Thursday, April 20, 2006

To Create a Book Web Site

I've become a big believer in having a Web site for every book. Over the past few years, the media's tenuous question of "Is there a Web site for the book, by any chance?" has morphed into a matter-of-fact, "What's the book's URL?" Books without Web addresses have come to be regarded with as much suspicion and bewilderment as -- well -- as adults without phone numbers.

· So I've been insisting that my clients, and all other authors and publishers with whom I network, that they create Web sites for their books. The response from most of these people is, "Well, fine. Just tell me what needs to go on my Web site."

That question puts me into a strange situation, since I'm not a Web site designer. But, as a book promotion specialist, I can suggest to authors and publishers that these would be the ideal components of a book's Web site:

· A home page that includes descriptive content and a book cover (an author's photo might be nice, too, if the Web designer can fit it in).

· An excerpt

· Original bylined articles or other content (if book you're promoting is nonfiction)

· Online buying links (either to or, or both)

· Media page with a downloadable media kit, book cover, and author photos (both black-and-white and color)

· Guestbook

· Blog (you can get started for free at

· Sign-up page with opt-in mailing list manager

If you’re building your site in stages (and many authors and publishers do), then it's best to include whichever components your Web designer can create the most quickly. For many people, that's the home page, media page, and online buying links.

I have one more recommendation about building a Web site for books, and don't shoot the messenger, please. I'm sure your son/daughter/nephew/niece/neighbor/friend's child is as cute as punch and even more talented than Picasso, but he or she will not have the ability to design a high-quality site for your book. In fact, the high school/college student may do more harm than good, because whatever he/she creates, the search engines are bound to find -- and that Web site, with all its rough edges, is going to reflect how the media and potential buyers see your book.

Don't let your book pay the price because you'd rather not invest in a "real" Web site for your book. Yes, I twist arms to get people to realize that they need Web sites for their books. But I, I beg...people to realize that a Web site designed by a nonprofessional young person is worse than no Web site at all.