Since 1994, Jim Rubart has worked with clients such as AT&T/Cingular, RE/MAX, ABC and Clear Channel radio though his company Jr2 Marketing, but his passion is writing fiction. He's also a photographer, guitarist, professional speaker, golfer, and semi-pro magician. He lives in the Northwest with the world's most perfect wife and his two almost-perfect sons. No, he doesn't sleep much. You can reach him at jlrudini[at]comcast.net
The Three Biggest Mistakes Authors Make on Their Web Sites
Welcome! As you know by now, my name is Jim Rubart, and I have a monthly column here in Christian Fiction Online Magazine. I love writing it! Thanks for taking the time to read my column this month. This month what I’d like to tell you about is . . .
Are you bored out of your mind yet? I am.
You know I write this column. You assume I like doing it. You know I appreciate your reading it. Using an opening like I did above almost guarantees some readers will click Mr. Mouse and poof; Jim-be-gone.
Yet this is exactly what many authors do on their Web sites. Their opening lines of copy are clichéd, boring, generalities.
• “Welcome to my Web site! I’m so glad to see that you’ve taken the time to stop by. On my Web site I hope to share with you some things . . .”
Think of your Web site design and graphics as the cover of your novel. The first words people read on your site is your back cover copy. Those words need to surprise, intrigue, and entice your reader into exploring further.
How long do you have to hook someone visiting your site? Steve Laube says the typical reader in a bookstore will spend twenty seconds deciding to buy your novel. My guess? That time frame applies to Web sites as well.
Make your copy compelling.
Mistake # 2
Authors ignore a fundamental of marketing in their copy. Marketing 101 says everyone has a stamp across their forehead: W.I.I.F.M.? (What’s in it for me?)
It would be wonderful if readers cared about us, but they don’t. They care about what we can do for them. They care about being inspired, encouraged, challenged, and entertained.
Consequently, the majority of your content needs to be about them, not you.
The first line of copy on my Web site says, “Do you live with freedom?” I’ve yet to meet someone who said, Yep, I’m totally free, don’t need any more freedom,” or, “Nope, wrapped up in chains, but have no interest in getting rid of them.” I try to draw people in by having a first line that brings up a universal need.
What do most successful books do? Address a universal need. Which one is your opening copy addressing?
Mistake # 3
Settling. Authors often settle for a Web site that is okay. Okay isn’t good enough.
I know your brother’s aunt’s cousin’s best friend from jr. high loves doing Web sites and he’ll do yours for $100. Resist the temptation. If your site looks amateurish, people will assume your writing is the same.
Can you design your own site and write your own Web site copy? Sure! You can also learn to play Bach if you have the time, talent, and commitment.
Your site is competing against the best author Web sites on the Internet. And the Internet isn’t the future. It’s the present. Your Web site and/or blog, is often the primary way you’ll introduce yourself to readers.
In a future column we’ll talk in depth about visuals and design, but for the moment consider the reason the good pub houses give meticulous attention to their covers. Right or wrong, people do judge books by their cover. Same with the look of a Web site. It’s worth taking the time and money to make it look professional.
1. Make your opening Web copy as compelling the opening lines of your novels.
Lot’s more to talk about regarding Web sites—which we’ll do in later columns—but right now I’d just really like to take a moment to tell you how it warms my heart that you took the time to drop by and read my . . .
Next month: How to market yourself at conferences.