Congratulations! You’re a published author and that makes you a public persona. Even if you spent hours in your youth imagining yourself as a famous author walking and talking with Barbara Walters as a camera trailed behind you, capturing your infinity pool and the sun setting over your horse barn, you may still be adjusting to what exactly that means.
In a digital world, your author website is your calling card and your platform. Spending some time evaluating your current website — or planning for the one you’ll set up after you finish this post — is time well spent.
Look at it from a reader’s perspective. Because, to them, author websites show them who’s serious and who’s not, they establish which authors seem to be in it for the long haul as well as which authors they should feel comfortable investing their time and money in.
So let’s talk about 5 important features that separate successful author websites from unsuccessful ones.
And by successful, I mean those that sell more books, versus those that just eat up money in hosting fees.
First Impressions Matter
Remember who your market is and who you’re catering to. If you’re creating a website from scratch, a designer should be able to help you come up with a modern design that suits your genre or topic. If you’ve had a website for a while there’s a good chance it could use some updating. Not sure if yours falls into this category? Check out other successful author websites in your genre or topic, I can almost assure you they’ll be top notch. Keep in mind that top notch doesn’t mean expensive. You can definitely have a relatively inexpensive, easy to maintain website that looks good if you make smart decisions with a designer who understands your goals and needs.
Personalize Your Author Page
It’s really important to create an about page that’s as interesting as possible for your genre or topic. Of course you want to be market appropriate, but use humor if you can, share something personal, try to make that special connection that makes people feel confident in buying your book. The last thing you want to do is turn your about page into a glorified resume, even if you’re in a specialized field for your “other job.” Author websites should be personal. And don’t forget to include links to social sites where you are active — and by active, I mean using regularly to garnering engagement. In other words, the sites that make you look good.
Highlight Your Books
This may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many author websites make potential buyers search around for info on their books. If you want to sell more books, they should be the highlight! If you publish frequently you should have a spot on your home page to feature your most recent or upcoming release as well.
Create Long Term Fans
Author websites should also have an opt-in of some sort. The important thing is to make sure it has real value for your fans and followers. After all, you want them to engage with you. So in exchange for joining your fan club (or whatever other creative name you come up) they should get something in return. Maybe it’s a free copy of the first book in your series. Or a free workbook. Or maybe you do giveaways and announce winners once a month in your newsletter.
Have a Great Blog
Websites with blogs get 55% more traffic than websites without. And you can’t sell more books without more traffic. I’ll give some of you a moment to get up off the floor. I know blogging is like a curse word to a lot of indie authors because you’re already doing so much. And I get it. But the positive effects blogs can have on author websites shouldn’t be ignored. If you’re a blogging newbie, it can help to plan first.
Write the number 600 at the top of a piece of paper. Give yourself 15 minutes to brainstorm a list of topics that you could write 600 words about. When the timer on your cellphone chimes to let you know time is up, take a look at your list. I bet you’ll have a few clinker ideas and some scratch outs, but you’ll also have at least a few great nuggets. Once you have the ideas, create a schedule where you post at least once a week. Then write your first post and press publish.
In blogging, as in book marketing — as in all things, really! — attitude makes a huge difference in what you can accomplish. So dust off your positive, can-do approach to life and give your website a good eyeballing to see if it reflects you and your author brand in a way that you, and your readers, love. If it doesn’t, put in the time to move the needle closer to your idea.
And have fun! Remember, being an author is the ultimate passion project.
Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a bestselling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. She was named one of the top influencers of 2019 by New York Metropolitan Magazine.
Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Amazon Optimization programs as well as Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of 18 books, including How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon: 2021 Amazon Ads Powerhouse Edition, Revise and Re-Release Your Book, 5-Minute Book Marketing, and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet." Her next book, From Book to Bestseller, is due out in Spring 2021.
AME has had dozens of books on top bestseller lists, including those of The New York Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal.
To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, visit www.amarketingexpert.com.