How to Use Your Website to Sell Your Novel

Shooting dollars at bull's-eye with arrows.


You're done with writing that novel. Finally, it’s time for the money to start rolling in. Ka-ching.

Seven months down the line and…

Nothing.

No money.

No ka-ching.

$100 at the most.

In desperation to make money from your novel, Google becomes your friend. He tells you to use a website to sell your fiction.

A website? A blog?

That's like going on a space trip to Mars. But you don your spacesuit and walk with measured steps into the spaceship, so no-one will see your shaking legs.

You finally arrive at Mars to promote your book with your blog.

The ka-ching doesn't happen.

Worse, your creativity runs further away with each blog post.

You come back to your senses and travel back to Planet Earth. Using your website to make money from your book must be a waste of time, you conclude.

Can your website send buyers constantly to your book? Yes, it can.

But first of all you've got to understand what blogging really is in terms of your novel.

Blogging to sell your novel is like building Startup 2 (a website) to finance Startup 1 (novels).

It takes a long time to yield tangible fruits.

Or your spending money on marketing to yield fast profit.

Or high blogging expertise to make results quicker.

This is why it fails a lot of times.

If you're blogging for the sole purpose of making money from your novels, you might get frustrated.

But if you're trying to help writers. Or create awareness. Or express yourself. Or any other thing that will be added to promoting your book, it will help.

Benefits of Blogging to Promote Your Book:

Selling novels alone can bring profit. But unless you’re the Beyonce of the fiction writing world, you can't just drop a novel titled Lemonade and wake up the next morning to an overnight success.

You'll have to restart most of your marketing with the next novel.

Owning your author website is different. With it, you can:

  • Have die-hard fans and know them.
  • Build a community and structure your fiction writing career.
  • Make profit through multiple streams of income (blogging opens doors to both passive and non-passive income from your novel).
  • Think more like an entrepreneur and marketer (these two are important in book sales).
  • Gain more freedom with publishers. When you have a huge buying fan base on your website, you can make decisions with publishers instead of their making decision for you. Better still, you can get your fans to market for you, sign movie deals and make a new novel a sensation just by mentioning that you want to write your next novel titled Abc.

“But I hate writing non-fiction. Blog articles are non-fiction,” you think.

“I'm not tech savvy enough to have a good website,” you think.

Hold up.

You want to make as much money as possible from your novel, don't you?

Then wrap that thought and throw it into the refuse bin.

You don't need to be so tech savvy or write lots of nonfiction to have a constantly updated author’s website. That's for another article. Let's move on.

What You're Trying to Achieve With Your Website:

  1. Create a sales funnel for your books.
  2. Create a sales funnel for your brand.

The first one will get you buyers and readers. The second will attract die-hard fans that buy your book in a frenzy.

Your brand isn't just your books. It's your style of writing, your personality, your quirks.

It has to do with a world your readers can join in creating and expanding. It's the creative projects from your book that will bring in multiple streams of income.

Routes to Creating A Successful Author Brand From Your Website:

There are three routes to blogging as a fiction author.

Building:

Massive building under construction in France

Build the blog. Put all the parts together. And patiently wait for results.

This requires hard work and time.


Money Power:

A piled up, mountain of gold

Hire people to build your blog, market your book, get an audience - the whole enchilada.

If you know where to spend your money, what to pay for, who to hire, and what to buy; this can yield insanely fast results.

Leverage:

Network of different people that's multiplying

Get the audience and profit by using other networks.

This creates a multiplying effect since you're using other people's effort.

So, what should you do?

Should you spend months or years blogging before getting the audience that loves you no matter what?

Should you dish out money to people who will maintain your website, and create relationships with novel authors and genre influencers?

Or should you forget this blogging thing and concentrate on writing fiction?

Discover the power of AND. Work with a combination of all three.

Build your website and spend money to market your novel and use the power of leverage.

Steps to Take to Sell/Promote Your Novel With Your Website:

Turning a book into a money machine from your website isn't a one-way thing. It involves taking advantage of all the methods you can.

It involves promoting your book before the launch, during the launch, and after. It is constant novel marketing.

It involves:
  1. Tools on your website.
  2. Engaging your customers.
  3. Leveraging other networks.

