Self-Publishing Primer: Part 13 – Do I need a Web site … and should I make my book available as an e-book?

You will find links to the other posts in the series at Self-Publishing Primer.

Writers who expect to sell their books in personal appearances or through brick-and-mortar stores may not see the value of having a Web site. But even if you don’t want to sell your books online, it’s important to have your own Web site:

  • Readers and the media expect writers to have Web sites. Journalists are using the Internet more and more for sources, and you want to be findable if a reporter is doing a story related to the subject of your book.
  • You can provide more information about your book and yourself than what is on the back cover or in an online bookstore. Readers love to find out “inside information,” like why you came to write your story, and they like to read excerpts -which can lead to sales when they get hooked on the story and want to know what happens.
  • You can use your Web site content to demonstrate your expertise and establish credibility. A blog or articles about something related to your book provide a valuable service to Web site visitors searching for information. When readers find the information you provide interesting or helpful – or both – they are more likely to buy your book.
  • You can use your Web site and an e-mail list created from site visitors to keep readers informed of your booksignings, speaking engagements, and other events … and you can promote your next book.
  • You can sell books from your Web site, or, if you prefer not to take orders online, you can link to an online bookstore that carries your books. However, remember that you will give a 40% to 55% discount to the bookstore, and you will be selling the book at retail on your Web site. Selling your own books on your own Web site, like personal selling, will be more profitable than selling through other distribution channels.

Many authors don’t see the need to publish their books in electronic formats because they don’t really understand the advantages of e-books:

  • The costs of production and distribution are negligible. Once you create an electronic file, you can offer it for download over and over again with no printing, shipping, warehousing, or distribution expenses.
  • E-books can be read on numerous devices, not just at the computer. eBookMall and Fictionwise have information on a number of different devices, including PDAs, handheld computers, and dedicated reading devices. Readers who enjoy e-books usually have a favorite device. I prefer to read e-books because my eyesight is very bad, and I can adjust the font and lighting on my eBookWise reader for more comfortable reading than most print books.
  • Some avid readers prefer to buy e-books because they cost less and don’t take up space on their bookshelves. They can buy more books with their book-buying budget.
  • The lower price of e-books encourages readers to try new authors and publishers – if they don’t like the book, they haven’t wasted a lot of money. If they really like the book, these same readers will often buy a print copy as well for their “keeper shelf.”
  • Readers who are looking for something to read NOW may order an e-book online when they wouldn’t (or couldn’t) make a trip to a bookstore or wait for delivery of a print book from an online store.
  • E-book stores will carry your book for you if you prefer not to, but it’s fairly simple to deliver e-books on your own Web site.
  • Publishing your book in electronic format will give you more opportunities to sell more books to more readers.

For other views on Web sites and e-books, read these articles:

Next, in the final installment of this series, we’ll talk about promoting and marketing your books.

[tags]publishing, self-publishing, writing[/tags]

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