So, you did it! You’re a published author, congratulations! Now you need to seal the deal and make it official with your very own author website. But first, you probably have some questions:
Should I even have an author website?
This first question has an obvious answer: yes! You want to provide a strong point of first contact for people just hearing about your work, to offer a sneak peak behind the scenes for avid fans and a convenient way to explore your whole bibliography. An author website is a must because it acts as a business card for the authorship world.
How do I set up an author website?
There are many sites that will walk you through this process, from setting up a domain name to customising the layout of your site. Squarespace, Wix and GoDaddy are the brand leaders for this service, and they will charge you an annual fee for the support of the site. Alternatively, there is Pub Site which is less established, but made specifically for authors. Alternatively, if you don’t want to compromise on your site, but rather have it tailored to your needs from the ground up, you can invest in independent website developers--but this is more expensive.
What makes a good author website?
A good first thing to consider is what an author website is really for. Simply, its main purpose is to support you, the author. To do this, it has to be complimentary to the personal brand created by your work. If your bibliography is serious and dramatic, your website should be too. This may mean, for example, a sombre colour scheme and formal presentation. For tailored help developing and understanding your personal brand, Rowanvale offers a range of marketing advice found here. Most importantly though, to retain reader engagement you want all website inclusions to be structured around anticipating their needs, whether they be relevant to all authors, or personalised to your intended demographic.
What should I include?
It’s a safe bet that if users are interested in your website, they’re interested in your books! The titles of your works, their covers and a sharp synopsis of what they are about should all be easily accessible. Perhaps users may have read one of your works and want more, or they may have just heard of you and are looking for a good entry point. By all means, you should lead the way. A top tip employed by all serious author websites is the quick graphic link that takes users straight to where they can buy the book, such as at Amazon or an independent retailer. We actually do this ourselves at Rowanvale for each of our authors, see an example here. If you do have any upcoming works, be sure to advertise these to retain that crucial engagement between book publications.
It may be that you have yet to establish yourself and do not have the luxury of glowing reviews from recognised or revered sources, but if you do, this should definitely be included on your site. This is especially true if you are still building your name, as a string of positive reviews will help affirm for users why you’re worthy of present and future engagement. If your good-review bank is a little low, Rowanvale can actually bring motivated readers of your genre to you with our ARC service. Or, for a pre-published book, we provide beta-readers in order to round up that credibility you need and deserve. Remember that the key support your website is providing also extends to sales figures, and this is an easy way to bump them up.
An “About Page”
Perhaps your work has autobiographical elements, so it makes sense to reward your followers with a rundown of your life and the key moments manifested in the work they can’t get enough of.
Recounts of Research
Alternatively, your work may be deliberately detached from you as the author, in which case your site may instead prioritise other inspirations behind your writing to connect readers to the DNA of the work.
Social Media or Blog
If you can see yourself committing to regular posts and enjoy the act of discourse in and outside of your work, this could become the highlight of the site. This is also worth considering if you have controversial talking points in your work, as this would provide a platform to harness that buzz and boost your overall relevance, even if it is as something as seemingly trivial as supporting team Edward or Jacob.
Ask the Author
Many author websites include some form of contact information for users. This helps connects you with the reception of your work, not just increasing reader engagement with you, but you with them, further aiding future projects.