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Self Publishing Tips: Should You Buy a Domain Name for Your Book Title?
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 (Wikipedia), 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.
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.
- 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.
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?
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