Your author website in 10 essential steps
Congratulations on getting published! No matter if you have slaved over a memoir for years, or if you have published a short comic you imagined a month ago – you’re now officially in print, and that makes you an author! If this is you, and you’re at the point of how best to market your publication, then no doubt creating an author website to showcase you and your work has crossed your mind.
In my everyday job, I’m a web developer, and I’ve created several author websites, like this one. Have a read of the 10 essential elements I’ve found to be crucial to the success of your author website.
1. Make your author website about you
It may sound obvious, but I’ve seen so many new authors build a website around their book. Whilst this can be great and really gain momentum for book sales and advertising, if you plan on publishing more works in the future, you’re going to have to either build a whole new website, or fully re-design your first one. This can come down to the domain name – sure, you could buy myawesomenewbook.com, but I’d recommend buying myauthorname.com instead. This way you can keep using the domain name for as long as you plan on remaining an author, and you can add all of your future works to the same website. And don’t forget, you can absolutely showcase your new book on the homepage!
2. Know your limitations
Clearly you’re a very competent human, you’ve done what so many of us only dream of and you’ve become an author. That’s incredible. But, perhaps web design, or even website content writing, aren’t your strengths. Don’t let your book baby suffer because you’re determined to DIY something you really know you should outsource. There are plenty of skilled web folk out there, so go and find one and give your author website the best possible chance for success. That also means there is one less thing for you to worry about. But if you are tech savvy and enjoy web design, by all means go ahead.
3. Your author website should be on Google
‘Build it and the people will come’, said no-one ever when it comes to a website. If you’re a writer of content, then it’s possible you’ll be able to write your own website copy. But, writing for search engine optimisation (SEO) is a bit different and you need to make sure Google understands what your website is all about. There’s plenty of tutorials out there to help you get it right, but here’s where using a professional SEO copywriter can really help you out. You can also harness your social media presence to spread the word and increase your Google rankings. The more visitors you can get to your website, the higher Google will rank you.
4. Make sure your author website is device friendly
If you’ve ever used your phone or tablet to browse the internet, then you’ll know how frustrating it is to visit a website that doesn’t resize for your screen. Google actually penalises sites that aren’t device-friendly, so making sure your readers can see your website from any device is very important. In fact, I’d go as far as saying the mobile version of your author website is even more important than the desktop version. This is especially the case if you’re blogging regularly (see below!).
5. Blog and blog often
While we’re talking about SEO, one of the most effective strategies you can implement is writing a regular blog. If your content is regularly updated, is unique, and offers valuable insight for your audience, then you’re more likely to rank on Google. You’re already an author, so continue to engage your readers by giving them more of what they want – your voice! Make yourself a goal to write and publish at least one piece a month. You’ll be amazed how quickly you’ll build up a library of articles, and Google will know your site is still active. And an added bonus of blogging regularly is that it keeps your writing game on track.
6. Have a press kit available
If you’ve recently published your book and you’re trying to spread the word, then chances are your website is only a small portion of your overall marketing plan. You’ll likely be developing a press or media kit so journalists and other media can find out all about you. Using your author website as a place for any media to access and easily download your press kit can be a really simple way to get yourself some more publicity.
There are a few ways you can set this up on your author website. You can have a pdf available for direct download. If you want a bit more control over who gets it, you can create an email sign-up in order for someone to download it. For maximum control, you can create a contact form, especially for media to contact you to request this. It’s entirely up to you and how much control and personal interaction you’d like to have.
7. Use high-quality images
Nothing makes me more upset than when I visit a website that has amazing content, only to find it visually unappealing (OK, I’m exaggerating, I probably get more upset when my baby won’t settle for a nap, but you get the point). If you’re going to put yourself out there, then make sure you have some engaging images of both you and your work. Even better, get someone else’s photos of you and your work. Make sure the images are high quality, are clear and won’t make your audience think you got your mum to photograph you with her early model Nokia. I highly recommend investing in some professional photographs. You can use these on more than just your website, like on social media, your LinkedIn profile, in your press kit and more.
You should probably get these before your book is printed if you want to include your photo with your author bio in your book.
8. Showcase all of your work on your author website
Consider your author website as your online portfolio. Don’t get me wrong, you should absolutely make your new publication front and centre, but don’t forget about all the other work you have out there already. If you’ve had articles published, have appeared in the newspaper, or had anything to build your credibility as an author, put it on your website. We often don’t like talking about how awesome we are, but your website is for that exact reason. Use this space to build your reputation and credibility – remind people why they should read something you wrote.
9. Let people know how to contact you
Getting contacted by media, event organisers for speaking engagements, libraries for seminars – these are all important ways to help build your reputation and following. Make sure there’s a clear and easy way for people to contact you via your author website. I can’t recommend highly enough using a simple contact form to do this. Don’t publish your email address online; it can be too easy for spammers and bots to find and annoy you. Having a contact form on your site will help make sure you don’t get too many unsolicited people contacting you.
10. Sell your book!
It’s amazing how often people go to the trouble to build an author website, but forget the most important part – getting their work into people’s hands. Every website needs a strong call-to-action (CTA), the thing you want people to do when they visit your website. Often I need to work hard with people to curate a great CTA, but as an author your CTA is obvious – buy my book!! Sure, you may have some secondary things, like booking speaking engagements, author signings, or media opportunities, but getting your book into the hands of as many readers as possible should be your most obvious CTA.
BONUS! Have a teaser on your author website
Here’s a bonus tip to essential elements of your author website: if you’re working on something new, put a teaser on your website to let your readers know. Because you’re an author, we know you have more than one book in you, so let your readers know to come back again.
Need help with your author website?
If this is all a bit overwhelming, let us build your author website for you. Here at Impressum, we can build you a great author website. If you need to get an author website up and running, get in touch and we’ll help you out.