Being a self-published author is just like running a small business. You need awesome books, but you also need to spend a lot of time marketing – and heart of your marketing push is your author website.
Is your website ready to support you in making a living as an author? There’s lots of features you can offer to your fans, but at a minimum, your author site should have the following.
A Mailing List Sign Up Form
The number one marketing tool you can have as an author is a robust mailing list.
Make it easy for your visitors to sign up with an embedded mailing list form that is on EVERY page. Ideally, your fans should be able to sign up right on your website, without being directed away to your mailing list service.
Better yet: use a cool graphic or catchy language to advertise the bonus freebie they’ll get for signing up – the first book in your series, a short story about a side character, a checklist or a worksheet are all great options. Use your mailing list service to set up automated delivery of their freebie in their very first email.
If you have more than one book, you need a library feature.
A library feature means a page that shows all your books, sorted into series. Each book can be clicked to load its own page with full details – a blurb, excerpt, and buy buttons. Each series can be viewed as its own page, and readers can also view by tags (i.e. all audiobooks or all foreign language editions).
Did you know that at Sweet Smart Design we have a handy custom back end plugin that will allow you to enter all book info via a form – and then have it magically appear on your site?
Our library plugin allows you to enter details about the book, links for buying, the cover, and a few checkbox to put it in a series. Then bam! with the click of a button it’s on your site – on the main library page, on its series page, on the home page, wherever you like!
We’d love to help you set that up – contact us for a free quote.
Google loves websites with current, updated content.
The easiest way to get Google’s attention is to have a blog. With regular posts that are fed directly into Google’s stream, you’ll be letting search engines know that your site is active and interesting, boosting your SEO.
Use your blog to promote upcoming work, post excerpts, share your inspriations, review works by other authors you admire, and of course, reveal your cool new covers. For self-published authors, try to post at least once a month – as often as once a week works, too.
Social Media Links and Share Buttons
An author is always looking for new ways to build their community and connect with fans, and social media is a big part of that.
Every one of your book pages should have share buttons on it, so your fans can let their friends know about your books on all their favourite platforms with the click of a button.
And if you are active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest yourself, make sure links to your pages there are prominent in the header, footer, or sidebar of your site so your fans can connect with you wherever you like to hang out online.
A Contact Page
Your fans have questions. The media might want to get to know you. Other authors might have joint promotion opportunities.
You need to make sure you’re open to connecting with your audience and other business opportunities by making it easy to get in touch with you. Whether you decide to post your email directly, or use a contact form, you need a contact page and it needs to be easily findable by all visitors.
And this probably goes without saying, but always try to answer as many emails as you can. When your fan mail starts getting out of hand, and you need to hire a VA to help out – then you’ll know you’ve really made it.
About the Author Page
Everyone will want a bit of a peek behind the curtain. You can be as open or as taciturn as you wish, but you’ll want at least a small About the Author page that lets your fans know:
- what kind of books you write
- why you write them
- what your future plans and dreams are
If you feel comfortable sharing, you can add an author headshot too. It’s worth it to get a professional to take your pic – don’t crop yourself out of a family shot from the beach last summer. Make sure you are featured, front and centre, because this site is all about you – and your fans want it that way.
More than half of all web surfing these days takes place on tablets and phones, so you need a site that is ready to adapt to all sizes of screens.
In addition, try to make your author site clean – no ads, no flashing videos, no sliders that won’t work well on mobile. Make it simple with lots of white space – your books are what should be front and centre.
Here at Sweet Smart Design, our websites are always optimized for mobile and tested on multiple devices and platforms – so you don’t need to give this issue a second thought.
Testimonials and Reviews
Tesimonials and reviews are a great way to let your audience know that you’re legit.
Go ahead and lift reviews from Amazon or Goodreads.
If you have endorsements by experts in your field, all the better.
You can use these quotes throughout your site. Maybe have one or two on your home page. Maybe put a few on individual book pages, if they are for that specific title. Don’t forget to add a few to blog posts, especially from advance readers for an upcoming title.
Should you build a whole page just for your testimonials? Visitors might check it out if there is some kind of opportunity for working with you beyond just buying your book. But when it comes to book sales, it’s best to sprinkle testimonials and reviews throughout the site to establish trust and reliability.
Direct Money Making Features
Lastly, if you want to increase sales and expand your empire, you can add some direct money making features to your site.
For fiction authors, consider adding an online shop where you sell signed paperback copies. You can offer discounts to your most loyal fans, or encourage readers to buy a set with bonus add-ons like bookmarks or t-shirts. You can even directly sell digital versions of your eBooks – sales might be smaller on your own site than at Amazon or Barnes & Noble, but you’ll retain 100% of the sale price, which is pretty awesome.
For non-fiction authors, consider turning using your books as gateways to working with you as an expert in your field. You can leverage your book content into online workshops or in-person speaking engagements, and use your website to promote and even book these events. You can also guide readers to landing pages that talk about your one-on-one coaching services or online classes, and have your website power everything you need to set these services up, from booking appointments to allowing members with accounts to access restricted content.
The sky is the limit!
Make it all happen with Sweet Smart Design
We love working with self-published authors!
Let us help you get your site up and running by doing all the tech stuff, and by teaching you how to use it.
Then you can continue running your own self-publishing empire with our easy-to-use back ends that help you update and add to your website easily, without having to write a bunch of code.
Talk to us today to get a free quote!