Author Website Necessities
I've said it before and I'll say it again... an author website is a vital piece of author success. You should start thinking of setting one up the minute you decide to take your writing seriously and pursue authorship. It doesn't matter if you don't have a published book yet or even if you don't have a completed manuscript. Your website is your "home-base" online.
But, why is this so important? Because you don't own your social media accounts or any other online space you may occupy. But, your website is yours and your goal should be to bring people that you do meet on social media back to your website to learn more about you, to learn more about your project, and to learn more about your books.
So, what do you even need to include on your website? If you follow any authors at all and have taken a minute to check out their website, I'm sure you've noticed the vast spectrum of features they include. Some seem to offer little information at all while others have websites filled to the brim with content. It's easy to get overwhelmed when you are starting out so here are 7 necessities you should be focusing on when building your author website.
Author Website Pages
So the very first thing that you should have on your website is a home page. Now, this might sound a bit obvious, but I felt the need to include this because I see a lot of authors who are not offering up the proper information on their home pages. When creating your home page - this is the very first page your visitors will see upon stumbling onto your website and you want to make the very best impression that you possibly can. A great author website homepage will include include the following:
1. A gripping above-the-fold section. This is web designer-talk for the very first piece of content someone will see when they land on your website. You want to be immediately communicating a few key pieces of information like:
- your genre
- your pen name
- your brand statement
This can be done through a variety of written or visual elements.
2. A book highlight. Whether you are published yet or not - you need to be able to show what kind of books you write and how to they learn more or even purchase your book.
- Not yet published? Use an on-brand or descriptive graphic in the place of a book cover and a short blurb with a button to learn more about your upcoming release. You can switch this out for the pre-order link once the time is right.
- Have a large backlist? Avoide the urge to mention every single book you've ever published on your home page. Save that for the Books page. Consider highlighting your most recent release or your most popular series starter, instead.
3. A short bio that tells your visitors who you are, what this website is, and what they'll be able to find here. Remember, this is not your About page, so it's not going to go into too much detail. It's not going to tell your entire story, but it is going to give your visitors an idea of what they can expect to find on your website and who you are.
- Pro-tip: This isn't your resume! Feel free to inject some personality into this bio. The whole point is to introduce yourself and attract the right people for your brand. If you write comedy - be funny! If your brand is quirky - let that show through your bio.
This is also a good place to link to your social media accounts so that they can connect with you further.
Now, if you know anything about me, you know that I am a huge advocate for building a personal brand as a fiction author. This allows your readers to get to know you, your brand, values, and story on such a deeper level than say, a corporate brand. And yes, you can build a personal brand even if you use a pen name. So on your About page, this is your chance to share your story and let your readers get to know you a bit better.
Give your readers some interesting facts about you. Get them excited about seeing more things from you. Things to on this page are:
- A picture (or pictures) of you. Absolutely share a picture of your face. Depending on your brand, this could be a formal headshot or a more informal lifestyle shot. This is immediately going to start building the know, like, and trust factor with your readers. And, that is something that you really need to be focusing on as a personal author brand.
- Using a pen name and prefer privacy? Skip the photo and use a branded graphic or stock photo instead.
- Your full author bio. Think of this as the expanded version of your short bio on your home page. Go into detail, make it interesting, and show some personality. I encourage you to share more personal details with your readers here, you don't have to give them like your entire life story or anything, but sharing a story that relates to you, your brand, and your writing opens the door to connection.
- You can also consider adding press information on this page like a link to your media kit, awards, features, interviews, etc. This is going to be an easy way for people who want to feature you to grab this media kit, use it on their blog, website, podcast, whatever medium they are using because they have all the information they need to know about you in one place.
If you have short stories published anywhere, if you've been mentioned in any kind of magazine or e-magazine, if you have made any appearances on other podcasts or Youtube or blogs. You can link to all of that from this page.
Books Collection Page
Your book collection page is like a gallery of everything that you've published. This can be put together in a variety of ways - organized by genre or series, including short blurbs or simple buttons to the sales page. However, the important thing to remember here is that you want to include a link to learn more. Don't just list out the titles or include the un-linked cover. You want to make it as easy as possible for someone visiting this page to take the next step towards getting that book.
