and embracing what is one on the worlds most effective promotional tools.

Displaying your work on other websites, such as your publisher or retailers simply isn’t good enough. The book market is extremely overcrowded and readers are more likely to be distracted by other works or adverts on the websites where more than your books are on offer. Needle. Haystack. Enough said.

Having your own website enables that important element of control, enabling you to brand your design to attract and engage the readers in your genre. It uses the same concept as a cover design, which your publisher or graphic designer has worked so hard to perfect. If the design of your cover isn’t carefully considered, you’re in danger of losing a sale to the book next door. In addition  your own website can be continuously updated, making it the centre of your promotion.

“Here’s a copy of my book, I hope you like it, but you may not. Probably not. Maybe?” – No success ever came from lacking confidence in your own work. If you portray yourself though your website as a professional, that confidence will also reflect on your work. A poorly designed website on the other hand, can immediately give a death sentence to your reader looking any further.

No successful author would forgo a website for the simple reason that they understand the importance of reaching out to their readership in whatever way they can. A website can be hugely successful and exciting to create. Whether you do it yourself or brief a designer, make it professional and ensure it’s worthy of displaying your work.

The process can be daunting to some authors too, but really, you braved the agents and publishers, dipping your toes into the publishing pool, you can do this too…