Best Author Websites – This article (for aspiring and established authors) is the second part of a 3-part series on how to create an effective author website. If you haven’t already done so, click here now to read Part 1: Author Website.
This article series reveals the 7 critical ingredients of the best author websites. It also introduces several case studies and examples of some of the best author websites that my team has helped authors create… so you can model them.
The best author websites: establish credibility, impress literary agents and publishers, help their authors promote their book, get more exposure, make more money, and make a greater difference in the world.
So, let’s get to it…
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Best Author Websites
7 Essential Ingredients
As a reminder from part 1 in this article series,
the first 3 ingredients are:
1. An inviting welcome message
2. Irresistible FREE offer and opt-on
3. Two types of content (web pages and blog posts)
Oh, one more thing…
If you haven’t yet read my Author Platform article, you might want to do that now before you continue. It’s kind of the “umbrella” article that explains what an author promotional platform really is, why it’s important, and how to create one that’s irresistible to literary agents and publishers.
An author website is just one piece of
the proverbial promotional pie!
Okay, now we can talk about…
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Best Author Websites – Ingredient #4
Products and/or Services
If you’re an author you might not think you have much (or anything) that falls into this category. But you do. At the very least you should have a prominent web page devoted to your book. Yes, even if you’re still unpublished. The best author websites always include a summary or book synopsis (think flap copy) that serves as a teaser (not just for future book buyers, but also for literary agents)!
Just make sure (if you’re seeking a literary agent and publisher), that you clearly state, at the beginning of the web page with your book on it, that you’re seeking an agent and publisher. I even suggest that you do this in red font to be sure they don’t miss it. Otherwise, book agents and publishers will get confused and think you’ve already published (or self-published) your book.
If you’ve already published or (self-published) the book you’re making available to literary agents and publishers, that’s a bit more complicated. It’s never too late for a previously published author to get a literary agent, traditional publisher, and book deal… but it can be tricky. Click here to read an article that talks about that, and a few other things you might find interesting and helpful.
Now let’s move on to…
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Best Author Websites – Ingredient #5
If you have ‘em, use ‘em.
I’ve jokingly told people privately (now publicly) that
I’m a (excuse my French) “testimonial whore.”
Here’s proof: Coaching Testimonials
Here’s MORE proof: General Testimonials
Don’t judge me.
You’ve got to be semi-shameless if you’re going to “pitch yourself”. Remember, you’re not just pitching your book. Your pitching YOU, as well. It feels awkward at first for most people (it did for me, too), but you’ll get better at it. Probably not used to it, but better at it. So start stretching yourself in this area. Soon you’ll be comfortable asking people to tell you why they love you and what you do. Because they probably DO (or they probably WILL) love you and what you do.
Keep in mind…
It’s just marketing.
I get testimonials from my coaching clients whenever possible. I don’t do it because I need people to stroke my ego. I do it because it’s effective. I know it’s effective because my clients tell me things (like what you see below) AFTER they sign up to work with me:
“I’m always skeptical. That’s because there are so many people on the Internet telling you they’re the greatest. They say, ‘I can do this and I can do that. We’ll give you the secret solution to solve all your problems if you just give us $15,000 and your firstborn child.’ So the hundreds of testimonials on your website were very convincing.”
When one of my author coaching clients said that, I thought it was great… told him it was so good that I was going to use it. Why? Because it’s true and we all know it. I can sit here all day long and tell you I’m good at what I do. Anyone can do that. But it doesn’t mean anything.
If you’re smart, you aren’t going to believe people like me who are promoting themselves (at least not 100%) when they have something to gain (like your business). You’ll be much more interested in what other people have said about the person (who’ve actually worked with the person), because those statements are more credible.
Literary agents are no different.
They don’t want to work hard to figure out if you’re telling them the truth about how good you and/or your book are. They prefer to hear “social proof” from someone else that they know they can trust.
The best author websites have testimonials.
So, make sure you start collecting (and posting), all the wonderful things that people have said about your book (and YOU as a person).
It’s all good.
Don’t have any testimonials?
That’s okay, let this article be a wake-up call to start gathering them. And, just so you know, it’s possible to contact famous bestselling authors (completely cold, without any connection to them) and get them to give you blurbs. I tell all my coaching clients exactly how to do it.
And it works.
I’ll tell you more about THAT another day…
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Best Author Websites – Ingredient #6
Most of the time it’s a bad idea to talk about yourself. That’s because most people don’t know how to do it very well. So, how do you write a biography that people will enjoy… just as much (hopefully) as your book?
Write your bio in two stages.
When you’re writing the first draft, let it all out. Don’t filter yourself or overthink it or hold anything back. Just make sure you write down everything that might (at all) be interesting or relevant. The keyword at this stage of the process is “comprehensive.”
Then let it simmer.
Come back later and look at it again, this time through the eyes of your target audience. What do they really need to know? What will they relate to? What do you want them to think about you and your book? What do you want them to feel? What problem are you solving for them? Is that being communicated in your bio? Did you include any details that made you appear vulnerable or showed your imperfections so you’d be more likable and people would be more likely to trust you?
Lastly, ask yourself if you did everything possible to make your bio interesting. I’m a big believer that HOW you say things is just as important as WHAT you say. I’m not saying that style if more important than substance, of course. But why not use both to make your writing more compelling and enjoyable?
Because you can!
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Best Author Websites – Ingredient #7
This is (mostly) pretty obvious but not completely so don’t skip this section. I have one or two “zingers” that you might not have considered (especially as an author).
Yes, the best author websites have a contact form or email link. And the best author websites always include a mailing address. But please don’t use your home address on your website. I did that early on as an agent when I had a home office, and I had strange people bringing manuscripts to my door on Saturday morning.
Without coffee or croissants.
Now, the best author websites also include social media links. You never know how someone important is going to contact you. I’ve had some of my authors get “followed” on Twitter by famous celebrities and authors. If you’re paying attention, notice when that happens, and message the person… you could end up forming great relationships and (of course) getting more testimonials! I know it might be hard to imagine, but this has happened to several of my authors, so don’t neglect this area.
The best author websites always include a phone number as well. Someone important might need to reach you quickly and a phone call is the best solution. For example… a couple days ago my wife and business partner, Ingrid Elfver (founder of Born Celebrity), was contacted by someone writing an article for In Touch magazine. They wanted to get Ingrid’s thoughts about some of today’s hottest reality TV stars.
How cool is that?
Ingrid would have missed out on the opportunity
if she hadn’t made it easy for them to reach her.
They needed to interview her THAT DAY.
Moral of the story?
The best author websites make it easy for people to get in touch. You never know who’s going to show up at the virtual front door of your author website.
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Then click here to read part three
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