This is a question/ conundrum I hear all the time, and unfortunately, by the time an author asks me this, it’s usually too late.
Q: Do I need a website for each book?
My answer to this is a resounding “NO!” and here is a list of reasons why:
1. Building a website is no easy task (as you might recently have discovered). You absolutely, 100% need an author site (firstnamelastname.com), so you might as well spend the time and money on that one first before branching out into a book-specific site that you’re probably not going to need five years from now. If this news upsets you, I apologize, but look at it this way– at least you built one website rather than six!
2. Speaking “as” a book is awkward and difficult, and often not productive. Many times, I encounter authors who have built (or had people build) two or more websites for books they’ve written, but they still don’t have a website dedicated exclusively to themselves. My “devil’s advocate” question for that scenario is– “Where is the email signup/ social media on this site?” and if they do have this, “Who is going to sign up to receive updates FROM a book?” This does not make sense, usability-wise, because you wrote the book, so technically if they sign up or visit your social media, they are wanting to hear from you. Trust me, Tweeting as a book (or a character in a book) gets old very quickly. Try it and see!
3. You are going to write more books, right? I have rarely met an author with only one book in them. Making a website dedicated to one book means that you’re going to have to make one for the next book, and the next one, and so on (until and unless you stop the insanity by making an author website and talking about all of your work in one place).
4. You are going to get tired of talking about that book. Books have a life cycle like anything else, and when you run out of tour dates, “my book is in the news” pieces, or general posts about the topic of the book, you will want to move on. This will leave the book-specific website to die on the vine.
5. Websites need maintenance. If you read Lisa’s post about keeping your website safe, you’ll notice that “regular maintenance” is on the list. You’ll need to make updates, post news/ blog posts, or at least take your “book tour” schedule down when the tour is over, just to keep the site looking fresh and to keep Google happy. I have rarely met an author who even wants to do this for their own website, much less six websites for six different books. Also, maintaining six different websites is creating needless work for yourself, and this is time you could be spending on writing. Think about the prolific authors that you know– would Stephen King have a website for each book? Meg Cabot? Carolyn Hart? In all cases, the answer is no. These authors are way too busy writing to bother themselves with 100 websites.
6. You are fragmenting your audience and attention. If (and I hope this is true) you are offering a “subscribe” option for each book/ website, you have now given yourself the task of communicating with each audience on a regular basis.
7. You are giving yourself needless cost and hassle. It costs about $10/ year (depending on the registrar) to register a domain, and a out $4/ month to host this domain. Now multiple this by six (or more) books. Why do this to yourself?
How do I know this? Let’s refer to my own personal experiences (mistakes) now, and look at two of my websites:
Here is a website I built for a novel I wrote in 2006 (Hollywood Car Wash).
Here is my author website, where you can also read about this novel and all of my other books.
Can you guess which site gets more traffic? What about if we talk about which site makes me swear every time I have to pay to renew the domain/ hosting and take time doing maintenance updates for, even though I know it is probably not helping me sell more books? Which site gets mostly spam email, do you think? I actually made this mistake two other times, until Book # 4, when I realized I was never going to be able to keep up. That is when I turned my attention to my author site, and I never looked back (except to make updates and pay for those other three sites, of course).
My point is this: save yourself time, money, and hassle, and forget about building a separate website/ social media profiles for one specific book. Focus this money and energy on your author site/ social media. A year from now, you’ll thank me.