When you’re building a new author website, or revamping your current website, it’s easy to get caught up in picking the perfect design. If only my website looked better, my readers would be more interested and buy more books. We get hung up on colors and photos and logos. As a result, we overlook some important basics that we should’ve included on the site. While the overall design does set the tone and personality of our website, the elements we decide to include on our author website play a critical role in it’s usability, purpose and success.
Some of these elements may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many authors forget to include them. Use the following list as a checklist to make sure your website has all the basic elements every author website needs.
Teach your readers to spot your books in a sea of covers by using them often!
You’ve worked hard to get your book cover design just right. It’s now your book’s visual “calling card” and should be recognizable without even reading the text on it. Remember that “memory” game we used to play as kids with the deck of cards that had pairs of matching images? We lined them up, face down, and took turns turning over two at a time. Remember that moment we turned one over and screamed, “hey, I remember where I saw that one!” and turned over it’s matching pair for the win? This is exactly what we’re doing with our website. If our reader sees the cover a few times, the next time they’re browsing Amazon or their Kindle Store and they see your cover, they’ll have an instant recognition moment! That’s what we want.
A quick summary of what your book is about should be prominent.
Include the summary of your book on your book’s description page. You’ve probably already written it. You may have it on the back of your book or in the description field of every online store where it’s available. Don’t forget to include it here.
Buy Now Links
Include links to all the stores where readers can buy your books.
This one is important! We don’t want anything to stand in the way of a reader purchasing your book. The process should be quick and easy. Provide direct links to every retailer where your book is sold.
Make sure your bio is easy to find for your readers and the press.
Often times, a reader is visiting your website to find out more about you! Make sure your bio is clearly available on your website. If you have a long story to tell, that’s great, some readers might be eager to devour every detail they can get. Just be sure to start with a short, concise, summary paragraph first to avoid loosing the readers not as interested in reading about how your fourth grade teacher inspired you to become a writer.
Have an easy way for visitors to get in touch with you, especially the press.
Your visitors might want to get in touch with you for a variety of reasons: to ask you to speak at their event, a reporter wants to schedule an interview for an article, a fan wants to tell you how your book has changed their lives. Whether you have one general contact form, or just the email addresses of your agent, publisher and assistant, your visitors should have a clear, reliable way to get in touch with you and your team.
Social Profile Links
Many readers will want to engage with you on your social media pages and share your content on their own profiles.
Since your author website is the central “hub” to all of your marketing efforts, you should include links to your social media profiles. Some readers use social media more than others, you should have these channels clearly displayed for those social butterflies. If your website has a blog, you should make it easy for readers to share your posts with social sharing tools.
Praise & Reviews
Readers are more likely to buy if others have liked your book.
Book reviews provide proof and reassurance for anyone considering buying your book that it is the best quality and worth buying. If a book has more satisfied readers, there is a higher likelihood that it will be recommended to new readers. If you can get praise from recognized figures and/or fellow authors, that’s even better!
Offer a download of a quick fact-sheet and hi-res author photo for the press.
Remember, as your marketing “hub,” your website should be a tool other marketers in the industry can use. Make it easy for reporters, bloggers and event organizers to access the resources they need quickly and easily. After all, whatever they’re writing is promotion for you, and they might be on a tight deadline. Provide a quick PDF fact-sheet about you and your work and a hi-res photo suitable for print. Making their job as easy as possible is an easy win for you!