Determine the purpose of your website and develop it from there.
Choose a domain name name is easy to type and memorable. A .com ending is more professional and credible than .host name.com.
It’s also a good idea to choose a domain name that is close to your author name/pen name. This makes it easier to remember and is usually easy to type. If you have a name that is difficult to spell, consider an alternative such as first or last name only paired with “author” or “books.”
If you plan to write a blog, incorporate it into your website so everything is in one place and easy for readers to find.
Tie-in all social your media accounts with follow buttons and auto-sharing of blog posts.
Choosing a Website Host
Look for a host that matches your technological skill. Host like WordPress.org allow for HTML coding, while many other use drag-and-drop systems. If you are not knowledgeable about coding or do not need many customized features, a simpler system will likely work better.
Look for a host with a variety of templates, customizations, and plugins. Templates can give you website a professional look with little effort. Customizing your site gives it a more unique look and functionality. Important plugins to consider are integrations with a mailing list, shopping function, contact forms, and social media integration.
Consider what other benefits are provided by the host. Options to look for include SEO optimization, customer service, mobile friendly designs, and add-ons. Some popular providers are Wix, WordPress.com, Weebly, and SquareSpace.
Essentials of the Home Page
Make the home page your “landing page” where readers can access all the basic information about you and your books.
The home page is the MOST important page on your website. The average visitor only spends 1-2 minutes on a website, so it’s important to maximize that time.
Home Page MUST HAVES include: Links to your book(s), Social Media follow buttons, a “Reader Welcome Letter” or introduction, easy to see/use navigation tabs, and a clear indication of who the owner is.
Remember that a website is not for YOU, but for your readers. Be sure to provide them with the information they are looking for, and that it is easy to access.
Important Pages to Include
Bio/about: Include a longer, “official” bio, social media links, other platforms readers can find you on, and a newsletter signup form
Books/Products: List your books IN ORDER (this is #1 reason readers comes to author website). If you have a large backlist, you may want to break your books into series pages to keep from overwhelming the reader.
Blog (optional): Make sure your blog is followable, allows comments, and autoshares to social media.
Contact: Use a form, not your email/phone, in order to protect your privacy and simplify the process. Readers are more willing to contact an author through a form than directly emailing them.
Newsletter Signup: Set up a form through your email list provider and either provide the link to that form, or integrate the form directly into your website. Make the form simple and easy to fill out. Only ask for basic information, such as name and email address.
Appearances/Events (optional): Use this page to announce events you will be attending. You can also give information on how an organization request an appearance or author talk. List any fees you charge, or what areas you are able to make appearances.
Choose a template or design that is clean, simple, and easy to use design.
Make sure the layout is easy to navigate and that the menu is visible, often at the top of the page or in the side bar.
Be sure your website is optimized for mobile use. This is usually something done automatically by the host software, but be sure to review it and make sure it looks the way you want it to.
Use eye-catching images. ONLY use image you own the rights to or are copyright free (www.pixabay.com).
Provide useful content and update your blog and/or website frequently.