Hello, everyone! I’m here today to talk about one of the most important and, in my opinion, least discussed parts of being a writer: your website.
Back when I was a newbie writer, author websites were my everything. I’d spend hours reading back through the archives of every site I could find for authors I admired, obsessively reading their blogs and drinking in the details of how they’d obtained their agents, their book deals, their successes.
These websites were the first places where I felt as if my dream of being a published YA author was truly possible. The resources I found there led me down the path I’m on today, and I will be forever grateful to these authors for documenting their journeys so well.
But I did most of that website research in the days before social media was so prevalent. These days, there are far more ways for writers to connect with people than ever before. Between Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, you may be asking yourself if an author website is even necessary. If readers can find you, you might be thinking, surely that’s enough.
I am here to tell you why that’s not true. While having a presence on whatever social media works for you IS something I highly recommend, a well designed, easily navigated author website can be a fantastic help to your career. Below are what I believe are four essential components of any good author website, and why you should consider implementing them on yours.
One final thing before we begin: if you’re a writer who has yet to find an agent or sell a book, I still recommend setting up a website! Familiarizing yourself with how you want to be seen online is a tool that will help you no matter where you are in your career.
Tip #1: Create a Press Kit
What is a press kit, you might ask? Well, the answer varies. Essentially, a press kit is a package of promotional material about you that you would want agents, editors, conference staff, or any other people in the industry to know.
In my experience, most writer press kits contain a several-paragraph professional bio and at least one photograph of you, as well as links to any relevant interviews, highlights, or blurbs about your career.
If you’re just getting started, you might not have much to put here — which is totally okay! The press kit on my author website is simply my About Page right now , which has my photo and bio. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it’s important to have this information about you clearly displayed so that industry people can clearly find it.
For an example of an incredibly thorough press kit, check out Susan Dennard’s Media Kit on her website. I aspire to reach this level of professional organization.
Tip #2: Make Your Books Easily Accessible
If people are on your writer website, that means they probably have at least some interest in your creative projects. Making it easy for people to find information about those projects is a great way to garner support for your work.
Whether you’re published or not, I recommend dedicating a page to your work, complete with a short pitch of each project you feel comfortable including. Adding a reference image, such as an aesthetic or graphic, is also a nice touch — just be sure to give image credit to the artists if necessary.
This tip becomes doubly important if you are an author. Including information for each of your books along with a pitch like your release date, cover, publisher, and blurbs is a great way to clearly lay out your professional accomplishments. I would also highly recommend you add a link to your book’s page on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or any other retailers you would want to direct potential readers to.
Allowing people an easy way to find what your book is about and where they can buy it is an important marketing tool.
Tip #3: Update Your Events Page!
This might seem like the least essential tip on this list. But if you’re an author, this is actually deceptively important. Keeping your events page up to date lets people know where to find you and what your schedule looks like.
It also opens you up to other opportunities — for example, if a local bookstore sees you’re going to be in town for a conference, they may reach out to your publisher about a potential author event. And of course, letting people know when you’ll be making a public appearance on as many channels as possible, from social media to your website, makes it more likely that you’ll have a great turnout.
Tip #4: Domain Names & Web Designers
Even if you’re not ready to set up a fully fledged website yet, I highly recommend purchasing your domain name as soon as possible. Common hosting services include GoDaddy and Google Domains, and it’s generally very reasonable to buy a year’s subscription. It is worth locking your domain down early in order to ensure that, when you’re ready, you know that your name is available. Just make sure you renew it!
The second part of this tip deals with when you are ready to set up your site. Design is a very important element of any author website. If you don’t want to worry too much about it, templates on websites like WordPress are fairly intuitive and easy to implement.
However, if you decide to opt for something fancier, there are many designers out there who will work with you to create a customized website that will be easy to navigate. Many will also create customized icons for you across multiple platforms, and ensure that your SEO, or search engine optimization, is well calibrated. Of course, if you’re good with coding and graphic design, you can also do it all yourself.
I personally chose to go with the wonderful Danika Corrall for my author website. I would also recommend Tessa Elwood and Hafsah Faizal’s design work — they have both made some of my favorite author websites! And this is just the tip of the iceberg; if you decide to have your site professionally designed, you have many awesome options.
There is no wrong decision here — this is a choice you should make based on where you’re at in your career, what kind of budget you’re working with, and how much you know about web design.
I hope all of you found this post an illuminating look at what makes an author website effective and helpful! Let me know if you have any more questions about author sites in the comments below, and if you want to take a look at my author website, you can find it here!