Whether you’ve got an ancient website from the stone age or no author website yet at all, this will help you plan your next move in building a new website as an author.
We’ve given best sellers and Grammy award winners a place to shine online and we’d love to help you do the same. To help you in your journey towards the perfect shiny new site let’s go over all the essentials of what you need to know in creating a fan-tastic new author website.
The whole point of your author site is to give a deeper insight into your work. Make sure you have dedicated pages for each of your books and each of your book series. This will help you come up in the right google searches when fans are looking for a specific book or series.
I generally recommend to authors we work with to put their books front-and-center on their home page, with opportunities to link to them in more detailed dedicated book and series pages.
Whether you want folks to contact you directly on email or leave a message on a contact form or even contact you via an agent, it’s important to have a channel to get in touch with you.
If you don’t do this you’ll miss opportunities for all sorts of things, simply because you couldn’t be reached.
No author lives in a vacuum (although some I know almost seem to think they do). Give people an opportunity to make a connection. You can dedicate a separate email address for this that you only check periodically if you have a lot of fans that want to chat and you don’t want it to clog up your regular email.
While not absolutely necessary, fan resource pages give visitors a reason to keep coming back to your site. They can contain just about anything relevant to your books
Fiction authors can have maps, character art and bios, glossaries and lore about spells and world histories and cultures. You can create fan contests with short stories or artwork. The imagination is really your only limitation (and making sure you’re making something readers and fans actually want.)
If you write non-fiction create resources that are aligned with your field of expertise that you cover in your work. Try to make your resources really high quality. These days you can download just about any free checklist or template, and there are usually some quite good ones available for nothing. Make sure your resources are something a little unique and of professional quality.
An important part of a fan resource page for any writer is that it aligns with your work or general theme somehow. It’s an opportunity for engagement and shows you really care about your audience.
Also not a complete necessity, but an amazing opportunity to continually engage with your audience and bring them more into your world.
For a non-fiction writer, I’d have to say, you should definitely have a blog. Most of all of the traffic online comes from search engines (mostly Google) and a blog helps you get found much more easily. Make sure you learn a bit about SEO (optimizing your content for Google) so that you stand a better chance of getting search traffic.
If you write fiction a blog can give a behind the scenes look at your creative process. It can also be your general sounding board as an author in which you can learn a lot from your audience.
Did they enjoy the way your series ended? Is your new cover art working? Bringing your fans into your journey more makes them invested in your future. You have to be a little more exposed and transparent but it can really create a following for you.
If you go this route make sure you keep at it for long enough. It can take time to get an engaged following (as in months or even years).
Opt-In (sign up form)
You want your website to do more than just show off your work. It should also help sell your work.
Creating a great give-away in return for subscribing to your list is about the oldest (and most workable) trick in the internet marketing book. A great strategy is simply giving away your first few chapters. Make sure you also create an email follow up sequence that reminds subscribers to get the entire book and sends them a link to buy.
Make sure your opt-in forms are really obvious and attractive. It’s worth experimenting a bit with different wording and images to get a higher opt-in rate. Small changes can make a huge difference.
Wherever possible you want to customize your form to the page it’s on. For example, if a visitor is on a page about series X, Offer the first chapters of series X Book 1. Then on the series Y page giveaway chapters of that series’ first book. Doing this will dramatically increase the number of signups you get.
Almost as important as an opt-in is what you send subscribers once they join. You should make an email sequence that is in line with your books’ core message. Along this sequence, you definitely want to include many opportunities to buy your book.
You don’t have to be pushy, just say if they enjoyed the first few chapters (or whatever you’ve given them) they can learn more or carry on reading here: [link to buy].
If you’re trying to get bookings or speaking gigs you could send subscribers to a video of a past event on their email sequence.
Whatever you do, make sure this email journey is closely aligned with your work and your goals for what you want your audience to do.