Why a *pre-publication* web presence is important
At this point, pretty much everyone is convinced of the value of an author’s web presence. Yay. But I’ve seen too many authors shoot for the book’s publication date (or a couple weeks before) as the launch date for their website.
This is about four months too late.
Typically, four to six months before the hardcover publication of a book, the publicity department sends out galleys to magazine and newspaper book editors as well as to some broadcast producers and online journalists. When I follow up with galley recipients, I’ll include some information about the book in the text of my email message, but it’s helpful for me to be able to link to more information online — links are an extremely effective and unobtrusive way for book publicists to provide the media with the additional details that could sell a writer or editor on a book. They are also vital tools for bloggers whose posts are lent credibility by links that direct readers to further information.
I’m not saying the complete author website needs to be up and ready six months before the book’s publication date. I’m not even saying the author has to have a web site at all. But I am saying it’s a really, really good idea for *something* — a website, a social networking profile, a blog — to be accessible when galleys are mailed out. An author without a web presence is a bit like the proverbial tree falling in a forest with no one around.
The more information a website has the better, of course, but it’s also okay also to add to the site in stages. Realistically, busy authors may simply not have the time or the money to create beautiful websites at this stage in the game (or ever). Here are a few quick and cheap suggestions for getting online fast:
— Create a website with basic information first: If you don’t have or don’t know a lot of information (blurbs, book tour dates, etc.), first create the website with the basic information that you do have: a JPEG of the book cover, an author bio and a summary of the book. Make sure to mention both the publication date of the book as well as the publishing house and include contact information for the author and / or book publicist. Your publishing house can suggest web designers that work within a variety of budgets, but you can also put together a website yourself for free. (Of course, these sites look like they’ve been put together for free, but because all the hard, program-my stuff has been built in to the templates, all you need to do is follow a few basic instructions.)
— Add the cover and a tag line to an existing author website: Many authors who already have websites will initially post just the cover of their upcoming book and its publication date. This is a simple and effective way to get the word out about a new book. (Just don’t forget to go back later and add more information about it!)
— Create a Facebook fan page for the book or a profile for yourself: If you don’t have the time and / or money to create or update a website, create a Facebook book fan page / author profile for free. You should post the JPEG of the cover as well as your bio, a summary of the book, and contact information. Make sure to mention both the publication date of the book as well as the publishing house.
For authors who can invest the time in a robust web presence (which is almost always a good idea these days), you can find more information about social networking on this site or you can check my blogroll (on the right side of the page) for other helpful blogs, but the suggestions above cover some of the basics. Anyone have other ideas for how authors can establish a web presence quickly and cheaply?
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Fall 2012: I’ve really enjoyed writing about book publicity and meeting (0nline and in person) writers, publicists, editors, agents and others in the publishing industry, but I’ve — reluctantly — come to the conclusion that I just don’t have the time to maintain this blog.
I imagine there is some information that will remain the same and that will remain useful, but there is much more that is or will become out of date, so please keep that in mind if you find yourself perusing my posts.
For some time now, I’ve closely followed a lot of very informative sites about media and about the publishing industry. Since I find myself quite voluble at times about issues that pertain to my job in the publicity department at a large publishing house, I thought I’d set up a book publicity blog. The purpose of this blog is provide tips, primarily, but also information about publishing / marketing trends that will help book publicists — and hopefully others in media and publishing — do our jobs with greater ease and efficiency. Please note that the opinions expressed on this blog are my own, not those of my company.
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