Author Websites – Why to Have One, What to Include, How to Build
Are author websites necessary in light of social media and being able to sell your books on high-trafficked sites like Amazon? Our opinion is a definite yes, and not only because we're web designers. Let's look at some of the reason why having a website is really essential today.
Maybe you don't think this is a good enough reason to go to the trouble of having and maintaining a website, but in today's world, people expect you to have a website, no matter what business you are in. And that definitely includes authors. It's a sign of professionalism, and everyone wants to do business with a professional. If you expect people to spend their hard-earned money on your books, you need to have their trust. And people are much more likely to trust someone who has a professional website that tells about who they are and what works they have published. It's just a fact.
It's Your "Hub"
Author websites are a hub for all the books they have written. Personally, when I read a book by an author I really like, I am likely to look up their website and go there to see what other books they have to offer. Your website is a great place to showcase all of your writings.
Some authors include a blog on their website, which is another way to connect with your readers. I enjoy seeing what my favorite authors are currently saying, and a blog is an easy place to share your thoughts and voice.
What Author Websites Should Include
There are four elements every author website should have.
Include a page that tells a little about the author. Some things you might want to include are where they grew up, their background, and what led them to write about the topic(s) they do.
Book covers and descriptions
People want to see an image of what the book looks like, so have a book cover graphic on your website. Along with the cover, include a description of what they book is mainly about (without giving away anything important, of course!)
A way to purchase the book
Whether you are going to sell the book directly from your website or from Amazon, make it crystal clear how your visitors can purchase your books.
Make it easy for your web visitors to get in touch with you. Whether it be through email, a contact form, or by phone, provide them with the information and make it easy to find. Definitely include a "Contact" page on the navigation bar.
If you would like more detailed ideas of what to include on your website, check out Jane Friedman's post, "The Basic Components of an Author Website."
Layout and Style
The layout of your website should be one that is uncluttered and easily leads your visitors to what they want to find. Incorporate a good amount of white space to make the important elements stand out.
A good navigation system is essential so that people can find what they want. We are all accustomed to looking at the top of a website to see the pages/categories included on the site. Have all your important information there. You can incorporate dropdowns if you have more pages than fits in one tier of the navigation.
The style of the website will depend on what kind of books you write and who your audience is. Your website will look very different if you are writing for Civil War buffs than for kids' books.
Choose colors, images and fonts that will appeal to who your market is. A bright color scheme will be much more appealing to kids but that might not work for your Civil War readers. If you write for women, the colors and fonts you choose will be more feminine than if you wrote books targeted to men. Choose carefully so that your web visitors will resonate with the look of your website.
How to Build a Website
We would definitely recommending building your website with WordPress. Why? It's flexible and comes SEO (search engine optimization) friendly out of the box. WordPress websites are also easy to update and maintain, so you should be able to keep your site current.
See our WordPress for small business post for more information on why this is a good choice for your website.
We offer web design services that are affordable. We have created some author websites in the past and would love to work with you to showcase your work. We will create a custom website for you, or if you prefer, we can start with a starter design like the one below. You can click on the image to see the entire site design.