This is a question I get often from new authors who have books that are about to release. They aren't sure if they should invest the time, money and effort into building a web site to help promote and market their book. Some authors decide that they don't want to mess around with a web site, and decide they'll just build a Facebook fan page and call it a day.
About three years ago, the Codex Group conducted a survey of nearly 21,000 book shoppers. They discovered that the majority of readers depended upon author web sites as a means of getting to know the author better. Also, of those who had visited an author web site in the past week, 38 percent purchased a book. Bottom line: if a reader can't find you online, you are missing out on readers (and book sales).
Too many authors make the mistake of using their web site as a billboard for advertising their book, but an author web site should be much more than that. Here are five important reasons and author needs a web site:
1. Readers want to know more about you. If you are a new author releasing your first book, nobody outside of your circle of friends and family know about you or your book. Why did you write the book? When did you start writing? Where did you go to college? Where in the U.S. do you live? Who is your favorite author? What books are you reading now? Are you writing anything else, and if so, can you post a few samples on your site? These are things readers want to know.
2. The media want to know about you. Almost every time a reporter contacts me about doing an interview with an author, one of the first questions they ask me is "what is the author's web address?" They want to check out the author and get to know about them before the interview. If the author doesn't have a web site that is definitely a handicap.
3. Shoppers research their purchases online before buying. Even if a reader intends to buy a book at a bookstore, they may very well do some comparison shopping online, looking for reviews and articles about the book. If an author has a web site with a page dedicated to endorsements, articles, reviews, etc., it helps "seal the deal," even if the reader doesn't purchase the book through the author's site.
4. Readers are buying more books online. Bookstores have seen declining sales, not just because readers are buying fewer books, but because they are buying their books online. Ebooks are also taking a bite out of the bookstores' bottom line. If you don't have a web site to catch some of those potential readers, there are many, many other authors out there who do have sites that might catch their attention instead.
5. You never know who might see your site. I personally know an author who got a movie deal in part because the producers visited the author's web site after hearing about his book and liked what they saw. I constantly hear from authors that they want "nationwide" promotion and publicity for their book. Why stop there? Get a web site and you potentially have a worldwide audience, and one of your web site visitors could give you the big break you have been working so hard to get.
Look at it this way: every company in the U.S. that is successful has a web site. Every successful, bestselling author in the U.S. has a web site (you can see Jeff Kinney's web site here). If you want to be taken seriously as a professional author, you should have a web site.