I get a lot of inquiries from authors who are looking to get a website created. While many know what they are looking for, others aren’t quite sure where to begin or what their site should entail. After working with many published authors and on countless website projects, here are my tips for what every author site should include.
1. Your Books
Now, I know this seem obvious, but a large focus of your site really should be on your books. They are your pride and joy, your little creations, and probably the reason someone has heard of you and is coming to your site. With that in mind here are some more specifics on what about your books you should include.
A list of all of your published books
This isn’t a place to pick and choose which books you should show. Your author site should include all books you have ever published, even ones that are now out of print. Don’t leave people guessing as to whether the person who wrote the book they just finished is really you or not. You don’t necessarily need to heavily publicize all your works, but they should be discoverable.
Links to buy your books
While your own website might not be the place you sell the majority of your books, not having them available for purchase online would be silly. Don’t worry about trying to setup a complicated ecommerce system yourself – links to Amazon, Barnes and Noble and/or another online store are just fine. If you can, offer your visitor choices as to where to buy their book, but don’t give so many options that you create choice paralysis.
Your latest book
While most authors have a library of published books, they are usually focused on just actively promoting and marketing their latest story. Use your site design to surface and market the books you want to promote. Your homepage is a great place to place the cover of your most recent book and a great place for a teaser about why your visitor should become your reader.
2. A Way to Connect
Readers at your site have made an active decision to seek you out and read more about you. Chances are they are either a fan or are on their way to becoming one. And fans are people. And people that want to connect to other people, especially ones whose work they love. Offer your readers a chance to connect to you.
Now, this can get tricky. You want your readers to be able to get to know you a little better, but you don’t want them coming to your house for a sleepover. I think the balance here is to find a means of communication with your readers that a) maintains a comfortable privacy for you and b) is something that you will use. Then let readers know what this avenue is and offer it to them easily.
In many cases social media is the perfect solution for this. Users can follow you on Twitter or like you on Facebook without you following them back. They can send small messages to you without you having to give out your email address or telephone number. But again, I wouldn’t suggest creating a Twitter account or Facebook page (or any other social media channel) unless you really are going to use it.
3. Upcoming appearances
Taking the connection theme another step, readers love to meet authors. You website should feature pertinent information about you, and your public appearances are hugely pertinent. Whether you are doing a book signing, presenting at a workshop, or even just attending a conference you need to get that info out to as many people as you can. The very first place these dates should go is on your website. If you’re not getting the word out about your appearance, who is?
4. About the Author Page
Your author website is about you – the author. So give your visitors as much information about you as you can. Make it obvious to find this info by creating an “About the Author” page.
This is a great place to have go-to information for press members that want information about you. Make sure your bio has everything a journalist needs and add more info that gets frequently requested. Another great idea is to have a link to a hi-res photo so that you don’t have to keep emailing your bio photo to people that ask for it.
5. A Call to Action
This is something that every website really should have. It’s a question that I ask all of my clients when we start a project, “What do you want visitors to your site to do?” Don’t be coy here. Make it obvious what you want them to do and offer a big easy way to do it. Is the point of your page to visitors to buy a book? Give them a big “Buy Now” button. Do you want more followers on Facebook? Place a “Like Me on Facebook” at the top of every page.
You should have some sort of call to action on every page, but most importantly on your homepage. Coming off of your homepage, what do you want the user to do?
Your writing is a reflection of your unique personality and style. Your website should be too. The design of your site should be unique to you and your work. Try not to use templates that will make your site look just like every other website out there. Working with a good designer can really help you set create a complete mood on your site. The visual design should mirror and expand the character of your books, while staying easy for your visitors to use and read.
Have any more thoughts about what a good author website needs? Let me know in the comments.
Are you an author looking for a site that can promote your books, help your readers connect with you, and look compelling in the process? Lo and behold, that’s what I do! Contact me to get the journey started. (And review point #5 if you’re wondering why this paragraph is here!)