To market a book online, the first thing you must have is a Web site. In fact, ideally, you should put up a Web site before you have even finished the book. Most people don't do that and unfortunately, when faced with "the Web site problem," they just throw a page with a book cover online and think that will cause people to buy their book. It's not that easy.
A Web site that successfully sells books needs to include a number of elements that appeal to the various people who are likely to visit the site. Potential customers are one group of people you hope will stop by, so you need sales information for them. However, unlike a pure "sales page" site, a book site must also have information for the press. Because reviews, articles, and other public relations activities are a key way to sell books, your site must have information that makes it extremely easy for the press to write or talk about you.
Keeping in mind the needs of these two groups, here are six key elements every book Web site should include:
1. A home page that explains who the audience is for the book and why they should care about it. For example, our book Vegan Success is a cookbook with recipes that don't take long to make. Visitors can glean this information within the first 2 seconds of visiting based on the headline: "Sit Down to a Delicious Healthy Vegan Meal in as Little as 15 Minutes. Vegan Success is the Cookbook You Can Turn to When You Need to Get Dinner on the Table Fast." If people can't figure out what your book is about, they'll just leave the site.
2. Information about the authors. Prospective readers want to know why you wrote the book and what your credentials are. This information is important for the press as well.
3. An online media kit. This page is for the press and can save you oodles of time. Include high-resolution pictures of the cover and the author. Link to press releases and reviews about the book, and offer an excerpt of the book as well. The more tools you can provide that help the press do their job, the more likely you are to get an article about your book.
4. Content related to your book. Many people include a blog on their book Web site, which is a great way to continuously add new articles and information about the topic of your book. Even if you don't want to do a blog, consider including articles or tidbits from the book. For example, the Vegan Success site includes a few recipes. Many people also include multimedia such as video book trailers or podcasts as well. On the Vegan Success site, we have a somewhat tongue-in-cheek video called "Vegans Go Hunting."
5. A lead-capture mechanism, such as a series of tips or a newsletter sign up. For example, our Vegan Success site has a 10-step autoresponder called "10 Tips to Help You Get a Vegan Meal on the Table Fast." Our pet books Happy Hound and Happy Tabby have FAQs. In addition to giving you a way to follow up with people interested in your subject, it also gives people a taste of your writing style.
6. Links to buy. This point should be obvious, but make it easy for people to buy from you. If you sell your book on your own site, provide a link to your shopping cart. If you also sell on Amazon, offer a link there. On our book sites, we offer both options. People who buy from us can get an autographed copy; if they buy from Amazon, they may save on shipping.
Over time, you can include many more bells and whistles to your site, but when you're getting started, do be sure to include these six key elements.
Got a Web Site for Your Book Yet?
If not, check out our book Web Business Success: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Web Sites That Work. If you've been procrastinating about getting a Web site online, do yourself a favor and get the book that cuts through the clutter with the proven strategies and techniques you need to know, whether you plan to do it yourself or outsource the work. You can either order directly from us if you want an autographed or inscribed copy, or you can order from Amazon.com. (The book qualifies for Amazon's Super Saver shipping!)