Friday, May 29, 2009

How to Have a Book Website That Effectively Sells Your Book

By Phyllis Zimbler Miller

If you're a book author, you want to make it as easy as possible for people to say yes to you:

• Yes to being interested in you
• Yes to being interested in reading your book
• Yes to buying your book

To do this you must have a website (people buy books online) and you must have a website that makes it easy for potential book buyers/readers to know what your book is about and what you are about.

Here are six errors that get in the way of people saying yes to you:

1. You don't have a website. Okay, this is an obvious one. But there's a part of this error that may not be as obvious.

Let's say you don't have your own website, but you have your own page (section) on a book organization's website. Is this good enough? Probably not, and here's why:

On an organization's website you have to fit your own round pegs into square holes (or the other way round). You are limited by what that site allows you to do, and you may be making it too easy for people to jump away from your author page to someone else's author page on the same site.

If you have your own site, you can put the best internet marketing practices to use on the site. But do you know those best internet marketing practices?

2. You hire a web designer/developer whose sites are beautifully designed. But he/she has no knowledge about internet marketing practices and optimizing a site to encourage the search engines to find you (SEO - search engine optimization).

You need to find a website builder who constantly keeps abreast of the best practices of internet marketing and SEO optimization and who builds these elements into your website.

And one big element that you definitely want for your website - total control once the site is up. This means you can make any change you want instantly without waiting days for your web master to make one tiny change.

3. You don't let a visitor to your book's website know instantly what genre and age-level your book is.

Or even whether the book is fiction or nonfiction.

Website visitors are not mind-readers. You have only a very few seconds to tell them that they are on the right page if they're looking for the kind of book you're selling. (Yes, you're selling your book.)

You must immediately announce what your book is about. For example, if your book is a Young Adult fantasy novel and the first of a proposed series, let your website visitors know this info immediately.

Of course, the number one way is to have a book cover that conveys this information (a 12-year-old protagonist wielding a sword is a big clue). Yet even if you have this optimized cover, you need to repeat the information in large type right at the top center of the page. (And be sure not to have too much surrounding copy that could detract from "getting" this message immediately.)

You do not want to mislead people into thinking the book might be for them when, for example, they only read hard-core crime drama and your book is a YA fantasy novel. But you definitely want the fans of YA fantasy novels to know instantly they are on the right page!

4. You don't have any way to capture the email addresses of potential readers/fans. This is a big error that can be rectified by utilizing a service that enables you to:

• ask for email addresses
• have the person verify his/her address so your messages can get through the spam filters
• store the addresses in a database
• send automatic email messages (called autoresponders) to these people to keep yourself and your book projects at the front of their mind

5. You don't have a clear call-to-action - a button or link clearly marked: Buy the Book Now. Remember, your goal is to sell more copies of your book(s). Make it really, really easy for people to do so. (No, don't link to the home page of Amazon. Link to the page where people can BUY YOUR BOOK on Amazon.)

6. You let the design elements of your website overpower or detract from the important elements that can sell your book. If you're "guilty" of any of the above errors, you should consider immediately taking steps to rectify these. And at the same time, consider getting a website that you can totally control yourself once it is set up.

For the free report "7 Tips for Creating a Call-to-Action Website," visit Phyllis Zimbler Miller's site Phyllis is also the author of Mrs. Lieutenant: A Sharon Gold Novel ( and the co-author of the Jewish holiday book Seasons For Celebration.

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