Whether you’re an international bestselling author, or just have a rough plot outline in your head, this post will cover the key elements that should be included in websites for writers. A website provides a means to connect with your audience, market your new writing, and share exclusive content. If your talent is in writing and not web design, it’s well worth the investment to hire a professional.
A great author website starts with a domain name.
When choosing a domain name, you should consider using your full name, e.g. www.joebloggs.com. As you will be writing more work in the future, using the title of your work would soon become irrelevant. Purchasing a domain name is also a sign of professionalism. Directing fans to www.joebloggs.blogspot.com doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. When you buy a domain name you are also able to setup an email address. Again, email@example.com is more professional than firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beautiful and responsive design
You want a website that is simple but beautiful. Doing a Google search for “websites for authors” brings up many examples that you can use for inspiration. Your website should be a reflection of who you are and the work you produce. For example, if you’re a horror writer you may wish to go for a darker colour scheme than someone who writes romance.
Consider specifying to your web designer that you want your website to be:
- Responsive. A responsive website adapts based on the device the viewer is using. With an increasing number of website views coming from mobile, a responsive design is essential.
- Easy for you to add your own content. If your web designer uses a platform such as WordPress you should be able to easily login and add your own written content. This is important if you are writing a blog.
- Easy to navigate. Think about where you want the navigation bar to be. Somewhere clear and prominent. Most opt to have the navigation bar horizontally towards the top of the page.
Create relevant pages for your website
Keep the number of pages to only what is essential. You don’t want your visitors to get lost in a labyrinth of pages.
Consider having the following pages:
- A home page. Don’t crowd your homepage with everything you want to say. Keep it clean and invite your visitors to look around. Consider adding a newsletter signup box and ask for their email address. A newsletter can be a great way to let your fans know when you’re releasing new work. Be careful not to spam your fans and only send relevant content as required.
- An about page. Consider having a professional biography created, or spend time crafting your own. Let your fans know more about your background and how you got into writing.
- A page showcasing your work. Depending on the quantity of work you have produced, you may wish to have a new page for each piece of work. You could also structure it into sections based on the category of work e.g. fiction, non-fiction, essays. This is also a great place to let people know where to buy your work.
- A blog. This is a great way to share recent news, behind-the-scenes information, and interact with your fans. Ensure that content is suitable for your work and avoid controversial topics if you’re appealing to a mass market.
- A contact page. Consider who might want to contact you and the best way they should do this. For example, a fan may submit a contact form but you may want a publisher to contact you on a specific email address.
Great content – I mean content so good people would be happy to pay for it.
As an author website, your visitors will expect high-quality content. Make sure that your content provides value to your visitors and is of high-quality. Try and maintain the tone and style that you are known for, or want to become known for.
On your blog consider including:
- Short stories or essays.
- A review of a book you enjoyed.
- Explain the inspiration behind a popular character.
- Answer questions fans may have asked you.
- Information about your working space.
- Competitions with prizes such as a signed book.
These pieces of content will be interesting to your readers and thus be of value to them. Unique content and frequent updates are Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques that can help you have a higher ranking on Google. The higher your ranking, the easier you are to find.
The ability to interact with your fans is one of the key reasons to have a website. You want to engage them and build excitement for your upcoming work.
Take time to read the comments on your blog posts and respond to some of the comments. Whilst monitoring comments, be sure to delete any offensive or spammy comments to maintain the integrity of your site.
Keep an eye on your email inbox and try not to let the mail mount up. To a fan, receiving a response to their email can make their day. You also don’t want to miss a potentially important email from a prospective publisher or journalist.
Another key way to interact is through social media. Consider having links to your social media pages in the header or footer of your website so they are accessible on every page. You can also add sharing buttons to your blog posts to make it easier for your reader to share your content.