What To Put On Your Author Website
Okay, you’ve chosen your hosting and domain, you’ve thought about your branding, you’ve picked a template, now it’s time so start putting things on your website.
I see a lot of people asking ‘What should I put on my website?’ and even more people asking ‘What can I put on my website when I’m not yet published?’ Fear not, because inside your author website blueprint which you should have downloaded by now (it’s down below if you haven’t) I have created a checklist of things it would be a good idea to add, and we’re going to go trough each one right now.
What to put on your homepage
This is the first page someone will see when they land on your site. Some websites only have a homepage, they put everything on that one page and use what’s called anchors for navigation purposes, but we’re going to keep things simple and assume that your content will be spread out over a few different pages. So what should be on your homepage?
The first thing you’ll need to decide is your top header – the block that sits right at the top. Some sites will even copy this header onto every page. You want to use this space to make it clear that this an author’s website. It should have the word author on there, preferably some kind of indicator of what genre and age group you write in.
You’ve got three options for how you use this space. You can promote yourself, you can promote your book, or you promote your newsletter opt in. There are pros and cons to each but generally if you are an unpublished author I would recommend promoting either yourself (so keeping this space as a short bio) or promoting your newsletter opt in, or a combination of both. You should also promote yourself in this space if you are a social media presence of any kind. Say you create YouTube videos or are particularly prominent on Instagram. If people are likely to go looking for you, before they go looking for your book, then your header needs to be about you. If you’re not one for putting yourself out there as such then you can instead have your book in the header and a bio about yourself lower down or on a different page. My site features a header with a picture of myself, a short bio and links to my book, my graphic design services and my newsletter opt in.
Next I would recommend highlighting your book or your WIP if you’re unpublished, or if you’ve already spoken about your book in the header then this is place to talk about you. People need to know about your writing as that is the main reason someone would visit an author’s website. Anything else you do like Authortube, editing services, book cover design – that’s all great to mention but focus on your writing first. If you want the focus to be on those side services, then maybe think about creating a separate website specifically for that purpose. This is your author site, so talk about your book.
Note: With the homepage you just want to be highlighting things. You don’t want paragraphs and paragraphs talking about your book. Just a quick intro paragraph is fine, a nice visual to go with it, and then they can click to go to your book page if they want to learn more.
If you’re published and you have a couple of shining reviews, this is a good place to put those too.
After you’ve spoken about yourself and your book you want to highlight your newsletter opt in. If you’ve already highlighted it in your header, that’s fine, I still recommend pointing to it again. We’ll talk more about your newsletter opt in in the next video so don’t worry too much about it right now. Just pop a placeholder in there so you know to come back to it.
So by now you should have a short bio about yourself, a short intro to your book and a space for your newsletter opt in. Now you can start highlighting any other things you offer. If you write blog posts (which I do recommend, we’ll get to that in a minute), put the latest ones here. If you’re on YouTube, pop some videos here. If you offer additional services, this is the space for them. Again, remember on the homepage you are just highlighting these things. If your viewer wants more they can click to go to those dedicated pages.
What to put on your About page
Remember that short bio you included on the homepage? Well, this is where they can go to learn more about you. Try to inject your about paragraphs with a little bit of personality. People visit these pages because they want to get to know you better, and psychologically a person is far more likely to buy a book from someone they feel like they know and trust than someone they’ve never heard of before. You can talk about your journey to publication so far, your other hobbies, if you have… dogs. Be sure to add a photo of yourself and also any social media links. I’d also recommend adding a signpost to your newsletter opt in on every single page so again, just leave a placeholder there for the time being.
What to put on your Books page
“But what on earth do I put on a books page when I’m not yet published?”
You can talk about your works in progress. So many people are just interested in the journey. They want to find out what you’re up to, what you’re working on right now, so give them the blurb of the book you’re currently writing, add an aesthetics board, let them know if you’re in the beta reader process. You can add to this page as your progress, so for example, you can make a big huge event of adding the book cover to this page when the time comes. I’ve seen people add Spotify playlists that remind them of certain characters, I’ve seen people add maps and worldbuilding details. This is only limited by your imagination and how much you are prepared to share at this time.
What to put on your Blog page
“But what on earth do I put on a blog page if I’m not yet published?”
I hear the question ‘should I have a blog on my site’ probably more than any other website question, and my answer is honestly yes. I know, it takes more work, but it’s worth it. Here’s the thing, blogs massively help your website get seen by google. Google like websites to be regularly updated and added to, Google likes informative text that it can pick lots of nice juicy keyword out from. My website has been found by people who have typed into Google ‘how to build an author website’ and low and behold they found my article, subscribed to my newsletter and are now super pumped for my Sci-fi novel. Now blogging can be a little intimidating, particularly if you don’t know what to write about, but you don’t have to write a huge article every week. It could be just a few paragraphs every fortnight, or even every month to begin with. Consistency is the most important thing. If you’re not sure what to write about, here are a few ideas:
- Your journey to publication, kind of like a diary.
- Tips and tricks for other writers that you’ve learnt along the way.
- Posts for other readers such as your favourite fantasy books.
- Flash fiction or short stories that show off your skill as a writer
Bare in mind that the absolute best way to show up in google is to think of blog posts that people would actually search Google for, so something like ‘Photos from my weekend’ probably won’t do you much good. That’s not to say you can’t do them, but try to mix them in with informative posts that someone would search for.
What to put on your Members page
This is optional but a great thing to have if you have more than one opt in incentive. For example, I have created the author website blueprint as my opt in incentive to get people to join my newsletter, but I’m also writing a short story that I’ll be giving away for free to my members, so I’m going to add a page to my site that houses those two things and any other tools or incentives that I create. This page should be password protected, and you should send the password out to your newsletter subscribers in their welcome email. I’d also recommend having the password and the link to the members page at the bottom of every email you send, just to remind them that it’s there and so that it’s nice and easy for them to find.
What to put on your Contact page
This should include a contact form, your email address and any social media links. If you have an agent you can also include their contact details. Likewise if you have a deal with a publishing house you can include their contact details too.
Other pages you might want to include but are not required are:
- A press kit, if you have one
- An FAQ page if you consistently get asked the same questions
- Any related work you do, for example editing services. I do not recommend having a page for your bathroom fitting services, keep it book related
- A merch store if you’re planning on selling merch
- And an endorsements or reviews page, again if you have them
And with all of these pages remember a few things. Ensure the branding is consistent so that the homepage and the other pages all look like they belong on the same site, ensure you are creating white space and not just having huge chunks of text, utilize page dividers where necessary and don’t forget to inject some nice imagery into your site to break things up. All images should be high enough quality that they don’t look blurry. Remember to keep things looking professional and intentional.
So that’s it. Next week we’re going to be setting up your newsletter and your opt in incentives and then you’ll have a full website ready to launch to the world!
My question of the day which I would love for you to answer in the comments below is ‘if you’re going to start a blog, what will you be writing about?’ See you next week.