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Author Websites vs. Publisher Websites

Pw_1If you're an author and you don't have a website for your book you need to read this brief article on Publisher's Weekly.  Although it should be clear by now that every book needs a companion website, far too many books still don't have one.  Besides that obvious fact, the article also points out that more people tend to go to an author's website than a publisher's website (23% for the former and only 18% for the latter).  Let's face it.  Publisher websites tend to be nothing more than online catalogs.  Not a lot of personality and rarely a chance for a reader to interact directly with an author.

Authors, if you didn't think you needed a website for your book before, I urge you to reconsider now that there are some solid numbers to back it up.


Michael A. Banks

There's no reason for a book author to not have a Web site nowadays. A domain name and online storage can be had for less that ten bucks a year. Software tools simplify Web page generation.

And no one expects an author to be modest (though some go too far in the other direction).

Even if you are a confirmed luddite, it's easy to find someone willing to put together pages for you, at little or no cost. In fact, some authors' fans handle their Web sites.

There are authors who think that promotion, aside from doing signings and interviews, is the publisher's job. Publishes don't necessarily think so, and in most instances (Erik Larson is one exception) a publisher will not promote a book as effectively as the author. Some just don't have the resources to promote all their authors to the max. And most will promote only the "big" books--books that are already selling well, and/or books by name authors. (This is S.O.P. in conventional book publishing; the books that sell well get promoted.)

Michael A. Banks

A quick addendum to my preceding comment: I've maintained an online presence for my books since the early 1980s. Before the Web this was limited to postings in BBS discussions of my books' subjects, placing excerpts in databases (on CompuServe, AOL, The Source, etc.), and participating in author chats when invited, but publishers assured me that these things helped sell books. (And a couple of them paid me to promote other titles online.)

Scott Stein

Yes. And some of us even think our fictional characters should have their own sites. See:

Mean Martin Manning's home page
Mean Martin Manning for President
It's Dr. Karen
Caseworker Alice Pitney's blog

All of which is explained here:

Book Promotion, Next Level

T Demop, Blogging for Business

Absolutely agreed based on my minimal experience of 1 1/2 books (one was co-authored).

I've found a blog to be a particularly effective type of Web site to promote books. Besides more info about my books topic, I find readers also enjoy hearing about my ongoing attempts to promote the book, how sales are going, and general info about how I wrote it -- although most of the blog posts are very on "book topic."

Also, I "think" a lot more readers contact me directly than if I had a standard Web site due to the conversational nature of blogs. Of course it's hard to have hard figures hear.

Then again, I write books on blogging so I may be biased, but other authors I've spoken with agree.

W C Greayer

When my book 'The Tornado Struck at Midnight' was published by Publish America, I soon discovered no bookstores would stock it because Publish America books were 'non returnable'. As a local author, I was able to get my local "Border's" to carry my book and the book vanished from the shelves almost overnight, but with only one store carrying my book it hardly made a dent in my royalty check and eventually it became too tedious to keep checking my local Borders to remind the manager it was time to re-stock my book. Recently I realized the book didn't sell as rapidly on the various Internet outlets as it did on the Borders bookshelves and I was curious as to why this was so? I soon realized that my name is Greayer and my book is filed between Grafton and Grisham on the Borders bookshelves. A large number of browsers 'happened upon' my book, and the attractive cover caused them to browse the contents. Once they did, they were 'hooked' and they bought my book. It doesn't take a genius to realize that my book would have been a 'Bestseller' had it been stocked on the shelves of more than one bookstore.
I also realize that Borders has no incentive to stock my book in many bookstores just to help me prove my point, but back in 2005 Publish America sent me an email with the enticing subject:
Sent: Wednesday, September 14, 2005 10:49 AM
Subject: PublishAmerica Makes All Books Returnable.
If that is so, apparently it wouldn't cost Borders a dime to discover a NYTimes bestseller. The only reward I can offer is, 'it's a story you could tell your Grandchildren.'
What I'm wondering is: Do books shelved near ‘famous authors' sell more books? Thanks for listening.

Joe Wikert

I would imagine there's some truth to the notion that books sitting beside bestsellers are more likely to be picked up and eventually purchased. I don't have any data to back this up but it makes sense and is consistent with plenty of popular merchandising tactics.

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