Too many people think that author websites are only for published authors. But more and more people have figured out how to use websites to actually get themselves published. Here’s how they’re doing it….
Why Build a Website
Odds are that you’re going to be submitting a proposal or manuscript to a publisher at some point. So how do you get yours to stand out from the crowd? A website is one way to do it. You can only get so much information into the envelope you send them, but you can do a whole lot more if you include a link to your website on every piece of paper in that envelope. It gives the publisher a chance to learn more about you, read your blog, see that people are commenting on your writing, and more. The message is twofold:
- You’ve already gotten a head start on marketing your book
- You already have people interested in your writing
What to Put on That Website
The most important thing that you can do with your website is this: Make it look professional! Don’t go with one of those one-page, build-it-yourself sites. Just think of how that would appear to a publisher. It basically tells them that you aren’t willing to invest very much in your book at this point. And if you don’t have much confidence in your book, how would they? So hired a design company — preferably one who specializes in author websites like we do — and build a website that will knock their socks off. Other elements that are musts at this point are:
- A blog where you can regularly post and take comments. Even if you just ask your friends to comment, this will give your site the feeling of “life”
- A newsletter sign-up box. Offer something special to people who sign up. And amass as large an email list as possible. Then make sure to put in the packet you send to the publisher just how many people have signed up for your email list. If you have a good number (over 1,000), it will be a huge selling point.
- Access to pieces of your manuscript. Allow a publisher to see your table of contents, read featured excerpts, etc… The more information you can allow them to view on your website (without giving away the farm), the better.
- Easy contact information. Have a call-out to publishers on your website. Make it easy for those who are interested in speaking with you further about the book to contact you via phone, email, etc… Don’t make them have to click around.
Now more than ever before, publishers are looking for authors who are willing to invest the time and money in marketing their own book. By building an effective, professional-looking website even before your book is published, you’ll be sending publishers a message that you’re aware of the commitment and ready to take it on. Essentially, that you’re ahead of the game.