Author Website Dos and Dont's
Author Website Do’s and Don'ts #1: Make your home page perfect!
You know what they say, first impressions are everything! Your homepage of your author site is going to be many readers/buyers first impression of you so make sure it's a good one! Make sure it's inviting, easy to read, and easy to navigate so visitors will want to stick around. DON’T have any typos!
Author Website Do’s and Don’ts #2: Choose (and buy) your domain name wisely
Like a tattoo, your domain name is something you'll have to live with until the grave (unless you go through the trouble of changing it), so make sure it's something that works. DON'T use the title of your latest book. Why? You plan on writing more someday, right? It's best to keep your URL as close to your name as possible. If your name is already taken try throwing in author at the end of it. You need something that is memorable and that will be easy to locate/type correctly.
Author Website Do’s and Don’ts #3: Include an author photo
Readers come to your site because they're curious about you-- who you are, what you enjoy, what kind of perspective you have on the world. They'll be able to connect to an image. Your author photo should be a nice mix of professional and friendly, but DON’T get too casual. No pajamas, swim trunks, etc. but nice jeans are fine.
Author Website Do’s and Don’ts #4: Don't clutter your site up
Design-wise, your site needs to be clean. Choose tasteful design, that's easy to navigate, inviting, and appealing to the eye. Obviously, don't leave it empty, but don't throw so many notes and links and graphics that a visitor won't know where to go.
Author Website Do’s and Don’ts #5: List the work you've done
Be sure to include all the published works you have. You can list them under "Books" or "Short Stories" but DON'T use "Bibliography" - it's outdated. If you haven't published anything yet and have nothing to list, include as much as you can for something you're working on. Cover images are important, as well as a brief description of the story, any blurbs, and links to sites it's being sold at.
Author Website Do’s and Don’ts #6: Tell visitors who you are
In addition to your author photo, be sure to include a brief description letting your readers and fans alike know who you are. DON’T make your bio a novel itself (save that for your memoir), but be sure to let them know where you're from, whether or not you have kids, where you studied, and brief hobbies/interests. Anything memorable that will paint you as a real person is great.
Author Website Do’s and Don’ts #7: Who inspires you?
Including who your favorite authors are or whose work influences you is also a great way to let the visitors know who you are. Visitors who share the same favorite author as you will be more interested in your work to see where the influence comes through in your writing. They'll also have an idea of the style and tone of your content.
Author Website Do’s and Don’ts #8: Link to all retailers carrying your book
If there's one place to go against the "Keep it clean" rule, it's with your links. Be sure to list the links of any major retailers who carry your book. If buyers are looking at your site before the book comes out, they'll be more likely to order more inventory if they see all the locations that are already carrying it. If it's ebook links you’re listing, still post them. It'll show visitors the scope of your audience.
Author Website Do’s and Don’ts #9: Be Mobile-Friendly
Most everyone is aware of the device-obsessed culture we live in. Most web-browsing happens on mobile devices now and for that reason, it's imperative that your site be mobile-optimized so it can easily be read on a phone.
Author Website Do’s and Don’ts #10: Be Social!
The key is to update your content regularly. Have a blog on the site where you post more personal anecdotes and writing-process posts. Link to all your social media accounts and update those frequently too. The more you post, the more eyes will get to your site. Always remember to link back to the site when you post in social media. And if time is an issue, queue up posts to be published automatically at scheduled times.
Author Website Do’s and Don’ts #11: Respond to comments
Allow for comments to be posted to your blogs and check these regularly. Responding to them will create conversation and engaged readers. They'll also connect with you personally. You'll learn what your visitors want from the site and you can cater to their needs.
Author Website Do’s and Don’ts #12: Collect Emails
Maybe you have a monthly newsletter or maybe you'll want to start once someday. Either way, it's helpful to begin collecting email addresses from the get-go. Ask visitors to sign up or create an account to post comments and provide their email addresses. These are vital for any marketing campaigns you come up with down the line.
Author Website Do’s and Don’ts #13: Be reachable
You need to be able to be easily contacted by prospective buyers and readers alike. There's no need to put your personal address down, but setting up a PO box might be something to consider. In most cases, all you need is a contact form on your site where visitors can email you through the site. This is also a great way to collect email addresses!