Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Keeping It Up

I've needed a website facelift for many years now.

Not only was it woefully outdated, but it had become a klugey Frankenstein monster with too much information, little of it relevant.

I was lucky to hire Maddee James of www.xuni.com (who does my friend Barry Eisler's website, among countless other terrific author sites, and she's in constant demand) to give JAKonrath.com a much-needed reboot.

Whoever has their name on the most pieces of paper, wins. I wrote that blog in 2010 when ebooks were just coming into their own, and I was right. The more places you're visible, the more likely you are to be discovered. Discovery leads to some sales, sales lead to some reads, reads lead to some fans, fans lead to some super-fans who buy everything.

All because they ran across you while searching for something else.

That last point is key. Anyone looking for you can easily find you. But you want people to find you who weren't looking for you.

I'm fond of saying that sales isn't about selling a book to someone who doesn't want it, rather it's making those who want to buy your kind of book aware it exists.

This is about visibility. And one of your main sources of visibility is your webpage.

Your webpage is a place where people who have casually heard about you can learn more about you. It's also a place where people have the chance to stumble upon you, or be referred to you.

Like your ebooks, your website should be clean, professional, and sticky; there should be enough there to make people enjoy their visit and stick around for more than a few seconds. Your website should inform and entertain. It should also be incredibly easy for a browser to instantly buy your books. The fewer steps between awareness and purchase, the better.

Years ago, I was of the idea that websites needed to be large and full of content. I had videos, reviews, free stuff, a forum, tips for writers, photos, games, and lots of stuff that kept people away from the point of the website: to inform them enough about me and my work to assist in their decision to buy.

Maddee has streamlined my website, and made it an attractive way to give readers the most amount of information in the quickest, easiest way possible.

And I'm very pleased with the result. The site is easy to navigate, my books easy to find and buy, and my FAQ reflecting the majority of the things that come up when people meet me or email me.

If you're an author, a website is one more way for people to discover you and learn about you. But it is more than just a discovery tool. I'm convinced that as the ebook revolution continues, success will be as much about reminding fans that you exist as it will about finding new fans.

If you're an author who has sold over 10,000 ebooks, you likely have fans who want to read everything you write. But only a small percentage of those fans will actively search for your latest material on a regular basis to see if anything new has been published.

Your website should be regularly updated to show what's new, and you should have a newsletter that reminds fans you exist, and lets them know what is newly available.

This is a no-brainer. But how many of you actually do it? And if you do it, how consistent are you?

Some people aren't on Twitter and Facebook. Some readers have so much content to choose from, they aren't looking for you even though they liked your previous books.

It's your job to remind them. Shoot for once a month if you're steadily releasing new work, or quarterly if you have less to update.

Name recognition and branding and fans aren't enough to support a career if people don't know you've just released a new book. Social media is used extensively by our secular writing community, but I've seen no evidence it is widely adopted by readers. Make it as simple as possible to let fans know you're still around and writing books.

I encourage everyone who hasn't to sign up for my newsletter on my new website. I'll be sending it out this week.

In the meantime, get your shit updated. You'll keep missing sales until you do.

I give Maddee and xuni.com my highest recommendation. It is a true pleasure working with her.