Every author should have their own website – even if they haven’t published their first book yet!
Your author website is your online business card, your book shop, your blog, your connection with readers, your showcase for publishers, your most important marketing tool and the ‘hub’ of your author platform. And you don’t have to wait until you have published your first book to create your website – start building your author platform now, no matter where you are at on your publishing journey.
What are the main components of an author website?
- Bio - Your ‘about you’ page is essential. Your readers want to connect with you, identify with you, feel like they know you… so share some information about yourself on a bio or profile page. Make sure you include at least one image of you – people want to see what you look like. If you have an ‘author portrait’ that you use on your books, make sure this photo is displayed on your bio page. If you use a profile photo consistently across your social media sites make sure this appears on your website too.
- Book/s - This can be a page for your book, a page for all of your books, a separate page for each one of your books or page for each of your book series. You need to include an image of your book cover/s, the blurb for the book/s and information about where to buy the book – either a link to your online bookshop or your sales processing page on your own site, or the book sales site/s where your book is available for purchase. A couple of brief testimonials can also be included on your book/s page/s, or on a separate page.
- Contact - If you wish to make yourself available for direct contact from your website, include a contact form. Instead of direct contact you may prefer to include your agent’s contact information, or your speaking agency contact, or even just your PA/VA contact details. Note: To avoid spam use a ‘contact form’ – do not display your email address on your website.
Tip – Secure your domain name now!
Don’t wait until you are ready to build your website – buy your authorname.com now if it is available. If you wait, another person with the same name may grab it and you will have to settle for something else.
- News / Events - Publish a calendar or listing of your past and upcoming book signings, speaking engagements, interviews, etc. This can be a page, a calendar or listings presented as blog posts (an easy way to add events).
- Reviews / Testimonials - Publish testimonials and reviews of your books, both professional and from your readers. A good way to get reviews is to offer a free review copy of your book. If the reviewer has a website, include a link to their website beneath the review.
- Excerpts - Include an excerpt from your book, either published on the site directly or as a downloadable PDF, or provide both options.
- Speaking - If you are available for speaking engagements have a separate page for this. Give examples of past speaking engagements and the topics you talk on. Include a link to your contact page for booking enquiries or info for contacting your speaking agency.
- Book Trailer – If you have a video book trailer for your latest book make sure you feature it prominently on your site. Book trailers for other books can be on the relevant book pages but the latest book trailer should also be featured on the home page.
- Blog - Some authors choose to blog, some don’t. Blogs can help your audience connect with you on a more personal level, keep them coming back to the site to read your fresh content, and enable them to interact directly with you via comments on your posts. Blog posts can be articles on your area of expertise, updates about your writing, comments about your events, personal stories from your life (how personal is up to you). Adding blog posts can help your site to rank better in search listings since your site is seen to be adding fresh new content regularly.
- Social Media – If you are using social media marketing feature your chosen platform icons on the site so people can easily click on them and ‘connect’ with you. WordPress and similar Content Management Systems (CMS) have plugins and widgets which can make adding clickable social media icons and buttons quite simple.
- Sharing Tools – Tools like Add This can be easily added to your site to encourage visitors to share your content. You can choose which social media platforms you wish to enable sharing on – make sure you enable all the platforms that you use, plus any others you feel appropriate to your audience.
- Newsletter Subscription – A sign-up form for a newsletter can help you build up a database list of people interested in your books. This means that when you write your next book you already have a list of people interested in your topic or your style of writing that you can pre-sell your book to. Plus, publishers consider this an important element of your author platform and may ask how many subscribers you have.
If you don’t want to send regular email newsletters you can opt to simply have an auto-generated email sent when you add a new post to your blog. This is an easy way to generate regular direct contact with your subscribers / fans.
- Sell Sheet – A one page sales sheet is generally designed for book distributors, however, it can also be a great marketing tool. If you have one, make it available on your website media page and book page.
- Media - A media kit can include the key information and files that a journalist could use to write an article on you or your book, or as background information for an interview. This could include: a sell sheet for your book, print quality portrait image, book cover image/s, other relevant images, an extract from your book, audio file, etc. – all available for individual download or in one zip file.
Other key points to remember
- Your site should be well laid out, with clear and easy navigation (menu).
- It should be attractively designed with a modern look (no scrolling text, animated clip art gifs!).
- Your images should be good quality, professional looking and low resolution to load quickly.
- You, or your PA/VA, should be able to access and update your website if you wish – not have to wait on your webmaster to do it all for you. Using a CMS like WordPress can make maintaing and updating your website easy.
- Your website should be ‘mobile responsive’, enabling it to look good on smart phones and tablets.
- Avoid Flash – the content cannot be read by search engines and cannot be viewed on some tablets and phones.
- Your design, the look of your website, should match the genre / audience you write for. If you write light-hearted romances the design should look very different from that of an author who writes gothic horror.
Check out some other author websites for ideas. Here’s a few to get you started: Lee Child | Michael Connolly | Janet Evanovich | Emily Griffin | John Grisham | E L James | Stephen King | Jodi Picoult | Rick Riordan | Nora Roberts | Michael Robotham
Awesome Author Websites
Do you have any favourite author websites? Ones that blow you away with their awesomeness?
Please share with us in the comments section below the author’s name, the website and why you love them.