A website is essential for authors to promote their books and their brand. From a sales standpoint, the most important page on your web site is the place where people can purchase your book—your sales page.
Creating a website doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, but along with the ease of creation, for the author building a site around your brand or book, there is the unfortunate opportunity to include elements that can actually serve to distract the visitor instead of produce the wanted outcome of having that visitor buy your book!
Here are the elements to include on your sales page:
1. Detailed Description of Your Book – This could be information from your book jacket or an expanded version of your jacket copy. Either way, it should be written to entice readers. Remember, marketing copy should focus on the BENEFITS for the reader and explain why they should want your book—not just provide an overview of what the book is about.
2. Author Bio and Photo – Even if you have an extended bio on another page of your site, be sure to include a brief bio so that visitors who don’t take the time to poke around other pages will get an immediate answer about who you are and why you wrote the book.
3. Book Cover Image – This may sound obvious, but the absence of the book’s cover image is a big mistake I see on a lot of sites. The cover image may already be included in the website header so authors think it doesn’t need to be included again. WRONG! If you or your readers share a link to your book on Facebook, for example, you will want to make sure it can display with the cover image—and that won’t be possible if it’s part of the website header.
4. Testimonials – If you have them, use them. Testimonials are social proof that your work is good and can help improve sales. If you don’t have any, go get some!
5. Sample Reading – There are a number of ways to approach this. I like to include a PDF version of the table of contents for my book. Some authors give away a sample chapter or two as a free download. If you do this, I’d suggest requiring sign-up for your mailing list so you can reach that potential buyer again later.
6. Purchase Link(s) – Make it as easy as possible for visitors to purchase your book by offering one or more link options for purchase. If you’re shipping your books yourself, it can be as simple as setting up a PayPal button. You might also use a professional shopping cart service such as http://e-junkie.com. If you don’t want to ship books (and it’s totally fine if that is the case), then make sure you offer a link to purchase on Amazon and/or other online booksellers. And don’t forget your ebooks. If you’re offering an ebook version of your book, add a purchase link to Amazon’s Kindle store or Smashwords or whatever service you’re using.
7. Consider Bonus Items – Some authors host campaigns to give away a bunch of bonus items “if you buy the book today only!” The truth is that these campaigns are not my favorite because the results are usually temporary. So here’s another approach: Offer bonus items for the first month—or the whole year and beyond! Why not make it irresistible for potential buyers? You can compile a list of bonuses from your own files (such as special reports, audio recordings, spreadsheet templates, etc.), or you can ask peers to contribute a free bonus. Many will be happy to do so as a way for them to get exposure with your audience. 8. Social Sharing Buttons – As a general rule for business websites and blogs today, all should have social media sharing buttons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, Pinterest, etc. Depending on your website platform, these are usually easy to add. I like the Share This widget, which is available for most platforms (and always free!).
My last bit of advice: Keep it simple. Website visitors have short attention spans. You don’t need big, bold headlines to sell a book. You need really great sales copy that makes a reader think, “I need this book!”