A website is a great way to make a large amount of information about you and your book available on a 24/7 basis. It supports a broad audience and can go places you physically can’t. As an author today, it is mandatory that your website be up, current, and connected. As an author hoping to sell books, your website will be an invaluable active sales portal.
Don’t panic if you don’t already have a site that specifically features your writing, all is not lost. A simple site can be built for less than $300, and be “live” online in a matter of hours. And, if you have neither a site, nor money, you are still able to develop an online presence – it will take $0.00 and a lot of perseverance.
There are quite a few “free” providers to be found on the internet. The reason they are able to offer web pages for free is that there will be a small amount of related advertising placed on the pages. If you don’t want the advertising, you can pay as little as $4.99/month and have it removed – the catch is that you have to make the payment annually (an optional and tax deductible $60/year).
To begin your free site, do a search for, “free web hosting sites”. Take your time in reviewing sites. Some are easier to work with than others, especially if you have never even heard of things like hypertext markup language (html). Most of these sites are very easy to build, and even if you’ve never done it before, you will find the point-and-click instructions easy to follow. And, though it will probably be mostly trial and error, you can build a site and be online in a couple of hours.
Your website should be all about you and your books. You may include links to other writer sites, or writer tools, and even feature your favorite photos, but be sure to talk about your books. Build a separate page that offers your cover(s) and features your synopsis. It’s also a good idea to have a place where you can share a chapter or two of your book, with a purchase link – keep it simple and clean, so that potential buyers can make a quick purchase. Be sure to include lots of contact information. If you plan to sell your book through any of the online bookstores, be sure to go to their site(s) and sign up for an affiliate link and include it on your page. Affiliates are paid for books ordered through their link.
Avoid using the too cute, too busy backgrounds. They tend to aggravate viewers by just being too, too much, and hard on the eyes. Be sure to include lots of contact information throughout your site. You can put this prominently on the page(s) or include it more subtly in page footer(s). It is also a good idea to build a private online publicity page for editors, publishers, agents, interviewers, etc. This page could be considered as your online publicity kit, and should only be accessible by invitation, though a lot of bloggers and online sources will request it before inviting you for an interview or reading.
If you currently belong to other online groups or writers sites, you may want to add them to a Link page. This would also be a good place to add links to your Twitter®, Facebook®, MySpace®, or other accounts (more on those later).
Once your website is up and running, the next thing you will want to check are the keywords and meta tags on your site. These words are what the internet uses to catalogue your information – they provide details of content and location. Your site developer should automatically add them. If you are building your own site, there is a location for them and your site provider will tell you how to proceed.
If you are having difficulty in deciding which words to use, do an online search for “free meta tag generator”. These sites will ask you to describe your project and then offer you an array of popular, related words that will help you assure that your site is properly located and accessible.
And finally, to be sure that you are connected, you will need to list your website address (url) with search engines. Do a search for, “free url submission” and this will take you to a list of programs that will connect your url to most of the popular search engines. Be aware that some search engines will require manual (individual) submissions.
There are also professional programming tools that can help you to reach a large number of little known sites quickly. There are also free versions of many of these tools (like Web CEO) available online. Many of them will save you time and effort because they can cover more sites in less time than you would with manual submissions.
Most of the free url submission sites will offer other free SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tools like keyword generators, that will help drive traffic (and readers) to your site, and you can even see who has linked to your site – information you will need to keep your book on the minds of the readers you want to reach.