Build a More Effective Author Website


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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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  • http://thebloggingofanaspiringwriter.blogspot.com.au/ Bonnee

    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 :) 

  • Angie DiBenedetto Ledbetter

    Great and helpful stuff here as always. Thanks!

  • http://cherylbarker.blogspot.com/ Cheryl Barker

    Thanks for the tip about being unfriendly to mobile devices. I’d never thought about that. Good info!

  • http://janefriedman.com Jane Friedman

    Yes, go to “Posting,” then look for the option to “Edit Pages.” You’ll find an option to add a new page.

  • http://www.danezeller.com/ Dane Zeller

    Does my author information need to be apart from my blog? 

  • http://janefriedman.com Jane Friedman

    All of it should be in the same place.

  • Cgblake Author

    Fantastic tips, Jane. Thanks so much.

  • DebF

    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.

  • http://janefriedman.com Jane Friedman

    Excellent points, thank you!

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  • http://collingszone.wordpress.com/ Adam Collings

    Good solid advice here. I think the friendliness to mobile devices is the one that most of us need to look into.

  • Marcia A Richards

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

  • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

    Very helpful for my new blog for aspiring writers, Café Seminoid at clintarcher.com 

  • http://www.clintarcher.com/ Clint

    I just added the WPtouch plug-in for mobile devices. Thanks for that tip. 

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  • Judy Baker

    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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  • Aray

    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?

  • http://janefriedman.com/ Jane Friedman

    Doesn’t hurt to get an early start, get through the learning curve.