Marketing for Authors: The Complete Guide to Creating an Author Website

Updated: Jun 9

Every author needs an author website, but you may find yourself stuck on how to create one and more specifically what to include. There are many aspects that go in to creating a website, from domain name, to website hosting provider to synced email marketing and website design. Read below for the complete guide which covers it all.



Why is an author website needed?

Every author needs an author website, but why? I've found that many authors in the writing community feel it's too much hassle or that it doesn't help in terms of sales, which is incorrect.


A website provides a professional online presence

Now days, a knock-out query letter isn't enough. Publishers and Literary Agents want to see that you're capable of marketing yourself well, they need to see more and be reminded of why you specifically stand out. After all, they are getting hundreds of queries each day.


A website gives you the chance to develop an email list

By having an email list you'll be able to be in regular communication with your readers, so you or your books will never be forgotten and you'll get an increase in engagement. Click here for advice on growing your email list.


A website gives readers the potential to find and purchase your books easily

If a readers knows your name (maybe they've seen it in your press release or on other blogs in which you've guest blogged) then the first thing they'll do is type in your name on a web search engine, such as Google, which will then take them to your author website where your books will be displayed.


A website with a blog gives you opportunity

Authors who utilise a blog feature on their website have a higher chance of having their website seen. For example, it's one thing to share your website hundreds of times of social media, which after a while will get a bit boring, but if you're sharing blog posts which keep readers updated on yourself and your work, it's more interesting and will increase the number of website clicks.

What is the purpose of your author website?

Before you start designing your author website there are a few thing's you need to consider. The first being, what is the purpose of your author website? You could have multiple reasons but the most common choices are to help communicate with readers, to create a platform for your blog and to help the sale of your books. On a piece of paper or a word document outline your purposes as it will help when it comes to designing your website.


What is the theme of your author website?

All author website should have a clear theme which, in most cases, matches the genre of the author's book. For example, my genre is young adult, mystery, crime, fiction, so on my website the colours are dark and there is an inviting blue mist to the background, evoking the sense of mystery and discovery. If you're a romance novelist your website could make use of floral colours such as yellow or pink and include roses in the background or something similar which created the sense of subtle romance. Here are a few examples of great author website which utilise their book genre theme: Grishaverse, Henry Heff and Melissa McPhail amongst others.


Which website hosting provider should I use?

There are many website builder providers but the problem is choosing the correct one for what you want. Here's a few I suggest:


Wix.com

I have personally used Wix to create the very website you're reading this on and have found it to be the easiest to use compared to others. Not only does Wix provide an easy website builder but it also makes it easy to send emails to an email subscriber list, as well as creating and sharing social posts, videos, logos, promotional materials and more. Wix is free but I would suggest paying for premium in order to remove Wix branded ads from your site.


WordPress.com

WordPress is well-known for it's blogging capability which is made incredibly easy and is already built-in with your WordPress site. Not only that but the WordPress software is completely free. WordPress is also known for being SEO friendly with all websites using standard high-quality coding which makes Google and other search engines more likely to put your site higher in search results.


Squarespace.com

Squarespace has been on the rise recently and I have found that it works particularly well for those who want to display a shop on their site. Squarespace also has a wide-range of aesthetically pleasing design templates, making designing your website extremely easy. Unfortunately, Squarespace does not offer any free plans but it's definitely worth checking out.

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Which domain provider should I use?

Choosing the right domain provider is equally as important as choosing the right website host. A domain is the URL which your website will use, for example my domain URL is www.melissahawkes.com which is customised to represent myself as an author. There are many domain providers but I would suggest using Wix.com, Bluehost.com or Godaddy.com.


What should I include on my author website?

This question has been asked a lot within the writing community and I have found that many authors don't know where to begin when it comes to designing their websites. All websites should have a header and a footer which are shown on every page. The header is displayed at the top of your website and serves as the opener. Ideally, it should display your name or logo, your social media handles and your menu, which is what helps viewers navigate between your pages.


Here is an example of the header that I currently have on my website:

The footer is what shows at the bottom of your page and usually includes your menu tabs, as an extra way of navigation around the site, however I personally find that this can make a website look clunky. Instead, I've used the footer to include my logo, links to my Privacy Policy, Newsletter sign-up and a link to my email for those wishing to get in contact with me.


Here is an example of the footer that I currently have on my website:

In terms of website pages, you could consider having;


A homepage

A homepage will be the first page shown when someone enters your URL and is the most important page of your site. It should display a banner which should show your most recent book and where it can be brought or a picture of yourself as serve as a 'welcome' banner. You could include recent blog posts on your homepage and ideally your homepage should include sections which link to the other pages on your site.


About the author page

You should definitely include a page which invites the viewers in to getting to know you better. On your about page include a few images of yourself alongside your background and answer questions such as what made you want to be a writer? Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?.


Books page

Each book should have it's own page on your author site and should include a long description. You don't have to include all your books in your menu as main pages but you could include them as subpages, so when a viewer hovers over the 'books' tab, your individual book pages will show up. The reasons for creating individual book pages is so that it's easier for someone to find your work, when you send someone your book link, you don't want them to have to scroll down your entire site just to find the section they want. It's also better for SEO reasons and ensure that your work won't get clambered in to one page. On individual book pages your site should have the title, subtitle, long description or blurb, ISBN number and links to where your book can be bought.


Blog

It's especially important for authors to include a blog on their site, purely for bringing more traffic back to your website. Give the viewers what they want, you could write about your writing process, story updates, announcements, latest news or advice for other authors. Either way, having a blog is definitely something that will help, not hinder, your overall website attraction.


Contact page

Another important page you should include on your website is a contact page. A contact page will allow readers or viewers of your site to get in contact if they have a question, but it will also allow the press to get in contact in regards to any publications they might want to feature you in or any interviews they might want to take place. Make sure you don't ask for too much information as it will put people off from contacting you, only ask for their first name, surname and email as well as a box to include their message, you could also include a subject line box too to make it easier to filter the emails you get.


Extra's you could include:


Privacy Policy

If you collect any form of personal data on your site, such as email addresses, first name, last name, age or anything similar then you MUST have a Privacy Policy shown on your website. This ensures that your site complies with GDPR laws which came into play in 2018. Click here to view my full Privacy Policy.


A splash page

A splash page is a welcoming page which encourages viewers to click on a button or image in order to access your site. It helps make your site more interactive and exciting. Here's what my splash page looks like and is the first thing that is shown when you go to www.melissahawkes.com

As you can see the viewer must click on 'Enter Website' in order to reach my homepage.


Press/Media page

Your media page should be a page which is easy to navigate and is there to provide the press with information that will help them put you in their publication. Your page should include author headshots, FAQ's, contact information, book slinks and more. Click here to view my blog post on how to create your media page.


FAQ page

An FAQ page is a page which answers commonly asks questions either about your site, your books, yourself or all three. Click here to view the FAQ page displayed on my site.


Download the author website checklist to help you out

Click on the attachment below to download your very own, easy to read, author website checklist.

My Author Website Checklist.pdf
Download PDF • 3.27MB



If you've found this post helpful please let me know in the comment section and don't forget to subscribe to my newsletter at www.melissahawkes.com/newsletter.


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