Whether you want to be published traditionally or follow the self-publishing route, the need to own an SEO-friendly author website has never been more pressing. In an age where the internet dominates the marketing world, traditional publishers now expect authors to have some publishing credits, as well as an author website and an audience ready to buy their books. In short, there’s no way round creating an author website.
This is why many authors now begin their careers writing short stories as a way to garner publishing credits, as well as running blogs as a way of building the much-needed author platform and audience. The question is: how do you create your own author website?
Choose a Domain Name
The great thing about choosing an author domain name is that many of the rules that govern selecting a great domain name don’t apply. Your name will actually suffice in this scenario, unless it’s too long or difficult to spell. Why? Because your name is what many readers will search for when they’re looking for your book online.
If bestselling authors like Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss use their names, why can’t you? In fact, the majority of authors use their own names. If you doubt that, type ‘the name of your favourite author [dot]com’ and see what happens.
By using your author name now, you will secure that domain name in the future for when you become popular. When that time comes, you can then start experimenting by also creating additional domain names, using the titles of your books.
Choose a Web hosting Service
At this stage, the same rules apply for both authors and non-authors. This means that when choosing a hosting service for your author website, you need to pay attention to important matters, such as:
- The uptime score of the host you want to use. While it’s usually advisable to use a host whose uptime score is at least 99%, hosts like Umbrellar can offer you roughly 99.9% uptime.
- As an author just starting out, a personal or professional web hosting plan will suffice. However, the plan you select shouldn’t only offer ample disk space and bandwidth for your website data and traffic, but should also be scalable, so that it can accommodate traffic to your site, as your author platform and popularity in the publishing industry grows.
- Lastly, your hosting platform should be able to support WordPress.org for easy website setup and blogging.
Since you’re setting up a professional author website, you might want to avoid managed hosting services like WordPress.com. Instead of using managed hosting and upgrading later (which will cost you more in terms of services offered), here are the instant functionalities you can get with self-hosting:
- You can customise your SEO-friendly website as you wish (fonts, page templates, colours etc.).
- You can easily integrate email marketing tools.
- You’re able to monitor your site’s traffic to know how your marketing efforts are faring.
- You can easily monetise your site by adding advertising and e-commerce (for selling your books).
Build Your Website
To build your SEO-friendly author website, you’ll need a professional web designer. While no one will fault you for using an already constructed theme, a custom design helps define your identity as an author and the genre of fiction you write. For instance, the websites of horror fiction authors tend to be dark and ghostly (featuring medleys of black and shades of grey), while those of fantasy writers usually integrate images of otherworldly settings and beasts. While $500 to $1,500 can create you a basic design, $1,500 to £3,000 upwards will get you more customisation and functionalities.
Add These Seven Elements to Your Author Website
You’ll obviously place your author name on your SEO-friendly website, but is it visible and clear? Readers need to know who you are and what you write, as soon as they land on your website. So, apart from your author name, also add a tagline. For instance: “Stacey Kane: Speculative Fiction Writer”.
This is a must for all authors. This is where you talk about yourself, the type of fiction you write, where you live, your education, what motivates you to write, your publishing credits, and so on. Make the page as personal as possible and include a professional photo of yourself. This is where publishers, agents, editors, and readers get a general view of you and your writing.
Since you’re trying to build an author platform with an audience that cares about your work, you definitely need to add a blog to your author website. You could blog about writing, but if you’re not yet published, you would likely feel ill-equipped to do so. In that case, find a topic you’re passionate about or on which you’re an expert and find ways to combine it with writing.
For instance, if you write science fiction and you’re a scientist, you can base your blog on scientific inventions that blur the line between science and science fiction.
Your blog is how potential readers, editors, publishers and literary agents locate your website. So, make it count. Post quality content and blog regularly. Who knows? An agent or editor might become interested and take you on.
Authors thrive on email signups. Therefore, you definitely need functionality on your website. Since you’re building an audience, get your blog visitors to sign up for your newsletter. It’s via newsletters that you can announce your upcoming releases and market your books. Imagine what a one hundred-thousand-people mailing list can do for your next book.
Info About Your Book
This is very important. As an author, you aren’t just looking for popularity in the industry; you’re also looking to sell books and make money. Therefore, create a page (or pages) for your published books and link to stores where readers can buy them online (both in print and electronic formats).
Social Buttons and Icons
Include social media icons that direct readers to your social media profiles. This is how you garner ‘likes’ and ‘follows’, building a community of readers that love you and your work. Also, include social buttons that readers can use to share your content (especially blog posts and book pages) on their social media profiles.
Endorsements and Reviews
Don’t hold back. You want readers to buy your books and need to convince them that they are worth reading. Therefore, create a page for good reviews and endorsements you have received. You can even display reviews and endorsements as a slide on your home page.
When starting out, the process might be challenging, but don’t falter. An author website is a necessity for all authors – not a thing of choice. When you have a quality author website with a large following, pitching your novel to publishers becomes a lot easier.
Why is an SEO-friendly author website a necessity?
Because you’re no longer only trying to sell your book to them; you’re also showing them that you already have an audience for your book. To them, this will be an irresistible offer, since they are in the business for profit and not just passion. When they say ‘yes’ to your book, you’ll most likely get a better book deal than an author who doesn’t have an author platform.