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.
How do I create an author website?
You have several options for creating an author website. If you have the time but no budget, you could try to design your website. Designing your website can be fun if you are willing to learn. But, designing an author’s website will take a lot of time. You could spend weeks or even months creating a website, especially if you don’t have web design experience.
Most authors will hire a professional web designer. It requires an investment to have a professional design your website, but it will save you time. Designing your own website can be a headache. You may not have the time to learn new skills, so if you have the budget hire someone to help you.
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 set up an email address. Again, firstname.lastname@example.org is more professional than email@example.com.
How to choose the best domain name for your website:
- Register a unique domain name. Choose a brandable domain name. Make sure it stands out.
- The domain name should be easy to remember. A memorable name is easy to remember.
- Don’t worry about including your target keyword in the domain name. It’s more important to have a unique domain name than one that includes your target keyword.
- Avoid hyphens to minimize confusion. Hyphenated domain names can be confusing. People are likely to mistype a hyphenated domain name.
- Numbers in a domain name will also confuse people. Avoid numbers unless the name of your business also includes numbers. If you must include a number in your domain name, make sure you register the name with the number (3domain.com) and the number spelled (threedomain.com).
- If you have a for-profit business, the best domain is a .com domain name. There are indeed countless domain extensions, but none of them are as valuable as .com domains.
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 color 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 log in and add your own written content easily. 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.
What should an author’s website include?
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:
- Home page – Don’t crowd your homepage with everything you want to say. Keep it clean. Don’t overwhelm visitors with too much information. 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.
- Author Bio page – Writing and publishing a great bio on your website is a great way to share your story. Every author’s website should have a dedicated bio page. Write a long version of your bio for the author bio page. You should also have a one-paragraph version of your bio for other sections of your website. You can link your short bio to the author bio page.
- Book page – Your book should have a dedicated page. The page should include the details of your book, such as the title, publisher information, ISBN, page count and relevant content such as video or audio introduction. Some authors also include an excerpt for downloading. The best way to do this is to request the email address for sending a book excerpt. With the email, you can market your book. If you are selling your book on your website, make sure to include a “Buy” button on the book page. And, if your book is for sale elsewhere, be sure to link to the website of each retailer.
- 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. If you have published multiple books, you should have a page that includes all of your books.
- 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—blog about topics relevant to your book. Publish new blog posts frequently. Once a week is a good start. Longer posts are more effective in terms of SEO. You can expect more traffic for a 2000-word blog post than a 500-word post.
- Media page – Include your author photo and book covers on the media page. This is the page for sharing media coverage. Make sure to link to the Contact page.
- 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 at a specific email address. The best way to encourage people to contact you is to simplify the process. To reduce spam, it’s best to use a contact form on your website.
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.
Here are some content ideas to publish on your blog:
- 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.
An author needs to have an effective website. Even though a great author website should include many elements, you won’t feel overwhelmed with the right process. If you include the most important elements, you’ll have a successful website. Once you have the core elements of a successful author website, you can continue to improve its content. By publishing new blog posts and relevant updates, you will attract new fans and keep in touch with all of your readers.
The secret of an exceptional author website is well-organized unique content. To avoid overwhelming site visitors, leave plenty of white space. Simple site navigation also simplifies the user experience. It’s critical to use a website platform that scales. For example, if you use WordPress for your website, you don’t need to redesign your site when you publish a new book. WordPress allows you to add a new page or edit an existing page simply.