With technology rapidly taking over all areas of life, and with the sale of books moving more and more online, marketing is just as important as the book writing process. One good marketing tactic is to create a website where you as the author can build a relationship with your readers. Whether your book is being published by a publishing agency or you are publishing it yourself, the creation of an author's website is essential and should be the first step before publishing. Even if you aren't ready to be published, starting to get your ranking higher and improving your audience engagement will help when it comes time to publish and, more importantly, sell your book.
These days it is not enough to promote your book on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. The reason being that Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram own your social media following and they can change the rules at any time, but emails have been around much longer. People have made more purchases through emails they received than through social media. You can also sync your site to your social media and make sure you get cross-platform promotion.
The best way to build an email list is through your website. Even a simple single-page website with an email opt-in form is enough to make a difference and completely change your publishing success. Just remember that your books must be the main focus of your website.
Here are some tips for getting started.
Step 1: Choose a platform for your website
There are many options when it comes to building a simple author website. Let us take a brief look at a few of the top platforms:
WiX is ideal for authors who want a visually stunning site with more functionality. WiX has a wide variety of more than 500 templates to choose from. The interface is easy-to-use and completely drag-and-drop. You can simply swap in your own text, images, and information and you are set to go. Functionality like eCommerce, blogs and forums are all included.
WordPress is ideal for authors who want a blog-centric website to regularly add content. Even though the out-of-the-box layout seems similar to a classic blog, you can create any kind of site with WordPress. WordPress allows you to add custom pages, galleries, contact forms, sidebar widgets, etc. In addition, it easily manages comments on posts and pages. With WordPress, the publishing of blog posts is as easy as one-two-three and it has hundreds of beautiful free and inexpensive templates to choose from.
The creation of a Squarespace site begins with selecting a beautiful, ready-to-go template. Your decision will be made easier as there are not many to choose from. No coding is required, and you can drag-and-drop to reorder sections and click to edit specific sections. A blog, galleries, contact forms, and social media integration can be added with ease.
Step 2: Make Sure Your Website is User Friendly
The majority of internet users browse the web on their mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. If your site is not mobile-friendly you will miss out on a lot of internet traffic. You can always check to see how user-friendly your website is on mobile devices by accessing it from your phone
Step 3: Register your Domain Name
Your domain name is the URL where your website can be found when people type it into their browser. Your domain name is one of the first branding decisions you make as you build your website. You can either choose to use the platform you use to register your domain name, or you can make use of a third party like Name.com or Google Domains.
Before you get too far into the website building process, first look for a domain name because your first choice might already be taken. Use your first and last name (e.g., noraroberts.com). If your name is difficult to spell it is recommended that you consider using a pen name to write under.
It is very important not to use your book name as the domain name of your main author website because you must keep in mind what might happen if you write another book. Here it is recommended that you consider using landing pages for the different books.
Step 4: Find Examples From a Few Author Websites
It is always good to take a look at a few author websites before starting your own because then you get an idea of how you would like to model yours. When taking a look at the sites, take notice of the following main elements of the sites:
The header is the logo, image, or name at the top of your site. Although most writers have designers creating their logos and branding, you can easily have a go at creating your own with a tool like Canva.
Using an image of your latest book as the first image you see when your site is visited is a great way to capture the reader’s attention.
Newsletter/Email Sign Up Form
This might be the most important section of your site because your email list is the main way of developing a relationship with your readers. This is the best marketing step you can take for your writing.
This is where visitors get an idea of the main pages of your site. There will almost always be an About page, a Books page, a Blog, and a Contact page.
Reviews and Endorsements
Here you can include endorsements from well-known authors as well as reviews.
Social Media Channels
Readers love to interact with authors on social media and that makes it important for your website to link to social media profiles like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Following you on social media is a great way to be notified of sales, sneak peeks, and more.
Step 5: Select a Theme & Add Core Pages
It is very important to select the right theme for your website because it will drastically affect the way your site looks. Your theme is the overall look, feel, and style of your website. This includes things like the color scheme, layout, and style elements. In essence, your website theme is a direct representation of your brand and has a direct impact on your users' experience.
Your home page is important as this is the first impression a visitor will get about your website and it is important to create a custom home page that could include a featured book image, email list sign up form, endorsement/testimonials, and a link to your blog
Probably one of the most visited pages on your site will be your About page. Reader’s care more about the books they read than about you. Do not write out your whole life story but rather just give them a glimpse of the interesting facts that you think your reader would like to discover.
The Books page is simply a page with images of all your books and links to where they can be bought. You can even include Kindle book reviews where readers can get a taste of your book right from the website.
With your contact page, you can allow readers to contact you. Your email contact list and your newsletter signup forms could be the most important elements of your website.
Some of the Important Elements in an Author Website
Certain elements in your website will really help to make it truly effective and we will be going through them below:
This means that it is very clear how to get to different parts of your website. In addition, it means that your website content is well organized and in a logical manner. If you do not pay attention to the, all your great content will not be found.
Clarity is very closely related to easy navigation and is simply the fact of making your site understandable and easy to use. Try not to cram too much information on any one-length browser scroll because this can become very confusing to your site visitor and can cause them to feel overwhelmed and simply leave your site.
This is basically just your logo and colors. Author branding is what makes a major difference in giving a unique shape to your place online. This includes the colors used, the fonts, the type of illustrations, and the way you present yourself and your work.
Your Author's website is a great place where readers can learn more about you, but most importantly it must help you to simplify a process that leads new visitors through a series of easy steps to take until they become buyers. Here you can make an attractive opt-in offer so site visitors would want to sign up.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization simply means making your website more likely to come up in top results in the relevant Google searches. More than 50% of all traffic online comes from search engines and you will seriously miss out if you are not doing this. Rules to remember for SEO success are to create epic content, optimize it for your keyboard, and to get others to link back to it.
Working closely together with your funnel and SEO is the value you provide to fans and visitors when they arrive on your site. Make sure your website has a lot of engaging content to ensure visitors staying longer on your site and are then more likely to remember you, opt-in, and become a book buyer. Ways of creating more engaging content are to read parts of your books and post them as videos or podcasts and also to create giveaways, host fan artboards, and short-story contests. The press, publishers, and Hollywood agents must be able to contact you with ease.
To maintain a rich and engaging author website is very important to ensure that readers have access to the latest stories etc. Update your site regularly, even if you do not have a new publication coming up soon. You can keep your readers engaged by updating your blog regularly or hosting virtual events. If you are in the process of releasing a new book you must not hesitate to promote it on the front page of your site.
You have the email addresses of your readers so do not forget to contact them regularly and keeping them engaged.
Lastly, take advantage of your website builder’s more technical features like SEO optimization tools and site analytics. By using all available features you can brand yourself as an author and grow your readership.
Remember that setting up a site can be time consuming. If you are time poor you might prefer to hire a professional who knows how to make your site shine.
We offer a free domain name for a year to all writers who design their sites with us. We can even help with an eBook or softcover mockup with a simple (holding) cover design if you don't have one already.