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Making Sense Of Author Websites

Our clients frequently ask about author websites - they know that they are a useful tool, but don’t perhaps have a full understanding of how to begin using them. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at the particulars of these and discussing why they are invaluable tools, especially for self-published authors, and how to get the best out of them. This week, we’re giving an overview of what a website can offer to an author, and what their visitors will expect to see when they arrive.
 
What is the point of an author website, and why might you want one?

We mentioned in a previous newsletter that longevity in your writing and across your titles is key to achieving meaningful engagement with your audiences. A good website goes hand-in-hand with this; allowing you to support and broaden the reader ‘experience’. It adds context to your titles by being a place where information-hungry fans can learn more about past and future releases, as well as about you as an author and a personality. It’s also a place where you can offer to connect with your readers regularly; you should do everything you can to keep each reader interested as you release more books, so by encouraging those who visit your website to sign up to your mailing list, you can then keep them updated on the progress of your upcoming titles, reissues, sales or events. An author uses the website and mailing list to build readers’ anticipation while writing and preparing a book for release, and lets them know when they can expect to get their hands on the book that they have been eagerly awaiting.

When you’ve come across a new author, have you ever Googled their name to find out more about them and about what they’ve written? What if someone comes across your book on Amazon and goes on to Google your name? They will expect to see a link to a beautifully designed, professional-looking website since this is the precedent that traditionally published authors have set. There is very little else that you can do to better convince potential readers that you are the ‘real deal’. Take pride in how you appear online, and ensure your website presents a great picture for the whole world to see. It will pay off in the long run as more and more people discover you and your books.

Website Content

What do people expect to find when they visit an author’s website?

Homepage

This is the page that most of your site visitors will see first. It will ideally give an introduction to you as an author, show off your latest book in all its glory, and give site visitors a ‘call to action’ by asking them to engage with you on social media, visit other pages of the site or signup to a mailing list. It can be very tempting to overload this page with information and images, but keeping it to these simple points has been proven to give the best engagement. Your homepage isn’t designed to satisfy curiosity, but to further pique it.  

Books Page

Your website is digitally representing you so the key things to showcase are your books. While your homepage might display your latest book, having a whole page dedicated to all your books is key to helping people find more of your titles. Having them listed side-by-side is a great way to show off all that you’ve accomplished, as well as making it very easy for fans of one book to discover what else you’ve written. Each book can have its own dedicated page as well, which can give lots of details, let you show off your glowing reviews and direct people to where they can buy their own copy, but the key thing is to have one page dedicated to showing all your books listed together.  

About Page

This is your way to introduce and present yourself to the world. Some authors might struggle with writing a short biography about themselves, but if you’ve written multiple books, you can surely write a few hundred words about yourself! You can be light-hearted in this, or you can be formal; it is entirely up to you. Consider that the tone of the biography should, to some extent, correspond with the kinds of titles you have released and can also show the more personal side of you as an author, and let your readers get to know you a little better. Accompany this with a high-quality headshot of yourself, and you’ve got an ideal introduction for your readership.  

Contact The Author Page

In this digital age, getting in touch with the author of your favourite books is easy. Having the chance to engage with authors allows readers the chance to feel more invested in the books that they have written. Giving your fans a chance to get in touch with you about your books is a great way to let them engage directly and build this feeling of investment in you and your work. This is a very simple page within the website, but it performs a vital role in building up a valuable rapport between you and your readership.  

Blog

While it might not be to everyone’s taste, keeping a blog regularly updated is a great way to talk about your books, talk about your experience of being self-published, or just letting your fans know how the writing is going with the forthcoming title. It will also help build up a history of your adventure as an author. If you don’t feel interested in maintaining a blog with regular posts, then it is best to not put one in. A blog which is never updated looks worse than having no blog at all!

“I cannot imagine that there is a finer cover design company in the marketplace”

Phill Drown, author of The Reputation of Booya Carthy

All the points above might not seem like much in terms of content, but this is a fantastic place to start from when building your author website. From here, your fans can easily discover all that you’ve written. They can sign up to your mailing list, and you can let them know when your next book has just become available. The key thing is to have the strong online presence that an author website offers you. It shows your readers how dedicated you are to your writing and to your fanbase. If you can show how much you are invested, it will help them be more invested in reading what you’ve written.

Next time we’ll look at some more advanced areas and what you can add to this basic framework to help improve the experience of those visiting your site.

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