Pub Rants

New Rules For Promotion

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STATUS: Boy, I’m not off to a good blogging start in this new year but I promise that I’m not flaking out either. I still plan to blog M-F like normal. I just need to get control of the chaos first!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WHEN IT’S SLEEPY TIME DOWN SOUTH by Louis Armstrong

Last week I spoke on a panel at the Boulder Bookstore with publicity expert Bella Stander where she outlined for the audience 5 new “rules” that soon-to-be published authors need to know. In fact, we had lunch a week or two before then and that’s when she first unveiled them.

The minute she spoke them aloud, I knew I had to share with my blog readers because I hadn’t thought of this before but she’s spot on.

Most of you already know this but if for some reason you don’t, I’ll tell you the number one rule right now. If you are a published author (or about to be), you need a website. And not some do-it-yourselfer page by the way. You want to pay someone for his or her expertise in this field because that does make a difference.

But here’s what most authors don’t know. That website needs to be up and ready before the book is actually published. In fact, that website should be up and running when the catalog copy is being done for your book.

Why? Because your publisher is going to be sending out ARCs to reviewers and to other terrific people who have the power to give you a plug, and it’s at that moment in time when they might want to find information about you and the book quickly and easily. What better way than through your website?

Darn straight! Consider this a new rule to live by and if you want to check out the other four, click here.

21 Responses

  1. Ghost Girl said:

    Thanks for the heads-up, Kristin. Now, can your next blog give some suggestions for what kinds of things should be on your website? Should it be interactive, include blog links, … We do we start?

  2. Heather said:

    As a professional web developer myself, let me EMPHASIZE strongly the importance of a professionally designed site. Do-it-yourself may save money, but it can cost you money in the long run… nothing makes me run from a potential business transaction like a site that doesn’t even have the trappings of skill attached.

    There are elements of design and usability that someone who isn’t a professional just doesn’t know… and can make or break a website.

    I’ll be able to make my own site when the time comes, but I figure I can call myself a professional, since I have a degree. 🙂

  3. Getting There With a Passion said:

    Well then,

    I ‘spose it’s time to send off those blackmail letters to the couple of graphic and web designers I know. ; ) Another leaf in the To Do book. Thanks Kristin – Reading Under the Covers was informative.

    -Rachel Glass, Utah

  4. Anonymous said:

    Now, can your next blog give some suggestions for what kinds of things should be on your website? Should it be interactive, include blog links, … We do we start?

    Doesn’t matter. Just make sure it has lots of flashing things and a few automatically scrolling widgets to make it look like there’s a lot going on. And be sure to use either a pale font on a light background or a dark font on a dark background, or a medium font on a kaleidoscope background.

    Actually, the best thing you can do is to look around at 10 or so author/book sites and find the ones you like and the ones you hate. Make yours like the ones you like and NOT like the ones you don’t like.

    If you’re hiring a good designer and you give that designer a list of 5 or 6 sites you like, you should get back some concepts that will suit you.

  5. Joelle said:

    I think it was Miss Snark that said this at a time when I was listening and so I hired someone and got one up(lots of people say this, not just Miss Snark, of course). However, what struck me was she said that while a writer is looking for an agent, and while the agent is shopping the manuscript, were important times for a writer to have a website too because agents and editors will check it out. It shows that not only is the writer committed, but that she is capable of regular updates. She also said that it would get writers in the habit of regular updates at a time when things weren’t crazy-busy and so when they were, keeping it updated would be just something the writer was used to doing and not an added task. Lastly, if you generate blog readers, then you get future book readers too.

    I know I have bought books by people whose blogs/websites I love and never would’ve heard of if they didn’t have a website.


  6. Heidi the Hick said:

    Kristin, could you possibly tell us a little more about when to launch the website?

    It needs to be ready before the publication date. That makes perfect sense. But should I have it ready when I’m querying? (Above, Joelle mentioned agents and editors looking at sites.)

    Or is that something that an agent and writer decide together?

    I’m so glad to hear you say that it needs to be professionally done. I admit that I’m very influenced by websites. If it looks cheap, I assume that the person behind it is cheap. I don’t want to be that person!!!

  7. Tia Nevitt said:

    This is so true. I run a review blog and I get ARCs all the time, and I always look for and link to the author’s blog. I also continue to follow the blogs of the authors I feature, often posting shout-outs from my blog to the author’s blog. Whenever I encounter an author without a blog, I always scratch my head and wonder why.

    Lisa Shearin has a great blog, which I read every day.

  8. Anonymous said:

    Thank you for the tip. I’ve been going back and forth on this (MS about ready to be sent out) and thought I was jumping the gun a little. Thanks again!

  9. Christine Fletcher said:

    Kimber An, your poem made me laugh out loud. And I heartily second it. Bella rocks! I also second (or third) getting one’s site professionally done. An author’s face to the world are her book(s) and her website. An amateur website is like answering the door in curlers and a tatty, cat-hair covered robe. It looks like you either don’t know better or don’t care. Not a good impression.

  10. superwench83 said:

    Whether an author uses a professionally-designed site or not, I think it’s a good idea for him/her to at least know the basics of how a site is built. It makes those monthly updates a lot easier to do if you have some idea about the workings of HTML.

    I agree about a professionally-designed site, for the most part, for about 99% of the time. But if an author has a firm grasp of design–say that person is a graphic designer, though not a website designer–they could probably build a fine website if they wanted to take the time to learn HTML and CSS. But I think “if” is the key word. Gaining a basic understanding of those things doesn’t take much time, but learning enough to build a good website is a whole other story. And if the author wants a huge and complicated site instead of something small and simple, then yeah, that’s something to leave to the professionals.

  11. Doreen Orion said:

    My book is pub’ing in June and I just recently launched my author website. I used a company that specifically does author sites (recommended by Bella on her site). They did such an amazing job (my editor, agent – and others – have told me it’s the best author website they’ve ever seen) that I discovered another big plus to having a truly fabulous author website: It lets the publisher know that you are serious about promoting your book and gets the sales force excited about it (something we all want, of course). I’ve also heard from other authors that the more you do for your book, the more your publisher wants to do.

    As for URLs: Since my name seems to confound people as to the spelling, I got two URLs, both pointing to the same site, ie and (I had to add “thebook” after the name of the book, since the name of the book was already taken.)

    Hope this is helpful.

  12. sb said:

    I totally agree! I read author websites all the time! I love the ones that have bonus chapters or sneak peaks.

    My students go nuts for them too. Oddly enough, they also really like my myspace. It is just my myspace as a teacher (I created it last year when our district website wasn’t working so I could post homework.)

    Every once and a while they post on my myspace because they are bored. My bf searches Myspace music for his bands. I have some bands that don’t have their on websites, but have a myspace. I know of a couple YA authors with myspace and the cool thing is once you are friended, the kids friends will see you on their friends list and can easily add you. It seems like more and more authors are doing websites/myspace packages. A like to the website on the myspace and a link to the myspace on the website.

  13. Anne Bradshaw said:

    What an interesting blog. Glad I found it today.

    I’ve been using a website and a blog for a while now, but have no idea if I’m doing it right. I just go with the flow and post about things that interest me, in the hope they’ll interest others. Not too personal stuff–more general and informative.

    So far, I’ve had over 12,000 visitors, so I must be doing something right. But what??