Author Website 101: The Complete Guide to Building Your Author Website
Are you a published author? You definitely need an author website.
Not a published author? You still need an author website.
Every author needs an author website. Period. There is no arguing about that.
Regardless of your experience and what everyone around you suggests, you certainly need an author website. Your author website is the sum collection of your life as an author. In these competitive times, the author’s website is a necessity for all authors due to the numerous benefits it provides.
In this blog post, you will find every information you need about author websites starting from its purposes to the tips and steps for creating the websites. By the time you are done reading this article, you will be itching to create your author website immediately armed with the knowledge!
So without further ado, let’s jump into it.
Why Do You Need an Author Website?
Before we get on to how you can create an author website, let’s address the important question – why.
There are so many compelling reasons to have a separate author website for yourself – to hook future publishers, get a leg up in your book category, attract more readers, leverage it for book marketing, and so on. Here are some of the top reasons that you cannot ignore.
1. Build Your Credibility
As an author trying to make a space in your genre, increasing your credibility among readers and fellow authors will go a long way to help you sell books. What if a prospective publisher searches you on the internet trying to evaluate your worth and couldn’t find a single personal space that adds value to you? Not having an author website is a sure sign of a negative dent on your reputation, and that is not something you never want.
Building your reputation as an author benefits in many ways, and the start of it is to have a website. A credible author website is a stepping stone to create your author brand, which positions you as an accomplished writer in your field. An author brand also helps you to sell books quickly and have a reasonable conversion rate.
2. Let Your Readers to Know More About You
A reader loved your book so much that he Googles to know more about you. What do you think will Google show him? Some third-party links to buy your books, which barely give any extra information about you.
You wouldn’t want to disappoint the readers who are interested in you and your books, do you?
For readers who have fallen in love with your works and are thirsty to find more information and a little background on you and your books, an author website is a haven. As an author website contains information to write from you, the readers won’t have any doubts about its credibility.
3. A Platform Completely in Your Control
You can never control what someone says about you or your books. But, having an author website means you have full power to give as much information as you want to the readers, provide better insights, use it for marketing your books, and even have a forum for your readers to discuss your books.
You can customize the author’s website in any way you want, any time you want. You can offer updates to the readers about your upcoming books, answer queries on your previous books, link it with your marketing strategies, and keep the readers engaged. You can do anything with your website and have complete control over what you say without any checks.
4. A Place to Direct the Leads
As an author, you may have some guest blog posts published on other websites, have accounts on several forums and social media pages. So, what will be the default link across all these platforms? You cannot possibly keep changing the URL as the buy link of your new book across every platform you have signed up! That would be nearly impossible, if not daunting, and a waste of time.
Once you have an author website, you can quickly redirect anyone to it without any second thoughts. If anyone asks you where they can find more of your works, you can immediately give them the URL of your author website. An author website will be the one-stop location where anyone can find all the information they require about your books and, most importantly, about you – the author.
How Can You Use the Author Website for Book Marketing?
The main reason why authors want to build their website, have active social media accounts, and go for book signup events is to sell books. Increasing book sales is the one ultimate goal common for all authors. So the big question is, ‘How will having an author website help you with book marketing?’
There is no one single way in which the author’s website helps. There are numerous ways in which you can leverage the goodness of your author website and use it to increase sales. It all depends on how creative you are to make the best use of what you have for book marketing. To help you start with, here are some simple ways.
1. Build a Mailing List
Wouldn’t it be nice to have the contact of the people who like your works and ask them to have a look at your next book?
That’s basically what a mailing list does. When people land on your author website, you can ask them to sign up for your newsletter. The people who sign up obviously like what they see and would want to hear more from you! This is your secret stash right there, which you can use it for marketing your books, announcing any offers, or requesting them to write reviews.
2. Grab Those Leads
An author website gives you a completely safe space for yourself to do anything you want for book marketing. Those people who land on your site may be your readers or those who are a bit curious about your works. You can quickly seal the deal or at least convert them to warm leads by adding juicy details about your books with a secure buy link.
You can use any other idea like an in-website buy option, free sample books, sample chapter reads, and so on. Make sure to convert those interested people into leads, which will eventually turn to a good percentage of book sales.
