As a writer and a website designer Carrie Peters knows websites. While her own is seriously out of date (just like the mechanic’s car is always broken!) she’s still giving advice on what YOU need to have on YOUR website!
So you’re a new author. Everyone is giving you advice on marketing, writing, characterization and more. And here I am to give you yet more unsolicited advice. Get a website. Now.
Technically, as a new author with a book out there lurking in Amazon, you should already have a web presence. If you don’t, it’s time to get one going. But what does one need? Where do you start?
Don’t panic, I’m here to help. Honest. =)
First, get your domain name. I personally do a lot of business with Godaddy, but there are a ton of hosting companies out there. And while yes, you can certainly buy your hosting account and domain name from different companies, it’s just a tiny bit more hassle to do so. I’m not promoting them by any means, but if you’re looking for a place to start, Godaddy gives you a free domain name with one year of hosting.
Why do I need both? Your domain name is easy. You can see it, you can write it and if you say it out loud, people know what you mean. Say “Go to cnn.com” and everyone knows exactly what/where that is. Cnn.com is the domain name. But they also have a hosting company – somewhere where their website lives. This is a more tenuous explanation. If you have a website, it must live somewhere. All the files and folders and photos that you are going to post on your website? They live on a server. Tough to explain, but let me just say, you have to have one.
Now you can decide what platform to design your website with. Are you good with coding? Design your own with HTML and CSS. Not so good at coding? Then WordPress was made for you. You can pick a theme, design your sidebars, pick your layout and colors. The world is your oyster. Not good at coding and don’t want to play with WordPress? Ask your other author friends for a recommendation on website designers. You’ll be glad you did.
What exactly should I put on it? Make your presence known. If you write cozy mystery then your website should reflect that. Romantic suspense? Thriller? Comedy? For as much time as you spent getting the right cover for your book, you need to spend just as much time with your website design. A historical author would lean toward rich colors, script fonts, patterned backgrounds, while a romantic comedy author might have bright colors, puppies and kitties lurking in every corner and jumbled fonts. Project who you are as an author immediately so your audience knows what they are getting.
Keep your navigation down to 7-10 items. Anything more than that and you risk losing your reader. Drop down menus are fine, but whittle your navigation bar down to the main items you need to express who you are. Books, bio, contact, social media, newsletter and blog. If you have book series, list them under books, in a drop down by each series name.
Don’t play coy. I don’t know how many author sites I’ve been to and wanted to contact about writing an article for RU, but they don’t have a contact button. No email me, no social media. Put yourself out there, make yourself available.
If you have a blog, make sure you update it fairly regularly. Whether to you that means every week, month or day, be consistent. It’s an interaction area between you and your reader.
Answer your commenters. They’ve taken the time to visit your blog and leave a comment. Take the time to respond, and you might have picked up a new reader or three.
Have a bonus area. Everyone loves these! Outtakes or deleted scenes. Photos of the area where your story takes place. Song lists, contests, meet and greets. What’s coming up next? This is an area that your readers will go to time and again to see what’s happening with their favorite author, you.
And remember, editors and agents WILL take a look at your website if they are considering your book. They want to know who you are as a person, what other projects you have up your sleeve and your past books. Make it easy for them to find just those answers.
Author websites are an extension of you, the author. Visit some other authors who write in your genre, who you admire or who are best sellers and find out what they have on their website. Got some good ideas? Of course you do! Take the next step and get that site built!
RU Writers, do you have a website? Post it in the comments below, we’d love to visit it!
Join us on Wednesday for Jacqui Jacoby!
Bio: Carrie Peters writes smart ass romance. She belongs to Romance Writers of America, Romance Writers Online and was a former Girl Scout. Her badges included Collecting, Leadership and the coveted World Trefoil Pin. Carrie works as a restaurant manager, bookcover and website designer, and is learning how to use a flat iron. Her claims to fame include: lifting 50-pound bicep curls, stirring up a mean Mai Tai and concocting an even meaner Long Island Iced Tea. She lives in rural Iowa with four cats. For more about Carrie, head over to http://smartassromance.com/, http://cheekycovers.com or http://monarchcottages.com
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