Posted Saturday, November 20, 2004
“Rumors of War (http://www.rumorsofwar.net) is a web site designed simply yet it stands bold and precise in its statement. While other authors . . . have web sites that start with ‘Let me tell you about myself,’ Peggy opens with the covers of her two books--no scrolls, no ads, and almost no copy. Click on a book and she takes you there . . . Meeting the author is last. She wants you to know the books before you know the author . . . commendable web site . . . is bookmarked for return. I want to read Rumors already.” C. Hope Clark’s review for Word Weaving (http://wordweaving.com)
How did I generate such an awesome review of my web site? Simple--online research. Online marketing and promotion is time consuming. You can spend several hours just submitting your url to search engines. If you’re going to devote all that energy, you’d better make sure you have a site that’s user friendly. After all once visitors have arrived, your first goal is to keep them there.
When I decided to build a web site to promote my novel “Rumors of War,” I researched other book sites. I found three main types--author driven, book driven and fan driven. Starting with Yahoo.com I found “Angela’s Ashes” by Frank McCourt among the web pages at Simon & Schuster’s site. Same with the Harry Potter series, I found J.K. Rowling’s books at Scholastic’s site.
The goal of my web site is to use the Internet to help build an audience for my current and future books. Since I’m relatively unknown, readers aren’t going to come searching for me. The best way to discover new authors is to read their books.
While searching I noticed that movies are always promoted by title. That got me thinking, if I’m putting my book title in front of hundreds of pairs of eyes every day, then the title should be my domain name. I purchased rumorsofwar.net.
Coming up with content was easy--cover image, plot summary, reviews, sample chapter, ordering information, and a page about the author. I kept the style and graphics simple. It’s a web site about a book. Readers are accustomed to black print on a white page, framed with an attractive cover. The banner and side bar are colorful, but the same on every page so visitors know they’re still at my site while they’re bouncing around.
Once I published the site and posted announcements via email, discussion lists, and bulletin boards, feedback was immediate and positive. Everyone liked the focus on the book yet gleaned enough personal information about the author that they felt comfortable letting me know they liked what they saw.
One week later my children’s novel, “Carly’s Ghost” arrived from the publisher several months earlier than I expected. Overnight I had two books to promote and only one web site. My focus on the book title was practical in theory but could turn out to be expensive in practice. I certainly couldn’t afford to publish a new web site every time I have a book released.
For help in solving this dilemma, I called Scott Forler at Prairie Web, my web hosting service. Impressed with the amount of traffic at my newly debuted site, he recognized I’d hit on something positive with my design. Building on that initial bump, we put together a plan to cover not only the release of “Carly’s Ghost” but all future releases.
I purchased the domain name for the title, carlysghost.net. Next I replaced the home page with a splash page featuring the cover images of both books, accessible from both urls: rumorsofwar.net and carlysghost.net. Visitors can click on either book cover, or the text instructions.
Each book has its own home page. The two books are together on the splash page. The only other link between their pages is at the “About the author” page. Each book’s pages carry the banner designed for that particular book and cover image. But I kept the side bars the same color and used the same basic framework for both books’ pages. Again to let visitors know they’re still at my site while they’re clicking about.
For future releases, instead of publishing a new web site, all I have to do is publish the new book’s cover image on the splash page, and add a set of web pages.
An attractive web site and terrific reviews definitely keeps visitors there. To make sales you want them to bookmark your site so they’ll return. The way I do that is by updating, sometimes as often as once a week; adding reviews, sites that feature my books, posting articles, and other news about my books. Visitors quickly recognize fresh information. Put the emphasis on the enjoyment of your visitors, and they’ll keep coming back. That’s the most effective way to make sales.
About the Author
Peggy Tibbetts is the author of the 5 star political thriller, Rumors of War (http://www.rumorsofwar.net) and the 5 star children’s mystery, Carly’s Ghost (http://www.carlysghost.net).