Summary. Below is an article from Dan Moench, Marketing Director at Gibbs Smith Publisher.
The article offers some excellent suggestions for authors to consider when planning to create a website.
These guidelines probably apply to other industries as well.
Specifically, the article addresses how focused or broad you should be with your website title and online identity (brand).
The advice is consistent with what I’ve recommended for people, so I thought I’d simply post the article here.
2 February 2012
I hope the first month of the new year has treated you all well, and that you are still working hard on your resolutions. No one has given up yet, right? Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about what I wanted to say during this month, and a few experiences and interactions have helped me decide that I would talk about this new word which I’ve been using, which I’m pretty sure is not even a word at all. That is, “cross-discoverability”.
Not all of you are authors for the same reason. For some it is your livelihood, for others it is primarily a way to market yourself or your business, and for some it may simply be a hobby that also happens to earn an income. But whatever the reason, I will go out on a limb and assume that all of you are interested in selling books, and more of them. So I want to help you to be able to do just that. As an author there are many things you can do to help your books sell, but truly effective authors do the right things, not everything.
The idea behind cross-discoverability is that everything you do should work together towards the greater good of getting your book sold. Like logs in a fire – which create more heat together than apart – you want overlap in your marketing so that you really get something heating up. Instead of trying to outline every possible use of this concept, I’ll just use an example which illustrates the point, and hopefully you can take the idea and work it into whatever you are doing.
Many times when authors come out with a new book, whether it’s their first, second, or tenth, they get the urge to create a website (or at least Facebook page) just for that particular book, let’s call it My Great Book by Jane Doe. So they go online, registerwww.mygreatbook.com and immediately start pushing their audience to that website. Let’s say they are successful, and get a regular audience of 5,000 people to that site a month. That’s great. Now, what happens two years later, when Jane Doe writes her latest book, Another Awesome Book? Should she go start another website,www.anotherawesomebook.com, and manage both of them? Does she begin corralling people from scratch to now head to the new website? Does she tell everyone from www.mygreatbook.com to head over to the new website? What if she wants to send a message to all of her followers – does she make two posts, one on each site? You are starting to see the issues here – Jane may have two logs burning, but does she really have a fire?
For the same reason that General Motors isn’t called “Truck Co”, and McDonald’s isn’t called “Hamburgers Inc”, you don’t want to limit your branding to a specific title. Yes, General Motors sells trucks, and yes, McDonald’s sells hamburgers, but that isn’t all they do. As an author, you don’t only write one book and you probably don’t only write books. The principle of cross-discoverability would suggest that had Jane created a website revolving around herself, www.writingsofjane.com, when her second book came out she would have already had an attentive audience in once place to which she could announce the news. Her third, fourth, and tenth book, all get the same treatment, and they therefore benefit from each other. If I am a huge Jane Doe fan, I can follow one site and get everything I need. Facebook is popular for just this same reason; I can follow multiple companies/people/etc in one news feed, rather than checking 15 different websites each day.
The biggest successes we’ve seen, especially recently, come from authors who (1) have their own audience, and (2) can market to that entire audience in an organized way. As an author, you should realize that you are the brand people care about, and your books (and whatever else you may do) are your products. Market your brand first and foremost, and use your brand to market your products.
As always, I appreciate your feedback. I hope these letters are helpful to you. I’d sure like to know if they aren’t! We are working hard to continue to build momentum with our brand and our own products, and I’m delighted to get to share what we learn with each of you, our authors. Please write/call/mail any of your thoughts directly to me. May 2012 be a great year for all of us!
p.s. Oh and one last thing… if/when you do plan on building a website, make sure you get the name registered before you start telling people about it. I just read through a book proposal where the author stated that he would be building a website, and I verified that he had not purchased the domain name yet. This opens up the field for “squatters” – who purchase domain names only to hold them at ransom. So act before you speak!
Gibbs Smith Publisher