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Author Websites vs. Book Websites

Many authors who are publishing their first book are still unsure as to whether their website should focus on them or on their book. Should it be JaneDoe.com or MyBookTitle.com? Should it look like the book cover or look like the author’s style?

In 90% of the cases I come across, I recommend that we make it an author website (not a book website). This means that the domain name should be some version of the author’s name and the design should focus on the author and his or her persona, rather than mimic the book cover. The benefits of having the site focus on the author are many, including:

  • It will be easier to feature future books of yours on the same website
  • You can promote your future books to a ready-made audience of followers
  • Your author photos, bio, a personal blog, book signings, news you want to share, etc.. fit more naturally
  • You can promote other things that you do, such as editing services, speaking services, etc…

Now this doesn’t mean that you should ONLY reserve your name as the domain name for your site. In fact, my recommendation is almost always that we have the author name as the primary domain name, but that we reserve the domain names of his or her book title(s) as secondary domain names and have them redirect to the area of the site that focuses on that book. That’s a win-win.

There are rare instances in which I recommend that you go with a book website. But generally that is only if:

  • You are 100% sure you will not want to include other books in the same website
  • You have no desire to get your name out there to publishers, agents, media, etc… you JUST want to sell books
  • The subject of your book is compelling, distinctive, and engaging enough to attract visitors on its own
  • You want the website to simply be an extension of the book

A few clients that I’ve recently done this with include an author who wrote a book about a tornado in the 1960s and wants a dramatic site depicting that tornado, and another author who has an extensive background as a journalist and is publishing a book (and corresponding website) chronicling previous columns and complimentary photos on one specific topic. This author already has a public name — separate from the book — and wants to keep the journalistic identity separate from the title.

But these cases are few and far between, and I encourage all authors to think long and hard before delving into a book website. Should you start working on any other titles in the future, marketing those books will be a whole lot harder without an author website already up and running.

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