Are book websites a waste of money, or smart marketing?
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Are book websites a waste of money, or smart marketing?

Last Updated on December 15, 2023 by David Wogahn

There are three kinds of websites an indie author can have: an author website, book websites and a website for their publishing company, or imprint. Deciding what to do depends on your goals, budget and the stage of your publishing efforts. (I discuss these options in more depth in this article:  How Many Websites Does a Hybrid Author Need?)

This post discusses book websites and how to use and manage book domain names. More specifically, how and when to create book websites, how long you need it, and how to avoid a long-term investment. As you might imagine, maintaining a book website for every one of your books can get expensive, if you have lots of books.

(Are you a first or one book author? I’ll also explain your options.)

How book websites help market books

Have you ever noticed how all the movie trailers have a unique domain name? The studios figured out that using a domain name that matches your movie name is easier for people to find, remember. or share than something long like www.moviedistributor.com/movies/nameofmoviehere/.

Book websites are like movie website domain names-important for marketing

Using a relevant domain name is only the first half of the equation

The second half of the equation is keeping things simple. When your prospective reader—or a member of the media—lands on your page you do not want them distracted. That’s why this is often referred to as a book landing page; it has a single focus and usually is a single page. This is not the place to promote your other books, or your latest blog article or anything else.

Successful eBook Publishing book website-David WogahnHere is what your visitor should find:

  1. A high-quality image of your book cover.
  2. Blurbs and praise about your book.
  3. A bold headline that arouses their interest.
  4. A concise description: benefits oriented if it is non-fiction, or for fiction, a sketch of the plot that concludes with a cliffhanger.
  5. An engaging bio written in a way that helps people relate to you.
  6. A CTA or Call to Action: invite them to buy your book and link to the stores selling it.
  7. A way for visitors to connect. This could be your email or links to your social media profiles. Remember, your potential audience also includes bookstores, the media and other authors.

I consider these to be the minimum but you might also want to include a video book trailer, an invitation to join your mailing list, a link to download a sample chapter in PDF format, your press kit, etc. Again, keep it simple and focused on your book. You can see all these elements in my book's landing page website, shown here.

Why not use Facebook, Goodreads, AuthorCentral, etc. for your book landing page? Way too much distraction and you can’t control what your visitor sees…perhaps a competitive book?

3 things you can do with your book's domain name

Let’s assume you bought a domain name that matches your book in some way. (You probably have a separate domain to use for your author website but if not, I’ll address this a little later.)

Point your book domain name to your book landing page websiteHere are a few things you can do with your book domain:

  1. Do nothing. Maybe you have a catchy title and you don’t want someone else to own the domain name for it. Owning it is peace of mind.
  2. Forward it to your book's page on your author website—a page that you will create regardless of whether or not you create a separate book website. This allows you to market your book’s domain name which forwards them to this page on your website. Here you may have two options depending on the software used to run your website.
    • Take them to your book page, a page that looks like your other pages, i.e. it has your menu, header and sidebars.
    • Show a landing page, page. Some WordPress themes, for example, provide a design template called “landing page” which does not show headers, menus and sidebars; in this case only the information about your book. This is a cost effective option because you can include the 7 key elements discussed above without having to invest in another website.
  3. Create a book website. This is the book landing page website we’ve been talking about. In this case you change the DNS name server of where to take people when they type in your book’s domain name.

(Domain forwarding and changing name servers sound complicated but all the major domain sellers—Godaddy, etc.—provide detailed support to manage this one-time exercise.)

Being realistic: How long do you need a dedicated book website?

You can skip to the next heading if this is your first book. Otherwise, my short answer to this question is: as long as you are actively marketing the book, or as long as you are seeing results. Most likely that is a few months prior to publication and a few months after.

Now here comes the benefit of owning that book domain name: as soon as you no longer need this dedicated website you can simply forward your domain as noted above to the book page on your author website and no one will ever get lost. You also just saved yourself some money. True, you need to keep paying for the domain name but that cost is about a buck a month.

One page author websites for first book authors

Anyone who has self-published will tell you that expenses add up quickly, and there is no end to the list of demands on a new author’s time. Writing, producing, distributing and marketing require learning new skills and managing opportunities. That’s where a single page author website can help you focus your time and budget.

Instead of spending hours fussing with design decisions, writing pages of content that few people may read (at least initially), concerning yourself with website features and functionality questions, and then worrying about making sure your WordPress theme has the latest security patches and is properly backed up, why not simplify matters and start with a single page?

The only key functionality missing from a single page website is a blog. But when the time comes that you are ready to commit to regular blogging, you can create a new website and simply change your domain's name servers to point to this new location. (You could alsosetup a separate blog at someplace like wordpress.com or Blogger, but I don’t recommend that.)

(Btw, some believe authors don’t need any website. For more on that read my Do Authors Need a Website? Maybe, Maybe Not.)

Options for one page book websites

The first thing people think of when they go shopping for a website is WordPress—it reportedly powers about a quarter of all websites. And just about any website builder, or content management system, can be configured to display a single page. The problem with this approach is that it's like using a Ferrair to run shopping errands—the costs, complexity and the time required to maintain it will quickly overwhelm you. Instead, here are 3 providers of services that specialize in landing page style websites. Usually self-service, low or no maintenance, and easily turned on or off.

(Each of these offer some form of free or paid plan. The key thing to look for is whether you can use your own domain name. After that you need to determine how well, they work for books, term length, ease of use, and features or special benefits for authors.)

  1. Instapage.com
  2. booklaunch.io
  3. onepagerapp.com

(Disclosure: the Onepagerapp link is an affiliate link. We use the Onepagerapp to create custom one page book websites for our clients. Learn more here.)

1 thought on “Are book websites a waste of money, or smart marketing?”

  1. Callum Keith Rennie

    Are book websites a waste of money, or smart marketing?
    is an amazing write-up regarding websites

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