Whether you want an interactive website with all the bells and whistles or a simple landing page, an author website is an essential part of your author platform. If you’re thinking about developing your online presence by launching an author website, start by asking yourself these questions.
Do I really need an author website?
If you believe that a lack of publishing credentials means you’re not ready for a website, think again! Pre-published writers stand to benefit greatly from an author website! And for published writers, the benefits of a website are not optional…they’re vital. The rule of thumb is: If you’re wondering whether or not you need an author website, you most likely do!
What do I want people to take away from my website?
Before you launch an author website, determine what you want to accomplish. Sell books? Increase readership? Provide a forum for interacting with readers? Attract the attention of literary agents or editors? All of the aforementioned possibilities?
A good website isn’t a passive viewing experience—it should engage your visitors and encourage interaction to enhance your writing career. Learn about the “call to action” technique of Web design and create your wish list. Then, share your ideas with your Web designer.
How do I want my website to appear?
Are you interested in a minimalist, modern layout, or something more traditional and classic? Whatever your preference, be sure to design a site that is easy to view and read. Visitors are turned off by dense, crowded text, flashing lights, and irritating fonts.
Your author website should also reflect the mood of your work. A series of lighthearted romances will look out of place against a dark, foreboding background, just as a terrifying thriller would be jarring on a pastel-tinted website that featured flowers, hearts, and ribbons. Set a tone that will draw in your particular audience, and make sure it’s consistent throughout.
When do I want to schedule my website launch?
This one’s easy. As soon as possible! One of the factors Google uses to rank a website is age, and so the longer a website has existed, the better. Plus, the sooner you stake your claim on a domain name, the less likely someone else will take it first. It’s impossible to be too early in launching your website—but you can certainly be too late!
What important features should I include on my author website?
Usually, the homepage or landing page of an author’s website will feature the writer’s latest project (with a blurb, a click-to-buy feature, and testimonials or reviews), but you might also include a “dear reader” letter. You should also include an author bio with photo; contact information; and a newsletter to announce upcoming releases, speaking engagements, book signings, reviews, press releases, or other media coverage. You may also showcase excerpts of your writing, promotional giveaways, and contests. You may want to have a blog on your website as well, which leads us to the next question…
Do I want a blog?
If you want a way to feature fresh content (and boost your search engine optimization!) without cluttering up your homepage, then yes, a blog is a great way to lure more traffic to your site. Plus, the comments section is an ideal place to interact with your audience. (Note: Make sure you’re committed to making regular contributions! Nothing makes your website look abandoned and outdated more than a neglected blog. And your disappointed visitors will have little reason to return.
Is it worthwhile for me to post excerpts from my work?
An author’s website is a great place to feature your work, but you’ll need to exercise caution given the publishing industry’s rules about what is considered previously published writing. Learn more about how to post your writing online.
How do I want visitors to contact me?
Some writers don’t care if their email address is posted on their website; others do. If you’re worried about posting your email address online, consider using a contact form like this. We recommend using a contact form, since listing your email address leaves you vulnerable to spammers.
How much money do I want to spend?
Creating an author website used to require a significant commitment in both time and money, but these days a professional-looking site is possible with very little demand on your time—or your wallet! You can create a website yourself, or you can hire a Web design expert. Just make sure the site is designed so you won’t need a major overhaul with every new step in your career.
The price of a good website can range from affordable to extravagant, so decide on your target budget in advance. Otherwise, you might find yourself spending much more than you expected. Web Design Relief offers custom author website designs to meet any budget.
How do I get started?
Give the tech-savvy, writer-friendly experts at Web Design Relief a call! Whether you’re a new writer or an established author with a string of publication credits, we’ll work closely with you to design the author website best suited to your needs. It’s easy, affordable, and best of all—you’ll have the full support of our expert staff long after you’ve launched.
Photo by Official U.S. Navy Imagery via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/usnavy/
QUESTION: What other questions should writers ask themselves before launching an author website?