If you don’t yet have an author website and are wondering what kind of content, be it text or images, will be best to help promote your work when visitors stop by, then this self-publishing article is for you.
I’ll begin by saying that I’m no design expert or computer wiz – the content and layout advice I will be dispersing is purely based on my own trial and error experiences, and more importantly what I have found to be popular (based on visitor feedback).
So what about the website itself? If you’re not fluent in html (computer code) and are a bit reluctant to try your hand at designing a website from scratch, how do you get started?
Well, there’s always the option to pay somebody to do it for you. There are plenty of good designers out there on the web. My website was created for me since I had no experience in this area – but in the not too distant future I’m planning to create my own with the help of a company called WordPress to make my self-publishing journey a bit simpler.
I currently have this blog with them, and it recently came to my attention that computer users can now create a professional-looking site which requires little design knowledge, and most importantly, is a heck of a lot cheaper than hiring a designer. So, if you don’t currently have a website, WordPress or a company that offers a service similar is another option.
Anyway, getting back on point. What makes a good author website?
Let’s break it down:
I’m talking about its appeal aesthetically. Ask yourself how you want visitors to feel when arriving. Should they be feeling happy, sad, afraid? It should match your book’s genre. Headers, text, images, backgrounds, banners, widgets, anything that will trigger an emotion within your visitors, should be well-thought out.
Remember, no one is obliged to buy your book and raise your profile as a self-publishing author – in fact, your website is probably one of many they are currently browsing – so don’t give them an excuse to leave. Nothing puts a visitor off more than a website with clashing colours. Since your book isn’t available in a bookshop, think of your website as an extension of your cover. The reader may already be taken with what they’ve seen of your book on Amazon, and seeing a professional-looking website might be the final nudge needed to get the sale.
If you achieve the right balance and theme, the allure of your website may well drive some more. Finally, if you’re not designing the website yourself, make sure you voice your desired outcome with your designer so it can be fully achieved.
A lot of what I’m about to say may sound like common sense – but you’d be surprised at how many indie author websites there are out there with poor layouts. Poor layout can be the result of many different things such as:
- An overabundance of text
- Overlong pages which require endless scrolling
- Overwhelming numbers of images
- and too many links
Again, I’m no expert in design, but when I visit an author’s website I don’t want to be baffled as to where to start. It should look simple, the various pathways to content inviting – not confusing and likely to lose you. Too much information, too many links and pages can also make it harder to sell your work. So my advice is to keep it simple. To have just enough content to promote your work, but not too much to put your visitors off.
I think every aspect of your website is just as equally important. But when it comes to content, it has to have a clear edge. As a self-publishing author who is trying to sell a book of professional standards, there is more pressure on you to make sure every sentence, paragraph and word is perfectly written in terms of grammar, spelling and structure. A visitor may be forgiving of one error, but two or three might make them look elsewhere. And of course, it has to sound enticing and interesting, too. Now that you’ve written your book, don’t drop down a gear – employ your creativity the best you can to sell your book.
As for the content itself, it should be organised over a series of pages – but not too many. Your website could have something like the following:
- a Home Page – the front door, the first thing visitors will see
- Author Page – a brief biography about yourself and your work (though if you’ve had an illustrious career in a related field, word count needn’t be so much of an issue)
- Book Page – some information about your book; you might place some recent reviews here, or inform visitors of a success it has achieved, like a big number of 5 star reviews, etc
- Blog Page – this is where you can keep readers up to date with a range of news (more on this in the next article)
- Buy Your Book Page – one which provides links to your books hosted by your distribuor/s
- Contact Page – very important; this allows readers to get in touch with you through links to your email address and social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads
And that’s it – I hope this article was helpful and that you were able to add something to your self-publishing belt. If there’s anything you would like to add, or raise in the comments, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
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