A) Tools Your Website Should Have:

Tools for building a house

Your website should have several tools in order to become a fully professional author's website. They are:

  1. An About page.
  2. Contact page.
  3. Blog page. 
  4. Bio/banner. 
  5. 'My Books'page. 
  6. Landing page.
  7. Online bookstore. 
  8. Email signup form.
  9.  Frequently asked questions (faq)

About Page:

This page should talk about you, why you became an author, etc. It should be your author resume.

Contact Page:

It should get people to fill a contact form that will send a message directly to your email. You can also put your social media handles here for people to contact you.

Blog Page:

Here, you post articles.

Bio/Banner:

You should have a bio at the end of every article. Or a banner of yourself and your books at the top of every page.

In other words, your readers should see a picture of you and your product everywhere on your website.

The bio or banner should have a sales link or a link to promote your upcoming book.

‘My Books’ Page:

You should have a special page for your books and potential books.

Place the link to this page with a catchy picture everywhere on your site - your banner, sidebar, bio, about page and contact page.

Put a picture of your books on your books page whether you've published them or not.

If they're published, place a link to where people can buy them. If they're not, place a picture and tentative title and call them upcoming books.

Then make sure that each book’s picture is a link to a landing page for the book.

Landing Page:

The landing page for your book should be a fun and entertaining sales copy. It should have the following:

  • A video book trailer.
  • A review book button.
  • A summary of why you wrote the book or/and a blurb of your book. Write it for upcoming books as well.
  • A link to online bookstores. Don't stick to Amazon alone. Cast your net wide and try to sell in different online stores. That way, you can make more sales. Remember that all of them have different marketing techniques to get to the bestselling list. Even Amazon Australia has a different technique from Amazon UK or Amazon US.
  • A link to your own online bookstore.

Your Online Bookstore:

Have an online book store. This bookstore should be more valuable than other stores.

For example, if someone buys books from your store, they can get a freebie delivered to their inbox.

This will attract customers to you.

That way, you can study your customers and know what they prefer.

You can get their email addresses, and notify them of new books.

You can also nurture a relationship with them and they'll become die-hard fans.

Aside from that, your store should have a free feature where potential buyers can read ten to thirty percent of your book free.

You can also put up your table of contents. If your titles are attention grabbing, they'll generate curiosity and entice readers to buy.

Email Signup Form:

This is the main connection between you and your readers. It's the middleman.

It can help you engage with your customers and know what they want. Or they can sign up and receive mails from you later.

You can use the email signup form for:

  • Freebies.
  • Book reviews.
  • Beta-readers.
  • Exclusives.
  • Book Sales.
  • Notification on blog articles.
  • Newsletters.
  • Announcement of book and product launch dates, and other important facts to readers.
  • Competitions and contests.
  • Surveys.

FAQ:

A frequently asked question will help your readers know about your book and let them concentrate on reading your content. It will also make you look more professional and give you a better authority status.

Before you launch the book, you might not have a lot of faqs. Except you're asking readers to pre-order your book.

But as time goes on the questions will pile up. Make sure you add them.

FAQs should be sent to all those talking about or promoting your book in anyway - readers, marketers and other authors.

B) Engage Your Readers:

Boy reading book intensely

What kind of readers do you want?

A reader who reads one book and doesn't come back? Or a reader who's begging you to publish the next book in the series?

The second reader is a die-hard fan.

Engaging your readers gets you the second kind. Here's what to do:

  1. Write blog articles.
  2. Give out freebies.
  3. Give out exclusives. 
  4. Conduct competitions and contests.
  5. Let your readers be involved in the creative process.
  6. Get beta-readers and reviewers.
  7. Use surveys and questionnaires. 
  8. Subscribe to readers' platforms.

Write Blog Articles:

The first rule to engaging your readers is to write, write and write.

Find topics that are geared towards readers not writers.

There's a difference between the two and what you choose will set the tone for your writing career. But some authors end up catering to writers when they're looking for readers.

There are so many things to blog about as a fiction author.

You can talk about your book. And your process of writing it. You can put up samples of your writing. Or an excerpt from your novel.

For example, I'm planning to publish a devotional. I already have samples of my work here and here.

Make sure every article has a link to your ‘My Books’ page. Or a sales link to the current book you're launching.

When you're done writing, post your article on social media.

But what if you hate writing nonfiction?

