The hub of your author platform is your website. It's not hard to set one up; here's how.
How to Set Up an Author Website
In recent articles, we’ve looked at the importance of setting up an author platform to market your writing, and how to choose a domain name for your online branding. In this article, I will discuss the most important element of your author platform: your website. This is the hub of your author platform, which readers can use to find out about your books, learn more about you, and keep up to date on your activities.
Building a website is fairly simple. Here are some tips on setting up a website for your author platform.
A website needs to be hosted; it needs to be on a server that provides content when someone clicks on a link or enters its address in a browser. For most writers, it’s best to not worry about this; your job is writing, not managing a server. You can get shared hosting from companies around the world, which means your site is one of hundreds or thousands on a shared web server. Your domain name is hosted on the server, so both your website and your email can be managed by the same company. You can get shared hosting for a few dollars a month, and set up a website with the free WordPress; in fact, most web hosts have one-click installation of WordPress.
There are some disadvantages to this sort of hosting. Over the years, I’ve hosted my website on various shared servers, and, while things mostly worked smoothly, when they didn’t, it was always a hassle to get customer service. If you are tech-savvy, you might want the flexibility of standard shared hosting, but for most writers, this can be a headache.
WordPress is the company behind the most popular blogging software in the world. You can use WordPress for free on any web host, but their hosting service is optimized to run this software and nothing else. For as little is $4 a month, you can set up a website using WordPress; for $8 a month you get more options (such as the ability to use premium themes); and for $25 a month you get more tools, such as SEO and analytics. Squarespace starts at $16 a month, and for $23 a month, you get more analytics and a fully integrated e-commerce platform.
Setting up a website with either of these services is simple: you choose a theme, rearrange a few things, choose fonts and colors, add images, and you’re ready to go. You can set up a website quickly, and keep your content updated, add a blog, and more. You may not want to deal with design; you always have the option of hiring a web designer to help you, but both WordPress and Squarespace let you run everything on your own once the design is ready.
What content to put on your website
Your author website is designed to highlight your books. You should have the following types of content.
It’s essential to have a biography with the type of information that is likely to interest both readers and journalists. And make sure to have high-resolution headshots or other photos so anyone writing about you doesn’t have to search.
You should have a main page for your books, and, ideally, one page for each book. If you write series or trilogies, you should have a page for each of them. It’s a good idea to have brief descriptions of your books, longer synopses, and perhaps first chapters of each book. Make sure you have high-resolution cover graphics, excerpts of any good reviews you’ve gotten, and links to retailers (affiliate links, if possible), as well as to indie bookstores.
You want to communicate with your readers, so have a mailing list signup page, or a field on the main page, and think about sending out emails regularly. Don’t send them too often; only when you have news, so readers don’t feel like they’re being spammed. This newsletter can tell your fans about new books, events, and any new content on your website.
As a writer, people expect you to write, so having a blog or occasional articles will help keep your fans satisfied as they wait for your next book. And if you share some personal information about your life, your fans will feel they know you better. Creating that sort of connection is important. And if you do include a blog, make sure to keep it fresh; it looks bad if the latest content is years old.
And you need a section with contact information, either an email link or a signup form. If you don’t want to be bother, and have an agent or publicist, have a link to contact them. It’s a good idea to have a press kit, containing the headshots and book covers I mentioned above, a biography, and a list of your books; make it easy for journalists to get all the information they need about you.
Finally, you should have links to social media accounts where you are active. These include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and others. A future article will discuss using social media to promote your writing.
Here are links to websites of some of the authors who have been guests on the Write Now with Scrivener podcast, which may give you some ideas as to what you could include on yours. Some writers have more content than others, and you’ll see several ways of presenting content.
- Dan Moren, science fiction author, journalist, and podcaster
- J.T. Ellison, thriller author
- Maggie Shipstead, author and journalist
- Nicole Kronzer, young adult author and high school teacher
- Jessica Payne, thriller author
- Christie Aschwanden, science journalist and author
- April Henry, thriller author
Set up a website and keep it up to date with your latest books, events, news, and more.