websites for authors

Websites for Authors

While we work most often with health and wellness organizations, we have built quite a few websites for authors over the years. While each one has his or her own specific needs and strategies, there are some general suggestions we can make for websites for authors.

Know your strengths

Do you already have a fan base? Do people search for your name as an author? Or will they be more likely to find you by searching for your genre or the subject you write about? It makes a difference. If you are already famous, you can focus on your name, your face, and the titles of your books.

On the other hand, if you write practical books about topics people are likely to look for, you’re better off focusing on those topics. People who come to learn more about your subject are likely to be interested in your book once they get a taste of your writing style.

Are your books beautifully illustrated, with gorgeous covers? Get some glamor shots and use them front and center on your website. If your books are more utilitarian in look, you should still use photos of their covers — many people judge books by their covers and buy them because of the covers — but you can go in other directions for the visual focus of your site.

These decisions require some honesty and self-awareness. You might ask a trusted advisor for their opinion as you make up your mind.

Get your goods in the shop window

No matter what, make sure that people can buy your books from your homepage. Your fans may search for you specifically to find out if they have your latest book, to buy a specific book they’ve heard about already, or to find out whether your books are available in a particular format (on Kindle, for example, or as a recorded book).

Some people may be searching for you because they’re writing a paper about you or because they are such a fan that they want to get to know your life story. For the most part, however, if you write books, your visitors will be more interested in your book than in you as a person. They should not have to wade through a lot of information before they can snap up that latest novel.

Get your books right up there above the fold on your homepage so they can shop.

There are two simple ways ways you can do this.

Set up an e-commerce shop

Use WooCommerce to make a store at your website if you are willing to take on fulfillment for your books. Whether you have one book in print or 57, you can set up a store and accept orders.

Building the store is not the complicated part. Keeping track of the orders and stock, accepting payments, and actually packing things up and mailing them is the bother. Don’t forget about sales tax. Since the laws for sales tax change frequently and depend on where you live, where your customers live, whether you sell the books I individually or bundled with other items, how much you sell in each jurisdiction, whether you sell print books or electronic ones, and much, much more, you should get some expert advice on this question as you set things up.

If you offer only digital products which can be downloaded, you have fewer things to worry about. WooCommerce lets you set up your shop for digital downloads natively. You may still need to charge sales tax, but you don’t have to deal with shipping, and you can make the fulfillment of orders automatic.

Link to bookshops for fulfillment

Okay, most of us will use Amazon in this case, but they are not the only game in town. The landing page below, featuring a forthcoming book, links directly to the publisher of the book. We’ll be adding links to three different online bookstores once the book comes out.

The next example offers the books for purchase on the homepage.

The “Buy Now” buttons link to individual pages for each book. Some of the books can be bought directly as signed copies or have associated materials available, but all have the “Buy at Amazon” button.

Nancy Hartney built her own website; we just assist as needed. We set up a buy-the-book link for the sidebar. It goes directly to Amazon.

Build your mailing list

You’ll probably want to be able to let your customers know when you have a new book coming out, and they will also want you to let them know. Give them an easy way to sign up for information about your future work. WordPress has several plugins for creating a mailing list. Your favorite email tool, such as MailChimp or Emily, will also have methods for making forms to collect names and email addresses, and most of them have a WordPress plugin as well.

You can add a subscription widget to a sidebar, as Nancy did above, invite visitors to sign up at the end of each blog post, or use pop-ups.

You can set your form up to add names automatically to your email list, to send you a notification when someone fills out the form, to set off a drip campaign of marketing emails, or to collect the information in a database. Think how you will choose to use the information and discuss this with your designer. There are so many options that it makes sense to choose the one that meshes best with your workflow.

Wait, there’s more!

Websites are most effective when they get regular, fresh content. As a writer, you have an advantage, because you can write things. A good blog can bring visitors back to your website and convince them to buy more of our books. If you write nonfiction, then you are surely an expert on the subject you write about. Regular, high-quality posts on your subject can get you a lot of exposure. Our blogging clients regularly receive links from major publications like The Atlantic and Psychology Today.  That’s great for sales.

You can also provide more background information on the settings of your novels or share useful information that persuades readers that your book will be helpful to them.  In the example below, science fiction author George Byram provides the full history of the ruling family featured in his novel.

Promote yourself

In addition to your website, you can use social media to build your community of fans. That’s also a good way to spread the word about reviews, interviews, and any other bits of press you get as you go along.

You should also send your book out to reviewers, ask relevant bloggers if they’re willing to  share your work, and make yourself available for interviews and presentations.  That gives you something to blog about and something to share in social media.

We hope this has inspired you to build (or improve) your website. If you need help, you can contact us.







Leave a Reply