Domain Names: Author or Book-Based?: Jennifer Mattern

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend. As you are reading this, I am on my way to the zoo with my wife and three year old twin boys. On top pf that, I am thrilled that I think I finally have my computer issues behind me.

To help us get back into the swing of things after the holiday, I have invited Jennifer Mattern as a guest writer today. She is a freelance business writer and blogger who lives book marketing and has powerful tools and skills to help authors market their books. Today, she shares with us her ideas on the question that every author asks themselves at one point or another: Should I get a web domain with my name or my book?

Domain Names: Author or Book-Based?
Jennifer Mattern

In this day and age where authors are often expected to take on a significant role in the marketing of their books, you may have to setup and manage your own website. One of the first decisions you’ll have to make is what domain name will serve as the address of your site.

Should you base your domain name on the book title, or is it better to create an author-centric site?

The Argument for Author-Based Domain Names

More often than not, I hear authors argue that they don’t want to go with a book-based domain name because they feel they’ll be limiting themselves. By choosing a domain based on their own name or pseudonym, they can launch an author site or blog where they can promote all of their existing and future books.

It’s not a bad argument, but it lacks something on the promotional front.

Why an Author-Based Domain Name Isn’t Enough

The problem with using an author-based domain alone is one of branding. Authors need to consider two sides–book (or series) branding and personal branding.

When you launch an author website or blog, you’re building your personal brand. That can absolutely help your book sales. An even better option, though, is to combine your personal website / brand with the separate branding of your book.

One of the best ways to do that is to register both an author-centric and book-based domain name.

Benefits of Adding a Book-Based Domain

While an author site can do a lot to help you promote your book(s), you need to think about all of the ways people might find you and what they’ll be looking for when they arrive at your site.

Think about search engines. Many people underestimate the value of a keyword-rich domain name, yet they can play a significant role in where your site will rank when someone searches for your book title. A domain tied directly to the title will often be ranked better than a simple page on your author site, even if the content were relatively similar. There are many factors, but domains have traditionally helped in securing better placements. And remember, you’ll be competing with much larger and older sites like Amazon.com in those search results for your book.

Also consider other aspects of promoting the book. When you give a radio interview, you don’t want to give a long URL (site address) for people to find information about your book. Rather than directing them to an inner page, or telling them to go to your site and find the information on their own, it’s more convenient to those listeners if you give them a direct domain pointing to information about your book. Targeted domains can also work out better in print promotional materials.

Why Both Options Work Well Together

When you’re publishing your first book, the thought of managing only one site may be appealing. It’s important to consider the future though. If you setup an author site focused on your new book, you may limit yourself in the long run. What happens if you write another book appealing to an entirely different audience (worse, one that your original book’s audience may find offensive)? What if you move from fiction to nonfiction, or vice-versa?

Your platform and promotional tools have to adjust with your writing career. The best way to do that when it comes to running websites or blogs is to have a book or series-specific website and a separate author website which can be used to share more personal information with readers, talk about projects in the works, and promote all of your books by linking to their sites.

The added expense of a second domain is minimal (generally less than $10 per year), and many Web hosting providers will allow you to host both sites under the same account at no added cost. While it’s great if you can outsource a custom design (or design your own site), it really isn’t necessary in most cases–you only have that expense if you choose to. You could even minimize the added work by managing a blog only on the author site, and create static (unchanging) sites for your book-oriented domains. When you think about the branding and promotion of your book, the benefits of a book-based domain name far outweigh any typical objections. And if nothing else, remember this–if you don’t register that domain tied to your book, someone else will.

About the Author

Jennifer Mattern is a freelance business writer and blogger, and former online PR specialist who worked with authors, musicians, and small business owners on Web-based marketing and PR initiatives. She blogs at www.AllFreelanceWriting.com, and recently launched her own book-based site for a nonfiction book-in-progress at www.QueryFreeFreelancer.com.

10 Responses to “Domain Names: Author or Book-Based?: Jennifer Mattern” Subscribe

  1. L. Diane Wolfe May 26, 2009 at 4:46 pm #

    Nice to know I did something right! I’d branded myself Spunk on a Stick years ago, and that site focuses on my professional speaker and my non-fiction books. I also have a YA series of five, and maintain a separate website for The Circle of Friends.

    L. Diane Wolfe
    http://www.circleoffriendsbooks.blogspot.com
    http://www.spunkonastick.net
    http://www.thecircleoffriends.net

  2. Jenn Mattern May 26, 2009 at 10:06 pm #

    I think a lot of authors do get it right. Unfortunately they’re not always the ones talking about the issue because it’s just something they do out of common sense. So we end up with a lot of half-information out there for those really looking for help making a decision.

    The fact that you have a series is a perfect case for the book-oriented domains – what could be more brandable in publishing than a good series? :)

  3. Dana Lynn Smith July 7, 2009 at 7:45 pm #

    Great article Jennifer. Another idea to consider — if your nonfiction book title doesn’t contain your most important keywords (it should!) you can also register a domain name containing the phrase that people are most likely to search for on search engines. I’ve had good results with my domain http://www.SellingtoLibraries.com

    Dana

  4. Jennifer Mattern July 7, 2009 at 9:17 pm #

    Good point Dana. In that case, I’d also suggest registering the domain related to the title of the book, and redirecting it. The same would be true of anything very similar that people might type in when looking for your site (or that others may register to exploit your book’s audience base).

    For example, I’m working on a book that will be called The Query-Free Freelancer. I launched the blog first to start establishing an audience. That site is QueryFreeFreelancer.com. But I also registered TheQueryFreeFreelancer.com, QueryFreeFreelancing.com, and QueryFreeWriter.com (to tie to my QueryFreeWriter twitter handle). You don’t necessarily need that many, but I’d go with at least the keyword rich domain and the book title.

  5. Jason Witt July 8, 2009 at 2:10 am #

    You can always register your book title and just have that domain point to your name domain. That’s what I do. Then they can enter in the title of your book and reach your author website. Multiple book titles will all reach the same website and can land on different sales pages inside it. The only drawback is that your name domain will rank better with all kinds of links on blog comments and such but you can’t put your book title domains there if they only point to a hosted website with your name. That’s because they won’t help out the ranking of your name domain.

  6. Jenn Mattern July 8, 2009 at 2:54 am #

    That can work, but the SEO issues can be significant if your book is in a competitive field. In that case, you’ll likely be better off with the separate site completely customized and optimized for the keywords surrounding the book. That’s also true if you have several books in different niches.

  7. Hutchinson May 7, 2010 at 4:57 am #

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  8. sietske May 8, 2011 at 12:05 am #

    Cool tips. But if you write a lot of books, you’ll have to buy a lot of book based domain names.

  9. Grace May 16, 2011 at 7:36 am #

    Great tips. Keep posting the good work in future too.

  10. Being Me September 12, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    You’ve sold me. I have been thinking about this for months. I already have my own name .com, but on the back of reading this article I’ve now registered my book domain. Cheers!

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