What’s In a Website? 7 Ways to Make Your Author Website Work for You
by Torraine A. Williams
In today’s world, a website is a necessity. People tend to turn to the internet for information and, increasingly, for purchases. As an author, you want your readers to be able to find you so that they can buy your work. It’s easy to purchase a website domain and use a template to build a website, but is that website doing what it needs to do? You want your website to not only reflect who you are, but also to draw in readers and potential readers so that they will buy your books.
1. Determine Your Audience. Who is reading your books? Know what who they are and what they will want. For an author, your audience is your readers and your potential readers. What they usually want is to know about you, learn something about the books you have written and what you may have coming out soon. Your website can provide a platform for you to provide these readers with all they want, and more.
2. Tell Them About Yourself. Creative people are interesting, and your readers want to know about the person who can make up entire worlds inside his or her head. A short biography is necessary. Provide some background about yourself and the inspiration behind your writings. Include a picture or pictures that reflect who you are.
3. Share Your Accomplishments. If you want your books to sell, you have to tell people what they are and where to find them. List all of your publications, including short stories and articles. Do you have a blog? Post the link to it, so that people can see what you think about. Mention any writing awards and honors that you have received. Reprint reviews of your books on your website, or at least provide a link to sites that have posted reviews of your work. Above all, be sure to provide links to sources where people can buy your books , such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Smashwords. You may entice new readers by offering ancillary materials like bonus chapters the can read only on your site or book club materials they can download. In fact consider a media page with cover images, blurbs, author bio, purchase links, etc. This makes it very easy for a book store to promote your book signing, hence making it more likely they will book you for signings.
4. Help Them Find You. You can also provide a calendar listing dates of when and where people can meet and greet you for book readings or book signings. Some low-cost ways of doing this would be to embed a Yahoo or Google Calendar into your website. You can also use software like Localendar. You can also provide a way for people to contact you to request you attend there book club or request a book signing in their area. 123 Contact Form is one of many easy ways to create forms.
5. Make your website easy to find. SEO, or search engine optimization, is the art of using keywords to increase the chances of people finding your website via an internet search engine, like Google or Bing. It sounds intimidating, but it’s actually very simple. There are tons of things you can do to optimize your website for search engines but if you focus on just a few, you can ensure that people can easily find your site by searching for your name, or one of your book titles. Google Analytics is a free service and easy to set up. It will collect data on how people find your site, what search words bring people to your site, and what pages or posts are most popular on your site. With this information, you will be able to assess where your focus your energy in order promote your site effectively.
6. Give your readers what they want. Social media has become the number-one way to engage existing fans and find new ones. Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and Pinterest are just some of the social media networks that websites always offer as an opportunity to link to your homepage. Create a Facebook page (which is different from a personal Facebook profile) and link to it from your website. Embed your Twitter feed on your website. Link to your Pinterest or Tumblr feed. You can even direct people to a customized landing page on your website, where you can provide a special offer for those who visit your website from Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or another social media outlet. YouTube or Vine are fast, easy ways to create short videos, interviews, and footage from book signings, which you can then embed in your website. Another way to engage your readers is to develop an e-mail newsletter list that puts you in direct contact with your true fans. One of the more popular newsletter companies is MailChimp, which is free for up to 1,000 emails sent per month.
7. Spread the word! Now that you have a great, engaging website, make sure people know about it. Include your website address on all of your printed materials and social media profiles. Include it on the back covers of your books; on your author page at Amazon, Goodreads, or wherever your books can be found; and in any mailings or materials that you send out or offer for download. Include it on business cards, and in your email signature. In fact, make sure your email references your website (e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org). It looks more professional, and your readers will take you more seriously.
Torraine A. Williams has been designing websites and web-based applications for over 15 years for a diverse group including authors, personal trainers, banks, churches, families, colleges, sororities, city departments, and weddings. He currently serves as a Lead Software Engineer for the American Kennel Club and does freelance website design for consultants, small businesses and non-profits. When not in front of his computer, he can often be found having tea parties or doing arts and crafts with his daughters, playing or watching sports with his son, or doing whatever he can to keep his lovely wife happy.