How to design an author website

Not sure what your new author website needs? I’ve got lots of tips on how to design an author website that your readers will love.

  • A domain name and it should be your name, not your book name if you intend to write more than one.
  • A short bio and a long bio. People are skimmers, but sometimes they want to learn more.
  • An easy to find guide to all your books. If you have more than one book, each book should get it’s own page for SEO purposes, but you should have one page that lists them all
  • Links to where to buy your book(s)
  • A subscription box to collect reader email addresses
  • Proper grammar – hello, you’re a writer!
  • Photos of you – your readers want to know who you are
  • Links to your social media profiles – at least the ones you actually use. Don’t sign up for social media and never login.

If you’re an author, or planning to become one, it’s time to start thinking about your website if you haven’t already. You may think you don’t need a website, because people can just go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble and find your books there. That requires no time, energy, or cost on your party and people can easily buy your books. Or maybe you just have a Facebook page and think that’s plenty.

Wrong. You still need your own website.

Liz Michalski

Design tips for your author website

  • Don’t be afraid of white space. White space is good. You don’t have to fill every inch of space on your website to make it look good. White space balances your site and improves the visual experience for your users.
  • Professional headshots can go a long way and are worth the expense. Put your iPhone away. Professionals know how to light and position you so you look your best.
  • Make sure it’s responsive – many users will visit your site on their phone.
  • Simplicity is your friend. You don’t need to be fancy just to be fancy. A simple, well-organized site is going to be a better and longer lasting site than filling your site up with the newest trends.

Why does an author need a website?

Every author should have their own website for many reasons, but first let’s just start with getting found.

If you want people to be able to Google your name or your book titles and find you, then you need a website. Google isn’t going to automatically rank you for your name just because you have a book on Amazon. Particularly if anyone else also has the same name. You have to have a website about yourself if you want your readers to find you online.

Therese Walsh's Author Website

Social media doesn’t cancel your need for a website

First of all, if you like social media and your readers are on social media, then by all means you should be on social media. However, keep in mind that you don’t own that platform. You don’t have a Facebook page, Facebook has a page with your name on it. They own it. They make the final decision on what gets shown. You might post 20 updates but your followers might only see one or two. That’s the Facebook algorithm showing what they want your followers to see, not what you want them to see. If you have your own website, you decide what people see.

You can sell books on your website

Most author websites we’ve created don’t have online sales, only a handful do sales themselves. The reason is because if the book is available on Amazon, folks will usually just get it there because the price is the same and if they have Prime, shipping is fast and free. I get it, I do that too.

But just because you aren’t physically filling the orders, doesn’t mean you can’t profit from having the books on your website. You should be taking advantage of bookseller affiliate programs. Don’t just link to your book on their website. If you do that, you get your royalty and the bookseller gets all the profit. If you use affiliate links on your website, you can get a commission every time someone buys a book by clicking through on your link, you’re making money. And if they buy other things in that purchase, you get a commission on that too.

You can grow your audience

If you are an author, you should be sending a newsletter. And if you have a newsletter, you need a sign up on your website to collect names and email addresses of your readers. Trust me, if you have books that people want, they will gladly sign up to be notified of your new stuff. Additionally, if you are publishing other works in other places, such as essays and articles, people would love to be notified of that as well.

But guess what? If you don’t have a website, none of this matters because your readers can’t sign up for your newsletter.

Chris McDougall

What else should your site have?

I always recommend a blog. A blog is one of the best tools for interacting with your audience on a regular basis. You can share events, opinions, book reviews… as an author, the world is your oyster on a blog.

But, be careful. An outdated blog makes your site look outdated and old. Blogging is a great addition to your site… but only if you actually do it!

Need help getting your author web design up and running? We have worked with many authors and can help you too! Request a quote today.

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Amy Masson, Web Developer

Amy Masson

Amy is the co-owner, developer, and website strategist for Sumy Designs. She's been making websites with WordPress since 2006 and is passionate about making sure websites are as functional as they are beautiful.

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