5 Questions to ask your publisher about their author websites

Katie LinderIn today’s marketplace, authors need to be integrally involved with the marketing of their books, including making decisions about author websites. While many authors have the opportunity to use their publisher’s author website option, they should carefully consider whether that website offers the design elements, content features, and editing flexibility to best serve their needs.

If you are trying to decide whether to go with your publisher’s website or to create and maintain one on your own, Katie Linder, director of the Ecampus Research Unit at Oregon State University and creator of “The Academic Book Promotion Toolkit”online course, provides the following five questions to ask your publisher to make sure you have a clear understanding of what is possible with their website.

1) How frequently can you update the publisher website with additional information you want to share?
What is the process of updating the website and how frequently can this be done? Does this go through your editor or do you have direct access to a contact if you see an error or if you need to update the content?

2) Can you post video and/or audio files to their website?
The key is to find out whether the files can be imbedded to be viewed on your website page rather than linked out to, for example, YouTube. This may not be important to everyone, but if you plan to use video or audio files, imbedding is an important feature.

3) What website pages are available to you for your book?

This is important to ask if you have a lot of content related to your book and you don’t want it all on one page. If your publisher only offers one page, essentially the “Buy Page”, your options will be limited. One page means that everything competes for attention including the sales information, as well as all other content you want to share such as additional resources, supplemental questions, syllabi, video, information about you and your other works. If your publisher does have the option of building out multiple pages for you, especially if you plan to publish additional books with this publishers, find out how many and what types of pages are available to promote your book(s).

4) Where are the bonus resources for your book housed on their website?
Are the bonus resources easy for readers to find and download? If you are taking the time to create bonus resources for your users and you think it is important for your readers to have this information easily accessible for download, this is an important detail to understand.

Some publisher websites are excellent at creating companion resources that are amazing, especially with textbooks. Others publishers aren’t doing this very well. Investigate other author websites on your publisher’s site, download content and make sure you understand the user experience.

5) Are you proud to send your potential readers to your publisher’s website?
This is the bottom line, as your book’s website will likely be the main space where you will send your potential readers to buy your book, especially if you plan to offer a presale discount code, and other promotional offers. Make sure it is representative of you, your book, your professional brand, and offers the content necessary to help sell your book.

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