adding a new book to your footer

5 Steps to Adding a New Book to an Author Website

So you built that author website when you published your first book. Now you have a second (or third or fourth) coming out. Do you need to scrap that old site entirely? Probably not. Here are the five steps to updating your author website when you are adding a new book.

Tips for Adding a New Book

1. Consider the domain and design. Was your original site designed for your first book? Or was it more broad, focusing on you as an author? If the answer is the former, you may have some work on your hands. In other words, if the site was named after your first book and uses all the images/photography/colors from that first book cover, you really should consider some rebranding of the site before adding a new book. That might mean changing the domain name, imagery and/or the color scheme. This is why I frequently advise authors that unless this book is the only thing they are ever going to write, they should build a site that can easily encompass future books as well.

2. Reorganize your homepage. Your homepage is probably built to promote your first book. Maybe it includes the book cover, a blurb about the book, a testimonial or two and links to learn more. Now that you have another book out, you may decide that you want to give the homepage a similar treatment, but with more prominence for your new book. Or you may decide that you want a rotating slider on the homepage that features one book at a time but shifts from one to another. A third option is to have the homepage include a blurb about you and what you write about (assuming both books can fall under the same umbrella) and then call out each book as a subset of that larger message. Either way, you want to make sure your newest title gets the prominence it deserves on your homepage.

adding a new book to your footer3. Adjust your book promo/buy the book modules. You probably have a header bar, a right rail or a footer that appears on every page of the site and includes some sort of book call-out. Often it includes the cover, links to learn more about it and/or a “buy the book” link. But now you have two (or more) books to feature. So you may want to consider either adding a new book to that module, or redesigning it so that it can naturally encompass more than one title. In some cases, that means making the first cover smaller and giving the newer title more prominence.

4. Add a new book page.
This one is obvious, but it’s not to be forgotten. Each book you write deserves its own page on the site. Take a look at what you have for your first book and replicate it for the second. Maybe it’s a page that includes a detailed book description, a link to a featured excerpt, testimonials, etc… Aim to populate as much of that content as possible on your new book page as well. You may not have all that information handy yet (testimonials aren’t always readily available pre-pub), but you can always add them later. And if your first book has all of that information divided into multiple pages on the site, you may want to consider combining it all. Now that you’re a multi-book author, you want to make it as easy as possible for people to find all the information for an individual title in one place.

adding a new book to your navigation5. Restructure your navigation. Chances are, when you built the navigation on your site, you didn’t have a page title that matched the first book title. In other words, if your first book was called “Rose Petals” you may not have literally had a page called “Rose Petals.” You may instead have had a page called “About the book” or “Featured excerpts.” Now that you are adding a new book, you will need to clearly retitle each book page so that it matches the book title. You might also want to consider having the tab that’s visible in the navigation be called something more like “Books” and allowing each book that you have to be a subpage that appears when you scroll over the “books” tab (see right). This type of set-up will allow to add even more books in the future with little to no hassle.

Voila! These five steps will take your author website from a one-book site to a multi-book site. You may, of course, have additional updates that you want made. After all, each and every site is different. But these basic changes should ensure that once your newest visitors have arrived, they will be able to see that you are a multi-book author … and most importantly, to learn about (and hopefully buy) your newest book.

author reads april 2017

April Round-Up: 5 Author Reads Worth Your Time

author reads april 2017April showers bring May flowers. Or, in this case, good author reads from April (will hopefully) bring some additional book sales this month.

But seriously, here’s a recap of the five author reads you might have missed in April. Now’s your time to catch up.

