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What to put on an author’s website: your book page (with links!)

If you’re an author, you must have a modern website.  Modern.  Not something that looks like you made it in 2000 (sorry, old-guard science fiction authors, but it’s true.)  Relying on your Amazon author page is a huge mistake.

You may not want to do it, but a website is a basic requirement.  It’s a professional tool that shows your readers that you’re serious about your job (of writing books).  If you update it reliably, your readers will know that you are reliable, and you’ll keep their interest.

If you don’t give this assurance, you look unreliable.  Readers will wonder if you’ve abandoned your work.  There are many other writers who do have a modern, updated website.  This makes readers able to predict that you will release more in the future.  People need this comfortable assurance, especially if you are a series writer.

People guard their time very carefully.  A reasonably up to date website will help them make the “right decision” about investing their time and lives into your work.

This series of articles will help you do the minimum on a website and still meet the requirements… one page at a time.

Today, we’ll just be looking at your “books page.”

You must have a book page WITH WORKING LINKS.

If you only have one page, make it this one.  If you don’t have this page, it’s like going to The Gap’s website and finding nothing for sale.  Your job isn’t just to write books.  Your job is to write books and get paid.  Otherwise, you just have a hobby.

Your books page should be up to date and list your books in an organized fashion.  It doesn’t have to be fancy or use custom styling.  It just has to be organized and have working links.  Worry about the other stuff later.

Here are some sample book listings for your “books page:”

Eli and the Rainbow Umbrella

Series: Rainbow Discovery (#2)

Published: January 25, 2017

Children’s fantasy, grades K-3.  85 pages.

Eli sees something sticking out of a dumpster and can’t resist finding out what it is.  He and his friends pull out a mysterious glowing rainbow umbrella that they take turns using in the pouring rain.  They think it’s an ordinary umbrella, but it turns out to bring more fun than they ever dreamed.

Where to buy:

Sarah and the Rainbow Star

Series: Rainbow Discovery (#1)

Published: October 15, 2016

Children’s fantasy, grades K-3.  85 pages.

Walking home from school with her sister, 4th grader Sarah and her younger sister June discover something glittering in the bushes: a glowing rainbow star from another planet!  They put it in their treasure box, but when things in their house start changing around them, they know that the rainbow star is more than just a pretty treasure. A wacky, magical adventure.

Where to buy:


You need:

  • A small image of your cover (150 x 200 or whatever the dimensions are).  Most people will expect that when you click on the image, they go somewhere.  So make it a link to a sales page, like Amazon, or a “more info” page like this one.
  • The title, which should also be a link to Amazon or the “more info” page.
  • If it belongs in a series, and where it belongs.  If there’s a series, this should link to the “series page” on Amazon or your author page on Amazon, etc.
  • The release date.
  • The genre and number of pages or length (novel, novella, word count, etc.)
  • The 1-paragraph “executive summary” – they can get the full writeup on the sales page.
  • Working links for where to find your book (Kobo, Amazon, etc.)

Doing this sucks!  It’s boring, I fully admit it.  I get paid to do it because no one else wants to.

But it is easy.  You may not want to do it, but it’s not as hard as writing a whole book.  So suck it up, buttercup, as my mother used to say.

Do not be lazy!  Do it 100% or not at all.

Don’t be lazy about hunting up all the links.  You only have to do this once, so do it right.  If you leave some e-tailers un-linked, you will get an email from someone who will ask you to link to them on your website.

I know, you may think, “Do they actually use the internet??”

But it’s not laziness.  It’s that most people are afraid of doing the wrong thing.  Most people are looking for an authority to tell them what to do.  It’s a complicated world – these days, it’s often easier to trust someone else than trust yourself.

So, these readers somehow won’t trust their own research and want to get all their info from an authority source (you.)  Even if you give them the exact same -tailer page as the one they found themselves.

This is also where you list audiobooks.

Do you have audiobooks?  Definitely blow the trumpet about this one – some people are crazy for them and will want to know.  Audiobooks are pricey and you can make some affiliate money if you send them to Amazon with your own affiliate link.

That’s all for now!  Next, I’ll go over what to put in your single-book info pages.  You don’t have to have them.  But you should.  And it’s way easy with WooCommerce (WordPress.)

  • Katherine
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Fiction Writers’ First Hurdle: Getting & Keeping Readers’ Attention

Earlier on this site, I was quite enthusiastic about selling “the unsellable” – pulp, erotica, horror / gore, experimental, and other “fringe” stuff.  This is because I believe in freedom of fiction, I’m an “adventurous reader,” and also because it posed a particular challenge to sell.  Which was fun for me, a nerd who thrives on that sort of thing.

Now that I’ve gotten four more years of experience since I posted last, I realize that the publishing problem has changed.  Four years ago, it was a lot less crowded in the indie publishing marketplace.  From talking to other people, that seems to be true of most areas of online businesses.

