Web tools are a huge help to new authors, especially those who are late-life writers. We seniors didn’t grow up with the internet and social media, and frankly, it can all be a bit daunting.
You say you’d rather be writing than dealing with marketing issues? Well, me, too!
But, you can’t expect readers to stumble upon your Amazon page. You must give them a reason to seek it out. For that, you need visual images and a book launch page or rudimentary website.
The web tools, or apps, I’m about to show you will give you an online presence and introduce the book-buying public to your work.
“A picture’s worth a thousand words.”
Turns out that old saying is true.
Web Tools #1 | A Dedicated Website
is a great app that creates a dedicated website for a new book. The site contains everything a potential buyer needs to know about the book, but nothing that could be distracting.
Booklaunch.io opens with a big splash screen showing your book cover and whatever background image you choose. You can pick your own fonts and images, but the wording must be concise.
Booklaunch.io sites have space for a book trailer, an author bio, blurb endorsements, and buy links. I wouldn’t have thought of adding buy links to sites in Great Britain if Booklaunch.io
hadn’t prompted me.
Lately, I’ve had many readers in the British Isles, and I attribute that to having this dedicated site.
Booklaunch.io also makes it easy to include a video. If you don’t have one, don’t worry. Add it later.
Booklaunch.io allows you to embed a video. This can either be a preview of your book or a video of you reading an excerpt.
If you want to jump onto Booklaunch.io
and try it out, they won’t charge you.
Start by watching their instructional video. Enter your ISBN or ASIN number, and the app will self-populate with the author info, price, and book description. You can then change colors and fonts.
Each site will be unique to the author and the book. For purposes of comparison, here is the site I set up for my novel, Montpelier Tomorrow
. I didn’t put an image behind the book cover because I didn’t want to detract from the words.
I liked the ease of use of Booklaunch.io so much that I wanted their premium features, such as being able to track the number of people clicking the “buy” buttons. For that, there’s a modest, monthly maintenance charge.
Web Tools #2 |An Instant Blog and Website with WIX
allows writers who are computer illiterate and graphically impaired to very quickly set up a website and blog. Even more important for folks on a budget, WIX is free.
Well, in reality, nothing is free, right? WIX sells ads, much like the ads that run on YouTube. If you want the ads to go away and not bother your visitors, WIX charges a small monthly fee. This is an entirely reasonable charge, given the benefits.
WIX provides a domain name. (A domain name is the name of your site, such as the name of this one, www.maryleemacdonaldauthor.com
.) But using WIX saves you from having to deal with GoDaddy or Bluehost. These are two among many “service providers.” Service providers “host” your website and “register” your domain name with the company that keeps track of who owns which web domains.
WIX also gives you templates that allow you to customize your site with beautiful pictures and whatever else you want to put there, including a blog.
WIX provides websites for authors, artists, photographers, cooks, and anyone who wants to set up a website and get started blogging. You can also use the site to run giveaway contests and sell books.
By using WIX you can spare yourself the expense of hiring a web designer. I’ve known a couple of writers who’ve farmed out their websites to designers, and they have beautiful sites; but they must go back to the designer when their new books come out or they want to change a feature.
I’m a hands-on person. I like to raise the hood and check the oil. Although I originally had help setting up my website, I do it all myself using WordPress, and my site is hosted on Siteground
. If you want to painlessly set up a WordPress site, Siteground makes it easy.
Web Tools #3 | Canva
I’m going to assume that you’ve set up a web page dedicated to your book or a WIX web site and blog. Now, I’m going to show you a web tool that will allow you to drive traffic to either of the above.
is the tool I use to create images for social media.
Here’s what my Canva account looks like when I open it up. Note that Canva has template for all the popular social media sites, including Facebook and Pinterest.
Canva has templates, a text editor, and pictures that allow me to quickly design posts for social media. Even if you have no design experience, you’ll find Canva easy and fun.
I use Canva to design “memes” for Twitter. Memes are quotes + pictures. Soon after Montpelier Tomorrow came out, I introduced myself to the Twitter community with quotes from my favorite authors. These look huge in a web browser, but most people use Twitter when they’re on their phones.
I also pulled excerpts from my books and placed the excerpts over copyright-free images. Canva has many images on its site, but if you upload your own images, you won’t have to pay the $1 Canva single-use fee. (In an upcoming post, I’ll talk about where to get copyright-free images for your web pages and social media.)
Book excerpts + images are a great way to convey the “feeling” of a book. I hope these memes give readers a chance to preview my writing style and the kind of story I’m trying to tell. From the meme above, a reader will certainly the know the novel will be a heavy read.
The meme below gives a preview of the mindset of one of the characters, the elderly Tanaka, a man who arrives in California on the eve of his daughter’s wedding. The story is heartwarming and tinged with the wisdom of an elderly Japanese man.
Of course, there are many more design tools out there. Some cost money and take ages to learn. (Adobe Photoshop is an example.) But you can do a lot with Canva. Together, these three web tools make it easy for you to stake out a small plot of internet turf.
Marylee MacDonald is the author of MONTPELIER TOMORROW, a novel, BONDS OF LOVE & BLOOD, a short story collection, and THE RUG BAZAAR, a chapbook. Her books and stories have won the Barry Hannah Prize, the Jeanne M. Leiby Memorial Chapbook Award, a Readers’ Favorites Gold Medal for Drama, the American Literary Review Fiction Prize, and many others. She holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from San Francisco State, and when not reading or writing books, she loves to walk on the beach and explore National Parks.