You’ve written your book. Or maybe you’re still crafting it, but you finally have a solid sense of where the book is going and what you want to say. Regardless, you’ve jumped into public speaking, a critical pillar of your writer’s platform. You’ve even launched your Facebook page, the first step in what will be a prolonged social media campaign which we’ll explore at length later on.
“Do I really need a website?” you ask yourself.
Absolutely! Author websites aren’t just the second pillar of writer platforms, they are a critical part of the ongoing marketing you’ll need to do. So you’ll want a website that represents you and your work in a way that makes you proud and leaves your readers wanting more. Translation: authors websites don’t have to include everything about the book(s) or the author. They’re not dinner. They’re the appetizer that convinces someone to order up.
There are five main facets involved in creating author websites that work. The site needs to hook visitors with its look and its message. It needs to be built right. People need to be able to find it. And they’ll want to find the content they’re looking for once they get there.
Let’s start with how to put together your website. That’s the easy part if you use WordPress. Keep in mind that you’re going to want to keep things simple and obvious so people don’t have to think twice about how to navigate it. For more information about the basic components of author websites, check out Jane Friedman’s excellent post.
Onto helping people find your website. First, select a URL, also known as a domain, that’s based on your name. I write under the name Linden Gross, so my URL is LindenGross.com. Of course, I also do a number of other things, so I also have the URL OneStopWritingShop.com that simply redirects people to the LindenGross.com website. You could certainly do the same thing with a book title or five. Once you’ve secured your URL, you’ll want to make sure that your website shows up when people search for you or your topic. Check out my blog post on website keywords to learn more.
That brings us to the content and design needed for author websites. Most writers will probably balk at the idea that they need to brand themselves, but author websites need to have an on-point look, feel and message. I loved this analysis of famous authors’ websites. On a more modest scale, Captain Art Samson’s website immediately tells you that his book and expertise revolve around aviation. The design is simple yet telling. Ditto for the content.
Remember, your website isn’t just your online business card. It’s the hub of your platform and marketing campaign. So make sure it offers all the information people will come looking for. That includes:
- An About or bio page.
- Information about—and even an excerpt from—your book(s).
- A link to your media kit if you have one. I’ll talk more about media kits and publicity down the line. For now, just keep in mind that you’ll want a bio, a professional head shot, information about your book, a media release, sample chapters and testimonials.
- Clips of your public speaking if you plan to use that to build your platform. Don’t forget to list upcoming appearances, speaking engagements, workshops or media interviews.
- Testimonials and reviews.
- A blog. I know, the idea of writing what amounts to a weekly column may sound unappealing at best. At the beginning of last year, I wrote a post called Top Seven Reasons Why You Do Really Want to Start a Blog. Now that you’re building your writer’s platform, one reason trumps all the others. A blog improves your SEO (search engine optimization) because it gives those search engines like Google and Bing new material to crawl on a very regular basis. That means that your website will be a lot more visible. It also doesn’t hurt that you can engage your readers week after week, and use your blog to continue to build your fan base.
- Social media, which I’ll be writing a post about soon. For now, make sure you give people an easy way to find you on whatever social media outlets you decide to participate in.
- Visible contact information. Yes, I know it’s trendy to bury that information in the footer these days, but most of your visitors won’t know to look there. So include a Contacts tab at the very least so they can easily figure out how to reach you.
Is your author’s website as important as your book? Of course not. Is it a critical piece of making sure that book gets read? You betcha.
It can even serve as a money funnel. I’ll be writing about that soon.