There are 7 crucial elements of an author website that will not only help you sell more books but can also help you land more event dates for your tour as well. As an author, writing your book was probably the easy part compared to getting a professional website up and running. If you’re like a lot of writers, you may not know much about website design, especially design catered specifically to authors.
With a background in search engine optimization and author website design, I’m going to give you the top 7 elements you should include on your author website to make it truly work for you.
Creating Your Author Website
Your author website shouldn’t resemble that of the typical business, blog, or personal portfolio website. It’s important to acknowledge that author websites should be different and unique because you’re not only selling a product (a book), but you’re also selling yourself as a personal brand. Also, unlike the average product a business might sell that usually has a set customer base, books often have a much wider, harder-to-understand customer base that could include readers you might not have ever expected.
When it comes to creating your author website, your goal shouldn’t be to simply look professional or serious as an author. Sure, embodying a level of professionalism and seriousness as a writer is important, especially to agents and publishers, but more importantly, you should think about the true function of your website.
The Purpose Of Your Author Website
Let’s be real. The whole point of your author website should be to grow your career as an author or writer. If your website is not helping you do that, you should examine why. Below are some common ways your author website can serve its true purpose in life.
- To show professionalism and seriousness as a writer
- To build an online presence as an author in your genre
- To build an online presence for your books
- To drive more sales for your book(s)
- To book more events such as signings, readings, speaking engagements
In addition to the above purposes an author website should have, some authors might even want to drive traffic to a YouTube channel, blog, or podcast using their website. When approaching the creation of your author website, always keep in mind that your website should serve a purpose that pushes you forward in growing your writing career. Understanding this will help you stay focused on what matters most when it comes to your website layout.
1. Highlight Your Latest Book
At the very top of the homepage of your author website, you should always feature your latest book as front and center. This is often the book that will be receiving the most press and attention at any given time, so it makes sense that you should highlight it above other titles on your website. You can do this by including your book cover, the title of the book, and including a description of the book. It may also be a good idea to include a purchase link that takes the user to the publisher’s website.
Always work directly with your publisher to determine the best way to describe and feature your book. For example, if you’re self-published, you may just want to send your users to Amazon to purchase the book. However, if you have published with one of the “Big 5” publishers or with an independent publisher, they may want users to purchase the book directly at their website.
2. Feature Book Accolades And Reviews
If you’re planning your book launch the right way, or if you’ve done the marketing correctly, you probably already have a few reader reviews that should be featured on the homepage. These reviews will act as credibility for you as a writer, and they will also encourage potential readers to hit that buy button. Keep your reviews short and sweet, focusing on the best parts of each one. Make sure you credit the reviewer by mentioning the name of the person or publication that provided the review.
In addition to reviews, you can also put any accolades you might have already received for the book. This could include blurbs by big-name authors, influencers, etc., or it could be awards the title has received so far.
3. Provide A Brief Author Bio Excerpt
Your book wouldn’t exist without you, so you should definitely feature a shortened version of your author bio and a headshot on the homepage. Your author website will include a full “About” page that contains your full bio, so keep it short on the homepage. You can include a “Learn More” button on this section that takes the users to the full “About” page. For your author headshot, I highly recommend getting a professional photo taken. Yes, you will have to spend a couple hundred dollars getting professional author headshots, but it’s essential to making your website look high-end and beautiful.
4. Display Your Other Titles
This may not be relevant if you’re an emerging author, but if you do have additional books under your name, you should feature those on the homepage as well. This is a great chance for you to promote the other titles in your portfolio, and you can link to your full list of books on a separate “Books” page, or you can link to individual book landing pages. If you don’t yet have any other titles to feature, you can also use this space to feature shorter published works such as narrative essays you may have published in literary magazines. This not only shows you’re a serious writer, but it gives your readers the chance to sample your writing before purchasing your latest book.
5. Show Your Latest Blog Posts
If you’re like me and many other writers out there, you probably love to write for yourself. Your author website is a great place to share the latest news about what you’re doing in your writing career, as well as provide tips and musings to your biggest fans. If you plan to include a blog on your author website, you should feature 3 to 4 of your latest articles on the home page. This will spark intrigue in your website visitors, encouraging them to explore your website for longer.
6. Provide A Way To Subscribe
Your email list is quite often your greatest marketing power. Unlike social media where algorithms rule, or digital advertising where competition is fierce, your email list provides direct communication to your readers. If you haven’t started building your email list yet, you should start doing so as soon as possible. The homepage of your website should feature an easy-to-find call to subscribe to your newsletter. As you grow your list, you’ll be able to send news blasts directly to your fans whenever you want, which can help with book sales and filling the seats at your events.
7. Include Social Media Links
Growing on social media isn’t easy for anyone, but it’s still another way to build your online presence and fan base. Determine the best social media platforms for your genre and audience, and focus on being consistent on those platforms. You should feature your social media links on either your website header or footer–maybe even both places! Give your fans the chance to connect with you on a more personal level by sharing the platforms you’re using.
Bonus Tip: Video or Book Trailers
It’s not always the case, but if you have a short author introductory video that you feel would captivate your audience, it might be a good idea to feature this on your website near your author bio or book feature section. Some authors might have had a book trailer created, so this might also be a great thing to feature on the homepage. If your video is very low quality (bad lighting or bad sound quality), it might be better to forego featuring it on the homepage. Remember, it’s crucial to appear professional, so you don’t want to ruin that look with a low-quality video.
I hope you found these author website tips helpful. Good luck!
Mel Beasley has a bachelor’s in creative writing and journalism from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He brings 9+ years of digital marketing and writing experience to the table by writing for publications such as Lumina News and Encore Magazine. He spent 2 years as a college-level writing tutor, and is a certified writing tutor through the CRLA, which is a prestigious cert recognized by the Association for the Coaching & Tutoring Profession. He is a professional SEO blogger with experience writing for brands such as Boardworks Education and The Greater Wilmington Business Journal. One of his latest website and marketing projects has been building the website for the now New York Times Bestselling author, Nina de Gramont.