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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- Events – if you do book signings or public speaking, let readers know where you’ll be making appearances.
- 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?