Essentials for Newbie Author Sites:
The saying is “Don’t judge a book by its cover” yet we do. In that same sentiment, it would be great if readers didn’t judge authors by their websites (or lack thereof) but they do. Not to sound all preachy but an author’s site is the impression they give to the world. Like all social media, an author’s site is representative of the author. Unlike other social media, a website is more stagnant. It’s like the home base to all your branding. But why am I harping on about author’s websites?
Recently, after a lot of trial and error, as well as a lot of hair pulling, I’ve got my author website up and running properly. I’d like to say I feel happy at this moment but, honestly, I feel relief more than anything else.
While getting my site together I did a little research into what makes a “good author site.” I also looked at the sites of several successful authors I know and even reached out to one author because her site was so beautiful. Long story short, I’ve got some second-hand information, firsthand information and some lessons I’ve learned from my own mistakes.
After all that here are a few things I think all authors (aspiring, newbie or otherwise) should include on their website.
1. Books Page
The Books Page or tab on an author’s site lists all the books (stand alone or series) they’ve written and usually offers a short description with the cover. This page is essential because it lists everything you’ve ever written, including your old work that you aren’t currently promoting. If a reader falls in love with your fifth book and they check out your site, they’ll know you have other work available and may decide to purchase those books, as well.
Also, I think this page is a necessity even for aspiring authors. Why? Because you can list your works-in-progress here. Basically, it’s another form of promotion. If you’re marketing yourself like a boss on twitter and someone decides to check out your site, they’ll see all your WIPs (works in progress) and the name recognition will continue from there.
2. About Me
Has anything ever been harder to write? The About Me section is equivalent to the “Tell me about yourself” question in a job interview. Initially, your mind goes totally blank and you probably stumble or stutter for a moment. Well, I did, at least.
Here are a few tips about this section. First, don’t put too much personal information in your response. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying you’re from (insert city name) but going into which neighborhood you live in or giving away too many landmarks can be dangerous. I mean, no one likes stalkers, right?
Okay, next. The About Me section should let visitors know what genres you write. Of course, your site as a whole should give insight into that but this section should make it very clear. You don’t have to list the genres but somewhere in your description it should be made apparent if you write Christian romance or horror.
Lastly, try to keep this section short while still telling you story (how you became interested in writing, why you write in your genres, etc) and make sure to intertwine some interesting facts about yourself in here, too or you can list additional facts at the bottom of the page. What’s your favorite ice cream flavor and why? What a silly habit did you have as a kid? I want to know.
You can check out my About Me here. As you’ll see, I kept the section pretty short and left any additional “fun facts” for the bottom
3. Contact Me Page
Initially, I didn’t understand why I needed a Contact Me page when I could just post my social media links. Then, I set up one and I realized how convenient these pages can be. First, they should be connected to your professional author email which makes messages easier to manage. Instead of getting a Facebook message, a Tweet, a message on Instagram and etc, all of the communications are coming via one channel.
Also, even though social media is supposed to be social, introverts use it, too (Yay, introverts!). So, some people may feel tweeting at you or tagging you in a Facebook post is too public. In these situations, Contact Me pages are problem solvers.
4. Banner
A banner or cover image is going to be the first thing visitors see when they stop by your website. Whatever this image is it should be representative of you, your brand, your work, etc. Check out Terry Maggert’s website. He has a changing image but what matters here is that Terry writes fantasy and he’s known for having strong female characters. Every image in his slide, especially the first one is representative of these aspects of his writing.
My banner (which isn’t as nice as Terry’s) combines my two favorite colors that are also present throughout the site. Both the colors are dark and the font is a sort of Gothic-like script that speaks to the fact I write dark fantasy. Finally, the “Write your way through life” is a sort of tag I use on all my social media.
What’s great about banners is they don’t have to be fancy (just professional) and they can be done before you publish your first book. I’d check out Kim Chance’s site for a great example of a banner.
5. Photos
Even if you don’t have cover images yet, you need photos on your site. Photos not only help break down the longer portions of text on your site but they let your visitors actually see you. What I mean is that photos make you more of a real person to readers, despite the computer or phone screen separating you. Does that make sense?
If you’re also an artist, you can include cover sketches on your Books Page. Just a thought.
With photos, the important thing to remember is that they’re clear, not too cluttered, have a good background and are symbolic of you.
What other questions do you peeps have about author sites? Better yet, what do you all think about my website? I’m always looking for feedback.
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