Are you about to debut your first book? Or are you looking to boost your author platform to solidify your staying power?
If either of these sound like you, you’re in the right place. Both of those goals can be achieved by a professional author website.
An author website can help you:
- Improve your author branding
- Show off your books and other work
- Engage with new and existing readers
It’s a curated hub for your fans to learn about your upcoming books and any other updates.
But how do you achieve all of this?
Lucky for you, we’ve created websites for million book selling authors, rising indie stars, and many debut authors as well. We’re going to guide you through the process of creating an author website that reflects you and your books. All the examples used are from websites we created for the authors mentioned.
1. Pick A Domain Name
People will search for you by your author name, so your domain name needs to reflect this, making your website easy to find. For example, one of our self-published author clients, Melissa McPhail used melissamcphail.com.
If your name is already taken, try adding your middle initial. For example, another of our authors, Thomas R. Weaver’s domain name: thomasrweaver.com. You can also add something to differentiate like “author” or “writer”, for example, ajaycollinsauthor.com.
If you have a pen name such as T.A White, the domain could be tawhiteauthor.com.
2. The Right Web Hosting Service
Next, you need a web hosting service in order to display your author website online.
It can be overwhelming to decide which plans and prices suit you best. You may be tempted to go with the cheapest option but there are other factors to consider:
- Different features: There are plans that have features like having different email accounts and some have tools to help build the website. See which features you value the most
- Support and maintenance: Customer support is very important as you may encounter issues on your author website that you’d need assistance with. Be sure to see how their support services work.
3. Designing Your Author Website
It’s time to start designing your author website. You could go the DIY route and use a website builder tool or hire a professional web designer to do it all for you.
If you’re going solo then Wix or Squarespace are popular website builder tools you could try. And you don’t need to have any coding experience to use them!
With their designed templates and easy to understand mechanics you can still have a professional author website…but it will take quite some time and effort to achieve.
Or maybe you want to hand over all the complicated techy work to an experienced web designer. You can look for a freelancer or agency, or you can use Upwork or 99designs to browse and find a web designer.
4. Add Content
Just as you need writing inspiration for your books, you’ll need some website inspiration before you start. We’ll show you the content other authors have added on their author websites so you can see how it’s done.
Consider how you can apply these techniques to your own author website:
Also known as your author bio page, your About Page is used to share information about your journey as a writer. You want this to grab potential readers and give them an insight to your professional and personal life.
And be sure to pick a friendly photo of yourself that suits your genre and your brand.
For example, Davis Ashura’s About page works well as his intro grips the website visitor immediately, making them want to read on.
Your Books Page is where all your published work can be viewed by fans and potential readers. Your book covers and book blurbs should be displayed in an easy-to-read way.
And don’t forget to include links to where readers can buy your books, for example Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, etc. It’s also a good idea to include information about any upcoming releases or pre-orders.
Note: If you have any upcoming releases or books for pre-order, make sure it’s displayed with the relevant information and promoted on your home page.
Blogging is a great way to engage with your audience. And there’s no better place to house a blog than your author website.
Besides updating readers on your book releases, you could blog about:
- Your author career
- Book reviews,
- Life updates
- Your hobbies and interests
For example, K.C. Ale’s Blog page has a fun layout that showcases all the blogs with interesting thumbnails to entice visitors to click and read. K.C even wrote a small piece on the website we designed!
As an author, nothing feels more rewarding than hearing what your fans have to say.
This is where your Contact Page comes in. It’s another way to engage with your readers and hear from them.
This page should have your email address or a contact form for readers to type their message in.
Also, you should let readers know which other channels they can follow you on. Mention your social media profiles, for example your Facebook Author Page, and link to them.
Reviews and Social Proof
Show off your best reviews for each book on your book page and your best general reviews on your home page. Be sure to share your awards or if you’ve been featured on well-known platforms relevant to your books.
For example, Tim Sullivan has reviews from the Daily Mail and The Times.
5. Setting Up Your “Reader Magnet”
A reader magnet is something you offer to readers in exchange for their email address.
You could offer a short story, a sample chapter, or bonus content like downloadable wallpapers, guides, etc.
The aim of your reader magnet is to encourage readers to sign up to your email list – which you use for your author newsletter.
Once they’re on your list you can keep them engaged with high quality content while promoting your work. This is your key to growing your readerbase and building a loyal community.
Here’s how you set it up:
- Add a button in the top right of your website navigation saying “Start Reading” or “Free” or even something like “Join the Fight” if you write military fiction.
- Create a page that this sign-up button will go to that will showcase your reader magnet.
- Add a section to the bottom of every page on your author website showing visitors what they will get if they sign up along with a form to collect their email addresses.
Daniel Gibbs’ reader magnet is excellent as it stands out while also falling into the theme of the website, as seen above.
6. Your Email Marketing Platform
You’ll want to make sure the email addresses you collected are actually useful to you! Follow the next steps to get your email marketing set up.
Pick a Platform
Build your email list
You need to set up an email list for your subscribers’ email addresses. Most email marketing platforms have instructions on how to do it.
Create the opt-in form
Your opt-in form goes hand in hand with your reader magnet, allowing interested readers to input their email address and join your email list.
To get your opt-in form on your website, copy and paste the code from your email marketing service provider into the appropriate location on your website coding.
Customizing the opt-in form
To give your opt-in form a personal touch, customize it to match your author website’s design.
For example, Daniel Gibbs’ Opt-in form follows suit with the rest of his website while also giving a great offer in exchange for the visitors’ emails.
Testing the opt-in form
If your reader magnet opt-in form doesn’t work, you don’t want to be promoting it on social media or at speaking engagements. What a waste that would be!
Be sure to test it by signing up a friend’s email or your personal email to the email list. Once you receive the welcome email, you’re good to go.
7. Promote Your Author Website
Now that your website is up and running, it’s time to spread the word! Here are a few ways to promote your website:
- Social media: Add your author website link to your social media profiles (or even post about it), just as Melissa McPhail has done in the above picture.
- Email signature: Add your author website link below your email signature for interested industry professionals and readers to click on.
- Business cards: Be sure to have your author website address on your business cards.
- Bookstores and libraries: If a local bookstore or library sells your books, share your author website with them. Ask if they could share your author website on their website or with their customers.
- Events: When you’re attending events, don’t forget to ask readers to check out your author website if they’re interested in learning more about you.
8. Author Website Maintenance
When you’re done building your author website, the work isn’t over. You have to keep it up to date!
Use the below techniques to keep your author website fresh and engaging:
- New content: Add a new blog, refresh your bio picture or even change your intro banner to suit an upcoming release to make readers regularly open your website.
- Upcoming books: If you want your new releases to get attention, add them to your site like Charlie Cochet has done in the above picture.
- Monitor your website: Don’t forget to check links and all your pages to ensure everything still works as intended
- Analytics: Use tools like Google Analytics, to track your site’s traffic and monitor how readers use your author website. This will show you what’s working and what you can improve.
Ready To Get Started?
An author website is a necessity for any author wanting to establish their brand and build a community. And when it’s done right, you’ll have a professional online presence that wows your readers and impresses publishing professionals.
To make these steps even easier, we can take some of the load off! If you’re looking for a more budget friendly website with premium support, or if you want the entire website done for you, Rocket Expansion can help.
Just fill in this enquiry form and you’ll be one step closer to achieving your author website dream.
Want help with your author marketing? Get our FREE ebook and cheat sheet: 6 Steps To Getting More Readers.
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