Your author website, combined with your content and where you send your traffic, is pivotal to the success of your book marketing efforts. We unpack why in this in-depth mega article.
Do you really need an author website?
YES! Every so often, you will hear of a self-published author who claims to be selling books without an author website. In all likelihood, these authors are using something like a Facebook page as a substitute for a proper website, but this is a huge mistake. Using third-party platforms like this is really risky as things can change, sites can lose popularity or even get taken down, which may affect your page and its functionality – and suddenly you are left high and dry.
A dedicated author website means you can avoid all that. It is your own little corner of the internet that you have complete control over, and this is hugely important for establishing your credibility and acting as a base for your readers and fans.
Building a killer author website
An effective author website does not have to be hugely complicated. We recommend that every author website have the following pages:
- A homepage
- Dedicated landing pages for each of your books
- An “About the Author” page
- An events page
- A contact page
- A blog
Let’s unpack each of these briefly.
This is the page that visitors to your site will probably see first. Its sole purpose is to entice a would-be reader to delve deeper into the site to find out more about you and your books.
Homepage tips and strategies
- Make your introductions: Put a photo of yourself with a welcome message and a short bio at the very top of your homepage. There should be a link to your “About the Author” page there as well. Doing this will start building brand equity among those visiting your site. There should also be an email newsletter sign-up box here as well. (Read more about starting an email newsletter here.)
- Start building your credibility right away: Underneath your author photo and bio, place a few short excerpts of reviews you have received for your books. This will start building your credibility in the minds of your website visitors. Each review should have a link to the dedicated landing page of the book being reviewed.
- Introduce your latest releases: At this point, you should start introducing your books. There is a lot of debate as to when you should start telling people about your books on your website, and conventional wisdom dictates that they should be at the very top of your homepage. But our argument is that you need to welcome visitors to your site and lay the groundwork for them to want to click through to find out more about your books first, instead of just launching into your sales efforts straight away.
- Other items: You can also include short intros to your latest blog posts, as well as a teaser for an upcoming event (all with links to their respective pages on your site) for the visitors who have scrolled further down your homepage.
Dedicated landing pages for each of your books
First, let’s briefly define the purpose of a landing page. Landing pages are different to normal web pages, as they should be designed to stand alone from the rest of the site. This allows you to link to them directly during the course of your marketing efforts. Landing pages have one function: in this case, it is to get people to buy your book. So think about the content accordingly, as visitors to the page may not have clicked through from your homepage.
Landing page tips and strategies
- Drive traffic to your landing pages, not the online stores: A lot of authors link directly to the various web stores, like Amazon, in their marketing efforts. But we feel that this means missing out on a golden opportunity to build brand equity with potential readers (and hopefully getting them to subscribe to your email newsletter). This is why we advise authors to link to their book landing pages instead. It also gives you an opportunity to tell visitors that they can get your books on other stores (rather than just Amazon).
- Content is king: Start with an eye-catching headline paired with a large image of your book cover. Then provide a short introductory paragraph giving visitors a brief overview of what the book is about.
- Keep building credibility: Don’t be shy to put a few more glowing reviews on this page as well.
- Ask visitors to stay in touch: Place an email newsletter sign-up box on this page, too.
- Let visitors know where they can buy your book: Use different “Buy Now” buttons for each store. These buttons should come after you have told visitors about your book and hopefully gotten them interested. (Your “Buy Now” buttons are a good place to use your affiliate links – read more about that here.)
An “About the Author” page
This page is really for those readers and fans wanting to delve deeper and find out more about you.
Tips for writing an author bio
- Keep it light-hearted and conversational. You want to make a connection with readers.
- Let visitors know what you have written and why you love to write.
- Tell them more about you as a person, rather than just talking about being an author. You can discuss your hobbies, quirks, family life and other interests – anything you feel might interest your fans!
- Invite them to keep in touch with you by promoting your social media pages and your website’s contact page.
An events page
This is where you promote your upcoming appearances, either in person or via a virtual book tour. Keep this page simple, but don’t forget to drive traffic to it if you are going to be appearing somewhere. It’s also imperative that you keep it up-to-date – it will make your site look careless and sloppy if you keep listings of events that have already taken place.
A contact page
Keep this page simple as well. List where on social media visitors can connect with you, and include a contact form instead of your email address. This way, you can avoid being spammed.
This is an important topic all on its own, so we have dedicated an article to starting and sustaining a blog on your author website. You can read that here.
The technical side of creating a website
Creating an author website doesn’t need to be an intimidating or complicated process. There are numerous tutorials available on the web which will take you through the steps of creating a website if you don’t have one yet. We aren’t going to go into much technical detail here, but we will leave you with these three tips:
- Use WordPress to create your site: It is quick and easy to install on most large hosting platforms, and can be customized with free themes. You can also add things like email sign-up boxes really quickly and easily through WordPress plugins with no technical knowledge.
- Find a good hosting company: We use Bluehost as it is easy to use and provides a one-click installation for WordPress.
If in doubt, hire a professional to help you: Your website is an investment in your long-term success, so we recommend that you hire a professional web designer eventually. Sites like Upwork are a great place to post jobs like this, and will allow you to find the right designer at the right price.
We’d love to see your authors sites! Share your links and experiences in the comments below.