Can’t Miss Author Reads

1. How to Create a Review Campaign for Your Book Launch
What you need is a system to ensure you’re predictably and steadily bringing in reviews from the moment you hand out your first advance reader copy (ARC). So, let’s get to it.
Book Marketing Tools | April 10, 2017

2. DIY: Book Awards for Self-Published Authors
With hundreds of thousands of self-published books hitting the virtual shelves every year, indie authors need to find ways of standing out.
Publishers Weekly | April 10, 2017

3. Authors: Don’t Make Your Social Media All About You
I get it. In the hyper-competitive world of social media, it seems counter intuitive to use one’s precious bandwidth to promote something other than your own work. But it works, and here’s why.
Joel Pitney | April 11, 2017

4. A Quick Guide to Pricing Your E-Book
There’s one question that we editors hear again and again from self-publishing writers we work wit: How much should I charge for my ebook?
Build Book Buzz | April 19, 2017

5. Author Pages: 5 Sites You Should Consider Having One on
Here are five sites you should consider having an author page on – including Amazon and Facebook – and tips on how to maximize each one.
Smart Author Sites | April 24, 2017

If you read any articles recently that you think would be helpful to other start-up authors, share them below in the comments box. You can never have too many!

Happy book selling, and happy May.

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

An Author Website Book Publishers Will Love

I work with authors at all different stages of publication. Some who are self publishing. Others who reach out to me when their books are only a few months away from release through a major publishing house. The saddest of all are the authors whose books came out six months ago, and only now are they realizing how little publicity their book publishers are doing for them.

But some authors actually reach out to me way sooner than that. In fact, many of them haven’t even finished their manuscript yet.

How Soon Is Too Soon to Build an Author Website?

I’ve written about this before. It’s honestly never too soon. But be aware that the website you build prior to finishing your book is going to be drastically different from what it will be a year later. Once you have a finished book (and cover), book reviews, testimonials, links to buy it, etc… the site will look different because your goals will be different. At that point, you will be aiming to get readers to buy your book. But now, you have nothing to buy.

That doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t have a site this early in the process. Building an online presence is an important piece of being a successful author today, and that’s something that takes time.

So What’s the Site for If It’s Not Selling Books?

Well, some of that depends on if you’re self publishing or reaching out to book publishers. In the case of traditional publishing, you want to make sure that when the person who receives your book pitch takes a look at your site, they are impressed and think, “Now, that’s an author I want to get behind.” More on that below.

Obviously, if you’re planning to self publish, you will be less focused on appealing to book publishers. But in many ways, the goals of the site would still be the same.

This early in the journey, the goal of your author website should be to build a following. That can be done in a few different ways, including:

  • Blogging regularly
  • Driving traffic to the site through Facebook/Twitter
  • Collecting email addresses and building fans/followers
  • Optimizing your site for search terms that readers might be looking for

So What Type of Site Would Appeal to Book Publishers?

Author websites for book publishers

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Put yourself in the shoes of someone who is receiving your manuscript. Let’s call her Jane.

Picture this scenario….

Jane comes across your book pitch. She sees your name and does a Google search for you.

Does your site show up right at the top of search results for your name?

Jane is now clicking around your site. The first thing she wants to know is if this site looks clean and professional.

Did you have it designed by a professional? Is it mobile-friendly?

Jane now wants to know what you look like. After all, she likes to attach a face to a name and is curious whether you’re 25 or 65.

Do you have a professional photo of yourself on the site?

Now, Jane is going to take a look at your blog. She wants to know what you write about, how dedicated you seem to be to it, and if people seem to be visiting it regularly.

Do you post entries on your blog on a regular basis? Are people commenting, and are you replying?

While she’s at it, Jane wants to get an idea of if you’ve already built a list of followers/subscribers. The more people you already have following you the easier it will be to sell the book to a larger audience once it’s published.

Do you prominently collect email addresses on the site? Do you have a social widget that shows how many followers/fans you already have?

Now, let’s not forget your writing. Jane knows that your book pitch is good, but how does she know that you did that yourself and didn’t hire someone? She wants to know what writing you’ve done in the past and where you might have been published.

Do you have a page on your site dedicated to previous writings (articles, book chapters, etc…) and a place where they can be read? Do you highlight any writing awards you’ve received?

