As a writer, your job is to create a narrative that hooks the reader, raises curiosity, elicits empathy, and leaves the reader satisfied. But have you ever considered how these fundamentals of storytelling can be harnessed to improve your author website?
Web Design Relief outlines the simple steps to create a website that will make readers, editors, and agents care about you as a writer:
Burnish Your Author Bio
Your “About The Author” page should be much more than a dry listing of books, birthplace, and accolades. Toss out those marketing checklists of what to include, along with any sentence that begins “I have been writing since I was (age).” To share your story, write your author bio like a personal essay. Here are ways to draw your readers in and make them curious about you:
- Relate the story of the first moment you realized you wanted to be a writer so that the wonder feels as real to the reader as it did to you.
- Explain the core message you wish to express through your fiction or nonfiction, and why, when, and how this theme became important to you.
- Share the other joyous things that fill your world, such as hobbies, family, pets, or your love of travel or community, if they relate to your writing.
- Include two kinds of bios by starting with a personal story and then ending with a “back-of-the-book” author bio that includes career highlights.
Highlight Your Headshot
Putting a face to a name deepens the personal connection, so including a headshot on your website is a marketing must. Deciding what kind of publicity photo depends on your brand and your writing. Do you write dark suspense or horror? You may want a more shadowy shot with a subdued smile. Do you write romantic comedy? A laughing shot in the bright outdoors may be just the thing. A nonfiction writer should aim to look like a capable, intelligent, trustworthy purveyor of smart new information. Writing humor? Break out the boa and the Groucho Marx glasses.
You might also consider including some candid shots on your author bio page to give readers a “behind-the-scenes” glimpse: photos of your office desk, your groaning bookshelves, the view from your deck, or you at book signings, workshops, or conferences.
These days, you don’t have to break the marketing budget to snap great publicity photos, so take a bunch and see what works best.
Delve Into The Dear Reader Letter
A “Dear Reader” letter gives you the advantage of having your landing page make a personal connection with a potential new reader. It’s a chance to showcase your voice, strengthen your brand, and raise some curiosity that will launch a reader deeper into your website.
In your “Dear Reader” letter, you can include:
- A hearty welcome to the fictional world you’ve created, or a congratulations to the reader for seeking information about your nonfiction topic.
- An intriguing description of the kind of fiction or nonfiction you write, as well as what the reader can hope to learn or experience by reading your books.
- An offer of a gift to the reader, such as a free short story, novella, or resources pdf.
- A well-crafted blurb about your most recent book along with a story of how it came about.
- If appropriate to your brand, an engaging story of something personal that’s going on in your life that will leave readers nodding, laughing, and/or emotionally moved.
Build A Blog
There may be no better way to tell your personal story than to blog on a regular basis. Blogging lets you share with readers what is important to you. If you write cookbooks, share recipes as well as cooking stories. If you write cozy mysteries involving the owner of a yarn store, showcase your knitting projects. Horror and historical writers can expound on factoids discovered during research. And while readers, editors, and literary agents are getting to know you—you’re building a marketing platform for future releases.
Even the most extroverted writers can sometimes have difficulty writing personal essays and/or blogs. Shy writers have a particularly hard time with this kind of marketing. Think of it as narrative nonfiction or memoir. If you need advice, consult friends and family who know you well for help in choosing subjects. And remember to craft your stories around a consistent brand that will make you memorable to readers, agents, and editors.
Question: What is the “core story” or “central message” of your fiction or nonfiction, and how do you communicate that message on your website?
Hi Web Design Relief, This was a very helpful article and got me thinking about ways I can make my own site more reader friendly. Thanks so much for the great suggestions!