Your Author Website: The Ultimate (Book Marketing) Sales Machine

Having a good website is something many authors struggle with. Maybe you’ve been mastering your book marketing for a while. Perhaps you’re just beginning your journey. But having a good website can be a solid book marketing tool, that doesn’t have to be terribly confusing.

We’re always told we need a website, but there’s very little information beyond that. Sure we can build one ourselves, thanks to sites like Squarespace and others, but there’s a big difference between a website and a sales tool.

The goal, for many authors, is to sell more books. I mean, other than branding that’s the real goal of a website, right? Yes, you want to entice readers to get to know you, but at some point you just want to say: buy my book.

There are subtle ways to build this into your website’s book marketing to sell more books, without screaming it from the rooftops. Let’s have a look:

Shopping for Toothpaste

When was the last time you went shopping for toothpaste?

Maybe you have a brand you love and go right to it, but if you’ve ever decided to try another brand, or couldn’t find the one you’re looking for, you will be faced with a myriad of choices.

So many, in fact, that I bet at some point you just grabbed one, with a flavor you liked, and decided to just make it work.

When it comes to websites, consider the toothpaste aisle. The confused mind isn’t really a shopper. In fact, when it comes to online shopping most confused minds won’t decide at all, they’ll just pop off and go somewhere else.

The moral here is: don’t give your audience too many options. If you want to sell more books, you’ve got to narrow the choices.

Pick One Goal

Before you even begin to decide what your site will look like, you need to decide on what your goal is.

If your goal is to sell more books, then your book should be front and center.

If your goal is to sell services, then that should be the first thing your visitors see.

While you may have lots of books and a lot of goals for your entire book marketing plan, you’re only allowed to have one objective for your homepage.

Understanding the Funnel

If you look at our homepage, you won’t see our marketing funnel but it’s there.

A good book marketing funnel isn’t obvious to the consumer, but it’s obvious to you as you put together your website.

Our goal on our website is to gather new business, so the entire site is set up to funnel potential authors to our book marketing services and then our contact form.

We don’t have a store, we don’t have a ton of options.

We limit their choices, help them focus on our book promotion services, thereby limiting any confusion as to what we do, and how they can get started working with us.

Components of a Successful Website

When it comes to designing a website, less is more. By this I mean don’t have a ton of pages on your site or a lot of navigation options.

Your website navigation should be simple. We have six options on our navigation but no drop downs underneath those options. You’ll see some websites that have limited navigation but beneath each option there is a drop down with more options.

Remember: it’s about funneling. Don’t give consumers too many choices or they won’t know where to go.

This is why it’s always a good idea to work with a professional, and a lot of book marketing companies have consulting and evaluation options.

So what pages should be on your website?

Well the Home Page, Contact, and About are pretty standard, and what you want to add in beyond that is sort of up to you.

If you have a newsletter you can have a newsletter tab, if you a speaking career or are doing a book tour, you can add that in as well. Check out some of the sites we love:

Words on your Website

Consumers don’t read websites, they scan.

So the fewer words you can have on any page, the better.

My general rule is 250 words or less. Bullet points are also great, so any text that they can be applied to is always a good idea to do so. Remember it needs to be easy to scan.

In terms of website copy, this isn’t always easy. I generally hire someone to write mine but if that’s not in your book marketing budget, be careful of the words you use.

Make sure the verbiage makes sense to your consumer. This isn’t about you it’s about them. Only mention your dog if it’s relevant, or if it’s a fun one-line in a bio.

If you’ve written a self-help or some other non-fiction book, any words on your website should clearly show the benefits to the reader.

If you’ve written fiction, your quick elevator pitch on the homepage should pull new readers into your story. This is book marketing 101.

Making the Sale: Sell More Books

One of the main reasons an author builds a site is not just for their book marketing platform, but for book sales. But it’s important to note that most people won’t buy a book from your store, at least not right away.

Most website book sales are made over time, as you build a relationship with your reader.

You could opt to just send them to Amazon, and many authors do. But sometimes you want to try to keep sales to your own website and for that, you may need a little special something to make that happen.

So, let’s say that you have a book out in paperback, eBook, and also hard cover. In order to entice readers from Amazon you could offer the hardback on your site only (so it would not be on Amazon).

And to make it extra special, you could offer an autographed copy of it!

The other piece here is for book marketing to be effective, you should try to get in front of your potential reader multiple times.

Newsletters are a great book marketing tool. I’m a huge fan of every author website having a newsletter sign up.

If you don’t have any idea what you’d write about, or don’t have a list yet, don’t worry. We all had to start somewhere. Just get that sign up on your website to start building your list.

The Takeaway

Having an author website that actually helps you with your book marketing and sells more books isn’t an impossible goal. It just needs to be done in such a way that you are actually selling your potential customer.

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