I get asked this question a lot, so it only makes sense to use this blog post to answer it … even for those people that haven’t asked!
Basically, there’s no bad time to launch an author website. The goal of the website will be different depending on what the status of the book is, but there’s always a benefit.
When you’re just finishing your manuscript/looking for a publisher, having a website can give you a huge advantage over other people who are looking for a publisher. It tells the publishing company that you understand that you need to do your own marketing and that you’ve already begun the process. And an attractive site tells them that you can do it well. Publishers do less and less marketing of books nowadays (unless it’s one of the very few books that they predict to be a big seller), so the ball is in your court. They know it. You should know it. And a website lets them know that you do.
The obvious time to launch your website is just before your book is released. This is certainly when your site can carry the most punch in terms of building buzz for it, getting people to pre-order copies, and ultimately (hopefully!) selling lots and lots of copies of your book when it’s released.
What’s less obvious is the benefit of launching an author website six months or so after your book has come out. But I have a lot of authors who contact me at that point, because they’re frustrated with how their book has sold and the publicity that their publisher has (or hasn’t) done for them. Is there much that a website can do for you at this point? Yes and no. The truth is that it probably can’t turn your first book into the bestseller you wanted it to be. Can it promote that book and sell more copies than you were? Absolutely. But it can do more than that…
At this point, you’ve realized that you need to do your own marketing (albeit, a bit late), so just jump in and get started. If nothing else, getting a site up and running now will give you the online presence that will give your next book a leg up. Consider this a lesson learned.
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