You’ve written your book, now it’s time to develop your author website. There are SO many reasons why an author website is vital, so you will want to be sure that your website includes all of the features that make a website build your fan base, connect with your audience and sell your books. With so much to think about, here are some key features you don’t want to miss.
A domain name is the web address that a person types in order to land on a website. You will want yours to be easy to remember and spell, as you will be writing or saying this web address everywhere from your business cards to mentioning it on a podcast. Preferably, your domain name should be YOUR name—or pen name if you use one for writing. For example, my domain name is StephanieLarkin.com. If you cannot secure your own name, you can consider adding the word “author” to your name to create a domain name—like StephanieLarkinAuthor.com. That is generally preferable to adding something like a hyphen, which would make Stephanie-Larkin.com. While that version may look shorter, I would need to say the following to every person, reader and interviewer that asked: “My domain name is Stephanie hyphen Larkin dot com”. Most likely, the person will forget the hyphen and end up at the wrong website.
Adding numbers to your name is generally a bad idea for the same reason—it isn’t memorable, and you may find yourself avoiding giving people your web address since you know it won’t stick. Practice saying your prospective domain name aloud to see how it feels and sounds—you will be saying it a lot in the coming years!
One of the primary functions of your author website is to act as a “hub” for all of the spokes of your author persona online, and so you definitely want to be sure to post links to:
- All social media accounts
- Your Amazon author page
- YourGoodreads author page
- Any other online locations where you have a presence
Along with your email address and/or phone number so that fans can reach you. You never know—a television program may be looking for an interview, but if they contact you, they’ll move on to the next author!
It goes without saying that your website should feature your books—duh! You will certainly want to feature the titles, cover images and descriptions of all of your books, along with purchase information. As for purchasing your book, you can offer a link to an online bookseller—that option offers the least effort as well as the least profit for the author—or take orders and send out the books yourself—which is the most effort yet the most profit for the author. You may also consider a combination of the two, having bookseller links available, but offering autographed copies, discounted book sets or bulk sales direct from the author if you are planning to sell in bulk.
You will have many events as an author, and your website is a great place to post them, both before and after each event.
Before an event, you will want to post your event information, including date, time and location, in order to encourage fans to attend. If you have a registration form or sign-up sheet, you will want to post these as well. After the event, be sure to post pictures, videos and a write-up of the event, so those who couldn’t join you see what a great time they missed, and make an effort to come to the next event.
Posting events also helps to let others know that you are open to attending events, whether they are book signings, interviews or talks at book clubs. Include some text—and perhaps even a contact form—describing the types of events you’d like to attend, and web visitors can see what successes you’ve had in the past when booking you for their next event.
Websites with blogs get over 50% more traffic than websites without blogs. Why is that? Well, there are two major benefits to having a blog on your website, and both cause an increase in web traffic. First, having a blog means that you have fresh content posted on your website on a regular basis. Web visitors are much more prone to return to a website where there will be something new for them to see and read in the future. If the website looks static and unchanging, there isn’t much reason to ever come back.
Also, all of that changing, updated content triggers Google, which rewards your website with higher search engine rankings than a website that is unchanging. A blog also gives your reader a chance to learn more about you in a personal way, apart from through your books. Blogs can be text or videos, and videos are very popular with web visitors and rank well on Google as well.
Email Capture Form
Perhaps the most important job of an author website is to build your fan base, and to this end, you will want to have an email capture form. While loads of “likes” on Facebook is great, Facebook can change their own policies at any time, and so the only guarantee is that the names/email addresses on your own list are truly yours.
Many authors put a “Sign Up for our Newsletter” button on their website in order to capture email addresses, but they may find that the response rate is rather dismal. People are often reticent to give away their email address, and “Sign Up for My Newsletter” sounds much more about YOU than about THEM. A much better approach would be to “Click here for a free eBook” or some other digital freebie – and from there get the visitor’s email address. While sending a regular newsletter is a great way to keep in contact with your fans, it shouldn’t be the enticement to give away contact information.
Your author website should be dynamic, with changing content reflecting new reviews, events and reflections on a regular basis, which will encourage repeat visitors. For a checklist to help to guide you in setting up your author website, click below: