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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Posted in Digital Media.
Jane Friedman

Jane Friedman

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the co-founder and editor of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors.

Jane currently teaches writing and publishing at the University of Virginia and is a columnist for Publishers Weekly. The Great Courses just released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. She also has a book forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press, The Business of Being a Writer (2017).

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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25 Comments on "Build a More Effective Author Website"

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Bonnee
4 years 4 months ago

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
Angie DiBenedetto Ledbetter
4 years 4 months ago

Great and helpful stuff here as always. Thanks!

Cheryl Barker
4 years 4 months ago

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

Dane Zeller
4 years 4 months ago

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

Cgblake Author
Cgblake Author
4 years 4 months ago

Fantastic tips, Jane. Thanks so much.

DebF
DebF
4 years 4 months ago

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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[…] Build a More Effective Author Website […]

Adam Collings
4 years 4 months ago

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
Marcia A Richards
4 years 4 months ago

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

Clint
4 years 4 months ago

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

Clint
4 years 4 months ago

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

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[…] Jane has shared wonderful advice on key elements you should include on your website. […]

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[…] Jane Friedman has a great post about writer’s websites that is concise and helpful. I enjoyed it alot. https://janefriedman.com/2012/02/27/effective-author-website/ […]

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How is Spring Gardening Like Writing? by Marcia Richards | Sonia G Medeiros
4 years 4 months ago

[…] and fresh tips on the process of writing, media and publishing. Two recent and enlightening posts: Build a More Effective Author Website and Turning Online Procrastination Time Into Writing Research Time. For an excellent review on a […]

Judy Baker
Judy Baker
4 years 4 months ago

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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[…] Build a More Effective Author Website […]

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[…] and fresh tips on the process of writing, media and publishing. Two recent and enlightening posts: Build a More Effective Author Website and Turning Online Procrastination Time Into Writing Research Time. For an excellent review on a […]

Aray
Aray
2 years 4 months ago

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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[…] In doing some research on building author websites, I seemed to land on Jane Friedman’s site often. I’d recommend any author interested in marketing themselves online to do some reading on her site. You can start out with this post on building an effective author website. […]

Tim McIntyre
1 year 1 month ago

Jane, your articles always rock! I’ll definitely incorporate some of your ideas into my author’s website at type-a-lifestyle.com. The only thing I’ll add is that my website blog it is such a good outlet for my ideas (articles and posts on all sorts of subjects) that I might not need to write another book! Books are time-consuming and costly. With the help of Audria at designbyindigo.com I have a really cool website that she helped me design and promote, and I have hundreds of followers! Sweet!

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[…] Build A More Effective Author Website: HERE […]

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