You’ve written a book. Congrats! That’s huge! Once you decide on a release date, there’s a whole bunch of other things you need to do and plan for, including when to launch your author or book website. There’s nothing that makes me sadder (career-wise) than having to turn down an author because they waited until the very last minute to think about their website and I can’t get to it in the next 10 days or so.
So, when do you launch your author or book website?
In an ideal universe, as soon as possible. Really, it can never be too early! Even if you’re only launching with a single page that has “COMING SOON” on it with your social profile links and an email address, it’s worth it. The reason is that you want to be staking your claim (search-engine-wise) and letting people know that you mean business. You want people to be able to find you online during the entire leadup to your launch because you’ll be communicating with lots of people about lots of things to pull it off, and it adds legitimacy to your project (and to you) if they can.
At a minimum you want your site to be live three months ahead of your release date. If that seems impossible, consider that you can (and should) be adding to your site over time so you can launch with the basics and add details as you have time and they become available.
If you already have an author website, the same is true for the release of a new book… you add information about the new book as soon as possible, adding to it over time, and at least three months before the release date.
It’s possible your cover art won’t be finished when you want to launch your website, and that’s okay, just put a placeholder there for now. As soon as it’s available you’ll swap it in. It’s possible your blurbs won’t be available when you want to launch, and that’s okay too, just add them when they’re ready. It’s a mistake to wait until all your ducks are in a row before moving forward as that just means you’re doing everything at the last minute. And in the lead-up to your book launch, you’re going to have many plates spinning simultaneously, so if you can’t make your life easier, then do.
Consider how many marketing plans hinge on having a website to point people to — your social media profiles, your press releases, your advance copies, your press kits — and if you don’t have one ready, it means that you’re creating one at the last minute and it might not turn out as exceptionally as it would have if you weren’t working under pressure like that. To put things into perspective, if you have a book launching for the holidays or the start of the year, you should be thinking about your website in September. This gives you not only the lead time you need for book publicity, but also the time to create (or update) the site itself. If you’re looking to launch in May/June, you should be thinking about the website in February.
A seasoned author website designer will help you know what you need, and when, and how to stage your website to work for you at every step of the way. If you’re creating your website yourself, then you’ll be able to get in there to update things as soon as they’re available and in the way that you want. So, don’t delay! It’s in your best interest to get ahead of the curve.