You don't have to write non-fiction all the time. You can write fiction (short stories) or creative nonfiction. You can be creative in your writing, like I did in my challenge article and the post about why I became an author.

You can write a few SEO optimised non-fiction articles and used them as curated link posts for your fiction articles.

The important thing is to blog regularly and consistently. Choose a timeframe and stick to it. Once a week. Twice a week. Choose something.

And try to add variety to your content if you can.

Make it a written, audio or video post. Let your pictures tell a story. Add a doodle, drawing, cutout of newspaper clippings or comic if you're the artistic type.

Make your blog a place where readers can enjoy reading more content that's yours. Remember to respond to their comments.

Give Out Freebies:

Give your readers lots of freebies. They can be:

  • A free short story.
  • A behind-the-scenes account of one of your novels or extra background of a character.
  • A compilation of several blog posts.

Give them freebies to make them subscribe to your website by email, or buy your books from your online store.

Give them freebies to make them advertise your book and get others to buy it.

Give it to them as a reward for competitions and contests.

You can recycle these freebies and use them over and over again.

Give Out Exclusives:

There's something about subscribers knowing that they're the only ones in possession of a book. It makes them feel special and increases their loyalty to you.

Give your subscribers free or paid exclusives that won't be found anywhere else.

To create more loyal buyers, give them a limited version. If you have a behind-the-scenes book, you can decide to sell it to the first hundred buyers or first one thousand, depending on your customer outreach.

You can also give special signed copies to those who pre-order, get buyers for you, or win a competition.

Conduct Competitions and Contests:

Use competitions and contests to generate buzz around your book.

This will create excitement, bring new readers and potential buyers.

Let Your Readers be Involved in the Creative Process:

You can allow your readers create a character, suggest how a character will look, or decide the place/setting an event will happen in your upcoming novel.

You can even turn it into a contest.

This will make them fall in love with your work. When people take action on your novel, it will be easier for them to buy it.

Get Beta-Readers and Reviewers:

Editing your book can be a long grueling process. Why not make it fun and build a community with it by asking your readers to help you.

Ask your subscribers to join a second list of beta readers or/and reviewers. Or use a google form.

You can create a facebook group with the list or any other group of your choice.

Send them a free advanced copy and let them read it within a set timeframe.

They'll give you feedbacks and suggestions. They can even tell you the boring parts of your novel and the parts they love the most.

Early reviews can come out of this. Some of your readers will be on Goodreads, Smashwords and the like.

Or you can create the list exclusively for readers who will give you reviews. Good multiple reviews bring more buyers.

Once in a while, send a gentle reminder for reviews to those who haven't placed it yet.

Use Surveys and Questionnaires:

Create a survey for readers. It will help you know what book they buy more, the novels you should market more, and how to turn them into fans.

Subscribe to Readers' Platforms:

Subscribe to readers' sites, forums, groups and pages.

Actually, you can connect with these people without a website. But a website will give them a chance of subscribing by email and becoming potential die-hard fans.

C) Leveraging Other Networks:

Business handshake between a woman and a man

Let's face it. We need people to succeed.

One person can do so much. Two can make it look like you're an army. That's what leverage does.

Leverage is using other people's time, experience, money or network to become a better author and satisfy your audience.

By engaging your readers, you leverage on their time and experience as readers.

You create better fiction for them, while meeting their immediate need with a freebie, exclusive or more of your books.

By leveraging other authors and networks, you create a working relationship with your pairs. You garner experience and marketing expertise from them.

To maximize your leverage, connect with the following people:

  1.  Paid membership sites that cater to readers.
  2. Author platforms.
  3. Better-known and other authors. 
  4. Niche bloggers.
  5. Mentors.
  6. Virtual book tours.
  7. Bookstores and libraries. 
  8. Big traditional publishers. 
  9. Multiple streams of income.

Paid Membership Sites that Cater to Readers:

The fiction industry is huge. If you can get the owners/administrators of a paid membership site to promote your novel to their members and your novel is good, you're made.

Remember, they are paid members. People who have bought things before and are still customers are likely to buy more things.

If your website is still new or you’re a new author, this is very important.

Your website at this point will have majorly, if not a hundred percent of free readers. It takes some time to persuade free readers to start buying your novels as a new author.

Author Platforms:

This is where you get the details of how to market your book. And recent news in the fiction industry.

