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Self Publishing Tips: Should You Buy a Domain Name for Your Book Title?

Updated on August 14, 2016
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Heidi Thorne is a self publishing expert, author of 21 (and counting!) business books and eBooks, and a former trade newspaper editor.

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With today's Internet-centric society, self published authors may want to purchase a domain name for a new book's title. But there are pros and cons for this strategy, some of which can be costly.

Does the Domain Also Require a Website?

Purchasing a domain name for a book's title does not necessarily mean that a website has to be developed for the domain. The domain can simply be forwarded to the book's sales page on Amazon or other websites. Advantages and disadvantages of domain forwarding and book websites are discussed in more detail below.

What If the Title is Too Long for a Domain Name?

According to Wikipedia, the maximum number of characters for a complete domain name is 253 characters, although some domain registrars may cut them off at shorter lengths. But here's the real problem: Long domain names take too long for people to type into a browser and the chances of mistyping increase. Shortening a book title domain to a shorter phrase including some of the book title OR choosing a short domain that is descriptive of the book and its subject are options to consider if the full title is extremely long. But that does increase the need to heavily promote the domain name.

Word of Caution about Brand Names in Domain Names

For books, particularly nonfiction, that include a brand name in the title (e.g. software training manuals), be aware you may not be entitled to include that brand name in either the title OR a domain name with it. You might not even be able to publish a book on the topic! You do not want to receive a nasty notice that legally challenges your use of the brand name. Seek legal counsel to determine the best way to handle the title and promotions for these types of books.

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Advantages to Purchasing a Domain Name for a Book's Title

  • Help Improve Online Visibility and Search Results. A domain that includes a book's title can receive improved placement in search results, making it easier for potential readers to find and/or buy the book. However, that is no guarantee of first page or any search results placement! But there's a catch: Authors need to do a good job of promoting their title to increase their chances that potential readers will type that title in the browser search bar.
  • Boost Branding. A domain name PLUS a website for the title does help build the book's brand online and a community of fans. The site can become a hub for discussions on the book or its subject matter. Click to learn more about building a successful brand.
  • Additional SEO Possibilities for Nonfiction. For nonfiction titles which include an SEO-friendly phrase, having a domain name for a book that includes the phrase can help improve the book's placement in search results for the topic. Again, that is no guarantee of first page or any search results placement. Click to learn about choosing relevant SEO keywords.

Learn More About Internet Marketing

Disadvantages to Purchasing a Domain Name for a Book's Title

  • Increased Costs... Forever. If a domain name is purchased for the book title, registration for that domain name will have to be continually renewed, year after year after year. While the cost per domain may seem minimal, it will be a continuing cost that can run into the hundreds of dollars over time. If private domain registration (which masks the domain name owner's private data such as address, email, etc.) is chosen, that can balloon costs as well.
  • Domain Forwarding May Confuse Customers. One option that some authors choose is to forward the book title's domain to a sales page on Amazon or other site that sells the book. It could also be forwarded to a page on a social media site, such as a Facebook page set up to promote the book. While these technically work, they may be confusing for customers who may be expecting to be directed to a website featuring the book.
  • Increased Time and Energy Required for a Separate Book Website. If, in addition to the domain, a website is developed to promote and sell the book, there can be added costs for hosting and maintenance of the site. Even if hosting is offered free with domain registration, development and maintenance costs still will be a continuing investment.
  • Dropping the Domain Could Drop or Misdirect Traffic for the Book. Say an author gets tired of paying the annual domain registration and decides to drop it. The domain will no longer forward to the book's information. Should the domain be snapped up and resold to someone with less than honorable intentions, it could forward people to a bad site the author would never want potential readers to go. Scary, eh?

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Alternatives to Purchasing a Domain for a Book Title

Active authors often have more than one book. Those penning multiple titles are even more likely these days with the help of self publishing platforms. So an alternative to setting up sites for individual books is to set up a site for the author with prominent promotions for latest books and links to backlist titles.

True, the domain name and website hosting costs will be continuing as long as the author (or his heirs) wish to continue it. However, additional pages for new books can be easily added to the site at a reasonable cost, saving the time, hassle and investment that would be required for a separate domain name and website for each book title.

As well, authors who attain celebrity status—even if it's just in a limited niche market—can build a community of fans who would more likely be searching for them than for their book titles.

Also consider that if the book is sold through popular book retailers, the title may show up in search engine results anyway. And where's the first place many people go to search for books these days? Amazon. It's a search engine in itself! So if the book is available on Amazon, it will likely be found without too much trouble.

Disclaimer: Any examples used are for illustrative purposes only and do not suggest affiliation or endorsement. The author/publisher has used best efforts in preparation of this article. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered or allowed and all parties disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for your particular purpose. The advice, strategies and recommendations presented herein may not be suitable for you, your situation or business. Consult with a professional adviser where and when appropriate. The author/publisher shall not be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. So by reading and using this information, you accept this risk.

© 2015 Heidi Thorne

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    • breathing profile image

      Sajib 21 months ago from Bangladesh

      Gone are those times when people hardly though of self-publishing. In modern times, there are different ways of authors self-publishing of their writings and buying a domain name for book title is one such way. Thanks to the author for highlighting the different advantages and disadvantages off purchasing a domain name title. The most amazing thing is that this article also talks about the different alternatives of purchasing a domain name. This will encourage the new writers to go ahead with their pieces of writing and thus we will get different new thinking. Overall a great post with regards to encouraging the new writers.