 

If you answered yes to most of the questions above, a book publisher like Jane is more likely to take you seriously. Now, that doesn’t mean she’s going to publish your book. That’s still a ways away. But if, at the end of the day, she’s deciding between two promising authors and you’ve checked more boxes above than the other author she’s considering, you have a serious advantage.

Happy site building!

good reads for authors

Good Reads for Authors from January (No Pun Intended)

good reads for authors

Image courtesy of bplanet at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Another month has come and gone. And with that in mind, here’s a list of the good reads (and no, I don’t mean GoodReads) for authors and writers that were published in January. If you missed any of these, now’s the time to go back and make sure you don’t miss them.

January in Review: 5 Good Reads for Authors

1. Memoir Author’s Book Marketing Success Story
Jen Miller leveraged her platform, skills, and experience to turn her memoir launch into abook marketing success story. Here’s how she did it.
BuildBookBuzz, January 4, 2017

2. Building a Platform to Land a Book Deal: Why It Often Fails
If you’re preparing to pitch your nonfiction work to agents or publishers, you’ve probably heard about the necessity of having a platform.
JaneFriedman.com, January 5, 2017

3. 8 Book Marketing Mistakes to Ban in 2017
Avoid the most common book marketing blunders made by self-publishing authors.
Reedsy.com, January 10, 2017

4. 10 Times Book Reviewers Totally Got It Wrong
I love reading book reviews but I always take them with a grain of salt. Thing is, no matter how much of an expert the reviewer is, a review is an opinion, not a fact.
#AmReading, January 24, 21017

5. Author Tip Sheet: The Whys and Hows
You may have heard about an author tip sheet, sometimes called an author sell sheet. But what in the world is it? Let’s answer some of your questions.
SmartAuthorSites.com, January 26, 2017

Happy February, everyone! If you come across other good reads for authors this month, please share them with us.

most read posts of 2016

Our 5 Most-Read Posts of 2016

Happy New Year, everyone! 2017 is coming in with a bang! But before we look forward, let’s take a quick look backward at our most-read posts of 2016 — most-read by authors like yourself.

Here is a list of the five blog posts that got the most reads in the calendar year. Consider this your cliff notes if you missed any of it. Enjoy!

(And on a side note … apparently October and November were good months — they brought all of our most-read posts of the year. This is a pure coincidence.)

most read posts of 2016

Image courtesy of patrisyu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1. How to Promote Your Book on Your Website
Ever wonder how to promote your book online? Whether or not you already have an author website, there are definitely right ways and there are wrong ways to feature (and hopefully sell) your book there. Here are some examples of the dos and don’ts.
October 20, 2016

2. Getting an Agent for a Book: Why Self-Marketing Is Essential
So you’re starting to think about getting an agent for a book. Your manuscript is almost finished and it’s time to get it out there. Where do you start? In today’s world, I would argue, becoming a self-marketer before getting an agent for a book is essential.
November 17, 2016

 3. Your Author Page: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself
So you’ve decided to build an author website. Among other things, that website will include an author page. In this post, I explore a few different approaches to a successful author page, and examples of people who have done interesting things with theirs.
October 11, 2016

 4. Selling Books Online: 5 Things You Need to Know
Okay, you’ve written your first novel and you’re interested in selling books online … so how do you actually go about that? Here are five basic tenets to help you get started selling books online…
November 29, 2016

5.  Website Hack? 5 Reasons Your Author Site May Be Down
Here are five possible causes of your site being down, and what you can do about each one.
October 27, 2016

Here’s to a great 2017 for all you authors out there!

Photo credit: Foter.com / CC0

What Authors Should Read: November in Review

what authors should read

Photo credit: Foter.com / CC0

Another month has come and gone (and we are in the midst of the holiday season). We did a lot of posting and sharing in November — both of our own content and of other sites’ interesting articles, blog posts and more.

In case you missed any of it, here’s a summary of what authors should read to stay on top of industry trends.

