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?
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.