In my recent post, Three Absolute Essentials for your Author Website, I outlined the absolute bare bones essentials you need for an author website. A website with just those three things – your name, a contact form, and where to read or buy your work – is worth having, and will be of use not just to readers but potentially to editors who might want to commission your work, or event organisers looking to invite you to a reading.
Of course, most author websites have more than just those three things. That doesn’t mean they have to be super complicated. Adding these five elements, will give you a solid author website, ready to present you and your work to the online world.
In a future post, I’ll talk about some of the more optional elements that can be added to your website to really give it a boost, but in the meantime, here are the five essentials. These are not absolutely necessary in all cases, but they are relevant to almost all authors – and unless you have a reason not to, it’s a good idea to include them on your author website.
1. An introduction to the author
Readers are interested in your books first and foremost, of course, but many also like to get a sense of who you are. A short bio is crucial for your website, and merits its own page.
Don’t feel like you need to share more than you’re comfortable with. While many authors do mention their family or home town, your bio could include anything from your favourite dessert to the authors who’ve most influenced your writing.
2. Book covers
Only a little more important than the title and the buy link is the book cover. Displaying your book cover(s) adds life to your website and catches the eye of the reader. After all, covers are specifically designed to make people want to read the book, so make sure they’re prominent. You may want to consider a banner based on the cover as well.
If you write short fiction, you can of course use the covers of magazines of anthologies which have published your work. If you’re an aspiring author and don’t have a book cover, make sure you have a colourful banner or some pictures relevant to your writing to brighten up your website.
3. Social media links
Not every author uses social media – and not every author needs to. But many of us find it not only an important part of our promotional strategy, but a way to meet readers and other authors, to keep track of industry developments, and to find inspiration.
Whether you’re joining in Twitter chats, or creating ideas boards for your new novel on Pinterest, there’s no reason not to alert anyone viewing your website that they can find and follow you there as well.
4. An author photograph
Given that writing is such a solitary profession, it’s not a surprise that many of us are photo shy. So if you don’t have some professional headshots, maybe treat yourself to a photo-shoot. You’ll need them when you get that big book deal, after all.
5. A blog or announcements page
Some authors blog actively, talking about their lives, their writing, new releases, and much more. They often provide spaces for other authors on their blog as well. This can be a great tool for building community, but it doesn’t work for everyone – and it’s a lot of effort to go to if your heart’s not in it.
So if blogging’s not your thing, try an announcement page. A date and a couple of lines for each event is all you need – and keep it for the important things: a new release, a cover reveal, or an event you’ll be speaking at.
Updating your content relatively frequently also helps with search engine optimisation (SEO) and ensures your website doesn’t look abandoned. But most importantly, it means that when someone visits your page, they get a sense of what’s new – and what they can look forward to.
I’m an author as well as a web developer, so I know what goes in to building an effective author website. We can work with you to build your website – or add extra functionality to an existing site. Check out our packages and pricing or get in touch – and good luck with your writing!