There are some facts in life that are immutable in life, for example:
- The Earth revolves around the sun.
- The Earth is a globe, no matter what the flat earthers say.
- Marketing a book is far more demanding than writing it.
- Every agent and publishing house will insist on an author having a website.
An author must create a brand for themselves, and they must primarily market that brand first and then their books.
What is an author brand? It is the name they write under. For me, that is P N Burrows. I chose P N Burrows as several authors called Phil Burrows were out there already. As a brand, I need to be as unique as possible. I use the brand name in my author logo, business cards, social profiles and website.
Marketing your brand will save you money in the long run. For example, when I first started writing, I bought a hoodie, t-shirts, a peaked cap and various other items with the name ‘Mineran Series’ emblazoned on them. Having finished the five-book series, I no longer use these branded items as I moved on. I have written another two urban fantasies (the second is due out in time for Christmas) and a vigilante manuscript. If someone had told me about an author brand at the start, I could have saved a lot of cash.
Your brand forms the starting point for your online marketing. You should theme everything with this branding. If I wander across your profile on a site, blog or social platform, I should immediately recognise that it is you by your logo and colour scheme.
Social media profiles are great, but you do not own them. You can have your profile taken from you without ever knowing why. This happens a lot. You may incur the wrath of the algorithm by saying something controversial, and poof, your account is closed. Twitter recently took over several Twitter account names to use for themselves. I have known businesses that have had their accounts closed because of complaints with no recourse and no way of getting the account or followers back. Social media is important, but it should not be the central hub of your marketing. Your website should be this.
You own your website. You rent the domain name (e.g. www.yourname.co.uk) from a domain registrar. If you stop paying for the domain name, it goes back into the general pool, and someone else can buy it. I have known authors who closed their websites and allowed their domain names to lapse. It seldom happens, but domain scalpers can and will buy up lapsed domain names, which they put up for sale at a huge profit. Someone once quoted me $5,000 for a client’s lapsed domain name. My client chose a different name and learnt a valuable lesson.
I digress. Your website is the central hub for all of your marketing. You drive people to your website; there, they can read about you and find your social media links. You do not send people to the social sites first. If you lose that social site, then all of your previous marketing is wasted.
What should you have on your website?
- Home page—providing a snippet of information about you and your books.
- Author biography—a high-quality photograph of yourself is essential. A grainy image or one taken in a pub will not help your profile.
- A page about each book you have written with links to Amazon et al.
- A contact page.
- A press/media page—this should have several high-quality images of you and a high-resolution copy of your book covers. Mention any press coverage you have received, and if you wish to attend podcasts/video blogs, state what equipment you have. An author with a high-quality microphone is more likely to be offered a podcast slot than someone using the microphone on their laptop. A fibre-based internet connection helps too.
- You could create a blog section and write a monthly article. You can also let other authors send you guest articles and try to write for other author’s sites. Another author is not a competitor; we can collaborate and cross-promote.
- You may wish to have a newsletter. I recommend free and easy-to-use service from Mailerlite.com.
- You can sell directly to the reader from your website with a PayPal button or a full-blown e-commerce site.
- You may have other services you wish to promote, such as school visits.
- You may perform author talks which you may wish to promote not just the service but also the particular dates you have talks on.
- Links to your social sites.
You can self-build or pay for a professional to make your website. There are a lot of template sites out there, but please investigate how much they charge for the hidden extras. Things you don’t realise you need until after you have built most of the site—they can mount up.
Please choose a domain name that reflects your author name. Mine is https://pnburrows.com/. We do not use ‘WWW’ anymore. You can still access my site with www.pnburrows.com, but the server sends you to the HTTPS version for your own security. The ‘S’ on the end is important; it means SECURE. You should not visit a site that does not have the ‘S’.
Please only look at buying a .co.uk or .com domain name. If you buy .co or .uk people will still type in .co.uk and get taken to the wrong website.
Oh, and one last piece of advice for new authors: for God’s sake, don’t use your legal signature to sign books!
Philip Burrows writes under the pen name P N Burrows.
PN Burrows website has links to all of his books.
Guest Blog by Phil Burrows