An author’s website is one of the most essential tools that you can have to promote your books and make sales.
It is the hub of your online presence and a resource for your readers. It’s a place where new visitors can visit and be informed about your work and how you can help them.
If you rely only on social media to promote your book, then that is a terrible mistake to make. In fact, we believe most authors should not use social media.
A website is a long-term investment in your writing career.
Here’s 8 tips for building a great author website that will help you boost your career, sell more books, and increase your income.
1. Reflect Your Brand
Your website must build your image and brand. Having a brand helps your audience understand who you are, what to expect from you, and what makes you different from other authors.
Brand elements on your website include not only visual features such as your logo and color schemes but also the written content on the website.
Everything on your website should reflect a cohesive author’s brand.
Your brand tells readers who you are and what you stand for, and gives them a reason to want to learn more about you and your work. It should be an authentic reflection of who you are and the work you do.
To start off, be clear about your brand by asking questions such as:
- Who are you as an author and a person?
- What kind of books do you write? Thrillers? Mystery? Romance?
- What do you want your audience to know about you?
- What do you stand for? Is there a particular message you want to convey to readers?
- Who is your audience?
- How are you different from other authors in the same genre or category?
Once you answer these questions, you will have a good idea of your brand image and can start incorporating elements of your brand into your website.
R.L. Stine does this really well on his website. As an author of creepy books for kids, his website reflects the scary themes of his books through the clever use of dark color tone, a simple typeface, and an awesome logo. The content on the website, like the creepy stories to listen to at night, also reflects his brand and what he does best—write scary stories for children.
2. Highlight Your Books
When visitors land on your website, the first impression they should get is that you are an author. And what better way to do this then to highlight your books.
Your goal should be to sell your books, and you can’t do that on your website if readers can’t even find them there. Make your books the most important thing on your website. People often remember book titles better than they remember author names.
Feature your new release on the homepage and also highlight your other books in your main navigation bar of your site.
Katherine Center’s website features her latest book, How To Walk Away, in a beautifully designed website header. She also highlights her other books on the homepage.
The driving goal of your website is to sell your books. Often authors forget to show their audience what to do after they have seen your featured book. The most crucial element needed is a purchase link which will direct them to make a sale on Amazon or other retailers.
Katherine does this on her website by adding a “Grab a Copy” button on her homepage while the “Books” page on her website gives readers other purchase options.
On the technical side, make sure you don’t use bloated images and visuals as that can slow down your website. Website visitors are an impatient bunch and will quickly navigate from your site if your website loads slowly. It’s important your website load quickly, or you’ll lose a lot of traffic and sales.
3. Create an Author Bio Page
The About page is one of the most visited pages on an author’s website. People want to know who you are and how they can relate to you.
The About page is also an opportunity for you to show your personality and make that emotional connection with your website visitor.
Rather than creating a dry biography, use your writing skills to create one that reflects your personality. You don’t have to list everything you have done since childhood or even talk about all your achievements. Remember, when website visitors are reading your biography page they are also thinking: “What’s in it for me?”
So stay on track and write in your own voice as you tell your story and paint a picture of your personality. Start with an intriguing hook and finish off with a great call-to-action—such as joining your mailing list or buying your latest book.
It’s a good idea to have a short and a long biography. Usually, your short bio should be on your homepage so that new visitors and fans get an idea of who you are. Journalists are also likely to use your short bio as the first paragraph of their article. The more extended version is for fans who want to know more about you.
We’ve written a detailed guide on how to write an Author Bio, so check that out while working on your About page.
Gretchen Rubin features a short bio on her homepage. Visitors can then click the link to read more about her.
There is a lot you can do to make your biography page interesting like adding a video if you are comfortable with being filmed, or you can enthrall your readers with funny anecdotes about your writing experience. You can even add pictures of your travels or hobbies that complement your personality and help build your brand image.
Also, don’t forget to add a great profile picture. Get your photo professionally taken and make sure it gels with your style of writing, genre, and the tone of your books.
Consider the difference in these profile photos. Ian Rankin writes dark crime thrillers while Kevin Henkes is a children’s book author and illustrator. I’m sure you can guess which one writes crime thrillers and which one writes for children just based on the photos alone.
