3-3 Coordinate Development of the Author Website and Social Media

An author should create a web presence for his or her book, whether this is a part of an existing web site with a new domain name, or a special web site for the book. You hope to create a following for the author and his or her work, including the book, and this is the place to set the stage.

Essential Elements of the Author Web Site

There are three things you want to make sure you do with your web site:

  1. From the home page of the web site, you want users to be able to sign up for something free so they become part of the database, and so you can stay in touch with them as new products or services are offered. You want your readers to get more info when they come to the site and to feel free to ask questions or make comments. Many authors find this reader contact so valuable that it forms the basis for new books or future editions.
  2. Journalists also use the web extensively for doing research for articles or news pieces, so you must have a media kit readily available. If you have substantial content to show that the author is an expert, the web site can lead to enhanced publicity.
  3. Readers should be able to buy your book directly from the site, or there should be a link to Amazon.com or another eCommerce site.

Web Site

Regardless of how many or few pages the web site includes and how far you want to go to create a reader community, every author’s web site should include:

  • Home page
  • Easy way to buy the book (such as a “Buy the book” button for eCommerce on your site or link to the Amazon.com page with your book)
  • Mailing list sign up/community access
  • Testimonials and reviews
  • Author events
  • Online Media kit (including press releases and audio, video or print media clips, Hi and lo res JPGs of the front cover of the book and the author’s headshot)
  • Author bio/contact info
  • Blog
  • Book excerpt/Table of contents
  • Book trailer/author video
  • Resources/Interactivity (exercises, worksheet downloads, assessments, list of resources, if any)

Author Bio

One of the important components of the media kit and the book’s back cover is the author bio. There is usually also an “About the Author” section at the back of the book. On the back cover, you probably have only a few sentences to convey your most significant messages, letting the audience know why the author is someone they should listen to and why they should buy the book.

In the bio for your media kit and inside the book, you want to clearly state something about the author’s background and accomplishments that is relevant for this book and its readers (about 100 to 500 words).

There are two common mistakes in writing an author bio for a Web site or a media kit. The first is saying too much, and the second is saying too little. Some authors go on for several pages, telling everything they’ve done since high school. Not only will this bore the reader, it says the author is trying too hard to be an impressive person. Talk about awards and achievements only if they are relevant to the book. Some authors are timid and don’t say enough about what they’ve done. It’s difficult for them to brag about their accomplishments or even remember what their accomplishments are. With a polished bio, almost anyone can have star quality.

Author Photos

Having a professionally done headshot is essential for the author who will be doing any speaking engagements or media interviews. Usually, the more attractive, polished and presentable the author, the higher the likelihood of media attention and interviews. It’s useful to make available several different headshots and other photos for journalists. Be sure the photographer supplies you with a high-resolution JPG file of all photos (at least 300 DPI) that will be adequate for all print uses.

There is always the question of what 300 DPI (dots per inch) means in the way we actually get photo files. What this means in our terms is that the photo will probably need to be at least 1MB is size. Many times you will have a photo that “looks” like it is the right size visually, but it doesn’t really have enough dots per inch to be printed. Look for the size as an indication.

The other indication is pixels. Your photo will need to be at least 700 x 500 pixels to be high enough quality to use for print. The way to find this is to find the information on the JPG file (click on the photo in preview and right click on the photo file without opening it to Get Info – if you are using a MAC and look on the size. The size should be at least 1MB or if the size is in pixels 700 x 500).

Social Networking

One easy way to network using the Internet is to sign up for some of the best social networking sites. The good news: they are all free. The bad news: they can take up a lot of time with few results unless you know what you want and make a plan to get there.

Once you have set up your web site, you could spend all your time sending out communication via your blog, Twitter, and by participating in Facebook and LinkedIn groups. These are all worth doing, but doing in a measured and focused way. If you don’t spend enough time on social networking on the web, you may be giving up some great opportunities. If you spend too much time, you will be missing opportunities to focus on selling products and services in other ways.

There are several things you hope to accomplish with social networking that may be unique to this group of web sites:

  1. You hope to show a human face to the world. Where your web site might be all business, a more chatty blog or tweets can let someone into the funny side of the author’s life.
  2. You are working to interact with clients and potential clients in a way that will appeal to them. Interaction that demonstrates an ability to collaborate and understand the needs of clients is key. Ask questions, stimulate discussion, do surveys, create polls to involve readers.
  3. It isn’t about what you want people to know about the author, it is about what readers want to know about the author and his work that will help them understand themselves and their own work.

Step One is to sign up for accounts and integrate them with the web site.

