You want to sell your book. To do that, you need traffic that leads directly to your Amazon or B & N or other salespage. How will you get that? One way is if the tags you chose for your book are just so strong that search engine traffic will lead directly to your book's listing.
Or, you could go to all sorts of places on the internet and promote your book. Or you could try to get sale from people who visist your own website.
Is having our own website important? What sort of site should it be?
I'm on the fence about this. Agents would say DEFINITELY, but I don't know any writers (personally) who think of site traffic as a prominent source of marketing or revenue. Sure, there are a few with a large fan base, but I think those writers are few and far between.
That being said, networking among writers and having a website as a "base" is a great idea. And, though I've only looked up a handful of writers online, multiply that by hundreds or thousands of readers, and you have a decent number of people visiting your site. However, I also think if you're going to launch a website, it should be professional and you should invest some money into it: getting your own URL, having a designer, etc. Really terrible websites grate me to no end.
Todd, I don't think it's a question of networking among writers. I mean, I enjoy hanging out here with other writers and sharing ideas about what does and does not work, including this discussion right here, but the real traffic to your book, except in the case of a few well chosen recommendations, will not come from other writers. It needs to come from readers. And while all writers also read, the majority of readers do not write.Those are the ones we want to go for, and if a website is going to help, it should draw in that kind of audience.
I agree the site should look professional. But what does that mean exactly? Custom design, not standard Wordpress themes? Just how slick does it need to be? Are we dazzling them with glitz, or are we looking for someone who will be drawn to the substance of our writing?
An author may not sell lots of books from the website alone, but it should be part of the total marketing strategy to promote the author and the book(s). It provides an opportunity to shape the message the author wants others to hear. A website provides opportunities to interact with readers and develop a database for future communications and promotions. It makes it easier to be "found" online. In fact, it makes sense to use as many channels as possible - website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest. Though Todd, your caveat is critical here, the channels must be used effectively and professionally. Otherwise you turn people off.
The costs for a professionally designed website with a custom URL/address may not be as expensive as some think. I think if you believe in yourself and your message, you should be willing to make the investment.
Candace, I agree that using all these resources in ways that strike people as unprofessional is a bad idea. But can you be more specific? What is an unprofessional way to use Pinterest, for instance? As I understand it, the demographic is mostly women, and their interests run to arts, crafts, fashion and recipes. Is it okay to have a pinboard of books you have written?
Today having a web site is like having a home base. Agents, publishers and writers will want to easily find you and know the basics about you. It doesn't have to be much, but it should exist.
But do you need your own domain name? Couldn't you just publish a blog on Createspace or even write an author page at author central?
I can tell you this much. I have my own domain name and some subdomains (http://www.johntcullen.com etc) where I control the action. I know people who have "pages" at Facebook etc (I have three of them) but they don't have any control over the interface or often how much or what they can say.
Ultimately, IMHO, you need to brand either your name or your idea through a domain name and then promote everything toward that. The strategic decision you have to make is this: If the average reader only remembers one thing I tell them, shall it be my product or catchy name (Amazon, U-Haul, Hertz, Stephen King, Danielle Steel, etc) or a nonsense word (I'd stay away from these) or whatever.
The reason I have so much stuff is because I have been out there for so many years. I've made every mistake in the book. I'd do a lot of things differently. What I couldn't do, knowing what I know now, if only it could be 1996 again! But that's life. And I have been privileged to be part of the process. In the early days, we developers and authors had back door discussions that helped us mutually improve our presentations.
Personally, I think anyone selling a product, who does not have a website under a carefully considered domain name, is like a delivery person without a van (or some such metaphor; no, not the one about a fish without a bicycle; more like a fish without fins or something).
John, good to know. So what advice would you give to dead authors, like Mary Dolan, who wrote "Hannibal of Carthage" and whose books are out of print. Do they need websites of their own built around the name "Mary Dolan" or around the product "Hannibal of Carthage"?
After all, if the goal is to immortalize the book, then the author can't be always there to sell it. That would be expecting the delivery person to be the one who caught the fish, wrote the newspaper or founded the business dynasty.
Aya, when an author is deceased, assuming it's an author who has built some small or large following during their lifetime, there is usually an estate. Remember that copyright protection now extends for 75 years after the author's death. Usually there is an estate, and a manager (sometimes the author's agent). I would think the estate should in due diligence maintain a web presence for author and titles.
I just checked and there appears to be no Wikipedia entry for either Mary Dolan or Hannibal of Carthage. Perhaps, if that is a favorite author, you could start a page at Wikipedia for Mary Dolan. I have never heard of her, and I have been reading historical fiction for many years.
Amazon.com has some obsolete editions (one from 1961) and I see that Aya Katz (oops, that would be you) is the biggest fan there!
By the way, my favorite historical fiction author of that time was/is Mika Waltari. I am sure you know his books The Roman, The Egyptian, etc. Wonderful stuff. Waltari does, indeed, have a Wikipedia page.
A Google search brings up some Mary Dolan results. I think this is an opportunity for you, Aya. Maybe you can become Mary Dolan's curator, so to speak...and thereby make a name for yourself. See what I mean?
The domain name marydolan.com is taken (http://www.marydolan.com/, apparently a young singer) but the dot-org, dot-net, etc variations are available. Personally, I would pick something with dot-com, since that has always been the search default on all browsers. So I might go for something like marydolanauthor.com or whatever. The key is to have a domain name as close to possible to what the person doing the searching would type in. And have the same word(s) in the title bar of the website--works great with Google and other search engines.
Those are some ideas. Hope it helps.
If you are publishing your book on multiple platforms, a website provides you with one easy link to promote, say, in a tweet or on facebook.
But you can blog here at WAENetwork or in a million other venues and then tweet about it or post to FB, That doesn't explain why you need your own website.
A tweet is too short to include links to separate bookstores. On Facebook, only one link in a post will show up as a graphic. If folks have to sort through a list of various options/links, they just won't bother. Better to send everybody to AyaKatz.com and put it all in one place.