ALL fiction authors now face the same huge initial hurdle, regardless of what genre they write in.

Forget that first sale!  Your first real hurdle is getting and keeping your readers’ attention.  

After that, if the books are any good, repeat sales are usually not a problem (if you do some things right!)  But the initial hurdle is high in this “age of attention competition.”  While erotica / pulp / gore authors still face obstacles in advertising non-family-friendly content, all authors are facing this same basic hurdle.

So now, this site and my articles and resources will be aimed toward ONLY getting (and hopefully keeping) your audience’s attention.

Yes, KEEPING their attention.  You are not done once you’ve gotten over that first attention-hurdle.

There are so many diversions that will eat your lunch if you don’t keep your readers’ attention.  I’m not talking about other books.  The attention-stealing diversions are

  • stupid pet Vine compilations
  • inflammatory political “news” headlines
  • getting in flame wars in comment sections
  • pointless Flash games that just make you feel angry

These are all things that no one really wants to spend their time on, kind of like eating the reject flavored jellybeans left in the bowl.  (Do you like them?  No.  Do you eat them?  Well, they’re there, aren’t they?)

They’d be much better off reading your books.

So, this is what my articles and tutorials will be about – recommending awesome and fairly new ways of getting and keeping your readers’ attention.  I’m not going with cutting edge stuff – that’s expensive and untested.  What I will do is report on what’s working for us at the publishers.  These recommendations will be inexpensive and reasonable.

We’re real belt-tighteners at work, so be assured that everything I recommend is what we think has a chance of breaking even or better.

– Kat



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Think like a marketer.

Lately, I’ve talked with a lot of artists, mostly writers, who have no idea how to market their book. This isn’t news, of course! Artists, in general, hate to sell their stuff — it’s one of the reason that publishers exist. (No need to go into how bad a job most publishers are doing — you can read all about that here and here, if you like.)

Most of them have said things like this:

  • “I don’t know anything about SEO/Google ads/getting visitors to my blog.”
  • “I tweet three times a day and update my Facebook page, but I don’t know what else I can do.”
  • “I’ve spent a ton of money on publicity or book tours, and I’ve only sold a few.”
  • “The publisher went all out in their efforts, but I only sold through a fraction of my copies!”
  • “I have no idea how to sell, and I hate selling.”

Though these issues are all important, that’s not the most important thing to address.  The biggest deficit in marketing skill is not specific techniques or building a website, twitter, FB following, etc.  It’s not even building a list — though that skill alone is often what separates successes from failures.

The biggest problem is that writers aren’t thinking like marketers!

If you’re not thinking like a marketer, all your work may not pay off.  It’s like going to the grocery store when you have no specific meal in mind — you can spend $150, and not have a thing to make for dinner.

I really underestimated this aspect until I started interviewing writers in person.  The techniques themselves that I use are incredibly simple, like saying, “Hey, buy this,” in a banner ad.  Anyone can do this… if they’re thinking like a marketer.

So, how do you think like a marketer, then??

Three words: know your audience.  Know exactly what they want, why they want it, and how to sell it to them.  Start with asking, “Who, exactly, are my readers?  What do they like?  How many children do they have?  What authors similar do they like?  What magazines do they subscribe to?”  It’s like knowing your character — marketers go through the same process to “profile” their audience.  Assumptions can be very expensive.

Here’s an example from this morning.  Let’s say I have a client who writes m/m romances, and I’m trying to find her a new audience outside the realm of existing m/m readers.  Basically, I’m looking to expand the market, and test potential audiences that might like m/m, even if they haven’t read it before.

This morning, I open a copy of House Beautiful — one of the most popular mass-market magazines for a mature female, affluent (or wannabe affluent) audience!  They aren’t modern like Dwell, but more traditional… perfect for testing a romance novel offer.

What do I see?

An ad for Olay Regenerist, no shock there, right?  But also…

An ad for some home furnishing company featuring:

  • A hot shirtless guy
  • Books in the foreground clearly displaying “Tom Ford” and Michaelangelo

‘Kay.  This could mean that they’re catering to a gay audience — and HB has one.  But it could also mean that the magazine has a good percentage of older women who love gay men, and might be interested in reading traditional romances featuring two men.  I dunno, it could mean nothing.  It could be that the women subscribers wouldn’t be interested in m/m at all.  But it was a clue, and nothing happens by accident when you’re paying $10,000 per page.

Naturally, I wouldn’t suggest taking out a full page ad in House Beautiful to start — that would be expensive and foolish.  I’d have a lot more investigation to do before I decided to invest in a market test, such as finding out if they watch Queer As Folk.  My point is, the better you know your audience, the more opportunities you have to reach them.  Most writers wouldn’t even think of advertising in House Beautiful for their books, but these more indirect connections are sometimes where all the profit is!

This work must be done before you take out any ads. Before you do any work at all communicating with your audience, whether it’s on your website, Twitter, Facebook, etc.