Step Two is to make a plan for how often you will participate and what topics you will focus on, based on what you want to accomplish.

Step Three is to stick with your plan, but be open to opportunities for commenting on the news of the day that come your way.

We have prepared some brief introductions to social networking, both to help your authors and to use in marketing your author’s assistant business.
Twitter – A Brief Introduction
Facebook – A Brief Introduction
LinkedIn – A Brief Introduction
Pinterest-  visit the site for more info

Ideas for authors to use social media:

1. Watch others’ updates on Facebook and Twitter to judge trends
2. Follow publishing company editors
3. Tweet your expert viewpoints and commentary on the news
4. Create contests
5. Catch up on industry news
6. Use Google search (http://www.google.com/insights/search/#) to see what the hot topics are today and use those to inspire tweets and blog posts
7. Take a poll or send out a poll question of your own
8. Locate resources or interviewees
9. Refer to great resources


Many authors are creating blogs instead of or in addition to web sites. Blogs are immediate because they’re created weekly, daily or even several times during the day, and some have a wide following. Regular readers can subscribe and be alerted to updates whenever they appear. Blogs can be customized, just like web sites, to pick up the look and feel of the author’s brand.

A blog is an easy way to write information of interest to your audience and make it available online. You set up a blog separately or as part of your web site and there are a number of free services to help you do this including the one we recommend at www.wordpress.com.

Once you create the blog, your next challenge will be to decide how to use it. As with the other social networking opportunities, you hope to provide information that will draw potential clients to you. This is not about what you are thinking and doing, unless that relates to the subjects your clients are interested in. While you could write a blog about your daily activities, this is not recommended for a business blog.

Blog entries or “posts” can be of any length, but you might try to write posts of 250 to 500 words or the equivalent of a page or two. Blog posts are similar to articles, but because they can be made more immediately available, they are often your own views about the news of the day.

The best blogs are updated often (at least once every two weeks) and talk with energy and enthusiasm about the interesting parts of the work you are doing or the challenges you are facing or your clients are facing. They allow you to showcase your expertise and show you get what is going on in your industry and are actively finding solutions for yourself and your clients. You can use a blog to interview someone (or to have them write a guest blog), to talk about an event you attended or just to give your opinion about what is going on.

If your blog is read widely, you will find that people leave comments for you about your blog posts. Some may agree, others disagree, but the point is to stimulate constructive discussion. You can delete blog posts that are malicious or just spam.

Your potential clients and others can subscribe to your blog through an RSS feed (really simple syndication). When you set up a blog, that blog has a URL address. You can use that URL to get the RSS by using a service called www.Feedburner.Google.com. Take the blog URL and enter it on that page and it will give you the RSS feed for your blog. You can use that in many places (such as on Facebook and LinkedIn) to have your blog show up on your profile pages. It will automatically be updated whenever you make a blog post.

Web Development and Author Sites

One of the more cost effective ways to help an author create a new site is by using WordPress software. It is free and makes it very easy for an author (or you) to add or change the content or images any time.

To put up a web site you need to have a host, such as Hostgator or GoDaddy where you can buy a domain name and where the files that make up the site actually live on a server. Then you need to have a web developer build a site from scratch or start from a ready-made software such as WordPress. Once the skeleton of the site is put together, you add content in words or images. Finally, a site designer adds a look and feel to the site with color, a header and graphics. This is called “skinning” a site and you can change the look and feel over time without starting over with a new site.

While we do not suggest that an author’s assistant should become a web site designer (unless you have that expertise), it is good to understand the process and know web designers who can provide good value to your authors. If you learn how to use WordPress you can be invaluable to authors who need new pages, new content, to add events, to add media clippings to their sites.

Multi-Media Presentations

Authors author much more than just books. These days books are just one of the products and services an author can create from his or her intellectual property. Your authors may want your help with webinars, book trailers, and podcasts or Internet radio shows as well their books.


Webinars are seminars that take place virtually on the Web. They have both a visual and an audio component. The audio is generally over the telephone or through the Internet. The visual is through the Internet and may be the ability to see the author talking or watching slides of the material as the author narrates.

There are many services to help you present and market webinars, some no cost, others low cost and a number at $40 a month or more.

You might help your author with a low cost webinar service to get started. This service gives you your own telephone number and access code and you can present webinars any time. You upload a PowerPoint presentation and then at the time of the webinar, the author (or you) can click a button to go to the next slide as the author presents the material. You can also record the audio through this service for use later.

