While you are busy promoting your book at live events and creating buzz on social media, it’s important to have a digital base where your readers can get all the information they need at a glance. Time to power up your author website!
A carefully curated website not only establishes your credibility in the publishing world, it can also help attract new readers, sell books, build an audience, and keep your fans’ interest in the long run. Here are the key elements to include when creating an author website.
1. Minimal, clean website design
Just as someone might judge a book by its cover, they can also judge an author’s website by its homepage. To create a positive first impression with visitors, keep the layout and design simple.
- Use one or two fonts only. You may even try a font type that matches your book.
- Choose a strong, simple color palette that is easy to read. Avoid bright text on bright colored backgrounds. Instead, opt for black text on a solid color or white background, or white text on a black background.
- Limit the main menu to a few, concise tabs or labels.
- Write clear, short headlines and button copy. Assign a color to these “calls to action.”
- Consider a single-page website to keep your reader focused, especially if this is your first book and you don’t have a lot of content. One page, one click equals faster book sales!
- Keep it original and on brand. The look and feel of your website should align with the subject matter and tone of your book.
- Do your research. See what other author websites look like and how easy they are to use.
- Avoid animation, music, or anything that might make the site slow to load.
2. Multiple purchase links
People are used to one-stop, quick shopping experiences online, so you want to make it easy for them to buy your book. On the homepage of your author website, give customers a clear option to “Buy now” or “Buy the book,” so they don’t have to hunt for it. This button can direct them to a shopping page with links to two or three major online retailers that carry your book, plus a few local bookstore options.
3. Links to social media or author blog
Social media is an effective way to spread the word about your book, so make it super easy for your fans to follow you and show their support. Add social share buttons on each page of your author website and blog, where followers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest can automatically share your posts on their own networks. Be sure to clearly list your own social media handles with links to each profile, so you and your audience can continue the conversation online.
4. Email sign-up
Since many visitors will only make one trip to your author website, make the most of it by inviting them to leave their contact info—a first name and email address will do. It’s never too early to start compiling a mailing list, since these interested readers will be the most likely to create buzz and help entice new fans. As an incentive, you can offer a free book chapter, promo code, small gift, or sneak preview of new work to people who sign up. Then keep all your followers up to speed by sending out a monthly or quarterly email newsletter with event highlights, reading dates, and new book announcements.
5. Author bio and contact information
Readers often want to know a little bit about you—just not your whole life story. Keep things professional with a short bio or About the Author page that is personal, honest, and straightforward. Focus on facts about your career, publications, accolades, or creative life. A small author photo is fine, but the image should not take center stage. Give readers a way to connect with you by listing your email address and social media handles on a Contact menu tab, or by providing a simple contact form they can fill out and submit.
6. Responsive design
More and more visitors to author websites are using mobile phones or tablets to browse and shop. You want your website to have responsive design, which means it will optimize the layout and navigation features based on the device each visitor uses. That ensures everyone in your audience can read the text clearly and get the best possible experience. As a test, check out your website on a computer and on your mobile phone, and compare the two views. If the layout of the webpage looks different and the navigation options have changed to fit your phone, then your site is responsive.
7. Book excerpts or quotes
In addition to showing a cover shot of your book, providing a sneak preview of pages is one way to engage potential readers and encourage them to explore the other parts of your author website. Try featuring a paragraph or page of the book that is compelling or suspenseful—maybe a glimpse of the character’s world, or an example of provocative storytelling. Some retailers give customers the option to peek inside the actual pages. You can also excerpt the text right on your webpage!
8. Events and speaking engagements
Your audience might start with local readers, but you want the word about your book to spread far and wide. List the dates and locations of all your speaking events, readings, workshops, and book signings to let your growing fan base know when and where to find you. You can also use this space to post videos or audio links to past events.
9. Press page or media kit
Retailers and media contacts may also visit your author website, so be sure to tell them who you are and what you offer. A press page or media kit shows that you take book promotion seriously. You can create a one-page, downloadable press release PDF (recommended), or post the information on your site. It should include basic information, like your book title, author name, author website and contact info, publishing date, price, ISBN number, page count, author bio and photo—however the bulk of the text will be comprised of a headline, reviewer quotes, an enticing description of the book, and an excerpt or two. Visit the Press Releases page on major book publisher websites for great examples.
10. Testimonials, blurbs, and reviews
Word of mouth is a powerful thing! Leave space on your website for positive testimonials, including blurbs by book reviewers, excerpts from press coverage, or personal quotes from fans on social media. All of these words of support can help increase your credibility as a published author.
Looking for more ways to promote, sell, and distribute your new book? Set your book up for sale on the Blurb Bookstore, create a listing on Amazon, or sell your book in over 195 countries with Ingram. Explore the possibilities!