What Should I Put on My Author Website?
By John Burke
I often get this question from authors and my standard response is, “Anything you want!” Your website is the only place you can put anything and everything, which you can’t do on Facebook, Amazon, or anywhere else. It’s one of the primary reasons for having an author website. You can share the basic information, but also content readers can't find anywhere else.
On your author website you can put your author bio, photos, audio and video, book information, excerpts, reading guides, your blog, media coverage, contact information, event schedule, and more — even your cat photos.
The next question I get is, “Isn’t that too much? Won’t they get overwhelmed?” First of all, if they come to your author website that means they are interested in finding out more about you and your books, so they are already in search of more.
Second, the key is to organize it well. A well organized menu helps — don’t have too many main menu buttons, and instead have drop-down menus, or sub menus, with the additional information. For example, don’t have a main menu button for “cat photos” — that can be a sub menu item under “about the author” or have the cat photos at the bottom of your bio page. That way, it doesn’t overwhelm them, but if they are interested, they can click on it. With menus and sub menus, or layers, your visitors can drill down as deep as they want, or just skim the surface. So have no more than eight menu buttons, and then have submenus or links on the main pages to the more detailed content.
Major Content Categories
This is a concise listing and by no means complete, but it will give you a good start.
Your Author Bio
Provide a short author bio and long author bio. The long one goes on your “About the Author” page, and this can be pretty long. Again, if someone gets to that page they want to know more. The short bio can go perhaps on the home page, with a “read more” link to the full bio. You can also put it on your Press/Media page for the media to use. Include author photos.
List upcoming author events on your bio page or on a separate page. If they are frequent, make it a menu button.
Each book should have its own page on your author website with a long book description. You can list all of your books on a page, but then link through (via a "read more" link) to a dedicated page for each book. If you send a link to someone for a book, you don’t want them to have to scroll down the page to find the book you are referring to. It’s also better for search engine optimization (SEO) if you provide individual book information and utilize relevant keywords and book metadata.
Each book should have the obvious — the title, subtitle, publisher, book cover, and series and series number, if applicable. You should also include information like the pub date, binding, ISBN, and page count. These can go at the bottom of the page if you prefer. Add video and audio if you have it. You should offer an excerpt for viewing or download. Add book reviews as they come in.
Have links to retailers where your books are available for sale. The key ones in the U.S. are Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound (independent bookstores), Books-A-Million, and Apple iBooks. Indigo and Kobo for Canada. For other countries, ask local authors or publishers.
Mailing List Sign Up
Start collecting email addresses even if you are not sure what you’ll do with them. When you decide you want to do a newsletter, you’ll be thankful you did. Use a service like MailChimp or Constant Contact. They give you the form to put on your author website and the signups go directly into your email list.
To blog or not to blog? Most marketers will say it can only help. Some tips:
- Write on topics related to your books, or on topics in which your are fairly knowledgeable.
- Try relating them to current news events and use relevant keywords to try to improve your organic search volume.
- Announce posts on social media to drive traffic back to your website.
- Blog at least once a week so you appear active.
You should encourage readers to contact you. Few authors will get too many messages, and the upside is interacting with your readers and possible opportunities. Use a form that hides your email address so it doesn’t get “harvested” by spammers. Be sure not to ask for too much information, because the more you ask for, the fewer people will contact you.
Include author photos and book covers to download, and maybe links to your online coverage. Put a link to your contact page so that media can easily reach you if interested.
Now that you have the core content, always add and enhance. A website is always a work in progress and providing frequent updates or new content will give your fans a reason to follow along.