Are Author Websites Worth It?

shutterstock_123772771Last week, at the Digital Book World Marketing + Publishing Services Conference & Expo, several marketing executives within publishing houses debated the merits of spending time and effort maintaining an author website. The consensus answer? It’s not worth it.
 
According to the marketers, it’s easier for authors to develop followings on already established social platforms and they shouldn’t waste much effort maintaining a website. And, besides, they can treat their Amazon or Goodreads author page as their home on the Web.
 
However, author sites might allow opportunities for collecting reader data and for marketing to both consumers and bookstore owners.
 
What do you think: Author websites worth it or waste of time?
 


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4 thoughts on “Are Author Websites Worth It?

  1. Pingback: Are you master of your domain? - Tom Stier - Promote Globally

  2. Laura E. Kelly

    Developing followings is one thing. An author website is another and is definitely NOT a waste of time. Here are some reasons that immediately come to mind, and there are many more:

    1. Marketing executives within publishing houses care about selling the current book, they do not care especially about the author’s larger brand. A hub author site can sell past books from other publishers, as well as other products; feature articles, videos, and podcasts by and about the author; get speaking gigs; maintain an events calendar; showcase interests and passions outside the current book that form points of connection with readers; etc.

    2. Google search is still probably the first way people seek out an author online. An author’s page on Amazon and Goodreads may not even come up on the first page of Google, depending on what other entities are saying/linking about the author in recent days. But an author’s website (with the domain being the author’s full name in some form, not just the book’s name) will always come up high in search, especially if there’s activity on it like new reviews or a blog (no matter how lightly used). Notice what else comes up high when Google-searching an author’s name: their Wikipedia page. Many people will click on that Wikipedia page (and only that) just because it’s showing up near the top in search (and their clicks reinforce it staying near the top), so make sure it’s up to date.

    3. As for authors “treating their Amazon or Goodreads author page as their home on the Web” who’s to say all your customers go to Amazon or Goodreads and will even see your author’s page there (those pages are not always obvious)? Also, those author pages are highly formatted to the host site’s specs and don’t necessarily highlight things an author would want to highlight, like a high-profile review or a TV appearance. If, as the publishing marketing execs would have it, Amazon or Goodreads (owned by Amazon) is your main home on the web, what happens when those platforms change their terms or shut down a feature you count on? And who owns the content you put up on that “home”?

    4. Why not create author pages wherever you can? It’s not hard to set up your static Amazon and Goodreads author pages, and if you publish posts on your hub author site the posts can all automatically travel to those outposts, keeping those pages current. It does not work the other way around.

    Reply
  3. Jeri

    While it’s not necessary anymore for authors to have websites as there are other places on the web readers can stay up-to-date and interact with them, websites do serve as a centralized spot to find the official social network links and news updates.

    With the emergence of new social media outlets and technology, such as Shindig.com, it is now easier than ever for readers to meet, connect and engage with authors face-to-face, regardless of whether or not an author has a website. Social media spreads news of appearances, release dates and other information in real time. This live interaction really does help fill in the gaps and create community engagement, providing a place to meet on the web, sell books and answer audience questions.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Are author web pages worth the effort? « eBook Rumors

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