3. Flaunt Your Expertise
If you are a non-fiction writer, then it becomes all the more important to showcase the knowledge you possess in a particular subject. You can do so on your author website in the form of blogs. Even if you are a fiction writer, having a few numbers of blogs that align with some of your works is an added advantage.
You can also include special accolades you won, the events you attend, and any seminars you take. Basically, anything that positions you as a respectable author in your genre can be added to your author website. It will not only serve as a positive influence on book sales, but it can also work as indirect marketing. Such showcasing of your expertise will help you to get mentioned in third-party websites and lend a hand with book marketing.
What Are the Must-Have Elements on an Author Website?
Now that you know the necessity of having an author website, let’s look at the essential features that you need to include that will serve its purpose.
An ‘About’ Section
Every website should have an ‘About’ section, and for author websites, it is of high importance. On most occasions, when someone lands on an author website, it’s because they want to know more about the author, and therefore, an ‘About’ section is a must.
An ‘About’ section should have the following:
- Author Biography – In the author’s bio, you need to include a few personal details about yourself that will be interesting to the readers. It can be about how you started writing, a few backgrounds into your past and current life, your hobbies, and so on. Try to resonate with the genre in which you write in the author’s bio, if possible. For example, if you are a non-fiction motivational writer, you can include personal, inspiring incidents in it. If your books have a funny streak in it, you can make your bio sound funny too.
- Author Picture – Generally, many are curious about the face behind the books. You can add a friendly and smiling picture of yours in the ‘About’ section. It is not necessary to have just one picture. You can even use two or more images if it relevantly supports the author’s bio. It’s best to have a professional photograph as the main author’s picture. Even if not, make sure to use that has excellent image clarity and keeps you in focus.
The ‘Books’ Section
You most certainly need to have at least one separate page for your books. It should act as the one-point where the readers can find all of your books together in the same place. Additionally, if needed, you can have separate webpages for the books too.
The webpages can be for:
- Each book individually
- The recent book released
- Upcoming releases
- Each book series
In each of these webpages where you mention your book, make sure to have a brief description of what the book is about, a book cover image, a few samples and a noticeable call-to-action, which is nothing but a link in an attractive design from where the user can click to buy that book. If there are any characters in your book that are a hit, you can have a separate page for that too.
Links to Social Media Handles
Let us realize one thing here. If you aren’t on social media, then it equivalently means that you don’t exist. It is vital to have a social media author profiles which your readers can follow to keep themselves updated about your recent works.
Author websites should have links to the authors’ active social media accounts. These links should be placed at prominent positions on the homepage and also on all webpages as a static element. Apart from the links to your social media handles, if you have separate accounts for your books on social media, then you can add it to the relevant pages.
A ‘Contact’ Section
Anyone can try to contact you – your fans, publicists, publishers, editors, and so on. Make sure to have a separate contact page with a contact form where they can leave their messages and your official email address. Some include the contact form at the bottom of all pages at the footer while in some author websites, you can see the contact form towards the end of the homepage.
The Option to Subscribe for Newsletters
As we saw earlier, the important purpose of having an author website is to build a mailing list that you can use it for future promotions. So, why do you waste all those leads who land on your website? The best way to get them in your loop is through newsletters.
This is a compulsory element on the websites of all authors. The option to subscribe for a newsletter should be placed on the homepage at a prominent spot, and you can further use it as a pop-up option on the other pages. Optionally, you can create a landing page where you can collect the email addresses. Have a catchy message that is compelling enough for the person to subscribe to the newsletter. You can use this mailing list later for marketing your books!
5 Author Websites to Get Inspired
There are many kinds of author websites from clean, professional websites to quirky ones that would make you look twice in wonderment. Among the varieties of author websites we see nowadays, here are some of the best author websites that have unique features, each of them with its purpose. Let’s see some examples of author websites that will inspire you with ideas and get some tips from it.
1. Jon Krakauer
As an author, we understand that you are eloquent with words. However, you need to fight that instinct to cramp up every available space with words when creating your website. The website of Jon Krakauer is a perfect example of a minimalistic author website.