Another great service at a much higher cost is www.InstantTeleseminar.com. At $67 a month, there are local numbers for International callers and the ability to record both the visual and the audio so that anyone who missed the presentation can easily see it later. The only negative of this service is that you cannot download the visual and audio recording together, so you must keep paying the monthly fee for users to watch the webinars after they are presented (although you can download the audio alone).

Virtual Courses

Authors who are subject matter experts also may want your assistance in setting up online courses, like the one you are taking right now. This course was originally on a site provided by www.Ning.com. Ning provides community sites at no charge, but with charges for premium services such as sites with no advertising.

Once an author gives a webinar from a PowerPoint presentation or live video presentation, the author has created new intellectual property that can be used to create video movies that can be viewed by countless viewers on YouTube and on private sites like this one.

Book Trailers

A book trailer is a short movie with visuals and perhaps audio about the author’s book with the intent to entice the viewer to buy the book. The easiest way to make a book trailer is to create a PowerPoint presentation with some special effects, record some audio for each slide (or leave it with no audio or just a musical background) and then to save it as a movie file. Some authors also create book trailers with a video of the author talking about the book.

You can find many samples of book trailers on www.YouTube.com and you can see a sample on an author’s web site here: http://flourishleadership.com/.


Podcasts are short, free audios that can be downloaded and listened to on your computer or MP3 player. You could interview someone or have someone interview you—or you could just pontificate on a subject that might interest your readers. Podcasts can be created using a hand-held digital recording device, or they can be recorded over the phone or through the computer.

A simple way to create audios, including teleclasses, is to use the telephone conferencing and recording services of Free Conference Call (www.freeconferencecall.com). They will record the call and make it available to you via an MP3 file format.

You can also record audios and make them available to others using Audio Acrobat (www.AudioAcrobat.com) and then use a free program to edit them – Audacity (www.audacity.sourceforge.net). The resulting MP3 file can be posted to your Web site or added to iTunes to be downloaded by subscribers. Past radio interviews can be repurposed as podcasts as well.

Growing the Mailing List

An important use of the author’s web site is to have a place people who are interested in the author’s work can sign up to be kept up to date on what the author is up to. One of the primary ways you can increase book sales is to build a database of people who want to hear from the author and then regularly communicate with them.

You can use an email marketing online provider like www.iContact.com or www.ConstantContact.com which are services to help collect and organize the Database which also help in creating professional eNewsletters and other communications with templates.

To consistently stay with readers, many authors have an eNewsletter or ezine. It is important to decide with what frequency will you be communicating and then stick with a schedule – will it be weekly, every other week, or once a month?

Another great way to stay in touch is by setting up an autoresponder that sends emails at regular intervals after a purchase or other interaction with your web site. The email marketing providers generally have this capability as well.


eCommerce means you sell products and services directly from the web site. You set the price and you keep the profits. To do this the author will need a merchant account (online bank account) and an online payment gateway, and a shopping cart on the site. The merchant account allows you to take credit card payments. One of the best is Practice Pay Solutions (www.practicepaysolutions.com) that includes both the merchant account and the online payment gateway. The monthly fee is about $20 and then there are also per transaction fees. An online payment gateway is secure bridge between your web site and the credit card payment processing network.

In order to take orders, especially for multiple products, it is important to have a shopping cart to take the order and to calculate shipping charges, etc. Kick Start Cart (www.kickstartcart.com) is one of the most complete, and includes the ability to sell physical as well as electronic products, make affiliate sales and send out receipts, coupons and other materials via a built-in autoresponder, which sends out personalized messages.

Web Site Metrics

It will be important to judge the effectiveness of the author’s website by keeping track of how many visitors come to the site, what pages they visit and when and how they buy. One simple and free metrics program is Google Analytics (www.Google.com/analytics).

Listing the Book on Other Sites

Book Listing Sites

There are web sites intended to allow authors to post their books and info in categories by type of book to help readers find new books and authors. Because they do not generate many sales, the author should not spend too much time listing on these sites, and listings should only be on free sites – there is no point in paying for listings when the best sales-oriented listings are on sites like Amazon.com which are also free. Some of the best of these include:

Affiliate Sales

More and more Web sites are selling other people’s products through affiliate sales. For instance, if you had a book on travel, you would visit the travel agency sites or the travel gear or apparel sites to find out whether selling your book on their site would be beneficial for both of you. They would add to their product offerings, and you would sell your book, giving them a small percentage. You can do the same thing on the site by affiliating with other authors whose books are complementary to your author’s book. You must determine what commission percentage you are willing to pay on sales from others’ sites, but typically they are 30% to 40% (although they could be from 5% to 75%). Amazon.com makes it easy to sell their products from your site with the Amazon affiliates program.

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