The most important element of all is the ability for you the author to make changes yourself at a moment’s notice. If you have an unexpected book signing come up or a fabulous book review that you want to post asap, then you need to be able to do that.
This ability use to usually be out of the question for people who didn’t know website coding (or whose spouse, child, parent, etc. didn’t know it). People had to wait on – and pay – their website builder to make even the simplest changes.
In the past couple of years the ability to use WordPress.org (known as just WordPress) for both a blog and a website has changed the landscape so that the power can now be in your own hands.
Once a WordPress self-hosted site is up, you can make changes as easily as you make changes in Word. (Of course, there is a similar learning curve as there was with Word.)
First, a clarification. I am NOT talking about WordPress.com, which is a hosted site the same way a blogger site (such as my blog www.mrslieutenant.blogspot.com) is a hosted blog site.
Second, it is important to understand that you really need a web person to set up your self-hosted WordPress blog/site. And what’s more, just any WordPress website isn’t ideal.
You need a site built by a person who understands search engine optimization, keyword pages, etc. Otherwise your site will be way, way back in search engine results.
Third, your website address (the URL or domain name of the site) is important. When you use your website address on social media sites, you want it to reflect what your site is about. If you have a book title that is not very specific, such as the imaginary “Having Fun,” you might want to get the URL www.HavingFunTheBook.com
FYI: All is not lost if you have a site now without an effective website address. For example, my company website is actually www.millermosaicllc.com – although after my business partner Yael K. Miller and I narrowed our company’s focus, we got the URL www.MillerMosaicPowerMarketing.com and redirected this URL to the home page of our site.
Fourth, of course, you want to make it very clear where someone can buy your book – and make it very easy for people to do so.
You do NOT want to give the link, for example, as www.amazon.com. When people get to the home page of Amazon, they can get easily distracted and forget what book they are looking for or actually try unsuccessfully to find your book.
Make sure that the link to your book is very obvious – and have it near the top of the page and not where people have to scroll down to find it.
Fifth, make sure that people coming to your book author site know exactly what’s on offer. Is the book fiction or nonfiction? The first of a trilogy? An award-winning book? And the cover of your book should be featured prominently.
Sixth, if at all possible, have a blog as part of your website (using WordPress for a site automatically includes the opportunity to have a blog as part of the site). A blog is usually the best way to continually add fresh content to a website, and search engines love fresh content. Thus fresh content on a blog can help your site rank higher in the search engine results.
Also, have a sign-up on your site so that people can automatically get your new blog posts either through email notification or through an RSS feed. (See an explanation at http://www.millermosaicllc.com/get-miller-mosaic-llc-blog-feed/ )
While the above are what I consider the most important elements for a book author website, a bonus element would be offering a free gift in exchange for having people join your email list (different than your blog feed signup) so that you can keep in front of your potential fans through email marketing. (See an example of this by getting the free blogging report at www.fictionmarketing.com )
This email list should be run through an email marketing service rather than you adding people to your own email account. Two main reasons for this: An email marketing service helps get your emails through the spam filters and an email marketing service looks much more professional than sending out a group email of your own.
And if you want a WordPress expert to build your WordPress site/blog that can include all of the above elements, I recommend Doron Orenstein of Magnetic Webworks, with whom my company Miller Mosaic Power Marketing has a collaboration. Doron builds the website and Miller Mosaic provides how-to videos to make it easier for you to manage your own site.
Read more about this WordPress program at http://www.magneticwebworks.com/services/ultra-pro-websites/
© 2010 Miller Mosaic, LLCPhyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the social media marketing company Miller Mosaic Power Marketing.