What Authors Should Read From November

1. Is Passion for Your Book Enough? Include These 10 Hot Selling Points
Knowing these before you write your book will make all of your copy more organized, succinct, easy to read and engaging.
Book Coaching, November 5, 2016

2. Author Website Templates: 5 Things You Need to Know
So you want to build an author website. Here’s what you need to know about selecting and utilizing the right author website templates.
Smart Author Sites, November 7, 2016

3. Guest Blog Post: Author Website Tips
This article offering author website tips is our second guest post from Irish children’s book author Avril O’Reilly, who I met when she took one of my book marketing courses.
Build Book Buzz, November 16, 2016

4. Social Media Marketing Evolves
As social media platforms get more crowded, indie authors are recalibrating their marketing efforts.
Publishers Weekly, November 18, 2016

5. 4 Steps to Selling More Books with Less Social Media
Traditionally and self-published authors use Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to help sell books. But should they be doing that?
Digital Book World, November 28, 2016

Happy reading!

selling books online

Selling Books Online: 5 Things You Need to Know

selling books onlineOkay, you’ve written your first novel and you’re interested in selling books online … so how do you actually go about that?

Here are five basic tenets to help you get started selling books online…

1. It’s not that difficult to get a book listed on Amazon. Even if you didn’t publish your book through Amazon, that doesn’t mean you can’t sell it there. It just takes a few easy steps to create your Amazon page and sell your book. Here are some instructions from Amazon’s Author Central on how to do that. And the nice part about selling through them is that you don’t have to worry about collecting money, distribution, etc… It’s all pretty simple.

2. There are other options for selling books online. Let’s say you don’t want people to have to go through Amazon to buy your book. Maybe you want to keep 100% of the profits. Or maybe you want to incentivize people to buy it directly from you by, say, offering a signed copy of the book to your buyers. In that case, there are several simple ways to sell the book yourself, assuming you have an on-site platform already. The simplest and most efficient way is via PayPal. This will allow you to create a product page, set prices for the book (and for shipping) and then easily embed that “buy” button on your author website. If you want to get even more sophisticated (or if you plan to sell more than just a book — say, your book and corresponding t-shirts, hats, etc…), you can set up your own online shopping cart. That takes a bit more work to build, but it would allow people to do all their shopping right there on your website. You can learn more about these various options in our post on how to sell books through your author website.

3. … but if you do, be aware of tax implications.
This is an important message for those of you who plan to sell the books yourselves. Talk to a financial professional in your state before beginning this venture! Find out about sales tax in your local area and what you’re required to charge buyers. The last thing you want is to get in trouble with the authorities.

4. Have a firm marketing plan in place. Just having a way to sell your book (or even having it listed on Amazon) is not what’s going to actually sell your book; just like setting up a lemonade stand on your street isn’t going to sell much lemonade. In order to successfully begin your venture of selling books online, you need to follow these basic steps: 1) Identify your audience; 2) Figure out how to reach that audience; 3) Drive them to where the book is sold; 4) Incentivize purchasing it. Now, those four steps sound pretty simple, but they’re not. If you’re not a marketing person at heart, I recommend you talk to someone who has some background in this. Even if he or she is just serving as a consultant for a short time, that consultation can help you firm up those plans and kick off your campaign. For example, if your book is a romance novel, you might be able to determine that your audience is female, ages 30-60, they spend a lot of time on Facebook and Pinterest, and could be driven to your site via paid ads on Facebook and/or viral pins. Once they get to your site, you might then want to offer them some kind of discount/donation to a charity for buying your book, or a cool bracelet if they recommend it to their book club. This is just one very specific example, but it’s a good idea of the detail involved in doing this right.

5. Make good decisions about selling print books, ebooks or both. Books aren’t just books anymore. Nowadays, you could sell your book in print (hardcover/softcover), an e-book, a PDF, etc… Again, this ladders back up to knowing your audience and how they prefer to read. A younger audience may prefer Kindle, while an older audience wants to hold the book. Genre matters as well. Now, you could certain decide to go with all of these options and offer your book however someone wants to read it. But be aware that each one is an investment in time and money, so choose wisely.

