Author Website Essentials

Hey, SE Readers. Joan with you today. Several months ago, I wrote a post about making your blog user friendly. If you missed that post, you can click here to read it. Today, I want to talk about essentials for your author website.

Yes, as a professional author you need a website. Now, before you cringe or think you can’t afford one, it can be the same as your blog. Your website is your site. A place to sell you, or rather, your books.

Remember, first impressions are lasting impressions. First, you should purchase your own domain name. If possible, your author name with the dot com extension. If that isn’t available, there other alternatives and new extensions being added frequently. I’ve tried for years to purchase Joan Hall (dot) com, but I’m not about to pay thousands of dollars, so I went with (dot) net. I don’t recommend using one of your book titles, otherwise, you’d end up with several sites and domains.

After you’ve purchased your domain name, it’s time to build your website/blog. I’m a firm believer in having an ad-free site. These days we are inundated with ads, pop-ups, and the like. You don’t have to spend tons of money. A basic WordPress ad-free blog costs about $48.00 per year. You’re a professional writer, so you don’t want to cheapen the look of your site by having annoying ads that could potentially drive visitors away.

Keep the design simple. Light backgrounds with larger fonts are best. Stay away from minimal contrast or light fonts with dark-colored backgrounds. Use a basic serif or san serif font. Script fonts may look pretty but they’re harder to read. Comedic fonts look unprofessional.

Make sure you have a navigation bar so that readers can easily navigate from one area to another. Nothing infuriates me more than to visit a website that isn’t easy to navigate.

After you’ve created your site, you’ll need the following basics.

  1.  A book page – this is where you showcase your work. Include the book’s blurb, cover photo, and purchase links. While it’s not necessary, you could also include one or two positive reviews.
  2.  Author bio – make you’re your bio is up-to-date. This tells your readers a little bit about you, your interests, why you write in a certain genre, etc. The author’s bio page can be a little longer than what you would use on Amazon or other retailers, but don’t go overboard with unnecessary details.
  3.  Social network links – let your readers know how they can follow you on social media—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. You don’t have to have a presence on all social media sites. Choose the ones you’re most comfortable with and go with those. Don’t forget to include links to your Amazon, BookBub, and Goodreads author pages.
  4. Blog – it goes without saying your blog is one of the best places to connect with readers. It’s yours. You own it. You can decide how often to post and what topics you cover.
  5. Contact info – let your readers know how they can contact you. I have a separate email address for writing. I like to keep my personal email just that. Personal. I do not recommend giving out your physical or mailing address.

Those are the basics, but there are some other things that are nice to have.

  1. Newsletter sign up – there are several alternatives if you want to build a mailing list. Mail Chimp and Mailer Lite offer free services up to a certain number of subscribers and/or the number of emails sent per month. (Note, I’m not an affiliate of either site.)
  2. Media kit – a media kit is great for marketing a new book. A basic kit contains your bio, author photo, book information, press releases, and testimonials.
  3. Events – if you do book signings or public speaking, let readers know where you’ll be making appearances.
  4. Extras – is there something unique that you’d like to share with readers? Make a page. For instance, music inspires me to write. I’ve made playlists for several of my books and have created pages for those playlists.

Do you have an author website? If so, what are some other items you’ve included?

55 thoughts on “Author Website Essentials

  1. Pingback: Writer's Tips, - #Website Essentials - #Marketing #Author Submissions

  2. I have been gone for a few days so playing catch up. This is a great post for anyone starting to build a website. You covered all the basics. I have had my website for years and am still working on it and adding things. I am WAY behind on updating my Media Kit page. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂 I’ll add it to my list. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post, Joan. Sorry I’m late getting here. (Last week was insane.) I don’t have a separate website, per se. I set up my a new paid WP blog, instead (which does have “marciamearawrites.com” as the name, so hopefully, that’s good) And because I was a blogger long before I was a writer, I already had a following I didn’t want to lose. I’m planning to add new Book pages, similar to what we have here on SE, and a few other pages (carefully listed in the header for ease of location, 😀 ) but I don’t want to sell books from my site. So I’m thinking (hoping) the blog will continue to do what I want for me. Everything else you’ve mentioned, I can add, if I don’t already have it set up.. And I do have buy links in several places. What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. All good information to have on a website, Joan. I’ve never gotten around to the media kit. I like to include the books I’ve enjoyed reading too:)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m never completely happy with my blog/website, but maybe I never will be. It takes me a long time to fiddle with it to try something else, so I compromise:) I agree with you about the colored backgrounds, though. It makes it SO hard to read, I quit.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I need to make a media kit for my website, but otherwise I’ve got the other primary bases covered. Some of the “fun” items I would like to add relate to those things that reflect my personality and interest me (like cryptozoology information). I’d also like to add a “news” page but I worry I won’t have updates for it often enough.

    I would also love to start making playlists for my novels again. My first critique partner and I used to do that. We’d “cast” our novels too, which would be fun to do with photo links. In fact, reading your post has my mind spinning in multiple directions with creative ideas for books and WIPS. Thank you, Joan! This was a great post.

    Now I need to find some time, LOL!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Adding the cryptology section would be great for you.

      I love doing playlists, although I’m coming up short of songs for my WIP. Recently completed a short story and came up with a dozen good songs that fit. In fact, I’m going to include the list at the back of the book when it’s published.

      You and I have the same website theme and there are so many possibilities with it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I really love that website theme. I’ve used it on my day job too. It’s a winner 🙂

        Including a playlist at the back of the book sounds like a fun idea!

        Like

  7. Thank you for the great post, Joan. I need to revise my site and make it more user friendly. Time is always a burden, but it’s on my list of to-dos and you’ve encouraged me to push it to the top. ☺

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m with you about hard-to-navigate sites. My time is precious to me, as I (like everyone else) have too little of it. If I can’t easily find what I want or need, I can’t waste seconds/minutes (or more) looking for it. I also get frustrated with fonts that are too small or too light and sites that don’t have search bars.

    I’d really like to redo my site (again). I still don’t like the design/layout. I’m constantly searching for that perfect theme. But once I start tinkering, I can spend a couple 14-hour days on it, and I don’t have the weekend to spare at the moment.

    Great post, Joan.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Well you know I’m always wanting to change my site. Finally found a theme I like, so I’ll probably stick with it a while.

      However, I still want a different look for the blog portion.

      I recently increased the font size on my website because I could barely read it. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Joan
    At last, somebody who thinks it’s worth the cost of paying for an ad free site!
    Ticking off the points, I’ve done most things correctly.
    Thank you for the playlist idea; music is a passion of mine, but I’ve only gone as far as blogging about it… to work!

    Liked by 2 people

    • For the life of me, I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want an ad-free site. I love creating playlists. Not only does music inspire me to write, but the songs I pick also fit my stories.

      Funny, I need it to be quiet when I’m writing. Otherwise, I’m paying too much attention to the words of the songs and not to writing.

      Liked by 1 person

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