When I am editing for authors, I am quite often asked if writers really do need a website or blog. Here are some reasons I say, “Yes!”
Share your brand –Share about yourself, your writing, your values, your voice, your expertise/authority, and your products and services. Your site is your public platform, accessible to the world. Create a strong “fan” base from around the world.
Changes in publishing – More and more people read on-line. The majority of authors’ marketing happens online these days; many readers go first to the internet to find new titles. There is unlimited “shelf space” in online “bookstores” along with reader reviews and choices in format (hardcover, paperback, e-books, audiobooks, books with video, etc.)
Traditional Publishers now expect authors to have a guaranteed audience and proven readership base, and they expect you to do your own marketing. You need to start building your audience well before you start trying to find an agent or publisher.
Self-publishing now accounts for 2/3 of new titles, and almost all self-published “bestsellers” are now marketed through the internet. As a self-publisher, you are in charge of your own marketing–and you need to start building your audience well before you publish if you want to sell lots of books.
Community focus – Blogs and social media create relationships with your target audience. Faithful readers who like your writing style and share your interests will end up buying your books and recommending them to others. The conversational style of blogs and other social media make the reader feel they know you personally: almost like selling to real friends and family. Readers will comment and join in discussions with you, and as you get to know them you will get to know your books’ audiences better.
Networking – Connect with readers, authors, agents, and other people who share your interests.
Improve and highlight your writing – As you write regularly, readers get a good sense of your style and look forward to reading your actual books. Daily writing (even concise yet interesting “tweets” and “status updates” on social networking sites) improve your writing skills.
Why Facebook, Twitter and other social media? – Provide quick daily updates for your readers. Follow publishers and others who can help build your career, and build relationships with them through comments and conversation. Reach your audience in many free, quick and easy ways.
Market your book long before it’s published – Start talking about your book while still writing it. Get your potential audience interested and even involved. Then it’s easy to do pre-sales. Combine your traditional marketing methods with online methods. Advertise your book signings, seminars, and other activities to a larger potential audience.
Changes in bookselling – Traditional bookstores keep individual titles in smaller numbers for less time, and are removing books to sell more non-book products. Amazon and other online booksellers are now selling more novels in e-book form than in paperback. Libraries are turning to e-books and e-subscription services instead of buying so many traditional books. You can make more profit with a well-marketed, popular e-book than with a traditional (paper) book, and you can sell in both formats. Even schools are providing their students with electronic tablets with e-textbooks on them rather than using traditional textbooks, novels, etc.
Reach younger audiences – Younger readers have grown up in a world where endless forms of new media are introduced constantly. They are tuned into these formats.
Not sure if you should have a website or a blog or a combination? Why not check out this post on the differences between blogs and websites (hint: my recommendation is to have a combination!).
And if you feel really overwhelmed by this whole topic, here is a whole site called Blog Basics for Total Beginners, which I wrote especially for new authors. It has simple, step-by-step discussions on website and blogging topics, including a detailed table of contents, and will answer many of your questions (and yes, I will soon be updating and adding to the site!).
Author website tutoring: If you live in the South Okanagan area of British Columbia, and would like some one-to-one help with your author website, feel free to contact me and we can get together!