4. Add Social Proof
Testimonials, book reviews, quotes from influencers and prominent review magazines, best-seller status, and blurbs from other established authors provide the social proof that your audience needs to see before they will take any action—including buying your book.
“Social proof is the phenomenon where people do things that they see others doing. They often assume that other people understand more about the situation then they do,” explains Search Engine Journal.
Essentially, when your website visitor reads a review of your book by a prominent magazine, they are more likely to buy that book.
Social proof builds trust and goes a long way in establishing your authority and credibility.
Add social proof on your Homepage, About Page, Book Page, and even on the sidebar if you have one.
Take a look at Ann Handley’s website. Ann is a writer, digital marketing pioneer, and Wall Street Journal best-selling author. As soon as you land on her homepage, you will notice the authority she demands through various elements such as a video of Ann talking at The Digital Summit, snippets of her achievements such as “Named #1 of 7 people shaping modern marketing,” and logos of prominent clients.
5. Create a Book Page
The book page is an essential page on your website where you showcase all your books. This is the main page where the website visitor has the opportunity to explore all of your books and buy them.
Show the whole range of your books and give your readers an opportunity to explore more by adding clickable links that take them to more in-depth pages about a particular book. This is not a page where the focus is only on your latest book. Your visitors may have come to your website looking for another book, and you don’t want to turn them away if they can’t find it.
Make sure you add images of the book covers. Include a book description, reviews, testimonials, and a link for visitors to buy your books.
If you don’t have a range to offer at the moment, consider adding a “coming soon” feature so that interested visitors remain intrigued and can sign up for a waiting list to buy your next book when it comes out.
Steena Holmes, New York Times best-selling indie author, categorizes her books according to genre.
6. Build Your Mailing List
One of the primary functions of your author website is to convert website visitors into leads and buyers. These are the people who will be your ardent fans, share your new releases and other information on social media, attend your book signing events, give reviews on Amazon, and buy your books.
You can build your mailing list by offering them something of value for free such as tutorials, courses, or PDF downloads. Perhaps you can offer a sign-up discount on your next book or a sneak preview to the first few chapters of your next book. If you write a blog, then encourage them to sign up for blog updates or a monthly newsletter, and let them know about new book releases and specials.
Visitors to Ashley Farley’s website are greeted by a pop-up inviting them to subscribe to her mailing list, while the author, Brad Thor features a sign-up form for his newsletter on the homepage of his website.
7. Tell Them Where They Can Find You
Visitors to your website want to know how they can connect with you and where they can find you.
The idea is that you do not make it difficult for relevant people—fans, agents, media, and publishers—to get in touch with you.
Many authors provide an obscure email link which is not highlighted making the website visitor hunt for contact information. Do not do this.
Create a contact page with a tab on the main menu bar so that it’s easy to contact you within seconds of visiting your website. Here visitors can fill out relevant information in a contact form to get in touch with you. Make sure the form is simple and that you do not ask too many unnecessary questions.
If you are on social media, then add those links on your website so that people can connect with you on social platforms.
8. Create a Media Kit
A media kit is a collection of all the relevant information about you on one page so that journalists, bloggers, reviewers, and marketing people can write about you.
It’s about making it easy for them to find information about you. So include your short biography, a list of all your works, and professional quality photos they might need to write an article about you.
Include any previous mentions you’ve received from the press or online, add any reviews or testimonials you have received, and also include them as links and downloads.
Remember to include your contact information such as your email address so they can get in touch with you.
Follow our free guide to creating a media kit.
Author of Fundraising Freedom, Mary Valloni has an excellent press kit that even includes an infographic.
Wrapping it Up
Your website is a vital asset. It is essential for book promotions and sales, and it should be the core of your online presence.
First impressions are critical, and according to research you have less than 59 seconds to make a significant impact on your website visitor, or they will leave and not come back.
To do that, make sure you have relevant information on the homepage, use colors wisely, and keep it simple. Use plenty of white space so that your books stand out. Make it stress-free for visitors to move from one page to another with easy navigation.
Your site must be clear, legible, and professional looking. Make sure the elements and design of your site are consistent across every page, and create content that is engaging, relevant, and useful to your visitors.
Incorporate these eight essential tips into your website, and soon you’ll have a website that shines.
Build Your Author Website Now
Not sure how to build your author website?
Check out our free guide to building a website for step-by-step instructions to build a great website without hiring an expensive web designer.