Once upon a time in a publishing kingdom far away, publishers did all of the work to promote the books that they were selling. Sure they’d send authors out on book tours every once in a while. Maybe they’d ask the author to actually respond to some fan mail from time to time. For the most part, however, the promotion and marketing of books was done solely through the publishing houses.

Those days are so over.

Today if you want to sell your book (and statistically speaking what you’ve got is most likely an eBook since most book publishing is trending that way) you need to have a website. Not only do you need to have a website for the book, you need to have a website for yourself. Don’t worry, it isn’t as hard as it seems. Here’s what you do:

1. Build a free website at www.webstarts.com. Why wrestle with coding and design if you don’t absolutely have to (or you don’t absolutely love doing so)? You’ve got words to write!

2. Make sure that your book is featured prominently on the site. It is important that, along with the cover, you list all of the different places a reader can purchase the book (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Lulu, etc).  If you aren’t already represented by an agent or publisher, you might also sell the book through the site directly (fewer fees that way).

From here, you need to build what is called a web presence. How do you do that?

1. Set up a blog. A blog is a fantastic way to reach out to readers of your book (and to convince them to buy future books you might write). A blog serves as a way for readers to get to know you…you can publish your speaking engagements on it. You can review other books you like. You can post pretty much anything you want. The more a person feels like he or she knows you, the more likely he or she is going to be to buy your book.

2. Set up social media accounts. At the very least you need to have an author page on Facebook and accounts with Twitter and Goodreads. Don’t worry—all of these memberships are free. The point of social media is to give people an easy and quick way to interact with you. Much like a blog, social media serves as a way to showcase your personality while also promoting your work. It also gives you an avenue through which to quickly respond to the people who contact you.  Make sure that you have links to your social media accounts displayed prominently on your website.

3. Link your blog and your social media accounts. There are plenty of plug-ins that will allow you to do this. In addition to widgets that will display your most recent Facebook and Twitter updates on your site there are sites that will automatically send notices out to your Facebook and Twitter followers when you publish a new blog post or update your site. This cuts down on the work that you have to do to make sure that your fans know when you do something new.

What matters more than anything else, though, is that you keep your blog and your social media accounts updated. Sure you’re busy—you’re writing more books! Still, a simple page that sits stagnant isn’t going to help you much.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you are first starting to build your book’s online home. The best way to work through that is to simply roll up your sleeves and dive in. Don’t worry; you’ll get the hang of it!

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