Marketing Ideas From Cheri Cowell

Cheri Cowell

I did it all wrong. When I first became an author I was told I needed a website, and back then there were not very many options. So I spent a lot of money I had no business spending, got myself into a terrible contract, and ended up with a website that did not benefit me or my readers. Since then I’ve learned a lot and today I help writers with this process through our Marketing Coaching service. Here are a few keys from that service to help you avoid my biggest mistakes.

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A Jackie M. Johnson photoGreetings from Jackie!

One of the most effective ways to communicate with your readers is through your author/speaker website. How can you make your site better?

Your author website is your online “storefront.” It represents you and your writing to your readers. It gives you credibility. It builds your brand. It gives you the opportunity to showcase your books—and sell them. In addition to social media, your website is a place to connect and build community.

Jane Friedman, a media industry expert, calls the author website “the No. 1 calling card for a digital-age author.” 

Today, there are many options for building a website. Some authors use a web designer to build a traditional website. Others use WordPress, traditionally a blogging site, to transform their blog into a website. Another option is to create your own professional website using a company, like homestead® or others, that provide templates (so you can easily fill in your own words and photos). 

If you already have an author website, how can you make it better? Is your site the most effective marketing tool it can be right now? 

First, start by asking yourself these questions: How useable is your site? Can your readers easily find what they are looking for (like your bio, books, speaking engagements, how to follow you on all your social media outlets and the like)? Is your contact information is listed clearly and on every page of your site? 

Next, you may want to look at other author websites—fiction and nonfiction—to get ideas about what you want and don’t want on your site. Plus, if you scroll down to the bottom of the web page, most sites will list the web designer’s name or company name (which is helpful if you are in the market for a web designer).   

Rob Eagar (WildFire Marketing) is a marketing consultant who specializes in helping authors to get amazing results in marketing fiction and nonfiction books. For an effective author/speaker website, Eagar recommends these basic, but crucial elements

  • Home page: minimal text; strong graphics; easy navigation layout; latest news area.
  • Newsletter Signup: pop-up window on Home page that lets visitors register email.
  • Bio page: use your bio to show how your expertise produces results for your readers.
  • Books page: show your books, give excerpts, and describe results each book creates.
  • Speaking page: include professional audio/video samples of speeches if available.
  • Events page: list upcoming speaking events, book-signings, and media interviews.
  • Endorsements page: show testimonials from well-known leaders or celebrities.
  • Store page: include pictures and benefits of each product offered.
  • Free Resources: offer helpful articles, book explainers, and discussion guides.
  • Media page: list past media appearances; include downloadable headshots and press kit.
  • Contact Us page: list an updated mailing address, phone number, and email address.

Remember, websites are meant to be active, not static. They need to be updated often. And they need to offer content that is interesting and useful to the reader.

The time you or your assistant spends on your author website is worth it—it’s an investment that will pay dividends in your brand and book sales when it’s done effectively and well.

Jackie M. Johnson is an author, freelance writer and book publishing consultant in Colorado. Visit her encouragement blog at http://anewdaycafe.blogspot.com or website at www.jackiejohnsoncreative.com.

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