Unlike an author website, which I’ve written about before, a book website features one book (or sometimes a series) and focuses on the world of that book. Creating a book website allows you to optimize searchability throughout the site for the title & genre, and really allows you to create an immersive experience from top-to-bottom.
So what do the best book websites have in common? How do they bring the book to life online? Here are 3 tips…
1. Create a unified visual experience.
What do I mean by that? I mean that the book cover art seamlessly coordinates with the website design, which is an extension of that design. This creates an immersive experience for the site visitor, which is a wordless way to help them understand what kind of book you’ve written. Is it dark & moody? Is it young & playful? Is it professional & forward-thinking?
Here are some examples:
This project was created for a book about the value of water as it becomes a more scarce resource worldwide. It’s a collection of essays by experts in their field, and written for an audience of business professionals, government agencies and the technology/engineering sector. The site is clean, and visually is a clear extension of the brand.
This book site for Kelly Parsons was created for the first in a series of medical thriller books. The site design pulls visual elements not only from the book cover, but also from hospital passageways. It is dark & mysterious but still allows the book to be the star of the show.
This young-adult historical fiction series covers some critical parts of America’s history, but with a fresh time-travel twist for today’s YA readers. The site design borrows some patriotic elements, but presents them in a modern way. The beautiful color illustrations influenced the subtle background textures in use on the site too.
2. Add extras.
This might be videos, or additional images like photos or illustrations, or an audio excerpt, or character profiles — whatever makes sense for your book. For prospective readers this gives them a good idea of what they’ll get out of buying your book. For existing readers it gives them something to share with others, spreading the word about your book to their friends. If you’re creating a site for a nonfiction book, featuring success stories or case studies is a great idea.
3. Feature blurbs/reviews.
It’s a proven sales technique that when you’ve got a prospective buyer looking at what you offer, telling them about other people’s positive experiences can help seal the deal. Don’t hide these away on a reviews page, and make it a priority to get some ahead of your site launch. If you’re lucky enough to get some from someone with name recognition, that’s great — it’ll allow you to leverage the “if you liked this, then you’ll also like…” sentiment. If not, no worries — just keep them short & focused. If you don’t have any and need to launch your site, then use a quote from you or from the book as a placeholder. This is especially important for non-fiction, but critical for fiction as well.
Bringing your book to life on the web doesn’t have to be complicated & costly. You just need to think through how best to leverage the visual assets you have at your disposal, and to reinforce the theme of your book in the design and content of the site. Keep it simple, and don’t try to do too much on any one page. And above all else, make it easy to buy your book. If you’ve done a good job and people want to read what you’ve written, make it really (really!) easy for them to do it.