Friday, February 5, 2010

ASK PZM - February

Thanks for your questions, everyone. Here's Phyllis' answers:

Do I need a website for my book? And if so, when do I need it?

Recently author Carolyn Howard-Johnson and I had a conversation with a literary agent about our proposed nonfiction book about marketing fiction. The agent seemed to question the need for every book to have its own website, while Carolyn and I were definitely on the side that every book needs its own site.

It was only after the conversation ended that I realized what the agent said that I hadn’t focused on. She was talking about whether every book needed a website individually programmed by a web guy that could end up costing the publisher or the author thousands of dollars. That’s the kind of website she was talking about.

As she asked us to add some additional material for the book proposal, I wrote a chapter about book author websites starting with why this type of expensive book website is not needed. Then I went on to write that a dedicated website for your book – not a page on a publisher’s site – is needed for numerous reasons, including establishing your professionalism.

Is this a contradiction? Not at all. Thanks to the availability of lower-cost solutions such as WordPress websites/blogs, authors can have dedicated book sites without spending wads of money.

This brings us to the timetable of when that site should go live.

It seems to me that, as long as you are going to have a website, why not have it live as soon as possible? This way you can use it as a “home” for building your fan base through blogging, social media, YouTube videos, etc. For an example, see the website for Carolyn’s and my proposed book at

Should I tell my literary agent or publisher that I insist on the title that I originally gave my book?
This is a flat no. Agents and publishers have a history of selling different types of books, and a book title can be a very important element of that marketing/sales plan.

On the other hand, if the title is horrendous -- by which I mean so forgettable that even you can’t remember it -- this might be the time to ask your agent to go to bat for you with your publisher.

FYI – Carolyn and I have changed the title of our proposed nonfiction book several times already. And we are prepared to change it again and again.

If I am self-publishing my book, should I pay the added expense of having a professional copyeditor?
This is a flat yes. Nothing screams amateur as quickly and as loudly as typos and spell-check errors on every page.

There’s no law that says a good writer must be a good editor, although it does help. But you can get outside help if you’re not a good editor. And sometimes you’ve just seen the same words one too many times.

FYI – I taught copyediting courses at Temple University in Philadelphia a long time ago. And I copyedited my own novel MRS. LIEUTENANT over and over again. Then after I self-published the book, my mother told me I had used the wrong woman’s name in one scene. Would an outside copyeditor have picked this up? I sure hope so.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the co-founder of Miller Mosaic Power Marketing. You can get her free report “How to Become a Twitter Expert” at


  1. Come to think of it, I've never seen an author yet use a different site for each book he publishes. Generally, (there are always exceptions) the author exhibits his books on his webpage with links to where each book can be purchased. Makes sense to me. Wouldn't that be easier for the buyer too?

  2. I would not advise one site with a link for each book to where it can be purchased. Instead, if you want one site, I would advise having at least one dedicated page for each book on the site (and then the purchase link from that page).

    This enables you to leave a specific URL for a specific book if you want to only send people to that book's info page. And this also allows you to have the testimonials for each book on its own page with a sample download of that book.

  3. I'm afraid I, too, don't see the point of a separate website for each book if you have multiple books to promote, but one site with separate pages for each makes sense. That would also allow quick access for monitoring and updating from the one location.

    Thanks for some good pointers. :)

  4. Having a separate page for each book makes sense so that you give the reader a chance to see that you have other books besides the one they've just read. I do that when I've found a new author I like: gone to their page to see what else they've written.

  5. The trick is finding the most reasonable place to set up a website. Separate pages would be great - would also be cool to keep the blog but tie it in with the new site. I just ain't TEKKIE ENUFF so I guess I'll be writing a check for THIS stuff.

  6. Great comments Phyllis! I agree about have work professionally edited. No matter how good we are we always need another pair of eyes to catch the mistakes and there will be mistakes.

    Kathleen Rodgers
    author of "The Final Salute: Together We Live On"

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  8. "There’s no law that says a good writer must be a good editor." That is good to hear. An editor, I am not.

    Thanks, as always, for an outstanding column, Phyllis. I look forward to this every month because I know I'm going to benefit from it.

    Take care until next month.

  9. I never think of any specific questions, yet when I read ASK PZM, the questions are always ones I want answers to. Thanks, Phyllis and Joylene for doing this. I typed one of the questions in a google search window this morning and gibberish came back. Not exactly gibberish, but ads for web designs that didn't come close to answer the question.

  10. Robin's right. I typed one of the questions into a search window and it went straight to a list of businesses that want money before they answer any questions. Bravo, Phyllis for offering this service. I'm ordering your book and telling all my friends to check out your site.


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