Oh my goodness, two of my favourite topics combined in one post: websites and books. I’m so lucky! You’re very fortunate!
I’m kidding. If you’re just getting started with “setting up your website,” you might not consider yourself lucky. It’s difficult to wrap your head around all that technological jargon, especially when you’re suffering from a near-permanent headache from writing, editing, and possibly publishing an entire book.
We’re here to talk about “what should be on your author website,” so let’s get started. By the way, if you don’t already have a website, could you please recommend my book “Funny You Should Ask: How to Make a Website”? It’s a little companion guide (with humour thrown in to help all the technical jargon sink in) on how to create a website from start to finish using WordPress. I guarantee you’ll feel like a genius when you’re finished and have your own author website to direct people to.
Here’s what’s on that website:
- The domain name FirstNameLastName.com. I no longer recommend websites for individual books because you will not want to maintain multiple sites. Simply choose one “mothership” site to serve as the hub of your author platform and move on. Get it from NameCheap and don’t overpay. If someone else has the same name as you and you can’t get the.com, try the.net or.org. If none of those work, try your name with your middle initial. If those are still off-limits, try “author,” “writer,” or “writes.” Continue looking until you find a domain for around $10.
- Your publications. This should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Upload your books to your website. Create the “my book with all the places to buy it” code with BookLinker. Seth Godin (of course) does an excellent job of this right here.
- Your email address, preferably with a freebie. You won’t have to read very far into this website to discover that I believe your email list is the most important thing in the life of a working author. Here’s a free book on the subject to persuade you and teach you how to set it up. Don’t ignore the list!
- Links to (or excerpts from) your social media accounts. Some people will want to follow you on one or more social media accounts to see what you’re up to, and you should provide them with that opportunity by including links to those accounts on your website (which can be easily handled with various WordPress plugins). Just make sure your social media is properly branded and links back to your main author site (so people can join your mailing list, of course!). This will depend on which social media platform you’re most active on, but pulling a feed of your social media through your author website can be a nice addition and add energy to it.
- A contact form so that agents and publishers can contact you and offer you a million dollar book deal, or potential clients can contact you if you are a consultant or freelancer, or readers can send you nice emails about how much they enjoyed your books.
- Photographs of you so that people can put a face to a name. If you’re creating a pen name author site, you might want to use stock photos or a photo of your pet.
- Your biography. If you write nonfiction, use this to establish authority, and if you write fiction, use it to pique people’s interest. Tell people a little bit about yourself, your background, and what you’ve written.
- Your website. This is good for SEO (especially if you write nonfiction), but it is also nice to give people free samples of your writing so they can like it, join your mailing list, and buy your books. Did I mention I’d like to be added to your mailing list?
- “Tools and Resources” This is where you’d put links from books, things you’re always telling people about in real life, or things you use yourself. You can also use this for affiliate marketing if you recommend products.
- Links to additional articles you’ve written. This can also help you gain credibility. If you write for any online publications, make an effort to link back to your main author website from there, as backlinks are beneficial to your website (especially if it is brand new).