My best advice for writers wishing to sell their books: Act as if the book deal is already yours. If you can pretend it’s a done deal, you’ll be more motivated to do the work of building a platform. Besides great stories told in a compelling voice, publishers want books from writers “with a platform”–a verifiable existing audience. And, an author website gives you a central hub for showcasing that platform as well as a means for growing it.
1. An author website gives you a central hub for sharing your story
One of the best ways to sell a book is to publish a widely shared, related essay somewhere prominent, but we can’t usually control where or when our essays get published. We can, however, decide to tell part of our story on our own site. It’s actually quite exhilarating to have complete control over the publication process! And, if you’re writing a memoir, your site can also give you the needed opportunities to come out with your story and practice sharing publicly what you’ve likely shared with very few.
I recommend posting an overview of your book-in-progress on your website’s home or about page. Check out how Deli Moussavi and Barrak Alzaid offer overviews on their sites:
When you do start getting related essays published, you can also share those links on your site as well. Tamiko Nimura does that for her memoir-in-progress on her site:
2. An author website offers you a means for creating content (which helps you to grow your audience)
Adding a blog to your site offers the means for creating content you can share on social media, which can be a great way to grow your audience. If you’re sharing on Instagram posts, it’s a good idea to get a linktr.ee or beaconsai that allows you to have multiple links in your bio (see my beaconsai below). (You can add a link to Instagram stories. Yay! See example below). Another benefit to blog posts: Because readers will be following posts back to your site, they will be adding to your site traffic and–hopefully–subscribing to your email list.
3. An author website gives you a means to enroll email subscribers
It’s almost worth it to have an author website just to house the email signup field! Your total number of email subscribers is one of your most significant metrics as subscribers convert to sales at a much higher rate than social media followers. When someone’s on your list, you have the opportunity to build a relationship with them through your newsletter. This connection–often built through months or even years–can be a key factor in their decision to buy your book or come out to your book events down the road.
4. An author website provides agents a portal for contacting you
If your essays are getting published, an agent could come knocking on your website door to see if you are writing a book and are looking for representation. This doesn’t happen all that often, but still it’s a good argument for having a website up that shows you’re ready to sell your book and do the work of promoting that book.
5. An author website reminds you that you are a writer
Your website can be the first place you craft your book’s pitch, and the process of creating that pitch will solidify not only your own understanding of your story but also your belief in its importance. Your author website can make you feel like you’re the real deal. And that confidence will inspire you to keep pushing yourself to send out your writing and build that platform.
You might be thinking that you don’t want to pay to have a site designed and built or that you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of building a site yourself. I’ve been working with all sorts of writers who have been building their own sites–despite their fears that they couldn’t do it. Besides the savings, the other advantage of building it yourself is you become an expert on modifying your site and aren’t dependent on anyone else to make updates.
In my Platform Building 101 course, I’m walking small groups of writers through the process of building their websites, growing their list, creating authentic content and sharing that content with an expanding audience. The next session starts May 11th. Click through here to learn more.