by Tamara Sztainbok
Nowadays, the most effective way writers connect with their audiences, maintain a public platform, and promote and sell their books is through their personal author websites. Basic website templates are fine for those in the goods and services industries, but writers’ websites have more specific needs.
If you don’t have a website yet, now is the time to start reaching your audiences in an immediate, relevant way online. When setting up your site—either on your own, or with the help of a professional website designer—it’s vital to make sure it contains these 10 essentials for your author website.
An Engaging “About” Page
Did you know the “About” page is the most visited page on any website? It’s where visitors start to make deeper connections with you and get to know what makes you tick.
Your “About” page should include:
- a professional headshot that lets visitors put a face to the words they read on the screen and the page
- your story/bio, which may include how you got to where you are today, why you write what you write, what inspires you, and more
- a link to a press page or media kit (see below)
- a call to action, such as a link to your books or services
A Page Dedicated to Each of Your Books and Services
It’s fine to have a single page that lists all your books and services, but in addition to that, you need a separate page for each book and each service you offer. Writers know that in writing less is more, but in the world of websites, more is better:
- Having individual pages allows you to optimize each page so when people do an online search for that specific book or service, they can easily find it (this is known as SEO or “Search Engine Optimization”)
- Having individual pages means you have a link for each book or service that you can use online to drive targeted traffic.
Website pages for your books should include:
- an image of the book cover
- an intriguing blurb to entice readers
- links that lead buyers to online outlets where they can buy your book (the publisher’s website, Amazon, etc.)
Multiple Opportunities to Connect
Readers, reviewers, agents and publishers need to know how to reach you quickly and easily. If your contact information is hard to find, they may give up and move on to another writer.
Have a tab on your main navigation menu that leads to your Contact page. Decide how you want to be reached and let people know how to do it. If you want to be reached by email, include your email address or a contact form. If you want to be reached by mail, include an address. If you include a contact form, keep it short, asking for only the information you need.
Invite visitors to engage with you on social media. Make sure you have accounts on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. and include links to your accounts on every page of your website so visitors can follow you on social media easily.
Social proof can include excerpts from fan mail, book reviews and notable media appearances. Reviews and testimonials speak for themselves and lend credibility and authority to your work. If you sprinkle them throughout your website—on your Book and Service pages, your Home page and your About page—people will be constantly reminded of the glowing things said about you, your books and what you do.
A Press or Media Page
In order to sell books, you’ll need to get the word out beyond your website and your own social media accounts. That’s where the media come in. Include a Press page on your site that makes it easy for media outlets and reviewers to contact you. Give them all the information they’ll need in order to feature you:
- A current author bio (make sure you update it regularly)
- A current professional profile picture
- Details about your latest book
- Testimonials and reviews
- Topics about which you’d like to speak
- Your contact information
- A link to a press release
- A link to a media kit, if you have one
A Listing of Events or News
Once you’re getting media coverage and invitations to speak, let your fans know where you’ll be appearing in the future. Create an Events or News page where you list your upcoming launches, readings, speaking engagements, and TV or radio appearances.
A Blog Page
Blogging is essential for your website for a number of reasons:
- Search engines reward websites with better rankings when the content is constantly updated
- Readers have the opportunity to get to know and love you, which leads to more devoted fans hungering for more
- You establish your authority and build a reputation as a thought leader
An Email Sign-Up Form on Every Page
Your email subscribers will be your most loyal fans and greatest ambassadors to their like-minded friends. Through regular emails, you can share your latest blog posts, upcoming events, and behind-the-scenes looks at your current writing.
Social Sharing Buttons
Include social sharing buttons (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) on the pages of your site you’d like visitors to share on social media, particularly your book pages and blog posts.
A responsive website is one that adapts to whatever screen it’s being viewed on. Whether someone is looking at your site on a mobile phone, a tablet or a desktop computer, your website should look beautiful, be easily navigable, and function seamlessly. This is not only for visitor ease but also to maintain your ranking: search engines penalize your site if it’s not built to be responsive.
Gone are the days of the static website that serves primarily as a digital business card. Today’s websites are dynamic, responsive, and engaging. An author website is an extension of you as the writer and of your work. It must connect to fans and provide the opportunity for you to promote your work. If you have any questions about your author website, please leave me a comment below.
Tamara Sztainbok, of Puzzle Box Communications, helps solo entrepreneurs create websites that attract their ideal customers. Having worked in the publishing industry for almost 20 years, she has a special place in her heart for writers and creative folks. She understands that in order to get the biggest audience for your creative work, you need a professional and strategic online presence that integrates sales funnels, email marketing, social media, SEO and content marketing. She also understands that taking care of all that can be overwhelming and takes time away from your craft. Until the end of June, Tamara is offering an exclusive 20% discount on her web design services to members of The Community at One Lit Place. Contact Tamara for a free website consult.