I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: writing for a website is absolutely nothing like writing a book. It’s sort of like asking a cardiologist to perform surgery on your foot. Similar fields? Sure. Same skillsets? Far from it.
An author website can be an incredible tool that’s used to promote and sell books. It can also be a waste of time and money if it’s not done correctly.
It’s important to remember that, in many ways, an author website is no different from an e-store, like Amazon. When you look at a product page on Amazon, you want to find out what this product is, what the details of it are, and how it’s going to be better than all the competing products out there. Similarly, your author website needs to explain what your book is, why someone will benefit from reading it, and what they should expect if they purchase it (i.e. is it a hardcover? available in kindle? how many pages?)
With this in mind, I’m going to reference an article I just read, entitled Breaking the Copywriting Code to Increase Sales. Here are a few points made in the article, and how I think they can be used by authors for writing the perfect website copy.
1. Start by presenting the problem. This is especially effective for nonfiction books. Someone wants to read your book because they need to learn more about something. Start by explaining why their life is less complete now that they DON’T know about it, and how it will be more complete when they DO know more about it. For example, if you wrote a book about getting that promotion at work, you’d want to start your website copy with something like, “Your career is suffering and you don’t know why.”
2. Establish a bond. While you’re busy establishing the “problem,” you have to walk a fine line. After all, you don’t want it to sound like you’re talking down to your readers. So make sure to make someone feel like you’ve had that problem too. You’ve been there. And you’ve found your way out. Now, you’re telling them how they can, too.
3. Break your copy down into readable chunks. When you’re writing a book, you write in paragraphs. When you’re writing website copy, you write in chunks. A paragraph of copy on a website is highly unlikely to get read; it’s far more likely to be browsed. But turn your text into a bulleted list with the strongest segments in bold or italics and it’s practically guaranteed that people are going to read the most important things you have to say.
4. Include a call to action. I’ve said this more times than I can tell you. It’s amazing how many authors build a website to promote their book and then make visitors jump through hoops to actually make the purchase. Don’t make the same mistake. Include links to buy the book in the form of buttons, book covers, and links in the text. Once you’ve got someone’s attention, use it wisely. Direct them where you want them to go. In most cases, that’s the page where they can make the purchase.
5. Come full circle. You’ve started your sales copy by pointing out the reader’s problem. Once you’ve explained how you can fix it, bring it back to the problem. Have your “call to action” link be something like, “Get that promotion now!” or “Find out how to finally write that perfect resume.” This gives the page a symmetry and a clear, concise message.
Whether you plan to write your author website copy yourself, or you’ve decided to hire a pro to do it, keep these ideas in mind. Remember: when you’re writing author website copy, you’re not a writer. You’re a salesman. It’s a very different profession.