There are several author forums, groups, sites and pages. A popular one is 20booksto50k.

Google author platforms and join the one you prefer.

Most of these platforms won't let you market your book or website in the platform. But they'll help you further your writing career and create a strong brand from your website.

Better-known and Other Authors:

These won't give you money directly. But they can promote your book to their network of fans. These fans will buy it. That equals to money.

Remember to always reciprocate their actions.

Creating a relationship with authors in your genre will also give you credibility in the eyes of others. This will position you more as an authority in your field.

How Other Authors Can Promote Your Novel for You:

Newsletter Swap:
Here, another novelist markets your book to his/her email list. You reciprocate the action. With it you can have more paying readers or fans.

Book Reviews:
When you review each other's books, you're marketing the other novelist's books to your readers. And giving the book more credibility in the eyes of potential buyers.

The same goes with your book.

Reviews can be done on your website, the other author’s websites, online stores, readers’ platforms.

Guest Posts:
Guest posting on other websites exposes your work to potential readers and connects you with authors who own the website.

You can go the extra mile. Make a link to your novel’s free section and faq available in your guest posts, other authors reviews and newsletter swaps.

Niche Bloggers:

Talk to niche bloggers that relate to your book. If your book is set in a particular state or you have a special theme in your book, talk to niche bloggers in that area.

Write a guest post for them. Get them to interview you.

The important thing is to create something relevant for them. So that they can expose you to their network of readers.

Mentors:

Alright. There are authors who have been there and done that. Every genre has different influencers at different levels.

Why not connect with them? Let them mentor you.

It will skyrocket your career, and help you make money faster.

The thing is if you don't have a website, they won't take you seriously. Your website is the business card and office they’ll go to before deciding if you're worth their time.

Virtual Book Tours:

Virtual book tours are when you ‘tour’ lots of online platforms within a short period to create buzz around your book.

It can be a review tour, a blog tour, a social media tour or a combination of several.

You'll plan and contact other influencers in your genre, and arrange a time period for your tour.

Then within a period of five days to weeks, you publish lots of guest posts, get interviewed on online radios and blogs, do Google Hangouts, get a lot of reviews etc.

This creates buzz around your book. It gets you email subscribers. If your book is already published, it can shoot you up to the top hundred in the bestsellers list.

It's a way of connecting to readers and influencers. It gets you noticed.

The best part is you can do this any time: pre-launch, during the launch and after the launch. You can even do it every year if you want.

Always link to your website during your virtual book tour.


Let Your Website be a Middleman to Hard Copies, Bookstores and Libraries:

So, you want to make more money from your book? Explore the option of getting hard copies of your book in bookstores and libraries.

Sell your books to libraries. Make your books available to bookstores through print-on-demand. Then make sure your website is the middleman to make sales go smoothly.

Market Your Website to Big Traditional Publishers to Get Good Book Deals:

When your website has hundred of thousands of pageviews monthly. And you've built your Alexa ranking to a very small number. Try to get big traditional publishers to sign a book deal with you.

One or two might have met you by this time. Don't stop at the two.

Market an upcoming book or an extra book in the series to several publishers.

Make sure the information leaks that others are interested in your novel or you're considering other traditional publishers.

Pick the highest bidder with the best deal for you and widest audience outreach.

Take the money and enjoy your life.

Multiple Streams of Income:

This is where the gold pours in. This is where you hear the ka-ching every second. And your grin stretches from ear to ear.

As an author, you're not just a writer. You're a creator.

You create worlds. You bring forth words.

You can create words in written format, audio format or video format. Your novels can turn into movies, fiction podcasts, comics, poems, songs and games.

Your words and illustrations of your characters can be on products like greeting cards, cups, theme parks, clothes etc.

The opportunities are limitless.

That's what's turns the hundreds of thousands into billions.

That's how the big entertainment companies roll. They don't stop at a movie. They create a franchise from the story, movie, characters, etc.

Use your website as the middleman to link to all these.

And whatever you do, be careful how you sell the rights to products made as a result of your novels or characters.

That's the way to use your website to sell your novel.

This might be overwhelming. You may be wondering, when am I going to finish with all these?

Don't sweat it. I'm not done with all of it too.

You don't have to do everything written here at once.

Start with one. Then add another. Keep adding until you've created a money-spinning franchise from your novels.

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