Why you NEED an author website
Welcome to Part 3 about becoming a published author! Your author web site is probably the most important weapon in your book-marketing arsenal.
Why? For many reasons, but the most fundamental reason in my opinion is because selling via your author website nets you 100% of the book price. Compare that with the 10-15% you get when selling via the book trade. Yes, that’s right! Everyone takes a big fat juicy cut—your publisher, distributor, the book shop… The author receives 10-15% at best.
It’s true that you’ll need to be comfortable taking orders, packaging your book and handling shipping. I, personally, love taking orders—selling books through my website brings me closer to my readers. I love slipping each order (along with a business card) into the Gemstone Detective branded weather-proof shipping bags I’ve designed. I am thrilled when I’m asked to write personal messages in the books, and I enjoy the fresh air when I walk to the post office to ship them off. Handing over those books at the counter gives me enormous a sense of achievement and motivates me to keep writing.
Gemstone Detective book series
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying don’t sell via Amazon and the retailers. Selling through large retailers gives you a much wider audience—an audience looking for convenience and security. In fact, a little birdie recently told me that if you rely solely on your web site for sales, then you won’t be taken seriously as an author. You need both an author website and book trade retailers to thrive.
What does your author website need?
Your author website communicates your brand and your message to your prospective readers. As your website, you have 100% control over how you do this. I like to think of mine as a platform to help people. I want to build friendship and trust with my readers.
First, you need to decide on a domain name. Make sure it’s something memorable! I chose the brand of my book ‘Gemstone Detective’ as my domain name. You could use yourname.com—something a great many authors do.
Sort out your SEO (search engine optimisation). Your web site designer should build your web site with SEO in mind. If you’re using DIY website builders, make sure you get a professional to look at your SEO. After all, if no one can find your web site, what’s the point?
You will need to set up your website with some form of ecommerce, to take payments for your books and anything else you sell via your web site.
Don’t forget to tell your story with an author bio. Remember—people buy from people and they will want to know about you. Who are you and what makes you qualified to write your book? I split my author bio into three bitesize blog posts to tell my story.
Include a mailing list opt-in on your web site so that you can build up a list of subscribers and communicate with them on a regular basis. There are a thousand ways you can reach out to your audience—you might want to send them a book promotion or share a piece of news.
A blog keeps your website up to date and provides content that will lead your target audience to you… so keep your target audience in mind when writing! Normally, I blog about matters that are gemstone or jewellery related. My readers are individual hobbyists rather than people in the trade. Gemstone Detective book is designed for the individual traveller and gem collector rather than fellow gemmologists who already have access to this information, so I keep my blogposts light-hearted, interesting and free from technical jargon.
What else you put on your web site will depend on your goals as an author. Think carefully about what you want your books to achieve. When I first started writing the Gemstone Detective series, my goal was to travel the world, live my best life and to help people around the world. My tag line is Be sure, Be smart, Buy with confidence. Over time, my goals have developed and expanded. Recently, Covid-19 has taught me that while goals are important, it’s essential to be flexible and to be able to adapt them when needed.
To sum up, your author website is a must, but shouldn’t be relied upon as the be-all and end-all. It’s just one of many ways and opportunities to raise your profile and sell your books in support of everything else you and your business has going on.
Kim Rix GG GIA
Be sure. Be smart. Buy with confidence