The author website is the ‘HUB’ for the marketing platform. For authors it serves as a destination for fans of your book looking for recent updates and those having just discovered you searching for more information. Your author website is a place to promote your books and a place to build community for interested followers.
As someone who assists authors with their publishing and promotional strategies I often get asked the question, “When should I get my website up?“. Now! That’s right, today as more people are buying online, seeking new information and marketing online, there’s no such thing as too early. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until your book is published, only to ask “Ok, now what about my marketing?” You’ll be missing out on valuable lead up time, building awareness of your brand and reaching out to potential new readers who’ll be your first book sales.
Here’s the key considerations when looking to setup your author website. For writers out there, this still applies to you, as you’ll eventually transition from a writer to an author.
‘Get it right from the start, so you don’t waste money or lose followers later!’
1. Domain name: Getting an official domain name is your first step and a crucial one when setting up your author website. You begin by purchasing your proper domain name. This is ‘yourname(dot)com‘. It’s only about seven bucks a year, so it’s practically free. Don’t make the mistake of getting a localized domain name ending with an ‘.au’ (Australia) or ‘.uk’ (United Kingdom) because you’re targeting a global audience with selling your book online. Get the ‘.com’ or ‘.net’ domain extension and be sure everyone can reach you. The places I recommend and use that are reliable and cheap are Namecheap and CrazyDomains (AU).
Why? It’s the most professional way of representing your author brand. It lends a commercial author ‘Social Proof’ factor, you don’t get from having a ‘yourname.weebly.com‘ or ‘yourname.wordpress.com‘ domain name. This has a ‘I’m self published, I’m not completely serious about this‘ feel. You are serious about your writing, right? Then make sure you’re making that impression to visitors from the start. Also, having an exact name domain name for your author brand or book will also help with Google search rankings.
‘If you don’t look like your investing in your own author brand and books, how can you expect potential readers to from purchasing your book?’
2. Self Hosted Website: Leading on from purchasing your own distinct professional author domain name, is having your website hosted. This means your website is installed at a host provider, I recommend Bluehost for this as I use them myself and they have great support.
Why? When you create your website this way you own it and have complete control, unlike the free platforms like ‘wordpress.com‘ and ‘blogger.com‘ which are limiting technically and you don’t own them. When your site grows or you want something specifically designed to best represent you, you’ll have the freedom to do whatever you need creatively and technically with a self-hosted website you own.
‘It’s so cheap to build your website properly the first time, it’s simply a no-brainer!’
3. Website Framework Choice: Once you’ve bought your domain and have selected a hosting provider of choice, it’s time to select your website framework to use for your professional author website. Here you want to choose WordPress. There are other frameworks available like Joomla, but with WordPress you’ll be using the most popular, well supported and most flexible framework available today. I use WordPress myself for all my business websites and client author websites.
Why? WordPress is flexible and caters for the savvy tech person, while being friendly to the less tech savvy newbie. Once your website is setup correctly, you’ll find creating blog posts and updating pages easy going. Those familiar with Microsoft Word will familiarize themselves quickly when creating blogs and pages. Be sure to install WordPress from ‘WordPress.org‘, NOT ‘WordPress.com‘.
Also, a WordPress based website that is setup correctly is excellent for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Over time as you build your writer or author platform, your name will be searched for in Google and linked from other websites.
‘Having built up your website’s Google juice, the last thing you want to do is realise you should have used your official ‘name.com’ domain and move your website, as you can lose valuable ranking power and followers of your website!’
Transition from writer to author
As a writer you’ll likely be blogging and updating your website with the progress of your manuscript, recent events, marketing plans and revealing information about your upcoming book. This audience will likely be other writers interested in your content and conversation. As you transition from writer to official published author, you’ll be then updating your website visitors with news of your upcoming events, future book releases, freebies and more.
It’s worth keeping in mind that a YA fantasy novel is not going to appeal to the majority of your writer followers who are only interested in the specific’s of writing. Instead you’ll now be appealing more to parents, teachers, librarians and mature teens that are interested in knowing about the books of their new favourite author. Content you once included in your writer website such as what English language metaphors are best used for dramatic tension, won’t be of interest to your general fans.
This transition is something you’ll have to consider, whether you decide to have a separate author website from your writing blog or morph your writing blog into your main focus as an author website.
‘Book publishing and marketing is a business and you need to begin seeing it as such for real success!’
If you’re serious and want to make money from a writing career and believe in building an author brand, taking careful consideration in the building of your main platform hub is a must. Here’s a visual mindmap of your writer or author platform as part of a book marketing plan.
Here’s to your author website building!