What do you look for in a successful author website?
While this question refers specifically to websites, everything I say also applies to blogs. Authors need an online presence—but it doesn't have to break the bank. A good free blog or website will do the trick.
First and foremost, it must be visually appealing, clean and professional—and it must have all the information a visitor needs to find your book.
Visually appealing and professional doesn't mean you have to hire someone and spend a lot of money. You can set up free blogs at Blogger or WordPress. You can use one of their templates or choose from the bazillion free template online. If a blog is all you can afford (because it's free), that will be perfectly adequate.
You can also create a free, or mostly free, website at Google, Yola, or Weebly. I haven't used any of these, so I can't recommend one over the other. I'm sure there are other good places out there. Google "free websites" and see what you find.
A "pretty" site will invite the visitor to actually read the information you have on your site.
You need the most important information easy to find—either on the front page, sidebar, or using a tab at the top of the page to click to. Generally, you want the important info no more than one click away from the home page.
Most important info to include:
- Info about your books: Most prominent on the home page or high on the sidebar is your current release book cover, which clicks to a page or post with more info about the book. Include a larger image of the cover with a teaser, first chapter or excerpt, and all of the info that I include about books on the LDS Fiction site.
Previously published books should be in a secondary position—smaller images or lower on the sidebar. Each of these should also click to a page or post with more information about the title.
The book info page should ALWAYS include links to where the book can be purchased online.
- Info about you: Clickable from a tab or image on the sidebar, a short bio page about you. I recommend including a photo. Make it light and friendly and short.
- Contact: An email link where you can be contacted by your fans. Also links to other places you can be found online.
Your site needs to be easy to navigate, clean and professional. I'm including a few links to simple sites that do this well. (Simple, because I'm assuming this is for DIY-ers, who can't or don't want to hire help.)
- used a free, or nearly free, website builder/hosting service
- designed your site yourself or used a free template
- and you think your site is a good example