In honor of this great pieces I just read on Book Promotion Myths from my colleague Sandra Beckwith, I have decided to present … three common author website myths.
1. An author’s website needs to be stunning.
Sure, a stunning website is a good thing. In fact, it’s often a great thing. But many authors make flashy design a higher priority than building a website that’s functional, full of content, builds users, sells books and/or climbs the search engine rankings. And that’s a mistake that can cost an author a great deal.
You see, design is important. But also important is making sure that your site can be viewed on mobile devices, has regularly-updated content that draws viewers back regularly, that collects email addresses, that is search-engine friendly … and a host of other things. If you build a site that’s completely in Flash, for example, you’ll have a stunning site and absolutely none of these other essential elements.
Sure, it’s great to have a beautiful site that accomplishes all the other things. Just make sure you don’t build a stunning site at the expense of the other things.
2. An author shouldn’t have a website until they have a book published.
This is a HUGE misconception. It’s never too early to have an author website. For example, where do you think an agent or a publisher is going to go when they receive a solicitation from an author? The author’s website! And, if they decide to pick up the phone, do you know what questions they would ask that author? Questions along the lines of, “How many followers do you have to your blog?” and “How many email addresses have you collected already?”
In days of yore, publishers marketed the books they published. Not any more! Today, each and every author needs to take control of his or her marketing. And that starts with an author website. If an author waits until after the book is published to build that website … well, that book may never be published. Even if the author decides to self-publish, having that ready-made list of followers and/or a blog that people are reading is going to be a huge first step in getting that book sold when it is available.
If you’re waiting until your book is available for sale before building your author website, you could be making a serious mistake.
3. Authors don’t need websites any more. They have social media.
Social media is a huge part of marketing in today’s world. There’s no arguing with that. But social media is only a piece of an author’s online marketing campaign.
An author’s website is his or her portfolio. It’s the place where he or she controls all the information. It’s the site that sets the scene for how people experience the author and his or her writings.
Who owns the information you put on Facebook? That would be Facebook. How about Twitter? That’s right … that’s not yours, either. In fact, social networking sites have the right to do with your posted information whatever they want to. And, as a writer, that should concern you.
So how should you use social networking sites? They are promotional opportunities. And those promotions should take people to … that’s right: your website. Because THAT’S where you control the message, the appearance of those messages and (most importantly) that’s where you own your own content.
So use social networking. But don’t use it in place of an author website. Use it to support your author website,
What other mistakes have you made along the way in terms of author websites? Share them with us!