- Pro-tip : If you are an authorpreneur who is offering any other sort of services or products, then you need to have a dedicatied page or shop setup. You need to have easily accessible place on your website where visitors can buy those things from you. Offer an editing service? You need to have a landing page on your website.
Offer things like book swag, signed copies, etc? You need to have a place where the readers can go and get those things from you.
If you do have those things, make sure it is linked on your top menu as well so that you are giving visitors a clear path to follow on your website to get to where you want them to go.
Book Sales Page / Series Landing Page
This is - by far - one of the most over-looked and under-utilized pages on an author website but amazingly valuable. Having a dedicated landing page for your book or series opens up so many avenues for you as a marketer and creator.
Instead of linking straight to your Amazon listing from your home page or book collection page, link to a landing page strategically designed to highlight this book. From this page you can:
- Make sales by adding buttons to each of the formats and retailers your book is available on.
- Grow your list by offering bonuses, behind-the-scenes, or a freebie related to your book.
- Build excitement for your book by including blurbs, high-resolution cover images, sneak peeks, snippets, and extras like maps, character cards, aesthetics, printables, etc.
- Share social proof by highlighting some of your best reader reviews or press mentions.
- and more!
Because if you just send them off to the purchase link, then you're not warming them up. You're not getting them ready. You're not getting them excited for what you have to offer.
Blogging as a fiction author has mixed review, I know. But I strongly encourage blogging for two reasons.
- SEO (seach engine optimization). This is when somebody types you into Google or somebody is looking for something related to you, your genre, book, or brand into Google - SEO helps you show up as a search result. When partnered with content marketing, it can be one of the absolute best ways to get yourself seen online.
- Connection. Your blog is also a way to connect with your readers by sharing behind-the-scenes updates of your book, upcoming events, promotions, life updates (as relevant), and more.
When done right, you blog can be the ultimate tool of visibility and community nurturing. There a many ideas for author blog posts that can be pulling traffic into your website that you can share on social media, that you can pin on pinterest, etc. When you share on social media, you are going to link back to your website, get people on there and exploring, and hopefully onto your email list to buy your books.
Author Website Features
List Building + CTAs
Speaking of email lists - they are one of the most valuable assets you as an author can build. When planning your website, you want to keep in mind ways to encourage a reader to sign up for your newsletter and you want to make it easy to do so! There are so many ways to do this. Here are some ideas:
- Offering a lead magent or freebie
- Hosting a giveaway
- Offering updates and newsletter exclusives
You want to make sure you have a form embedded somewhere on your website asking interested visitors to sign up. Good places for this are on the home page, linked in the top menu, embedded in your website footer, and more.
CTA (call-to-action) simply means asking your visitor to do something. If the next step isn't obvious, it's likely the website visitor will never take it. So you want to sprinkle CTAs throughout your website where it makes sense.
Examples of CTAs for your author website are:
- Join my newsletter!
- Pre-Order Here!
- Find Out More!
- Buy On Amazon!
- Learn More!
A Way To Contact You
Guys, make it easy for people to contact you! This is both for your readers and for anybody else out there who wants to do any kind of collaboration with you. Maybe there's somebody out there who really wants to do an interview with you or have you on their podcast or feature you in a "Rising Author's" section on their blog. Either way, they need to be able to contact you first. So absolutely have an area on your website that says, "Hey, this is how you can contact me". And list your email. Or better yet, just include a form that they can type and fill out right there that will be sent to your inbox.
If you really want your website to make a lasting impression for your visitors - extras are where it's at! What I mean by this is something that's related to your writing, writing in general, or to your book. It's going to be the fun factor and ultimately result in brand fans. This is something that your readers can come to - even if you don't have a book yet - that's going to get them excited and keep them engaged with your book before or after reading. Ideas for extras are:
- a song playlist
- photos of who you think would you would cast as your character in a movie
- drawings or sketches of characters or locations
- information about your world the book takes place it
- the character's family tree
- sneak peaks
- extra chapters
- maps of your world
- character interviews
- related recipes
Things like this are really going to pull readers in, making them want to come to your website and learn more about your book and what you do time and time again.