The matter of website design; it all depends where you’re at. If you just started publishing short stories, a blog would be perfect for you and easy to create. Maybe you have ten best sellers out (congrats, you lucky bastard!). That means your author website must house different sales channels.
This article is only a superficial scratch on the fascinating theme of web page design, but I wrote it to guide you onto the path. Remember that you can always add features and scale your business.
Table of contents
Look At Your Competitors
As with book covers, a bit of industrial espionage pays. Check out your competition and write down the observations.
- Visual content. What’s to like? Images, the free white space which lets the central elements rock?
- Commercial content and plugins: buying her book was super easy! I loved his blog.
- Mechanisms of interaction: I subscribed to her newsletter with one click. I followed his social media accounts in an instant.
- The fonts are gorgeous. I want that CSS! (stands for Cascading Style Sheets). https://skillcrush.com/2012/04/03/css/
Don’t worry if you don’t get CSS. Themes come with fonts, and you use them like in a text editor; by choosing titles and default text. Experiment.
Phases To Go Through
- Choose your platform (WordPress, Wix, etc.)
- Choose a domain name (no cryptic words, make it easy for people to find you!). Register the www- address. How to get a domain name
- Install the website builder of your choice. Best website builder software: https://www.thebest10websitebuilders.com/charts/2/best-website-builders
- Get familiar with the dashboard of the software.
- Choose a theme: https://www.wpbeginner.com/glossary/responsive-theme/
- Create a header that consists of a headline and a theme image. Canva is great for making graphic elements. It’s free and offers multiple styles. Choose pictures and a theme that goes with your genre.
- Add your core pages. I suggest the following: front/home page, landing page (for offers), books for sale or upcoming books (presale marketing). Additional pages to your liking: short stories, author bio, guest authors (swap for publicity), blog, competitions, and whatever you like.
More information and detailed steps by The Write Practice: https://thewritepractice.com/building-an-author-website/
Yes, it’s a great idea to have a blog and a newsfeed and social media interaction on your page, but remember that you must keep up with the pulsating beat of updates.
Outdated content from the year 2017 won’t speak for you, to the contrary.
Start with static elements and design them well. Please keep it simple but use high-quality photos. I’ve discussed how to buy commercial pictures in my previous blog post: https://rebeckajager.com/2019/12/11/how-to-design-a-book-cover/
The Main Message
“Authors often make the mistake of thinking that people visit their websites just to read their bio. Are you, the author, important? Sure, but your book is more important. Let people know they’re on an author’s website by making your product the star of the show.”
Source and more information: https://blog.reedsy.com/author-websites/
Tell the potential customers who you are as an author, and advertise your book. Always add a functioning link to Amazon or some other bookstore. Remember that each extra action causes your customers to fall out of the sales funnel. Make buying as easy as possible.
Establishing a PayPal account and using the PayPal button has become rather easy nowadays. Remember to count printing, sending the book, and all other expenses so that you break at least even. If e-commerce becomes too complicated, just use the Amazon/Nook/Kobo/Play Books, etc. links with a buy now- button.
Remember to test. Everything on your page must work before you publish it!
An extra puzzle: what would make people come back to your site?
A plugin is a mini-application that you can incorporate into your site. Most website builders offer a range of free plugins, but extra features demand a small monthly/yearly fee.
- Newsletter subscription and a customer database (MailChimp for instance)
- Blog motor https://buffer.com/resources/best-wordpress-plugins
- Plugins to connect social media
- Google analytics
- Anti-spam software
- Informing your visitors on data legislation
Always test that the plugin works before you publish new content!
Experiment, read DIY- articles and try again. If you fail, log into Fiverr and search for a skilled IT person.
If your header image is 15 Megabytes and takes twenty seconds to load, nobody cares if it’s incredible. Pack your images and lose the extra byte size.
For more information on image formats: https://themeisle.com/blog/best-image-format/
Test your site speed with several different browsers and operating systems. Ask friends and family to experiment. Post a poll on social media and allow fans to voice their opinion.
Scalability means that your website theme and the mechanics behind the visual facade adapt to different viewer devices and screen sizes. Open that mobile phone of yours and check your visuals. Ask friends to look at pages and click on the links. Request an honest opinion and have them answer a few questions. The process is similar to the beta reading of your book.
Remember that having no author site is the worst option. Having a 90s feel with everything blinking 100 mph is almost as bad as having no page. Boasting a smooth functioning website is your calling card as a professional writer.
SEO- search-Engine Optimization
People must find you among a kazillion other writers and bloggers. If you don’t know what the infamous SEO means, check out my previous blog post on the subject: https://rebeckajager.com/2019/03/12/search-engine-optimization-for-writers/
Building An Author Brand
Branding means that you use consistent features throughout your virtual existence. Having the same account name everywhere and using a logo helps people recognize you wherever they stumble upon your content.
A film-noir color scheme on your website? Great! (if you’re a mystery writer). Use the same header on your social media. After you get the hang of branding, a consistent effort soon becomes second nature.
But, a brand is much more than colors and visuals. You know what a writer’s voice is, don’t you? The brand is your voice when it comes to the web: instantly recognizable and consists of a thousand little things.
“Brand is everything people perceive you as. It’s your personality, every word you write, the fonts and colors you use, the way you make people feel when they read your books or visit your website. Many people wrongly equate brand to a logo or website colors and although these are brand elements, a brand is much more than just these graphic aspects.”
Source and more information on branding your writing career: https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2017/11/10/authentic-author-brand/
Remember that practice makes perfect.
Start simple and add complicated elements after you master the basics. Create a landing page if you don’t know what else to do. Many website builders and emailing software offer articles and advice on how to create a simple landing page.
A landing page should:
- House your writer bio (short)
- Show off your products = books
- Engage the customer and keep the conversation going
- Offer promo codes and discounts (IMPORTANT!)
- Advertise an incentive to a selected group of customers (give them a VIP-feeling)
- Gather those precious contact details
Source and more information: https://mailchimp.com/resources/landing-pages-design-tips/
TIP: Think like your customer. What do you value when you look for a book to buy?
Have fun, and ask me if you’re baffled. Request to join my Facebook group for writers to discuss the matter: https://www.facebook.com/groups/569574570248527
Other posts about book marketing: