March 7, 2020

While there’s a few basic things every author website needs, the best place to start is, again, to look at other author’s websites. See what they include, how they organize the information, what they do well and what you’re convinced you can do better.

Then start to fill out your website accordingly.

Books

Don’t rely on Goodreads or a book vendor (such as Amazon or Google Play) to tell people about your books. Tell them yourself.

Give visitors to your site series information, reading order, freebies, behind the scenes content, and quick links to all the places where they can buy your books!

Novelist is a great resource to display information and buy links for your books. And WooCommerce or Forminator can facilitate selling your books directly on your website in order to offer signed copies.

About

This can be as simple as your author bio or you can give your readers more details and depth or maybe just a bit more whimsy with some fun details.

Contact

While you want to give readers a way to connect with you, this doesn’t have to be an entire page. It’s easy enough to include an email address, information for your agent or other representative or a contact form on your About page.

Contact forms are a good idea because they can decrease spam and Forminator works well to provide both a contact form and give readers the option to buy books directly from you in one plugin. If you want to share an email address, an email address encoder plugin is a good idea to deflect spam.

Also let people know where they can connect with you on social media. You can include social media links on your Home page, About, and if it’s separate also your Contact page.

Newsletter Sign Up

Every author needs a newsletter these days. Even if you don’t send out anything often. When you have a new book coming out, you want a way to connect directly with your readers to let them know.

MailChimp is an easy and free way to start out with a newsletter. Then include a simple sign up form on your home page as well as About/Contact.

Blog?

If you’re not going to have a blog (or not start with a blog) then you have a lot less content to create. Once you get the basic pages built you’re done.

If, however, you are going to have a blog then you likely want to start with at least one post to get things rolling (maybe more… maybe A LOT more depending on what you have to say).

If you do have a blog, Naked Social Share makes it easy to share posts to several social media outlets. Also Canva has templates for blog posts headers and Pinterest graphics. I also recommend installing either the Smush or Tinypng plugins to compress images without losing quality to improve site performance.

Review

Once you’re done, here’s a quick checklist to review:

  • In a few seconds, can a reader figure out where they are and what they can do here?
  • Is your site attractive, easy to read with a clean, usable design?
  • Are your social media links easy to spot?
  • Have you clicked on every link to make sure they work?
  • Did you include a way for people to contact you through a form or by email?
  • Are you tracking statistics for your site?
  • Are there images people can easily share?
  • If you have a blog, are you cross-posting to social media?
  • Are you providing a way for readers to buy your books, either on your site or through links to your distribution venues?
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