Tracy (T.L.) Higley here, posting another marketing lesson I’ve learned from my years in online retail sales. As I’ve mentioned in previous months, I’m currently in the midst of an experimental year, applying principles from my retail business to the marketing of my fiction. If you’ve missed earlier posts, and would like a better explanation of my background and what these posts are about, please see Principles #1-#6 here.
So, on to Principle #7… Good website design is critical.
Two subpoints to this principle:
1. Content draws people and keeps them coming back. These days, the web is literally clogged with people who have something to say. Or nothing to say, but using cyberspace to do it! How do you have a website that is more than just another page among many? One word: content.
Sit with yourself awhile and brainstorm about everything connected with your books that you could offer on your website as additional content. Go deeper into your topics, write a few articles. Maybe a few short stories, or “extra” chapters the way DVDs have deleted scenes. What have you dug up in the course of your research that you can pass along? Your website should be more than one big advertisement for you and your work. It should offer something of value. How about some writing expertise? Recommended books?
Fill up your site with content and people will start finding you online in more ways than your web address in the back of your books. They’ll find you through search engines, and your site will begin to rise above the cacophony that is the Web.
2. In site design, sophistication prevails. Gone are the days when you could upload a template website, plug in some information, and look like a professional. Unless you are a truly a graphic designer, you need to get some outside help here. Today’s web surfer expects quality, and if your website says “amateur” it reflects on your writing. Do some exploring yourself, through the websites of other authors you know, and start to compile a list of designers whose work you like. Make some contacts and get price quotes. You don’t have to spend a fortune. But your website is your calling card to the world these days. I’ll say it again: it needs to look professional.
There are so many opinions on what works and what doesn’t work in book marketing. No one can really say for sure what causes a book to take off. But a nice-looking, content-rich website is a non-negotiable. Just as you would never show up at a speaking engagement dressed in your sweatpants, you shouldn’t settle for a website that looks sloppy, either.