He has a no-fussy website design with a lot of white spaces on either side of the page. The content on his homepage is focussed without any fuss or fill words. As you scroll down the homepage, you can see the listing of his books with a short book blurb.
Takeaway Point: Minimalism can be a strong base to develop an author’s website. It’s best to keep the content and design to-the-point that allows the readers to browse easily. Also, such a simple website will have great SEO benefits that is best for online marketing.
One look at her website, and you will be mindblown! Her main homepage itself is creatively designed for navigation with a big cartoon of a girl in the middle to provide a unique experience for the visitors. Want to guess what her genre is? If you said children’s books, then you are absolutely right.
Not only is her homepage creative, but all other pages of the website are also designed to look right out a comic book. This fits in the right with her genre of writing for children.
Takeaway: Have a website theme that gels with the genre. As Judy Moody had a cartoon-based theme with innovative ideas, you can do so the same for your website too. Try to add a few elements that stand proof to the genre of your works.
The first thing you will notice when you land on his webpage is a short bio about himself and a smiling picture of him. The next thing you see – the big blank space towards the right side with a call-to-action to get one of his books for free. It is a great marketing technique to compel visitors to take a look at his free sample book. He has also included giving away his book for free in the bio too. When you click on it, you are directly taken to the Amazon page where you can get his book for free.
Takeaway: Giving out free samples is one of the well-known tips to increase the reader base. There are proven researches that giving free samples will be the start of a great relationship. When you give out a book for free, the reader may love it and become a loyal fan of your books. It’s an excellent method to sell books more and create a ready group of readers for the next book.
As a non-fiction writer and a psychologist, Barbara Markway has nailed her homepage introduction. The website starts with a pleasing header that convinces readers about the benefits of her books. Next, she jumps on to connect with the readers with her straightforward questions. She seals the deal with her set of eight questions and in the next section, gives a short bio about her herself and what her books can do for the readers.
Takeaway: This is a classic example of playing with your words and convincing readers landing on her website in a direct and straightforward manner to buy the books. When you can find that connect with the readers and have them nodding to every sentence you say, the deal is already half done there!
5. Hal Elrod
In the author website of Hal Elrod, you will set it opens up with a big banner about his book. He also has a separate website for that book and has placed a clickable image of the banner, which will lead to that book website. As you scroll down, you can see an option to sign up for one of his crash courses and a few more about the events, and some podcasts and articles.
Takeaways: There are two main things to learn from this author website. Firstly, he has made it easy for the readers to buy or learn more about his recent book. Secondly, the addition of the details about his courses, podcasts, articles, and events increases his credibility. He is marketing himself instead of marketing his book, which will help him to get more readers for any book he may release in the future. As a non-fiction writer, such additional sides of expertise can play a significant role in convincing the readers about the author’s authority in the domain.
How Can You Create an Author Website?
With the inspiration of a few useful author websites fresh in your mind, let’s dive in and see how you can go ahead and create one for you.
Building an author website, unlike what many say, is not all that complicated. Once you get the hang of working with a few platforms, you can easily create a website. All you need is some time.
Here is a step-by-step guide to creating a complete author website.
Step 1: Choose a Web Host
For those who don’t know what web hosting is, let me break it down for you. A host is where your website is. It is the home where all of the details of your website will be saved. Obviously, it needs to be protected somewhere in a secure location where no one else can access it. So, many host providers offer the storage space to save the information on your website and keep it secure in exchange for a small fee.
Many authors use BlueHost or WordPress to host their websites. Both of these are affordable options, and once you sign up with them, you will be taken through the steps to create a host for your website. You will have to pay a yearly fee to these platforms to host your website.
Step 2: Choose a Domain Name
The domain name is a crucial part of creating an author website. The domain name is nothing but the URL with which you want to identify your website. The domain ends with an extension like .com, .org, .net., .me, .au, .co., .co.uk, etc.
Both WordPress and BlueHost have inbuilt options for the domain name. In WordPress, you need to pay separately to buy the domain name while BlueHost offers free domain name choosing options.
As an author website, it is best to have a website on your name itself and choose .com as the extension. Having the domain name as your name also has great online marketing benefits too. Here are a few variations in case the domain with your author name is already taken.
