I’ve always heard that the most important way to sell books is to write a great story. When it’s done, write another great story. And so on, and so forth. But there are other factors that affect book sales. Today, I’d like to talk about one of them: Visibility.
Recently, I browsed titles on the Champagne website, looking for something new to read, and went looking for more information on a few author’s websites. I was surprised when I couldn’t find websites for some authors. As well, on other sites, there were no links to buy the books.
So here’s my question: How visible are you? For a quick check, go out and google your author name. How many of the hits on the first page are yours? My personal gauge, especially if the author name is unusual, is that 75-90% of the hits on that first page should be you. If they’re not, you’re not easy to find. And if I go searching for an author and don’t find a website link on the first page of hits, I don’t look further, to be quite honest.
Visibility is everything in this business. If you aren’t seen, you aren’t selling books. Social media is a good way to be visible, but it’s also easy to get lost in all the tweets and Facebook invites.
One of the best ways to make certain you are visible is to have a website. Do you have one? If so, I applaud you. Every author should have a professional looking website. Let me say that again. EVERY author should have one. And every website should have information about your stories and LINKS to the major markets where your books can be purchased. The first rule of marketing is to make it easy for the buyer to buy. So make certain you’ve made it as easy as possible for readers to find and buy your books.
A website is also a great way to put a stamp on your brand, as Graeme recently discussed on this blog. If you know your brand, showcase it here. Let the world know who you are. Your website should have a place for news (hopefully front and center), a short biography about you, a books page (with LINKS), and links to your social media and email. That’s a minimum. Beyond that, I say have fun. Devote a page to the world you’ve created for your stories, or to a hobby you love. Or to your dog or cat.
That being said, not everyone can afford a professionally designed website. It’s not cheap. But there are options. Wordpress.com, for instance. You can design a free website there, with multiple pages. You can do the same thing on Blogger. And I’m sure there are other free venues out there. You don’t have to be a website designer to do this, but you do need to have a vision (your brand). And if you need ideas, google your genre of writing, like “author, science fiction.” Start looking at other websites to figure out what you like.
I’m not going to go in depth into domain names here, but as an author, I do suggest you purchase your domain name as soon as possible and tie it to your website so people can find you. Here’s where I strongly suggest you chat with other authors or entrepreneurs to determine where they bought their domain names. And if you can’t get the name you want, play around with it a bit. Add something like “author” or “books” to the end of it. Graeme’s website is graemebrownart.com. That’s a great way to individualize it, and if I search for “Graeme Brown”, it shows up on the first page.
A website isn’t the only thing needed to be “visible” on the web, but it’s where every author needs to start. I’ll try to talk about more things you can do to increase your visibility in future blogs.
Laurie Temple is an editor at Champagne Books