Anatomy of an Author Website

As an author, you know how important it is to have an attractive and current website. Your website is your calling card, and a vehicle for conveying your brand to both media and readers. It is also a tool for building your community of followers and letting them know about your activities. Your website is crucial to building and retaining your platform, and it must be designed to net the most benefit both for you and your followers.

The first thing you need is a relevant and easy-to-spell URL. The web address you select should either be your name or a key phrase associated with your brand. (The book should have its own website; use the book title as that URL if possible.) Remember, most people will use a keyword search to find your website, so keep it short and avoid any unusual words or phrases that will be difficult to spell and/or remember.

Once you have a URL, it’s time to make sure you incorporate the eight key elements of an outstanding author website:

  1. Welcome/home page: On this page you provide your name, brand message, and a high-quality headshot.
  2. About the author: Here you go into more detail about yourself, your experience, and your credentials.
  3. Writing portfolio: Provide sample chapters and links to your work. Make sure that all documents are formatted well and look professional. PDF files are the easiest for most browsers to view, and use hyperlinks when directing readers to another site.
  4. Services: Here you share your ancillary activities such as speaking, teaching, consulting, etc—whatever you do in addition to your writing.
  5. News and events/author press room: Post upcoming appearances, workshops, book signings, podcasts, etc. Develop a press kit that media can download and use. Also keep a running file of any media mentions and interviews.
  6. Blog: Your primary goal is to build a community of followers. Make it easy by creating and maintaining a blog, which will add an interactive element to your site that lets your followers establish dialogue with you as well as with other followers.
  7. Resource page: Provide links and free stuff, and direct people to tools and resources relevant to your topic. This will draw followers to you. Update it often to keep them coming back.
  8. Guestbook or newsletter signup: It is key to make all traffic to your site work for you in the future. If you can, have a guestbook or offer a informational newsletter that people can sign up for. This will help you develop your database of contacts to alert for updates, appearances, and new releases.

As your career evolves, so should your website. Keep it relevant, timely, and current with all of your events and happenings. Tie it in to all of your social media accounts, print it on your stationery and business cards, put it in your email signature, and mention it often. It will pay off in the long run.