Posted on Friday, January 9th, 2015 No Comments
I’ve written other “10 Things Every Website Needs” posts, but I feel I am uniquely qualified to comment on what every author website needs.
Briefly: I’ve been involved in the publishing world since 2000 when I co-created eBookMall.com. I have worked with that company in various capacities since then, including creating and managing its publishing services and working with many independent authors and small publishers. Nowadays, I also work with Logical Marketing, a marketing agency that focuses on helping authors and publishers. I perform large audits on author websites that take into consideration a variety of aspects such as SEO, branding, social media, and site analytics.
If you are an author, or aspiring author, use this as a checklist for your website.
Your readers want to read more of your writing. Your readers also want to learn more about you as a person. Take a look at Neil Gaiman’s journal as an example of a very popular and successful blog.
As much as you are able, don’t let your publisher take over your blog. When an author’s blog is only marketing messages from the publisher, that’s a waste of space, time, and your readers will not care about it.
Be a real person. Talk about your writing process, your experiences, what it was like to get published, and what it’s like to go on a book signing tour. If you’re not already a popular or published author, write about the progress you’re making on your novel, new writing resources that you’ve found, and how your research is going.
Just like on your blog, be a human being on social media. Post snippets of your real life, your writing experiences, and of course throw in announcements about your books. Take a look at Lauren Oliver on Twitter for an example of an author who’s doing a great job on social media.
Twitter, by the way, seems to work great for authors. It’s full of readers and wannabe authors, which are easy pickins. On social media, post often, follow others, and engage with others (like/share/retweet).
Include prominent, easy-to-find social media icons on your website so that readers can find you.
And while it’s tempting to try to conquer every social media platform known to man, don’t spread yourself too thin. I recommend starting with Twitter. If your books are very visual, use Pinterest as well. Pinterest is perfect for non-fiction books (cookbooks, books about weddings, fashion, etc.)
Create a separate web page for each of your books. This will help with SEO and it makes it easier for readers to find the information they’re looking for.
Each page should include:
Take control of your audience by offering an email subscription. Anyone who signs up for this is automatically a good prospect because they’ve shown interest in hearing more from you.
Once you have a list, try to send newsletters on a regular basis. Tell people the latest news, inform them about book releases, tour dates, and anything else unique that you have going on.
Email is still one of the best forms of marketing because of its direct and permission-based nature.
As an author, you are your brand. Like I mentioned above in regards to blogging and social media, you should behave like a human being. Share real experiences, talk to people, and always remember that your readers want to learn more about you as a person.
But! Stay on topic, for the most part. It’s totally fine to share some pics of your cats, but don’t get political or religious. The world might be divided between dog people and cat people, but all the dog people won’t unlike you if you share your cat photos.
Just don’t alienate large percentages of your audience. You probably still want them as readers even if they don’t share your opinion about gun control.
It’s a good idea to share some free samples of your writing. This will do the following:
If you’re a novelist, try sharing some short stories. If you write non-fiction, share some content related to your books. For example, if you’re trying to sell cookbooks, you should definitely share some recipes. Whether you’re a writer, marketer, designer, or [insert your profession here], free content is one of the top ways to gain website visitors.
If you’re starting an entirely new website, it will be very easy to get a modern design. I recommend WordPress for almost everyone, and WordPress is definitely suited for an author website. Every WordPress site is built around a theme. Google “premium wordpress themes” to find professional-quality themes to get started with. Find one that matches your book’s genre or general ambiance.
If you have an existing website but it was created a long time ago, it’s probably time for an update. If your website looks out of date, people will tend to assume that your books are out of date as well. That might work for classic authors, but if you’re alive and reading this right now, that probably doesn’t include you. 🙂
Include an official author biography on your About page. The media and other websites will need your official bio when they’re interviewing you, promoting your book signings, or reviewing your book. Don’t forget to include an official author photo for the same reasons.
If you’re going to be doing book signings or any other events, you should definitely have a page on your website that lists all relevant details.
If that doesn’t apply to you, you can always create something else such as a FAQ, page of recommend reading, or anything else that suits you.
I hope this has been a helpful list of elements to add to your author website and online presence. Is there something else that you think is important for an author website? Leave a comment or let me know on Twitter.