It’s pretty self-explanatory, but an author website is the webpage for your brand. It will have a page for people to learn more about you, for your books, and for your blog (if you have one).
Why Do You Need One?
A website is one of the first things that a business needs, especially one without a physical storefront like authors are. If you want to expand your book’s reach beyond your immediate circle, an internet presence is key. Social media for the most part is a great place to start. A Facebook page is almost there, but an entire website that fans can visit to learn more about you and your books without distractions is the best method.
With this, you can maintain complete control of what they see, if they’ll be bombarded with ads, and where they can buy your books.
How to Make One
Authors typically include most of the following pages on their website:
- An Author Bio
- This will include information about you as a person, how you got started writing, what kind of books/genres you like to read/write, and more. Make it your own.
- Your Books
- Straight forward; a place where you can list your books and make it possible for people to buy them, either directly from you or by including a link to a place where they can buy them (e.g. Amazon).
- Mailing List Sign Up
- Building a mailing list is really important because you want to keep people updated about your books. Having an entire page dedicated to this makes it easy for visitors to navigate to. (More on mailing lists below.)
- A Blog
- This is where you can write a personal blog to fill in the gaps between writing books. Some authors share personal stories, others love sharing advice, others include bonus content for their books. Whatever you choose to do, keep in touch with your fans.
- Contact Information
- This page includes your contact information such as social media links, a business email, even a P.O. box. How do you want your fans to interact with you?
- A Media Gallery
- Very obviously a gallery of images: your book, book content, etc. You may have a map, include official artwork that you’ve commissioned, or even want to showcase art drawn by fans of your books.
If you already know how to create a website from scratch, that’s amazing! If not, no worries. You have other options. The first and foremost being to use a free website builder when you’re just starting out. You may scowl at the idea of using a free site like Wix or WordPress, but no one is going to fault you as a self-published author with their newly made website.
However, if you’re dead set on your website being the best it can be right from the start, consider hiring a professional to build and even manage it for you.
Creating a free website is easy enough, but you’ll be stuck with a browser extension like “wordpress.com” or “wix.com” or something else. When you’re just starting out, this is entirely okay—don’t splurge right away without considering all your options. The actual best way to create a website is either to build it yourself (if you know how to make a good one) or to hire someone to build a professional website for you and upload it onto your own server.
Personally, I regret paying so much for a business account on WordPress. While it does the job, there are better options, so at the end of this year, when the yearly contract is up, I will be reuploading my website properly.
It can cost several hundred dollars to have a professional website done and accessible, so make sure to do your research ahead of time. I highly recommend also planning what it’s going to look like so it’s professional and clean right from the get-go. Nothing’s worse for business than a sloppy website.
To do that, look at other author sites and make note of what makes them unique. What does the website tell you about them? Is it clean? modern? naturalistic? technological? Design your website so it tells readers what your books are about before they even read the first blurb.
Build Your Mailing List
A mailing list is just as important as posting articles on a blog—if not more so—to keep your fans in the know. Using services like MailChimp or Mailerlite are extremely helpful as they will filter through your emails (making them more manageable) and will autogenerate welcome messages for people who sign up.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t immediately bombard your subscribers with sales pitches or “buy my book!” messages. They won’t like that and are likely to unsubscribe from your mailing list if that’s all you can offer them. Start by giving them free samples such as chapter samples, sneak peeks, or free short stories related to your book(s). These are great ways to get them interested, invested, and informed in your work. It also helps them decide if they like your work or not—if it’s a good match for them. After a few emails (maybe three or four), you can send them links for buying your books.
If you’re someone who has trouble coming up with new things to share online (to social media or otherwise) a good strategy is to keep a schedule and a list of possibilities. In a notebook, record ideas of things to add each month (if you’re going for a monthly thing), or whenever a new idea hits you. Always be working on new things to share, especially between writing new books. If you find that you’re too busy when life hits you, take every chance available to quickly jot things down.
If you can’t work on a novel, write a short story instead. Not only is it a shorter process, but the sense of accomplishment will spur you forward with positivity.
Being an author, the work is never done, and the pay is hardly ever good, but if this is your dream, you know to never give up.