Your Author Website – Six Tips to Make it Great
You’ve done the hard work; you’ve written your book. You’re promoting it on social media, telling all your friends and people you’ve never met about it. But if you don’t have an author website, or the one you have is out of date, you’re missing a huge promotional tool. As an author, your website is usually the first stop for your readers. I speak from experience. I read several hundred books a year, and when I find a new author, or I reach the end of the current book, and desperately want the next, my first stop is always the author’s website to look for other books in his or her backlist, or to find out when the next book will be out.
And I can tell you that very little frustrates me more than an author who doesn’t have a website at all, which in 2017 is unfathomable, or a website that is out of date. I’ve been known to drop an author on that basis alone. Especially if the book is a mystery or a romance or something in a series. I can’t read a series out of order; it drives me crazy. If I can’t find out what order to read them in, I move on.
So what does your author website need? I’m going to do a deep dive into the more important pieces of your author’s site in upcoming posts, but here’s an overview of the top 5 pages you must have in order to keep your readers coming back.
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6 Tips to Make Your Author Website Great
- Get your home page on point. This seems basic, but the home page is the first thing visitors will see when they get to your site so you want to make sure it’s just right. Ideally, you should have a professional headshot, a header that includes any relevant information (NYT Best-Selling Author, for example. Awards you’ve won is another idea), and your social media links. Those should be on every page. You should also have your latest published book, and as soon as it’s feasible, information about your next book.
- Craft an amazing about page. I have a certain amount of fascination with celebrity gossip. The general stuff – who’s dating, who’s married, divorcing, how on earth Actress A gets those abs. I don’t really need anything too deep or personal, though. Author pages are the same way. I want the overview. How did you start writing, what do you look like, are you based in the US, Canada, Australia? Tell me who you are. If you want your author website to include less professional, more candid style photos, this is the place for them.
- The book list – possibly your most important page. The most common way to list your books is chronologically, and there’s a good reason for that. Even if books aren’t actually in a series, there are plenty of readers who want to know the publishing order and read them that way. But make it clear if your version of chronological is newest to oldest or oldest to newest. Newest to oldest is clearly the most popular version; you want your readers to get your latest book, but I’ve occasionally seen it the other way. If your book are in a series, please, please, please put them in order and make it clear. And if you write both series and standalones, you must make it obvious which are which. Don’t expect your reader to try and figure it out on her own.
- What are you working on now? What’s coming next? Where can I preorder it? You need to have buy links here, too. If preorder isn’t available yet, at least a note letting readers know that you’ll add them as soon as you can.
- Let me know how I can find you! If I have a question about something, if I want to review your next book, if I just want to tell you how much I loved this one, where can I reach you? Usually an email address will do, but if you prefer something else, it should be here.
- Social media. Besides this author assistant business, I also run a book blog, and most of the time if I want to find an author, I turn to Twitter. The second place I check is Facebook. Even today, with Twitter use declining, it’s still where authors hang out. When I was in London in October, I saw a book that I really wanted to read, but I didn’t have enough room for (yet another) heavy hardback in my suitcase. I tweeted the author asking for a US release date, and he answered me in less than 20 minutes. I left the hardback at Waterstones and preordered the US version when I got home. You need to have your links prominently displayed on your site, preferably on every page so your readers can find you.
Bonus tip – you need to have a way for your readers to sign up for your newsletter. The frequency of that newsletter is up to you, but you need to have one. Not everyone has the slavish devotion to their favorite authors as I do, and people get busy. Your reader may think to herself, “I won’t forget that the new book comes out in March!”, but she’s human and she does forget. At a minimum you should be sending out a newsletter in the weeks leading up to a new release.
That’s a quick rundown of the most important parts of your author website. Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for a more in-depth look at each of those pages. Don’t have a website yet? Or you do but it’s out-of-date or you just don’t have the time to keep up with it? Contact me, and let’s set up a time to talk.
Would you like a printable PDF checklist of this info? You can get that right here!!
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