Selling books online may be easy in theory (technology does wonders, doesn’t it?), but it requires a lot of time, thought and planning to do it right. If you want help with any of these steps, you’re always welcome to reach out to us for a free consultation.

Good luck and happy bookselling.

author website templates as a house frame

Author Website Templates: 5 Things You Need to Know

So you want to build an author website. It used to be that doing so would require a large technical team to design your site and then hand-code the whole thing in HTML. Not very practical (or cheap). But now, with author website templates, that process can be a whole lot easier.

author website templates as a house frame

Courtesy of Photo by khunaspix/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So whether you work with a design/development/consulting firm like us, or choose one of your favorite author website templates and create your own site, here are five things you need to know.

Important Facts About Author Website Templates

1. A “WordPress theme” is just another name for a website template. We build all of our author websites in WordPress. And within WordPress, there are thousands and thousands of themes available. A theme is just WordPress lingo for an author website template. They are one in the same.

2. Think of a template as the frame of a house. An architect designs a house. He/she determines how the house will lay out, how the entry foyer will be shaped and where the bathrooms sit. But that’s just the frame of the house. Notice that an architect doesn’t decide what colors the walls will be, where the couches will sit or whether or not there is trim around the floorboards or a wooden handrail on the staircase. Your author website template is pretty much the same thing as the work of an architect. It spells out for you how your site is laid out, but not what is on it. In other words, it might designate some space for a header image, but what exactly is in that image is totally up to you.

3. Most author website templates today are mobile-responsive. I’ve written many, many posts about the importance of mobile responsiveness in today’s world. Today, nearly every author website template is mobile responsive. In other words, each of these themes is built in “modules” — sections of the page that lay out differently on desktop and on mobile, with the purpose of giving users the ideal experience regardless of which device they are viewing the site on. However …. some older themes that haven’t been updated may not be mobile-responsive, so it’s definitely worth making sure the one you are choosing is current before diving in.

4. Different author website templates offer different amounts of customization. We talked about the framework of the house. But the analogy kind of ends there. Because different themes allow you to do different things with them. Some author website templates give you more flexibility than others to move things around, change sizing, etc… Do your research (and study other users’ reviews of the theme) to make sure that the one you choose will give you the flexibility you’re looking for. And without going into too much of a shameless plug, I will say that when you work with Smart Author Sites, who has developers who can really dig into a theme, your flexibility to adjust that author website template is multiplied.

5. You get what you pay for. There really is a difference between free themes and paid themes. The majority of WordPress themes are free. But you will also find some that are “premium”; those that require paying a fee to use them. So are the ones that require payment better? Well, yes … especially if you’re building this site on your own. Just a few of the reasons why include:

  • a premium theme often comes with a support team if you need help
  • they generally look more professional/less templated than free themes
  • there are more options for customization of these themes
  • they are updated by the developer more often, reducing long-term security risks

Now, obviously the cost associated with some of these (sometimes $100 or more) make them out of reach for some authors. It’s up to you to decide the best route to take.

We work with clients all the time to find the right author website template to meet their needs, and then customize that theme to be exactly what an author wants it to be. But if you decide to go it alone, choosing the right author website template and adjusting it as you see fit is crucial to building yourself a successful presence on the web.

 

author tips october

5 Author Tips from October

author tips octoberIt’s time for our monthly round-up again! If you missed any of these five author tips that were published in October, this is your chance to catch up. Enjoy!

