Is your website working for you? Is it helping you sell more books? So many authors really don’t know the answer to this question. And with so many options out there for websites, how do you know which elements you must have to be successful?
Most authors want to sell more books, and that is (or should be) the main goal of your website. If you wrote a business book to help you sell more services, build your business, or book more speaking, then you may have slightly different goals. However, even with that in mind, a successful website should still have many of the same key attributes.
1. Make sure your copy is flawless
What I mean here is that every page must be carefully edited. Typos and other errors are the fastest way to lose a sale. Your website is a powerful marketing tool and you want to use it to create a killer first impression.
2. Check your traffic
Google Analytics is a great tool (and it’s free!) to learn more about visitors to your site. Regularly checking reports can give you a solid idea of who visits you, how they find you, and what they do on your site. That will help you figure out what is working to drive traffic, and just as importantly what isn’t. This is especially true as it relates to social media. And, knowing how you get most of your site visitors is a huge help when trying to determine where to spend your time trying to sell more books.
3. Be media ready
You should have a media room with downloadable materials ready to go. For authors, this includes a photo, bio, book synopsis and book cover. And, make it easy on them – your downloads should be available in small files. Other ideas for your media room might include a Q&A, book reviews, book group questions, events calendar, and more. It should be a one-stop resource for anyone looking for more information, whether blogger or media!
4. Your website copy should be simple
People don’t sit down to read web pages, they scan. Try to keep your home page at 200 to 250 words and make sure it’s written in simple, layperson language. Stay away from complex book descriptions. Also, be sure to include a call to action. What is it you want readers to do? Buy your book? Sign up for your newsletter? Whatever it is, you want your site to direct visitors to a specific action. Good exposure and an easy to navigate site is one sure way to gain more readers as is a singular website goal. Remember that the confused mind does not make a choice, they simply click off and go away.
5. Your Website Bookstore
While it’s a good idea to have your products available in several online stores, an area on your site should be dedicated to sales – even if you direct people to Amazon.com or another site for the actual purchase. If you are hoping to sell more books from your website, make it easy for visitors to buy from you. If they have to take too many steps, you’ll lose the sale. If you’re accepting payments directly, use a simple service like Paypal, or Amazon pay.
I recommend hiring a professional to design your website. Why? Because much like editing our own books, we’re just too darned close to our message to be able to do it justice. So invest the money to hire someone. And it’s worth repeating: as you build your site, remember that your homepage should only do one thing. Your website can sell a lot of things, including any consulting or speaking services you offer, but your home page should focus on selling your book. Website visitors spend an average of 1/50th of a second on a website. So with that in mind, if you make them work too hard to figure out what your site is about, they will leave, and most likely, they won’t come back.
7. Have a (regular) blog and contact points
Your blog gives you regularly updated content for your site as well as a way for your site visitors to participate. A blog ensures you have regularly updated content on your site as well as a page on your blog where visitors can participate. Remember to also include a way to get in touch along with links to any social media sites you’re on.
8. Offer fresh content
A blog is a great way to share new content with your readers. Posts don’t have to be super long either. Change it up with post lengths based on what works for you. But you want to be sure to update it regularly – once or twice a week is ideal and gives you more visibility on search engines. For example, Google rewards sites that have fresh content with a higher search ranking. And of course, that will help you appear before your competition, which helps people to find you. If you could use some help here, I recently shared these ideas for blogging. And you can also download my free monthly marketing planner to help you plan and schedule your posts.
9. Add social widgets
All of the major social media sites have widgets you can add to your site. This makes it easy for others to share content, whether it’s your latest blog post, book synopsis, or events calendar. When you make it easy to share content you’ll get results.
10. Build your email list
Your mailing list is worth its proverbial weight in gold. It’s a powerful tool to sell books, and just as importantly, it’s a great way to build your super fans. It’s something relatively easy to develop, too. Create an ethical bribe, give them something to get something such as a sample chapter, a free report or checklist, or maybe you want to enter them into a monthly drawing. As I mentioned, those email addresses will come in handy when your next book comes out.
11. Contact information
I touched on this briefly earlier, but be sure your site makes it easy for people to connect with you. Don’t make them hunt for it! They’ll just leave your site and they won’t come back.
12. Placement and remarketing
It’s important to understand how people surf, meaning where their eyes go to when they land on a website. You’ll want to place your primary message in the upper left-hand quadrant of a site, which is where they look first. Next, their eyes go to the center of your site. These two primary places are significant in conversion. Be sure your message and call to action are clear. I also recommend funneling your visitors into a mailing list, perhaps using that ethical bribe I mentioned above.
Finally, make sure that your website is mobile ready. Not only is this important to your site visitors as more and more people surf the internet on their smart phones, but Google will actually ding you if it’s not. And this is actually pretty easy. If you use WordPress, your theme may automatically resize to be mobile-friendly. If your theme doesn’t do this, you can likely use a simple plug in to do this. If you’re not sure, your web person can help you!
The bottom line is that a solid website is critical to selling more books. It’s worth your time and energy to do it right with an investment of time and money to make your site professional. The end result is a book marketing and book sales machine, so you’ll definitely be glad you put in the hard work.
Penny Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. (AME) and Adjunct Professor at NYU, is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. To learn more about Penny and AME, visit www.amarketingexpert.com.