As an author, you must have your own mobile-friendly, professional-looking author website. It’s singlehandedly the most important element of your book marketing strategy.
Think of it as a form of publicity that you have complete control over. There’s no relying on publishers or a hired web developer hoping they understand your brand (and market it correctly) when you build your author’s website. You decide on what content is on your page and there are virtually no limits to what that content can be.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve already published multiple books or are on the brink of releasing your first one. You want to market your work and an author website will allow you to do so effectively and consistently.
Why You Need an Author Website
It’s all about creating a brand- your author’s brand.
You want to showcase your work, accomplishments, credentials, etc. to give your audience an enticing picture of who you are and why they should read your books. Since the internet is now the go-to for just about everything, that’s where you want to be.
A web search is the first place people turn to when looking an author up and you want to make sure they can find you. It allows you to put your stake in the ground and build your online presence.
If you haven’t published your first book yet, you might be thinking you don’t need a website because nobody knows who you are. Not true. The internet is the first place your prospective publisher will turn when they want to find out about you and your work. It’s ideal to include a link to your website in your signature for query letters to agents and publishers, but that’s not possible if you don’t have one.
An author’s website also generates more potential customers and book sales. When someone goes to your site, they’re already engaged with you and your work and are interested in learning more. Having a website signup form builds your email list and offers a direct line to these potentials for any new books or material you have coming.
How to Build Your Author Website
Choose a Domain
The first step to building a website is to choose a domain- the name of your page that replaces an IP address (for example, IP: 207.97. 195.109 to www.write.com). Sometimes authors default to using a book title, series, or main character for their domain. Don’t do this. You have a long career ahead of you and chances are your writing is going to shift and change. Also, you most likely plan to write more than one book or series, so a published title as a website name will eventually become irrelevant.
Most authors use their own name for their website (i.e., stephenking.com) simply because it’s not going to change and is more searchable. Instead of limiting your page to one book by using a title domain, using your own name allows readers to find you under any of your work.
Purchasing and registering a domain is a straightforward process. Using a registration site, you can type in the domain you plan to use, and the results will tell you if it’s available. If your name is already taken, you can add words like ‘author’ at the end or use a dash in between your first and last name. For example, if ‘www.johnsmith is already taken, you can try ‘www.johnsmithauthor.com’. Registration sites will provide available variants of the domain you search as well.
Sign Up for a Web Host
Your domain is essentially your address online, but it’s not where your website lives. A web host provides space on the internet to store files that comprise your website and make them available for viewing online.
The right hosting plan gives you access to the right resources that keep your website loading quickly and reliably for visitors. If someone lands on your website and it takes too long to load, potential customers will move on to another site.
If you aren’t tech-savvy, BlueHost is a reliable web host that gives you step-by-step instructions and tips to build your site and grow your audience. They collaborate with WordPress, a free, open-source content management system for non-developers to create beautiful author websites.
Design Your Author Website
Creating and designing your website can be an exciting way to personalize your book marketing strategy and showcase your work. There are specific aspects you should include on your author website including:
- Homepage: The first page readers will see when they find your site is the homepage. It should include your introduction (a quick bio that tells readers who you are and what you write and photo), promotions (a new book), and/or announcements of news events or appearances if applicable. An email list can be on any/all pages but should be on the homepage no matter what.
- About page: Provide a more in-depth description of who you are, the kind of books you write, and interesting passages of how you got started or your inspiration for becoming an author. While the homepage is the first impression readers get, the about page gives you the opportunity to personalize your author brand on a deeper level.
- Books: A separate page to showcase any books you’ve published with descriptions of each gives readers the chance to explore and engage in your work. Include links to purchase your books in the descriptions. If you don’t have any published books yet, add as much relevant content as possible.
- Contact page: Include an email address where readers can contact you directly. It will give them the chance to personally connect with you and build great rapport with your audience. This is a great place to add your social media links as well so readers can learn even more about you and your work.
- Events/Blog: Although optional, an events page can show readers when and where you may have upcoming appearances or book releases. A blog page can add a personal touch to your author’s website and open the door for conversation with and between your readers.
There are companies you can hire to build a website for you, but they can quickly turn into a large expense. If you have the money, you can go that route but it’s not necessary. All that matters is you promote yourself with creative content and offer a channel for reader engagement.
Once you build your author’s website, you must continuously update and maintain it. Keeping your page up to date authenticates yourself as an author and keeps readers engaged. Consistency is key. As you familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of website management, you’ll see more traffic- more visitors on your page. New content will keep these visitors on your page longer and ultimately increase the likelihood that they’ll become customers.
When people visit a website and see old, irrelevant content it immediately drives them away. Plus, the more publications you make the more you want to showcase them and drive your sales.
Your author’s website is your primary online presence, your brand, and your “home,”. This is where people will come to find out more about you and your books. You can do it on social media sites, but your website is the only place you have a complete design and editorial control, so make the most of it!