October Author Tips: 5 Must-Reads

1. Your Author Page: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself
In this post, we explore a few different approaches to a successful author page, and examples of people who have done interesting things with theirs.
Smart Author Sites/October 11, 2016

2. Anatomy of a Book Cover
We are always admonished to not “judge a book by its cover,” but that’s exactly what happens, because your book cover is a retail package.
BookCoaching.com/October 11, 2016

3. Pitch Your Book to Holiday Gift Guides
Would your book make a good holiday gift? Now’s the time to start thinking about how you’ll pitch it to annual holiday gift guides that run in newspapers and on websites and blogs.
Build Book Buzz/October 12, 2016

4. Is Social Media Toxic to Writing?
What happens when an author won’t join social media?
Publishers Weekly/October 14, 2016

5. Website Hack: 5 Reasons Your Author Site Might Be Down
Here are five possible causes of your site being down, and what you can do about each one.
Smart Author Sites/October 27, 2016

Happy November!

website hack 404 error

Website Hack? 5 Reasons Your Author Site May Be Down

website hack 404 errorLast Friday, there was a huge website hack. Without going into too much detail, a large percentage of the sites we visit every day — like Twitter, Spotify and PayPal — were completely unavailable for a good chunk of the day. There were many author websites that were impacted as a result of this huge outage.

But chances are, this won’t be the only time you log on and notice that your author website isn’t working. Here are five possible causes of your site being down, and what you can do about each one.

1. Domain name has expired.

The first thing you probably did when you decided to create an author website was to purchase a domain name. You might not even remember doing this, since it didn’t cost much (usually $10-$20) and you’ve barely touched this account ever since. But whether you reserved the domain for one year or 10 years, that domain will expire eventually. You’ll likely receive email alerts from the company through which you purchased it as it comes close to expiring, but you may not pay attention to those. You might have even changed your email address since you set up the account. If your site is down, you can quickly find out if your domain name has expired by going to http://whois.com and entering your domain. That site should also tell you where the domain was reserved so that you can reach back out to them about renewing.

2. Hosting has expired.

Yes, the account through which you purchased your domain name may not be the same as the one through which your site is hosted. Many authors think these are one in the same, and that can lead to a lot of confusion. But, to be clear, your domain is simply the name of your site that you are reserving the rights to and no one else can use. Your hosting, which is generally more expensive than your domain, is where all of your files live. It is essentially your rent paid for space on the internet. If you suspect your hosting may have expired, follow up with your hosting company or firm to determine if your account is still active. Much like the whois.com link above, you can visit http://www.whoishostingthis.com/ to check your site’s hosting status.

3. File security issue.

Now that author websites are self-updatable, our clients are always adding blog posts and uploading files — including photos, downloadable PDFs and more. But sometimes, when these files are uploaded they can create problems for the site. In other words, they might contain elements that are considered a security risk by your hosting company — whether or not they actually are. If that happens, there’s a chance that your host will shut your site down and send you an email informing you that the site needs to be cleaned before it can be restored. Don’t ignore those emails! Follow up immediately and determine what you can do to ensure that your site is clean and that it won’t infect others with whom you share a server.

4. Server hiccup.

In the 10 years that we have been hosting author websites, we have had server problems at least once a year. That’s not exclusive to us. Nearly every hosting company will have problems from time to time with their servers — these can crop up as sites that are down for a short time or error pages being displayed instead of website homepages. If you notice that your site is down, call your hosting provider and report the issue. If you get a recorded message from them about a multitude of sites being down, know that you’re not alone and they’re working to fix the issue. Otherwise, make sure to get a customer service person on the phone and report your particular issue. Sometimes, if it’s only your site that’s having a problem, they just have to reset things and can get your site back up and running while you’re still on the phone.

5. Website hack.

That’s how we started this piece, and that’s how we’re ending it. Entire servers or systems go down sometimes for a variety of reasons. And, while you and I may never understand why, there are people out there who make website hacking a hobby. But here’s the good news/bad news: If your site is the victim of a website hack, there’s not much you can do other than wait. That means you don’t need to call customer service, log on to your cPanel or anything else. Just be patient and know that people a lot more tech savvy than you are working to fix this website hack and get your site — and probably thousands of others — up and running again.

Technology is fun, right? Sometimes, I wonder why I didn’t just go into print…