Web sites rather than book tours for book promotion’s sake?

Would “The Da Vinci Code” have become a blockbuster hit if it hadn’t received help from a promotional Web site designed by Jefferson Rabb? Maybe not, according to a New York Times article called “See the Web Site, Buy the Book” that appeared on January 23, 2009. Although the article grants that no one knows for sure whether a Web site enhances book sales, it postulates that a Web site is as important part of a book promotion campaign as anything else and has, in fact, replaced the book tour has the core of a book promotion campaign.

Agreed. I’ve seen clients with substantive Web sites receive interest from national television shows, radio, newspapers, and wire services as a direct result of their online visibility. That doesn’t mean, if Google singles you out as the de facto expert on your topic, that you can fire your book publicist and cease all other book promotion efforts. But, as an adjunct to a proactive book promotion campaign, a book’s Web site is unmatched for its potential to raise the media’s, and potential book buyers’, awareness of you.

The Times article also talks about several firms that create book trailers: Circle of Seven Productions, Expanded Books, and AuthorBytes (the latter of which, I’m proud to say, designed my Web site.

I’d recommend checking out one of the companies in that Times article, or finding out which Web design firm produced the book sites to which you’re most attracted, if you’re in the market for a book Web site, or a book trailer, of your own. What the Times article doesn’t say is that, if you have an amateur design your book Web site, or produce your book trailer, you can — and, I believe, will — hurt your credibility. With so many firms specializing in book Web sites, it makes sense to work with a company that knows how to create what the media, and book buyers, expect. That’s not to say that you want to use a template to create your book Web site or you want an exact recreation of another author’s Web site. But you do want to work with a Web design firm whose sole focus is on authors and books rather than a corporate Web designer. And, however much you may care for your young relative who’s majoring in graphic design, this isn’t the time to engage him or her professionally. Times may be tough, but an investment in a wonderful book Web site may be a wise idea. Doing business with an inexperienced firm, or a teenager, is not.

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