Try as much as you can to stick with the .com extension and have an easy domain name that is easily relatable to you.
Step 3: Choose a Website Theme
As you go through the steps mentioned on these platforms like WordPress and BlueHost, you would, by now, created a website under your domain. You will now own storage space for your website under the domain name of your choice, but your website is not yet launched.
Before you make the website go online, you need to perform various website customizations. The first step of new website customization is choosing the theme. The theme of the website says a lot about you and, therefore, chooses a theme that resonates well with the genre you write or the ideas you have of presenting the website.
There are some free themes available. However, if you want something special and unique that doesn’t look like the numerous other websites on the internet, then you can buy a website theme for a few bucks.
Once you have chosen a website theme, the theme will apply all over the website, and you can now start filling it with content.
Step 4: Creating Webpages and Adding Content
When you choose a theme, your website, in default, will have three to five pages. You need to customize each of the web pages with content and design elements. If you already have an outline of the kind you want to fit in, then you can accordingly add text boxes and other features to fit in with your idea.
You don’t need any technical expertise to customize your website. You need a lot of time and patience to edit through the website from one page to another. If you have previously worked with the content editor of WordPress, then it would be easier for you to add content to the web pages.
Usually, by default, you will have a homepage, an about page and a contact page on the website. You can add number of pages, create categories, decide the menu and the navigation options. Here are some tips for pages to include in author websites apart from the homepage, about and contact page:
- Recent Works
- Free Samples
If you want to have specific landing pages to let people subscribe for your newsletter or for any other online marketing purposes, you can do so. Some authors use a landing page for marketing a specific book like pre-sale of a book or to have a long form piece of content with a free sample or buy link. The website themes are intuitional to work with. Once you start working on the webpage, you will know how to customize all the details on the page. If you have any queries, you can quickly contact the host company, and they will help you to work with the features.
Step 5: Add Plugins
Plugins are an integral part of a website. When you are creating a website, you may want to add elements like a sliding sidebar with your social media links or a pop-up banner with an option to subscribe for your newsletter and many more. To make this work on the website, one needs to make changes in the backend code itself. But do not fret!
That’s what plugins are for. Instead of making changes in the code on your own, you can just install a plugin on the platform you use, choose the simple customization options about how you want that feature to work, and you’re done! There are a lot of plugins available for free. A simple Google search, and you can quickly download the required plugins.
Once you are done creating your website, don’t rest just yet. You should continuously monitor your website, make changes, and update it with your recent works. If you think that going through such elaborate steps to create an author website is too much work, then you can hire someone from the outside to do it for you.
Outsourcing the Creation of Your Author Website
As an author, we understand that you don’t have the time to sit down for days together to create a good-looking author website for you. Since it is an author website, you mustn’t do a half-hearted job at it. A poorly designed website will do more harm than good to your credibility.
During such situations, you can leave the job of creating your website to the experts and focus on your writing. There are a lot of companies out there who specialize in not just website creations but specific website development for authors. You can hire one of those companies to build a clean, attractive, and user-friendly author website.
How Much Does an Author Website Cost?
To create a professional author website, it can cost an average of $500 to create a basic website with the common pages. There are some services which cost more than $4000 to create a website. However, as an author website does not have any complicated features, you can choose an experienced and affordable service that provides a clean and straightforward interface that helps with marketing.
How Can We Help You with Creating Your Author Website?
At Pen2publishing, we provide expert author website development services that focus on showing you – the author – in the best light! We create author websites keeping in mind the readers, the search engines (for the benefit of SEO), and any new leads who happen to stumble across your website. Altogether, you will get a website that will help you to sell more books and set you well to increase demands for your future releases too.
Our services for creating author websites start from $149 for a basic structure of homepage, about page and contact page. If you want to include more pages about books, blogs, resources, and other additional unique pages, the rates will accordingly increase.
If you want to know a near-accurate quote of how much it will cost you to create an author website, we can help you. Just head to our Author Website section and click on ‘Get Quote’. In the short form, you can fill in the specific details like the number of pages on the website and what those pages are, how soon you need it, any extra features you need like setting up a buy option within the website, and so on. We will send you a quote in a day, for free, no strings attached!
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