A web site can help your career become an unstoppable steamroller that can get you book signings, reviews, and publicity.
The cost is not astronomical. If you shop around, you can locate web hosting packages for as low as five dollars a month. Many of these have step-by-step wizards that walk you through designing your site so it looks like it was developed by a professional.
Pay close attention to the web site name. When you begin to appear on television, you can have the station post your web site address on the screen while you’re speaking. It may only remain on the screen for a few seconds, though, so it must be something easy to remember. Even more important is when you’re being interviewed on the radio. The listeners could be driving home from work and may not have a pencil or paper handy-or even if they did, they might not want to reach for it while barreling down the highway.
When Pamela June Kimmell’s first novel, The Mystery of David’s Bridge, was released, her web site address was http://hometown.aol.com/junekimm/myhomepage.index.html. It was a terrific looking site, but the address was so long and cumbersome that it was difficult for radio listeners to remember.
Fortunately, Kimmell developed a new site, www.pamelajunekimmell.com. Though she had no background in web site design, she developed the entire site with the help of an online wizard. The result is a dramatically different site that proclaims to the world that she’s in the big leagues.
If you’re tempted to place dashes between words for the visual affect, think twice before doing it. www.pamela-june-kimmell.com looks more appealing, but say it aloud. If you’re advertising your web site on the radio, how much more time does it take for you to say it? And will all those dashes confuse a listener whose attention might be divided between the radio interview and the road?
WHAT SHOULD YOU HAVE ON YOUR WEB SITE?
First and foremost, information on your books and a way to purchase them. All of the information contained in your press kit should be on your web site.
You can opt to use PayPal or set up a credit card account to accept orders online, or you can link to online stores. You should have a printable order form a visitor can mail in with their check or money order. Many people still don’t trust the Internet for the online purchases.
Your fan base will want to know something about you. Two rules: always give them some background, and never give them more than you’d want a complete stranger to know.
You should also have a page of Upcoming Events and Past Events. Many times, these will be used by the book stores to determine whether they want you to sign at their store. For example, it is much easier to sign at a chain store if you can demonstrate that other stores within the same chain have booked you as well.
Past Events should almost always contain pictures, especially in the beginning. It shows that others have displayed interest in you and your work. Attention generates more attention!
If you receive media attention-a review, television or radio appearance, newspaper, or magazine article-post a reference to it on your site. You can use your web site to advertise upcoming media appearances, as well as show past exposure. If an article has been published online, provide a link to it.
Above all, keep your web site up to date. There’s nothing that shows inattention to detail more than clicking on “Upcoming Events” only to see a list of events that occurred two years earlier!
It goes without saying that you should also have a professional email address. If your address is firstname.lastname@example.org, you’d better be a Cajun chef.
One word of caution: once you type your email address onto a web site and publish it, webbots can locate it and send you incredible amounts of spam. Look into building a form on your site that allows Internet visitors to email you, in lieu of typing out your email address, or invest in a very good spam filter.
Copyright 2006, p.m.terrell. p.m.terrell is the author of Take the Mystery Out of Promoting Your Book, ISBN 1-9286624-3-9, $15.00. See www.pmterrell.com or http://palaribooks.com/Templates/books_nonfictionpromo.htm for more information.