If your New Years resolution is to set up a website to promot eyour writing, then today’s guest article will interest you.
Maybe you’re just starting out as a writer. Perhaps you’re self-published, or an established author with three or four books to your name. You could be with a small publisher or a big one. Today, websites play crucial role in the way the world does business. Companies lacking an online presence might as well be invisible. Authors are no different. You may have written the world’s greatest book, but if no one knows about it, then it might as well not exist. You need to get yourself on line if you want to get noticed.
Your readers are generally interested in you and your work, so you can include all kinds of things on a website. However, search engines look for keywords, so the most appropriate ones need to be carefully incorporated into the text on the top twenty five per cent of your home page. If author, books, writer, story, literature, Canada, United States of America, England or indeed anything related to what you do are part of the copy, your site will be ranked higher in directory queries.
Biographical details are a must, but don’t be tempted to go overboard. Your website may be your home in cyberspace, but it’s a marketing tool too. Pictures of you with your family or pets present a good image, but don’t overdo it. Photographs from your professional life are more beneficial. If you have a picture of yourself shaking hands with an important public figure at a black tie function, put it on the site. If you have photographs taken at your presentations and workshops in schools or libraries, use those as well. Try to display the cover art of all your books and show people where they are available and the price. This applies not just to Canada or the US or wherever you are based in the world, but other countries too, if your books are distributed elsewhere. My own site connects directly to each novel’s pages at the Indigo website and to Amazon worldwide. I also post links to the professional organizations I belong to, plus the major online bookstores, my publisher, Canada Council for the Arts and so on. There are pages devoted to the historical background behind three of my books, each page containing links to websites with a wealth of information for my readers.
It is of course important to check any links on an ongoing basis to ensure they are in working order and still lead to the appropriate destination. Your links don’t all have to be business related. I also connect to my favourite soccer team’s website, pages related to the area of the UK where I grew up and so on. Your readers always want to know more about you, so give them something interesting to read. This also applies to any additional pages you may want to include. Tell the world what you are doing and what’s going on in your professional life, such as a schedule of signings, your latest book launch, upcoming festivals or other events. If you update it regularly, people will keep coming back when you release details of new books, appearances, awards and so on.
Companies often use testimonials related to their products to draw in prospective customers. You can do the same, by reproducing the reviews you have received for your work. If you’ve received favorable comments from teachers and librarians, be sure to add those too. You may also have interviews you have done with the media or a decent video of a presentation. Some authors include excerpts from their books, others selections from upcoming, unpublished work. Children’s authors sometimes have study guides for teachers to use when working with their books in the classroom. Even if you aren’t self-published, you may wish to sell your books online. E commerce is still growing at an explosive rate and many author’s websites have a separate page containing order forms in order for you to purchase books directly. Also many companies offering website hosting also offer free easy tools to create your own e commerce site. And don’t forget any writing related services you may offer. I have separate web pages for manuscript evaluation and other services for writers, as well as for business writing.
A good way to attract repeat visitors is to add interactive elements to your web site. You can include children’s games, whether they’re arcade type activities or simple puzzles. My own website has a page with puzzles related to the plots and characters of all my novels. If you’ve published a cookery book, you could publish a recipe of the month. If your site has something cool to do, rather than simply reading your text, no matter how interesting it is, people will visit more often. They will also invariably stay longer, increasing the chances that they will buy your books.
You’ll know which areas of your site are getting the most visitors if you have access to good statistics, which are usually provided as part of your web hosting package. These are much more useful that the traditional visitor counter, which indicates how many people have been to your site since a particular date. This can sometimes be detrimental, especially if you are declaring to the person that they are only the forty seventh visitor since January 2001. Good statistics are invaluable, because they tell you not only how much traffic your site is getting, but also precisely where the visitors are coming from. This can help you to target your marketing to specific areas of the country or around the world. It can also help you to determine which of your professional memberships is the most worthwhile when it comes time to renew. If a particular group is the source of traffic, it’s a good one to retain. If another has few referrals, it may be advisable to spend your money elsewhere.
Your home on the Internet can be as simple or as complicated as you desire. Websites aren’t for everyone, but today if you want to get noticed, it’s advisable to have one.
I offer writing services which examine what works best when creating websites for authors and writers and create editorial content designed to get you noticed. Together we explore what’s right for you and the most effective means to promote you as a writer around the world. Full details of my website editorial services are available at http://www.simon-rose.com/websites.htm
Full details of my website editorial services are available at http://www.simon-rose.com/websites.htm
Simon Rose is the author of science fiction and fantasy novels for children, including The Alchemist’s Portrait, The Sorcerer’s Letterbox, The Clone Conspiracy, The Emerald Curse and The Heretic’s Tomb. He offers a wide variety of workshops, presentations and Author in Residence programs for schools and libraries around the world, covering such topics as where ideas come from, story structure, editing and revision, character development, time travel stories, history and research and more. He is also available for presentations, workshops and public speaking engagements with a wide range of adult audiences, offers creative services designed for writers, including editing, critiquing and manuscript evaluation and also freelance writing services, including website content and copywriting, for the business community. Details of school and library programs, plus online readings, excerpts from his books, reviews, and reader, student and teacher comments may be found at http://www.simon-rose.com/ You may also visit his blog.
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