11 Things Not to Do Before Your Book Launch

I ran across this article, 11 Things Not to Do Before Your Book Launch by M.J. Rose, last month. I’m not promoting her book because I haven’t read it, but these 11 tips are pretty good. Go read them, then come back here. I’ll wait.

One of the tips that I feel strongly about and regularly expound from a soapbox is this one:

10. Don’t put the “buy the book” links on an inside page of your website where no one can see them or hide them in a corner — it should never take more than 2 seconds for someone to figure out how to buy your book. It is not crass to make it clear how to buy the book that no one has ever heard of before and that you are trying to sell.

I spend a lot of time tracking down fiction by LDS authors for this site and trying to find links to author websites or blogs. When I do finally find a site, often there is NO—as in zip, zilch, nada— information about their book(s) on it!

That just makes my brain stutter.

I know I mention this a lot, but seriously, from the number of authors who are doing this wrong, I need to mention it AGAIN.

Don’t make it so hard to find out about your books!

Put cover images in the sidebar.

Add links to Amazon or Deseret Book or some place where the books can be purchased.

Make a post or a page with a large cover image, backliner text and other information to intrigue your reader, and put a link to it prominently in the sidebar or menu tab!

Seriously, with the ease of ebooks and self-publishing now, it’s a crowded field, and even more important that you do the minimal requirements to let people know that your book exists.


How to Set Up an Aspiring Author Website by Jordan McCollum

Jordan posted a comment on this post with links to her articles on setting up a website. Since not everyone reads the comments, I asked to re-post her original article here. The following is reposted with permission.

If you’ve been following our website review series, you’ve learned some great things to do (and not to do) when setting up your website. Maybe you’re ready for a “real” website, but not sure how to get it. It’s okay; I’ve worked with websites and Internet marketing for the better part of my life and I still didn’t know exactly how to set up a website until I did my own. And it’s easy.

There are three basic things you need for a functioning website:

  1. a domain (you get this from a domain registrar, like GoDaddy)
  2. a host to store your website’s pages and files (from a hosting company)
  3. (technically, you don’t need this, but unless you’re going to be doing all your coding by hand, you’ll want it) software to work the back end—and hopefully generate the HTML code (usually provided by the hosting company, too)

blogger logoSometimes you can get these things together. Blogger, for example, will give you everything—your domain is whatever.blogspot.com, Blogger stores your pages and files, and Blogger software generates your HTML code and provides the software that lets you maintain your site.

In fact, you can make Blogger into your “real” website, which can be especially useful if you’re going to be the one maintaining it. You can also use Blogger Custom Domain to put your Blogger blog at YourDomain.com, and Camy Tang has a useful guide on how to make a a basic free blog more like a website.

Getting more advanced

If you feel like you’re ready for a more “real” website, but still apprehensive about setting one up, here’s my advice: use WordPress. This is especially great if you’re already comfortable with blogging software, because you get the ease of blogging software and the features of a “real” website.

wplogoYou can use WordPress.com (and you can get a WordPress.com blog to show up at YourDomain.com, too, but it’s not free like it is on Blogger)—or you can use WordPress.org. It’s the same software, but with WordPress.org you can customize your blog however you want.

However, for WordPress.org, you also have to get hosting—space on a server to store your website’s files for others to access them. I’ve been with BlueHost for over two years, and they’ve done really well for me. I chose them because they were inexpensive ($7/month), and one of WordPress’s recommended hosts.

WordPress has some advantages over Blogger that make it more like a “real” website. Camy Tang’s guide above will help you create static pages like an about page or a contact page on Blogger. That’s great—but they’re still going to look and act like posts on your blog.

With WordPress, however, you can keep blog posts and pages separate. Don’t want a blog? That’s okay—you can do that with WordPress, too, and just use the page features to easily create a static website instead. Check out the menu bar at the top of my site. See how it says “About” and “Projects,” etc.? Those link to WordPress pages—timeless, static webpages that aren’t posts on the blog.

Also neat: WordPress made that menu bar all by itself. I didn’t have to do a thing. It updates the menu bar whenever I update a page. WordPress is highly customizable, in both the site design and software—and for free.

If you want to create a WordPress website on BlueHost, sign up for BlueHost using my affiliate link and I’ll send you a free PDF guide to setting up WordPress with BlueHost*—with info on installation, set up, importing blogs, add-ons and more! (If you’re planning to import another blog, also check out my search-engine friendly guide to migrating from Blogger to WordPress to make your switch safe and easy.)

What do you think? Are you ready for a real website?

* To get the guide, be sure to email me at guide at jordanmccollum.com once you’ve completed the sign up.

Successful Author Websites

What do you look for in a successful author website?

While this question refers specifically to websites, everything I say also applies to blogs. Authors need an online presence—but it doesn’t have to break the bank. A good free blog or website will do the trick.

First and foremost, it must be visually appealing, clean and professional—and it must have all the information a visitor needs to find your book.

Visually appealing and professional doesn’t mean you have to hire someone and spend a lot of money. You can set up free blogs at Blogger or WordPress. You can use one of their templates or choose from the bazillion free template online. If a blog is all you can afford (because it’s free), that will be perfectly adequate.

You can also create a free, or mostly free, website at Google, Yola, or Weebly. I haven’t used any of these, so I can’t recommend one over the other. I’m sure there are other good places out there. Google “free websites” and see what you find.

A “pretty” site will invite the visitor to actually read the information you have on your site.

You need the most important information easy to find—either on the front page, sidebar, or using a tab at the top of the page to click to. Generally, you want the important info no more than one click away from the home page.

Most important info to include:

  • Info about your books: Most prominent on the home page or high on the sidebar is your current release book cover, which clicks to a page or post with more info about the book. Include a larger image of the cover with a teaser, first chapter or excerpt, and all of the info that I include about books on the LDS Fiction site.

    Previously published books should be in a secondary position—smaller images or lower on the sidebar. Each of these should also click to a page or post with more information about the title.

    The book info page should ALWAYS include links to where the book can be purchased online.

  • Info about you: Clickable from a tab or image on the sidebar, a short bio page about you. I recommend including a photo. Make it light and friendly and short.
  • Contact: An email link where you can be contacted by your fans. Also links to other places you can be found online.

Your site needs to be easy to navigate, clean and professional. I’m including a few links to simple sites that do this well. (Simple, because I’m assuming this is for DIY-ers, who can’t or don’t want to hire help.)



Readers—If you:

  • used a free, or nearly free, website builder/hosting service
  • designed your site yourself or used a free template
  • and you think your site is a good example

PLEASE leave a link to your site AND tell us the free service you used to create your site in the comments section. Also, let us know how easy you felt it was to use and if you recommend it or not.