Authors: Is Your Website a Disaster Area?

For most authors the worst fate is to be ignored, and they spend long hours promoting themselves and their books on social media to make sure that doesn’t happen. Yet the biggest obstacle to discovery may be authors’ own Web sites, where visitors eager to learn more about their books and who are perhaps interested in buying them encounter a frustrating array of challenges.

This is particularly true in the case of authors who are putting their old books back into print. As a publisher specializing in reissues, I find that some authors seem to be doing everything they can to make it hard for readers to buy their books.

Below are some of the most commonly committed sins:

Covers of dead books: If your book is out of print, why are you displaying the old cover? And worse, why are you linking to the page on Amazon where the only copies sold are used ones (for which you make no money on sales)?

Covers to nowhere: It isn’t enough to paste the image of your cover onto your Web site; it must also be linked to retailers’ sites.

Links to only one retailer: Unless you have an exclusive relationship with Amazon, you should also have links to Barnes &, Kobo, iBookstore, and all other sites where your book is offered.

Links to nowhere: If a link on your website only points to the homepage of your publisher instead of the page dedicated to your book, how is that going to help you sell it.

Bio? Reviews? Blurbs?: Biographical information and reviews can be long and tedious. Who has time to read them? Display only the short version.

Remember that fans have limited time and patience. Their goal might be described as Veni, Vidi, Emi (I came, I saw, I purchased). They want to promptly see what they came to see, and if their impulse is to buy it, they should be able to do so in one or two clicks. If there is any impediment to satisfying that impulse on your site, you will have no one to blame but yourself for being ignored.

Richard Curtis

The above suggestions are condensed from an article entitled Discovery Begins on Authors’ Homepages published in the March 4, 2013 issue of Publishers Weekly.  It can be read in its entirety here.


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