Building an author website is a vital part of marketing not only your books, but your brand as an author. Check out our how-to guide for building yours.
An essential component to marketing your book is a well-built author website. After all, selling your product can often depend no how you sell your brand. You want your readers (or, “consumers”) to have a place to go where they can get all the information they need. 10-15 years ago, the thought of creating your own website without help would have sounded ludicrous. Now, it’s necessary to building a business. Entrepreneurship, especially in the writing world, is more popular than ever. A good place to get started is with your author website.
But if you’re new to the scene, or you don’t feel all that comfortable with technology, building a whole website can be rather overwhelming. Have no fear; HotGhostWriter is here! In this post, we’ll walk you through the most important steps in creating your author website. Throughout, we’ll cover:
- Tools to create a website.
- What makes a good author website.
- Tips for using your website effectively.
- Where to go for help.
Creating Your Website
Creating a website on your own is now easier than ever, especially if you’ve got the right tools. In a previous post, we talked about a few website building options out there, but let’s expound upon these for a moment. Of the varying platforms for building and hosting your website, some of the most user-friendly for builders of all skill levels include:.
- Squarespace: Super easy to navigate with a beautiful, clean interface. Highly recommended.
- WordPress: Offers a choice between the regular website the self-hosted site. Check out the difference here. For beginners, WordPress is a bit easier to navigate.
- Pub Site: A great option for an author website and is even used by many famous authors!
- Weebly and Wix: Useful for beginners and for good practice, but not as clean and professional-looking as the others.
How Do You Build It?
With any of these website building tools, there will be some sort of ‘Get Started’ button that will prompt you to clear, concise instructions on how to proceed. These will help you get on your way to creating your site!
For all of these sites, you’ll need to create an account. Some are free but some do cost somewhere between $10-20 per month. For the expensive uses, it might be a good idea to try a free trial to see how you like it before you buy!
All of these sites are relatively easy to navigate on your own. As you begin, there are often instruction guides, tutorials, and FAQ sections to help you as you click through and move elements around. You can also watch instructional videos, which I prefer, to give you a better understanding of how the site works.
At some point, you’ll be prompted to register your domain. Your domain is your URL, or link featuring your website’s name. These tools help you register your domain through their site. Since you’re creating your author website, you’ll want to use your first and last name as the domain if it’s available. If it’s not, try abbreviating your first or last name. (Example: New York Times bestselling authors Sarah Mlynowski and John Grisham abbreviate their names as www.sarahm.com and www.jgrisham.com). Adding the word ‘books’ or something relevant to your career and brand can also be effective. (Example: bestseller Lauren Oliver’s website touts the URL www.laurenoliverbooks.com).
What Makes an Author Website Great?
Now you have your platform, and you’re ready to get started, but you’re actually not even sure where to begin. Ask yourself a few questions:
- What do I like about other author websites?
- What do I want readers to know?
- How can my website help your writing business?
This is another great time to put yourself in the reader’s shoes and take a look at your favorite authors and their sites. What are they doing? What information are you receiving? Do you like the layout? Can you find what you’re looking for?
Components of a Good Author Website
In order to create an above-average author website, you need to know what the best are made of. Everyone’s different, and so authors put these items in various orders on their own pages, but this is a skeleton of a good author website:
- About page: You need a bio! It can be as long as you want it to be, especially because you have more room on your site rather than your book jacket. Give your readers a little taste of who you are! Show off that resume!
- Reviews page: Also sometimes called the ‘press’ page. Here you can show off your stuff with reviews you’ve already gotten for previous books. If you go with the ‘press’ approach, you can also add videos of interviews you’ve given, or link to other relevant multimedia coverage of you and your writing.
- Books page: Most authors have their latest book on display on the front of their site, such as Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat, Pray, Love.” Dedicate a page to just your books, either where visitors can buy them directly from you, or where links will take them to the appropriate marketplace.
- Blog: A blog is the easiest way to stay relevant between publications. You can keep your voice and presence alive with a blog about pretty much anything!
- Email list: Let your readers sign up for email updates or even a newsletters to keep them connected with you!
- Contact page: Provide a place for readers to get in touch, whether it’s through your or your agent. You can also plug your social media handles here, or insert a contact form that will send a direct email to you from your readers.
Use Your Website Effectively
Your author website is a marketing tool, so you should utilize it as well and often as possible in order to get what you want and need out of it. Here are some pointers to mindful of:
- Watch your traffic: These platforms have tools to help you see how many visitors you’re getting to your site and information about how long they stay on the page, etc. It’s a great tool to help you make improvements.
- Follow the trends: Keep up-to-date with how other authors are innovating their sites. You want to stay fresh and relevant and keep people coming back to your site over time.
- Keep info updated: :An easy way to lose readers is to display out-of-date information on your site. Do not slack on your site; it’s just as important as any of your other marketing tools.
- Respond to readers: When you get contacted, respond! Just like any business, consumers want to hear back in order to have confidence in the product they’re buying and the business they’re buying it from.
Stuck? Here’s Where to Go
If you don’t feel you’re up to the task of making an author website, believe me, there are plenty of places you can go to find the right person who can do the job for you and do it well. Take a look at:
Your author site is probably the most fun of your many marketing tools because it’s where you get to show everything and be 100% you! You share about yourself, have links to your work, and offer people ways to get in touch. It’s a little like a portfolio but with more pizazz. Build a website that stands out with HGW’s tips!
If you need help with your manuscripts or have any other questions about what you’re working on, get in touch with HotGhostWriter, and we’ll be happy to assist you!