Friday, October 14, 2011

7 Steps to a Simple Author Website

As someone who spends the majority of my days helping authors creatively promote their books, it amazes me how many don't have a book website. Self-published authors in particular, need an online presence beyond their Amazon author page that works for them 24/7. With all the template options available, there's no need to spend big bucks on a high-end designer. Follow these tips and your site will be up and running before you can think up a title for your next book.

1. DOMAIN Secure your website domain through a registration service like GoDaddy (they have awesome customer service with a real person on the phone!). Choose your book name if it's available. If not, choose something that contains as many of the keywords in your book title as possible. A third option is your name (if it's not as generic as mine, it might be available). Since domains are only about $8 per year, get more than one and forward them all to your book website.

2. CREATION AND HOSTING Choose a website service that offers pre-designed templates, simple navigation, user-friendly content creation tools and website hosting. works well for many of my clients, and they have a free version (free design and hosting), and a Silver version where you get more bells and whistles.

3. DESIGN Keep your design simple. It's much better to err on the side of being too plain than to overwhelm site visitors with tons of color, images and text that scrolls forever. Keep the font readable (both the style and size), the color palette limited (2-3 colors is plenty) and the amount of information on each page pared down to the essentials.

4. PAGES A simple site contains these pages: Home, About the Author, Press and Blog. The home page should have a picture of the book cover and a synopsis. It can also have favorable reviews, awards (I'm an optimist) and a link to buy your book. About the Author contains your photo and longer bio. The Press page contains your, a) book synopsis, author bio, story angles and/or Q&A for the press, image of your book cover, a good headshot of you and your press release. When you begin to get press, include a link to the article or appearance. A blog makes sense for most authors, but if it's too overwhelming, put it on the back burner and think about adding it later.

5. PERSONALITY Your book website should reflect both your personality and the genre and tone of your book. Try to think of it as a home base where you and your readers can hang out. You want it to be comfortable and sound like you're having a conversation, not like you're using marketing-speak.

6. MUST HAVES Whether you just start with a one-page site or something more elaborate, you need to include, a) an image of your book cover, b) a prominent link to buy your book, c) information about your book and how it benefits the reader, d) contact information (this can just be a masked email that forwards to your regular email--don't give away too much personal information). If you have more than one page, include a buy link and contact information on every page.

7. ADD ONS Embed an email sign-up form on your Home page by using a service like or Vertical Response to create a list of prospects for speaking engagements and future books.

Just like writing a book, creating your book website is all about taking it one step at a time. Even if you just create a landing page that has a link to your Amazon page, it will be a beneficial marketing tool. Don't over-think it. Claim your domain, create a simple site, and start letting more people find your book online.

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