This is one of the most important questions I ask an author when we are beginning to work together. And, surprisingly, many of the authors that I speak to don’t really know the answer. So let me talk about the benefits of each of the major types of sites that authors build and how to go about deciding which one is right for you.
A Book Site
A book site refers to a website that focuses solely on one book or one series of books. It should be named after the book (or the series) and use images or graphics that come straight off the book covers or illustrations. So what’s the benefit of a book site? Well, it aims to promote and sell the book. Simple as that.
See an example of a book site at http://www.lostinplainsight.net/
An Author Site
Truth be told, the large majority of sites that I build for authors are truly author sites. That’s because most authors don’t write one book and then quit (or at least don’t plan to quit). Maybe they already are working on a second book. Maybe they do speaking engagements on the topic. Maybe they want to build a following. An author site also works to promote and sell a book (or multiple books), but its focus is primarily on the author. Such sites are usually named after an author (i.e. JohnSmith.com or JohnSmithBooks.com) and include the author’s name and photo in the most prominent places. In addition, sites like these give readers multiple ways to follow or contact the author, like a newsletter sign-up box, social media links or an easy-to-fill-out contact form.
See an example of an author site at http://donnawilsonphd.org/
A Branded Site
This is probably the most complicated of the three types of sites. Why? Well, because building a brand requires a lot of hard work. Even the naming is difficult. Take, for example, an author who writes a book on career building and also runs a business offering career coaching services. So what should he title his site? Well, step one is coming up with a brand name. In this case, possibilities could include anything from CareerCoachProfessional.com to LetMeHelpYourCareer.com. Then, he would have to have a logo created that encompassed that name and some sort of recognizable icon that would work on the website, business cards, etc… Finally, he would have to put together an entire marketing plan for getting that business name out there. So could a site like this be successful? Of course! In fact, at the end of the day, it could generate a lot of money if it’s done properly. Just read this post about how an author can use their book to be a springboard for selling all other types of products and services.
See an example of a branded site at http://themanopauseman.com/
A Do-Good Site
I have worked with authors who wrote a book primarily because they felt they had a very important message to get out to the community. Their goals aren’t about fame or fortune …. they’re about making the world a better place. So how do you build a site that is an extension of that? Well, you start by naming it after your cause. Maybe it’s BeNicetoAnimals.com or AchievingWordPeace.org. Then you come up with powerful, compelling images and colors they clearly convey your important message. A site like this is less about the author or the book or any products that are for sale: it’s about building a community of followers, and possibly even getting them to take action, like starting their own chapters of the organization or donating money to a worthy cause. Buttons to “donate” or “join the cause” should be prominent in such a site design.
See an example of a do-good site at http://angrymoms.org/
Obviously, one or two of these types of sites are going to jump out at you … and the others are going to seem completely unrelated to who you are and what you’re doing. But that’s okay. As long as you can recognize what type of site best suits your needs, you’ve taken the first step towards building an online presence that can help you achieve your goals … whatever those goals may be.