March 07, 2007

Promote Your OWN Website, Not Your Publisher's | printable version

Author Andy was so excited! His new book was finished and he'd just approved his print galley. It was time to start selling books! His publishing company put his book up for sale on their website and sent him the URL where he could send people who wanted to purchase his book.

Andy didn't have his own website or blog, but he didn't think that would be a problem. Unfortunately, it was, on several fronts. And, while Andy and the other authors below are fictitious, the scenarios are based on real complaints we've received from authors over the years. In every case, had the author had their own website or blog, he or she would have lost few, if any, sales.

The first thing Andy did when he approved his print galley was to buy a stack of business cards that included the URL provided by his publisher. Unfortunately, a month later, after Andy requested a minor typo fix on his book's page, his pubisher changed the URL where his book appeared. The URL appearing on his business cards was then a non-working website address. While booklocker.com never changes a book's URL, there are some publishers whose systems do automatically change URLs.

Author Anita put her book on the market and was very diligent in her advertising efforts. She sent her book to reviewers, ran ads in magazines and ezines, landed interviews in print and online publications, and even appeared on some radio shows. She did so well that a large, traditional publisher offered her a contract. She then needed to terminate the first contract. Unfortunately, since Anita used the first publisher's URL in all her advertising efforts and interviews, instead of sending people to her own website or blog, anyone reading about her book after the new edition of the book was ready ended up at a dead webpage. Had Anita used her own website in all her marketing efforts, she could have put up a notice saying, "Coming Soon! Second Edition!" She could have even started taking pre-orders for the new edition or simply collected email addresses of people who wanted to know when the new book was ready. And, none of her potential buyers would have ended up at a dead webpage.

Author Andrea signed with a brand new self-publishing service. She paid her money, got her print galley, approved it, and the book went up for sale. Andrea also used her publisher's URL in all her marketing efforts. A month later, her publisher went out of business.

Author Alex was using his publisher's URL when doing interviews and also in his email signature. He was, therefore, stunned to learn there were numerous typos and odd html characters on his book's page. He emailed his publisher several days in a row, but the publisher didn't respond. He tried faxing and phoning, too, to no avail. If Alex had used his own website address, instead of the publisher's, he could have removed the link to his publisher's site, quickly obtained a paypal account, and started taking orders himself until the publisher got his page fixed.

Author Adam won a very prestigious award. Rather than waiting for weeks for his publisher to update his page, he could have instantly posted information about the award to his own homepage.

Author Agnes was quite a prolific writer. She produced an entire series of books in just a few months. When her books went live, sales were far beyond her expectations. After selling a few thousand copies, Agnes decided she could save money by printing the book herself at her local offset printer. She wanted to launch her own website and ezine, get a merchant account, and provide all her own fulfillment. Unfortunately, all the press that was already online and in print still featured her publisher's URL. Had she used her own website all along, all future sales would come to her, not go to her old publisher.

Author Amber was thrilled when her self-published book received rave reviews and sold so many copies. Too bad her publishing service never mailed her royalties. Amber knew she was being ripped off, and had to move to another publishing service...while people kept trying to buy her book from her old publisher's website.

Author Arnold wanted to find a way to track the number of people who were clicking to read about his book. Unfortunately, his publisher did not provide that service. If Arnold had his own website, and was referring potential readers there, he could easily determine his traffic all by himself.

If an author has their own website or blog, they alone control not only the marketing information posted (and updated) about the book, but they also control where the "click to buy" button goes. Author Andy could have decided to leave his book with publisher #1 until the new version was ready at Publisher #2. If his website pointed people to Publisher #1 to buy the book, he could then simply and instantly change that link on his website to go to PUblisher #2 when the new book was ready. I can emphasize strongly enough how important it is for authors to maintain control of where customers are going to read about and purchase your book!

In all of the scenarious above, had each author had their own website or blog, none of the authors' marketing efforts would have been wasted because they'd have been pointing people to their own websites or blogs all along.

Don't put all your sales in one publisher's basket. Before your book goes up for sale, launch your own website or blog and always point potential buyers there.

 




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