Are you stuck for what to include on your author website? Don’t worry, it doesn’t need to be complicated. But it does need to be easy to read, and convey your message in a simple way to your fans.
Include the content listed here, and you can be sure you’ll have an author website that will keep your fans happy, be easy to maintain and update, and will help improve your book sales.
First things first – keep your design simple.
Even if you only have one book available to buy at the moment, your website will become your hub for all your future writing. You want readers to be able to do three things:
- Navigate easily around your site
- Find out more about you and your writing
- And ultimately to buy your book
Keep the aesthetics simple, so that when the time comes to add more than one book, each different book is easily distinguishable. Show a clear image of each book cover, so readers can recognise them easily. Consider having a different page for each book you publish, and this will showcase your work.
Make sure the typeface is clean and easy to read. A simple Sans serif will be best for most viewers. Also, use your common sense with things like the text and background colours, and contrast. If you’re finding it hard to read the text, so will others, so again, keep it simple. Readers won’t spend time on a website they can’t read, so make it comfortable viewing to maximise the amount of time your readers will linger.
Remember – the purpose of your website is to show off your books, so the website itself is almost secondary. Don’t go overboard with a fancy website design, as it could overshadow your writing.
Include an Author bio
One of the first pages readers will go to on your website is your author bio. People have a natural curiosity and will want to know more about you.
Only give information here that you feel comfortable including online. There’s no right or wrong thing to say, and it doesn’t need to be too personal. Just include some information about yourself and your writing, with a photograph if possible. Think about who your target reader is, and what they may be interested to know about you.
People will feel like they can make a connection with you if you have interests and experiences they can relate to. So maybe you love cats? Or you’re a secret bodybuilder at the weekends. This is all interesting and quirky content, which will put people at ease, and also make sure they remember you.
Of course, you don’t need to tell your life story, but interesting and memorable facts will make you stand out in peoples’ minds. For example, Peter Dudgeon, author of Chance and Circle, told us he writes with his eyes closed! Now, that’s so unusual that of course we’ve told our friends about him!
Remember, the style of writing on your website and bio page is an advert for your book-writing. If people are captivated and engaged by your website, they will be by your books too.
Another important thing here is to try to make this content different to the author bio on your book cover. After all, if someone has bothered to come to your website to find out more about you, it means they’re interested. Don’t miss the opportunity to engage with them by repeating what is already on your book cover.
A good author bio will establish your credibility with your readers as a writer, but also as a person they will want to interact and connect with on an ongoing basis.
Make it easy for people to buy your book
The simplest way to do this is to add a link to Amazon where people can buy your book. Make sure there is a clear link or button that says ‘buy here’, so readers and fans can easily click through to Amazon. Ideally, this should be near the top of the page, as people often won’t bother to scroll down on websites. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to buy your book.
If you are holding stock of your book and would prefer people to buy direct, then you can always have a payment function on your website to process orders. But for most self published authors, using print-on-demand services, the simplest thing to do is direct people to Amazon.
And really, that’s ALL you need to include on your website. If you’re just about to launch your book and are pushed for time to set up your site, then if you have the above, you’re good to go.
If you want to make your website a little more comprehensive, then you can also add some more content for your readers to enjoy.
Include links to your Social Media platforms and blog
Add links to your Facebook and Twitter pages, and your blog (if it’s separate from your website). If people like you, they may also want to follow you on these platforms.
A word of caution – make sure your social media content is representative of you. Occasionally, we are contacted by people whose Facebook, Twitter pages and blogs are full of swearing, poor grammar and punctuation, and inappropriate content.
If someone does a Google search of your name, think about what impression the content that displays will give. Make sure you keep it professional, but that doesn’t mean it has to be formal.
A good benchmark – would you want your boss (or your grandma) to see that content? If the answer is no, then don’t put it online.
Another consideration here is about your blog. Ideally, your blog should be part of your own website, rather than be on another site.
This has lots of benefits when people are searching for you on Google. It means that if they find you through a search, they are likely to come to YOUR website, rather than a blogging website. Most importantly, it makes sure YOU are the owner of your content, rather than a third party site.
Of course, some third party sites like Facebook have their place when it comes to content, due to the amount of traffic they can generate. But you should use these sites to supplement your own website.
As a writer, your blog is crucial, and therefore should ideally be on a platform you have control over. If you have started a blog on another blogging platform, think about gradually integrating it into your own website.
Have a ‘latest news’ section
You can keep your website updated with the latest news about you and your books. By promoting your involvement in the industry, you are building your credibility as an author, and passing on the acceptance by others of your status.
Think of all those efforts you are making to market your book. Hopefully they’re resulting in lots of invitations to events, some fantastic reviews, and compelling industry interviews… Add as much as possible to your author website.
You can also let people know what’s coming up in the future, as they may want to participate too.
Capture visitors’ email addresses
Collect your visitors’ email addresses by adding a sign-up box.
This sounds complicated, but all it means is asking visitors for their name and email address. Once you have these, you can communicate with them on a regular basis, to tell them about new releases, events and information related to your writing.
You have to work hard to get a visitor to your website, so by collecting their email address, you can stay connected.
We would recommend Aweber for easy email marketing software. They will provide you with a simple piece of HTML code which you add to your website, and then when someone adds their email address, it is collected in a database in the software. Aweber then has the tools to create an email to send to your list of contacts.
Even better is to give visitors to your site an extra incentive to sign up. So, offer them a free download of the first chapter of your book, a sneak-peek at your next book, a discount off the price of your book, or anything valuable to them.
The sign up box should ideally appear on the top right-hand side of the page, and should be on every page of your website to maximise the chance of someone signing up to your list.
Include testimonials from people who’ve read your book.
If you can, it’s nice to have some testimonials from people who have read and enjoyed your book. If you can’t contact any other readers, then family or friends will be ok to start with. But look to update these if you can with other testimonials, just because it’s more believable this way.
One of the best ways to show people your book is worth buying, is by other readers saying how happy they were they bought your book. So testimonials are very valuable if you can get them. If you have contact details for your readers, don’t be afraid to ask! Most people will happily give you an endorsement if they have enjoyed your work.
Contact information for your or your publicist.
Do make sure there is contact information on your website, for you or your publicist if you have one. Or add a ‘contact us’ form, that visitors can complete, if you would prefer not to have an address visible.
The final piece of advice – keep it simple!
I know we said it before, but really, if you’re unsure, it’s much better to start with a simple author website. The beauty with online content is that nothing is set in stone, so you can always add to your site further down the line. But a clean, simple site with a clear instruction on how readers can buy your book is what you should be aiming for.
We’re Peter and Caroline O’Connor. Creating beautiful book cover designs for authors all over the world is our passion. Every author should be able to benefit from a beautiful book cover design (not just the lucky few who get signed by a big publisher). We design, podcast, and coach authors full-time so we understand your struggles. Currently accepting new clients.