Build a More Effective Author Website

Effective Website [Robert Hruzek / Flickr]

by Robert Hruzek / Flickr

Every author website should include these elements, whether on the homepage or elsewhere.

  1. About/bio page. I recommend a brief, professional bio (250 words or less), and a photo. You can expand in many different ways, but a short bio upfront is very helpful and essential for those looking for the quick facts.
  2. Information on your books, products, and services. You might have a separate page for each book or product, or you might combine everything together. Regardless, don’t skimp on the details, and always include links to where your books can be purchased in both print and digital form. Ideal: A downloadable press or media kit for each book.
  3. Social media integration. Let readers know where else you’re active online, and make your site easy to share (using social share buttons, like you see on this site).
  4. Social proof. If you have notable media coverage, good reviews, positive testimonials, or a significant following on a specific platform (e.g., Twitter), let it be known.
  5. E-mail/RSS subscription or sign-up. Make it easy for people to subscribe to your blog via e-mail/RSS (here’s how). If you don’t have a blog, then offer an e-mail newsletter. (Give people a way to stay connected!)

Here are mistakes I often see on author websites:

  1. No way to sign up for updates. If people visit your site once, they may not ever return. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in receiving news from you. Always offer an easy way for people to be notified when you have news or content to share.
  2. Too many pages or paths. New visitors to your site will not likely visit more than a couple pages of your website. Make it clear on your homepage what’s important by having a clear “call to action.” (What do you most want people to do when they visit?) Don’t build your site for you—build it for your future readers.
  3. Heavy images, intro pages, Flash, etc. If your site takes a long time to load, or requires special plug-ins, or doesn’t work on an iPad (Apple does not support Flash), you will lose a chunk of your visitors.
  4. No clear contact info. Make it easy for people to e-mail you or find you on social networks. That’s why you have a website, right?
  5. Unfriendly to mobile devices. Nearly two-thirds of my new site visitors are on a mobile device. Thankfully, my WordPress theme is mobile-friendly. Is your website mobile friendly? (If you’re using WordPress, all you need to do is install the free plug-in, WP Touch.)

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Master the Principles of Social Media Without Feeling Like a Marketer

Jane's newest online course focuses on how to take a holistic and strategic approach to social media that’s based on long-term reader growth and sound principles of online marketing. You won’t find gimmicks or short-term approaches here. Rather, my philosophy is that (1) your work—your writing—is always central, and (2) you have to enjoy what you’re doing on social media for it to be sustainable and eventually become a meaningful part of your author platform.

A big challenge for authors is deciding what types of marketing will work for them strategically, and figuring out what will be effective in cutting through the noise without consuming huge amounts of time. Over the course of 12 weeks, our goal will be to answer this question for you, eliminate as much guesswork as possible, and retain your authentic voice regardless of your strategy.

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Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has more than 15 years of experience in the book and magazine publishing industry, with expertise in digital media and the future of authorship. She speaks around the world at events such as BookExpo America, Frankfurt Book Fair, and Digital Book World, and has keynoted writing conferences such as The Muse & The Marketplace. She currently teaches digital media and publishing at the University of Virginia. Find out more.
Posted in Digital Media.

22 Comments

  1. Hmm thanks a lot for this. Would you by any chance know if there is a way to create a home/bio page separate to my blog on blogspot.com and how to create other pages like that, still all connected to blogger? If so, please share :) 

  2. Can I also suggest that the ” links to where your books can be purchased in both print and digital form” should NOT assume that every reader is in US/Canada. Many authors completely forget about the market that Douglas Adams (amongst others) lived in, which the US/Canada calls ‘Foreign’. 

    I’d also suggest that if you’ve written at least one series, then a ‘suggested reading order’ is a good thing to have prominently on the website.

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  4. Great tips, Jane. I need to get busy modifying my blog since my book is nearing completion. Thanks!

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  8. Hi Jane, thanks for the info on blogging. I’m always looking to you for some help, but sometimes it can be a little overwhelming when I go to apply. I just keep plugging to make my blog better, if I can. Judy

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  11. I’m thinking of building an author website but I only have one publication so is it best that i wait til i get more?

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