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi Kristen! Glad you found it helpful. Keep us posted on your self publishing adventures. Have a wonderful day!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great hub, Heidi. I would keep this in mind, if I ever go the self-publishing route. Voted up for useful!

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi tobusiness! I really like an author's site, too. I think it has much greater potential to build fans of the author. Glad you found the information helpful. Thank you so much for stopping by and have a wonderful day!

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 2 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Interesting and very useful information. I like how you discussed the pros and cons. I'm more drawn towards the idea of an author's site, it seems to be the most practical. Thank you for this great hub, I'll be printing for future reference and sharing. Up and awesome.

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi ologsinquito! Definitely makes sense to set up a site to handle multiple titles. I've set up a page on my regular website that offers all of my titles in one place. But if I didn't have that site, I would certainly consider a site that can be dedicated to all my books, instead of creating a site for each one. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! Have a beautiful day!

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

      This is very useful information. I think it makes sense to set up a site that could handle multiple books.

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hello lawrence01! Glad you found it useful and thank you for stopping by. Have a great day!

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      This is just what every writer needs to know. Thank you for taking the time to put this together

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi FlourishAnyway! While it is tempting (and I have to admit I've done it many times), I'm probably not going to use one for individual books going forward. Hope all is good with you. Thanks for stopping by and chiming in. Have a wonderful weekend!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      After so many disadvantages, I'm certainly glad to know there is a viable alternative. I know which one I would choose!

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi AliciaC! You're very welcome. Glad you found the info helpful. Cheers!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for sharing some more very helpful tips for book publishers, Heidi.

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hey Gene, I feel the same way at times with mine. :) But I've found your comments to be very thoughtful. Thanks so much for joining the conversation!

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi poetryman6969! Yes, it is a possibility for book promotions and I've tried it. I found it to be both helpful in some cases and not in others. It really depends on the book being considered. Thanks for stopping by and have a great week!

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      Some interesting advice. I had never considered this as a way to get a book noticed but it seems like sound reasoning.

    • gposchman profile image

      Gene Poschman 2 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      I really should read my comments three times before I post.

      Gene Poschman

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi Gene! Creating a free Facebook page is definitely an alternative to creating a book website. And, yes, bulk domain buying is the way to go. Thanks for the votes and additional insight! Have a great day!

    • gposchman profile image

      Gene Poschman 2 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      Hi Heidi,

      Good informative article. I have worked in the internet industry for awhile, and if you do have a website, you can usually get additional domain names at a discount. Check with who hosts your domain, which may not be who hosts your website.

      For may Jonas Watcher series, I created a Facebook page and I keep it updated with artwork and my progress on the novels. It gives me a central place to provide information from and oh, it's free.

      Voted up and useful and informative.

      Thanks

      Gene Poschman

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi Homeplace Series! It sure does depend on the goals that the author has for himself and the book. And you're so right, the ROI can be slow in coming even with the best promotions and marketing. Partly due to high competition, partly due to the time it takes to see results. So glad you stopped by! Have a lovely rest of the Valentine's Day Weekend!

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Thank you, Heidi, another good article of useful information. It all so much depends on both the needs and wants of the individual. Do you really want to spend the time it will take to get a return on the investment? Still much work to do, even with a fine domain and website! ;-)

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi Catherine! Nice to hear you do have a book published on Amazon. Glad to see that you sell it in person when you speak to groups (good reason to do a physical book in addition to ebooks!). I've purchased domain names for some books and not for others. While I liked the branding aspect, the cost just wasn't worth it for some of my super niche topics. Maybe for one of your future books getting a book title domain might make sense. At least you have a good idea of the pros and cons of doing so when that day comes. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. Have a very Happy Valentine's Day Weekend!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 2 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Very interesting. I have a book published with amazon, but have not even considered a domain name. Actually, I don't do much to promote the book. I sell it in person when I speak to a group. I read you advice, and I now think that for me, the cons are greater than the pros.

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Purl3agony, I've seen some authors purchase the domain for their titles (including me!). You're right about controlling the domain name and brand. It is something to seriously consider. Thanks for adding that insight to the discussion. Enjoy this Valentine's Day Weekend!

    • heidithorne profile image
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      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Thanks for stopping by this Valentine's Day, billybuc! Hope you and Bev enjoy the weekend. Cheers!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      An excellent summary of the options we face when publishing. Nicely done, Heidi! Happy Valentine's Day to you.

    • purl3agony profile image

      Donna Herron 2 years ago from USA

      Hi Heidi - Interesting hub! I've noticed that a lot of authors have their own websites, but I had never noticed writers purchasing the domain name for their titles. To me, it seems wise to purchase it before someone else does (and you lose control of that domain name), but you bring up some important concerns about the responsibilities and costs of owning a domain name for each of your titles. A lot to think about... Thanks so much for posting and sharing! Have a great weekend :)

    • heidithorne profile image
      Author

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Hi Gia! Thanks for stopping by and glad you found it interesting. Have a great weekend!

    • Gia Moroe profile image

      Gia Moroe 2 years ago from Texas, USA

      Very interesting. I will keep these points in mind.