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Tips for Publishers

If you're a publisher, you definitely need a website. People expect you to have one and if they can't find you online, they may think you no longer exist. In addition, a good website can

  • make your catalogue available worldwide
  • provide new opportunities for publicity
  • allow you to sell direct to customers
  • help with rights sales by making you easy to locate from anywhere in the world

Putting your catalogue online
If you've a large number of books in print, you'll probably want to use a database driven system for your main catalogue. This makes it easy to add new books or change the information about them, but the dynamic pages it produces are less likely to be listed in search engines than normal, static ones. They also have an identical look and feel that doesn't reflect the content of the individual books.

You can get round these problems by having additional static pages featuring latest releases, successful series or your top authors. If you're a very small publisher with a limited list, this type of page may be all that you need without the extra expense of a database.

Publicising your books
To encourage people to read your books, you need to provide them with the same type of experience they would have in a bookshop. So you can include the cover picture, backcover blurb and some sample text. Printing the contents list is useful for non-fiction books as it shows the range of information covered.

Other ideas for interesting readers include

  • fact files on favourite characters
  • teachers' notes and worksheets for books that are used in schools
  • quizzes, wordsearches and other games
  • fascinating facts connected to a particular book or series
  • a FAQ page (frequently asked questions) for a successful book or series
  • author profiles and links to author websites
  • dates of forthcoming public appearances, book signings and school visits (It's important to keep this up to date)
  • competitions with books as prizes

If you're a niche publisher, you can also include background information on your area of expertise to attract people to your site who may then buy your books. This can be as simple as some carefully chosen sample chapters or, if you are more ambitious, you could set up a more extensive research resource site.

Selling books online
If you have an extensive list that you wish to sell online, you can use a shopping cart system based on the same database as your catalogue pages. Make sure customers can find out delivery costs and other important information before you ask them for their credit card details. Otherwise, they are likely to abandon their cart and go elsewhere.

If you are smaller and you already have a distributor, you may be able to link your site to the appropriate part of theirs so they handle your online sales.

Submission details
Prospective authors are likely to look at your site so it's a good idea to include submission guidelines. These can range from a brief "Don't send anything without an agent" to more extensive hints on what you do and don't want to see. You may also like to include links to sites providing help for new writers and to any relevant books that you publish.

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