Author Website – As you probably know already, creating an effective website is one of the easiest ways to: establish your credibility, impress literary agents and publishers, get more exposure, promote your book, make more money, and make a greater difference in the world.
So, there are a lot of reasons to develop an author website. But how do you do it? What should it look like? How many pages should it have? What should you include? What should you leave out? Should you talk about your book? If so, how should you talk about your book?
This 3-part article (for aspiring and established authors) reveals the 7 critical ingredients of a successful website. It also introduces several case studies and examples of author websites that you might want to model.
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One of the Best Author Platform Strategies
Although there are more than 100 ways that you could improve your Author Platform (a.k.a. promotional platform), you only need to focus on a few (that are right for YOU). That’s because every author has slightly different needs and desires. That said, an author website should be near the top of everyone’s list. Why? An author website will give you one of the greatest returns on your investment of time (and money, if you hire someone to help you), when it comes to building your author platform.
Another reason an author website is such a good investment is that it keeps working for you… long after you’ve created it. Did you know that most of the author coaching clients who find me do so through one of websites? Authors simply Google something related to literary agents and find one of my websites for authors online. Then they discover that my website is devoted to giving them what they want, and they sign up to become a part of my community.
You can do the same thing.
So, let’s get into the seven parts
of a successful author website…
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Author Website Ingredient #1
An Inviting Welcome Message
A lot of authors overlook this simple step.
Author websites are just another form of communication (like that book you’re writing). And the purpose of the communication on your author website should be to develop a relationship between you and the visitor. By the way, I don’t just mean any type of relationship (think long-term instead of one night stand).
Your author website shouldn’t be designed for you to simply get what you want from people (take, take, take). It should be win-win. Give-get. give. In other words, your author website shouldn’t be a one-sided or one-way conversation (a monologue). It should feel like a dialogue. If all you do is talk about yourself and try to sell your book (without connecting with your audience and talking about them, no one is going to care).
Get inside the head of your readers (target market) and get to know them. Then you’ll be able to talk about their issues. Let them know you’re aware of their problems as well, and let them know you’re here to serve them and solve those problems. At least one or two of them.
I know, right now you might be wondering what type of problem a novelist solves. Well, how about boredom? Or loneliness? Or the agony of reading books that aren’t as well written as yours? Every product or service solves a problem. The more clear you get about the problems your product and/or service solve, the more effectively you’ll be able to motivate your target market and get them to take action (buy your stuff and enjoy the many benefits of doing so).
When you write your welcome message on your author website, make sure you also let your prospect know that you care about them. Share your passion for your topic, too, and your motivation for doing what you do. Reveal why you’re a credible expert, if that’s relevant. And, address any potential resistance that you feel might be an issue for your target market. In other words, a common belief they have that might cause them to be leery about trusting you, your product and/or service, and/or the fact that you reader will be able to get the results they want.
Lastly, tell your visitors exactly what they should do next when they’re done reading your welcome message so they don’t immediately leave your author website!
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Author Website Ingredient #2
Irresistible FREE Offer and Opt-In
This one kills me, because many writers that have author websites don’t have an irresistible FREE offer and opt-in opportunity! But, with modern technology, it’s so easy to add a sign-up form to an author website… allowing people to give you their name and email address.
Having an email list is one of the simplest ways to increase your audience. It also lets you stay in touch with them. You can send people important news and updates as well as special offers and invitations. Posting messages on social media is great, but nothing compares to you sending an email straight into someone’s email box. It’s impossible for them to miss it. But it’s all too easy for your thoughtful messages to get lost on social media… with the never-ending wall of narcissistic junk and diarrhea-like rants that people post there.
Now, what is an “Irresistible FREE Offer”?
If you want people to take 20 seconds of their incredibly busy lives to give you their name and personal email address, you better give them a great reason. Not a good reason, but a great reason. You have to offer them something that’s has a high perceived value. In other words, you have to make them believe your offer is going to solve an important problem for them (or at least entertain them). And, if you can show them that your offer is something that they can’t get anywhere else, even better.
What can you give away to get people to opt in?
An eBook, short story, or sample chapter(s) from your book. Or a special article or report (or series of articles or reports). An audio recording or training. A video or series of videos. Or access to a special collection of images or photos. It depends on what you do, what you want to do, and what your book is about.
Just make sure the offer has a high perceived value
(and it’s of interest) to your audience.
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Author Website Ingredient #3
Two Types of Content
A lot of authors struggle with this one because they don’t know what kind of MAIN content (not to be confused with the irresistible free offer above) to put on their author website. Articles? Audio? Video? Images? Also, should you just include your own content? Or, should you also include content that other people have created (giving you a wider range of content AND taking some of the pressure off you to produce)?
Here’s the good news.
It doesn’t matter.
Simply choose something that’s fun and easy for you to create. That way you’ll be more likely to create it. You also don’t need a lot of content on your author website. If you decide that you do want (or need) a lot of content for your audience, don’t get stressed about it. You can simply create it a little bit at a time.
My author website about literary agents has approximately 100 blog posts, but I didn’t write them overnight. I wrote one a week over the course of two years while I was doing other things. You probably don’t need that much content (100+ pages) for your author website, but you do need something. So, let’s talk now about the two different types of content you can post on your author website: website pages and blog posts.
Important: The best author websites have both web pages and blog posts.
Web pages provide your most important content: welcome message, information about you and your work, information about your area of expertise, educational or entertainment material, etc. Everything that everyone needs to know in order to make a decision to follow you and/or work with you should be here. These pages should be extremely well-written, well-organized, and easy to navigate.
Blog posts are where you continue providing fresh content on your site. By the way, most people usually have a lot more blog posts than web pages, and they’re organized into logical categories. That makes it easier for readers to find what they’re looking for. By the way, blog posts usually have fewer words than webpages, and they’re often not as well-written.
Well, if your #1 goal is to attract more traffic to your author website by blogging, quantity can be more important than “perfect” writing. Think of it this way. Posting messages on social media like Twitter (140 characters) is quick and casual (as it should be). A blog post (normally 400-800 words) is one level above that (still relaxed, but not as much). And a web page (roughly 800-1,500 words) is one level about that (even more thoughtful and thorough). If you were publishing an article in a national magazine, you’d probably put even more thought and effort into your writing.
Blog posts are also generally more “short-term,” often capitalizing on hot topics and trends in an industry. For example (since I talk a lot about publishing), I might create a web page about the 10 greatest books every published. But I might also create a blog post that talks about one book on the bestseller list this week… or a recent change in the publishing industry. These two things might be old news in three months, but if they’re “trending” right now (people are talking about them and searching for them online), I’d be wise to blog about them.
Now, why do you have to create both web pages and blog posts on your author website? You don’t. But you should consider it. That’s because it’s better for search engine optimization. In other words, search engines like Google will give your site more priority if you have both web pages and blog posts. You’ll be seen as an “expert” in your niche with the web pages, and the blog posts will make you “current” and constantly relevant. The blog posts also keep your audience and email list subscribers paying attention.
So, make sure your author website
has web pages and a blog.
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Then click here to read part two
of this author website article series
about the best author websites.