Authors spend countless hours writing their book. Yet, few spend the same effort on promotion. With so many tools at your disposal, where do you start? There are a few camps out there, but the smart money is to start with an author website.

Why? It provides you with a home base for your content and online presence. Unlike social media, like Facebook or Twitter, you own it and rules don’t change. You have control over the look, content, and accessibility. It gives readers an organized space to find out more about you and what you offer. Maybe it is just your book, but you may offer more in terms of workshops, talks or other product add-ons. Drive traffic from social media and other sources by including the website on a business card, in your email signature, in all of your social media profiles and at live presentations. Here is how to start.

Goals of the Site

Before you insert a single line of code or hire the first designer that pops up on Google, determine the purpose of your site. Whether you hope to increase business income, promote yourself as a speaker, allow customers to sign-up for workshops, outline your online courses, help people overcome health or other life adversities, advertise other products or services, use as your blog as an income-generator or for the sale of your book, be clear as to why you want to post the site. Expanding your author platform is fine as long as there is a goal behind it.

Target Audience

The second thing to consider is your target audience. Remember that the site is for your readers, not for you. Who do you want to attract? What problem do you solve for them? Are they going to be happier, entertained, better able to cope or do something? Create your design and content to reflect your target readers’ needs and lead them to the solution on your site.

Domain Name

Your domain name is one of the least expensive and most important parts of your website, Purchase domain names for the title of your book and your author name from companies like HostGator or GoDaddy. You may also use a keyword phrase as your domain name for added SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Many web designers will provide this service as part of the package. Because of the small price tag, don’t be shy about purchasing several domain names and forward them all to your site.

If you are a business professional and have written a book to promote your business, forward the domains to the book page or about page on your business site. If your business is an author, your first priority is to feature your author name. As you write more books, the site expands to fit more titles instead of creating individual book websites.

Pages on Your Site

While you can have numerous pages on your website as your offerings increase, there are a few basic pages to get started.

Home

  • Describe the problem you solve.
  • Outline who you are and how you solve that problem.
  • Lead the visitor to the next step. “Click Here” to get more info, buy the book, etc.

About

  • Professional headshot – Really, it’s worth the money.
  • Bio – Tell your story to build relationships with your audience.
  • Press kit – Find out more about creating an author press kit here.

Book Page

  • Include book cover pictures and descriptions
  • Use Amazon Associate links to make some additional pocket change on each purchase of your books.
  • Reviews – Include one or more book reviews to provide social proof.

Contact Me

Include a contact form or contact information and links to all of your social media profiles and page.

Blog

Some authors have a blog. Others do not. Decide if it is worth your time and effort before you embark on the journey. It is an excellent way to engage with your readers if you work on building a following or a waste of time if it drains your energy away from selling more books or engaging in other income-producing activities. I love blogging and sharing my knowledge and insights with readers. I hope to build value and trust and establish myself as an expert. If it doesn’t make sense for you, do something else (like write another book). Read more about creating a blog following here.

Author Visits/Speaking/Workshops

If you are a speaker, workshop facilitator, do school visits or something else, include a page to showcase your offerings. Include:

  • Program descriptions
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Photos
  • Sample content like worksheets or outlines
An author website is the hub of your online book promotion. Make it work for you. #bookmarketing Click To Tweet

Jane Clark, Creative Director of Teakettica, a web design and branding company, suggests you ask your web designer these questions:

How is it priced? Per page? Per hour?

Do you write the content or do I?

How many changes may I make to the design?

Do you do any SEO? Is that included?

Do you provide the stock photography or do I need to find it?

Do you register the domain name?

Do you provide web hosting?

Do you provide ongoing support or teach me how to update it after the site is live?

Is my site going to be mobile friendly?

How long does it take to develop a website?

Do I own the website and graphics?

And that’s just the beginning! Find out more about making your website work for you in Creating an Author Website: Part 2 and Creating an Author Website: Part 3.