Creative Control with Author Sites: Doing it DIY
So, you’ve decided that you need a website and you’ve chosen the DIY direction to bring your vision to life. Most authors, especially self-published authors, have invested a lot of time and money in publishing their books. Hiring a web designer may not be in the budget. The good news is, you can start the website yourself! Website platforms such as Wix, Squarespace, and WordPress are great go to’s for people that are looking for ways to have creative control over their brand.
To help aid in your design process, these sites also have hundreds of templates to choose from. You can always customize the design and layout of the website, but if you wish to have more advanced options, you may need to seek additional guidance from a professional.
There are annual fees associated with having a website, but you are able to choose the package that better suits you, your product and your budget. A very basic plan may cost around $75 annually whereas an ecommerce site to sell your books and additional products may cost just over than $200.00 for a year. For some platforms, plan fees can be purchased in one lump sum or in monthly installments.
Choosing the Right Domain Name
Like your book, it’s important to choose the right name for your website. A domain name, part of a network address that will help readers find and access your website, is vital for Internet visibility. It’s common to use your author name for a domain. If your author name is not available, you may need to abbreviate your name to make it more unique when choosing a domain name. Use a simple and professional name, nothing that will be too long or hard for your readers to remember. Also, don’t choose a name that is based around a book or an event. Keep in mind, this site is a permanent resource for your readers to access information about you and your brand. Your website should not be named after dated titles such as events or books.
You can purchase your domain name while you’re purchasing a plan on your chosen website platform. Some plans even offer a free domain with a premium plan. Keep in mind, domains have an annual fee that may cost $20 to $30; it’s not a one-time only purchase.
What to Include on an Author Site
Your website is your formal introduction to your readers, editors, publishers and other authors. Starting off with information about your book is great, but what else do you want your website to say about you? The common answer is, “I don’t know.” Here are some helpful tips to consider when thinking about the goals of your website:
Tell them who you are. Along with endorsing your book or books, let your readers know more about you, the author. Readers are fascinated to learn more about their favorite authors, where they are from, what made them begin to write and when to expect the next book release.
Create contacts. Engaging with your readers is very important because you want them to continue to support you in your book sales, events and future projects. Make sure to place your email and social media contacts on your website preferably in the footer or header so it can be found on any page of the site.
Provide a purchase plan. Make sure you have information on how readers can purchase your book. That’s one of the main reasons for the website, right? If your website is the only way for readers to purchase your book, make sure there’s an active order form present. If you are selling your book on Amazon or other sites, provide the link for readers to visit in order to complete their book purchase.
Feature your events. If you plan on hosting book signings or have an upcoming speaking engagement, have a place on your site that will allow your readers to know where you’re going to be. This will give readers the opportunity to meet you face to face.
Showcase your talent. A blog is a very great tool to have on your website! You can blog about anything because it’s your site. Many authors, for example, write short stories in between projects to keep readers involved. Blogs can house all sorts of information and it allows you more creative space to share with your readers.
Have news you can use. Monthly newsletters is not only a great marketing tool, but it’s a great way to keep the communication lines open between authors and readers. The readers can be notified of events, book releases, book signings and other detailed information you feel is important to share. It sounds redundant because this information can also be found on the website, but as an author you can add more detailed information in your newsletter instead of putting everything on the website. A form allowing the readers to sign up for your newsletter can be added to your site.
Relate reviews. Placing reviews about your book and a spot for readers to leave their reviews can seem risky, but it’s necessary. It allows readers to provide feedback about your book and gives other readers a chance to see how others perceive your work. It’s also important that you as the author see how much attention your book is getting.
Creating an author website may sound daunting and seem like a lot of work, but it’s not as scary as you think. Websites are an extension of your work and how you want others to learn about you as an author. Just like a resume submission to a job, you want your readers to learn as much as possible in order for them to make the best informed decision. Whether you decide to create a website yourself or find someone to help you along the way, remember it’s YOUR website. Maintain the creative control on how you want your vision to come to life. Make sure that your website is clean, professional, and user friendly for your readers.
I think you’re ready; go out there and create, create, create!
About Samika Johnson
Samika fell in love with web design while obtaining her BS in Business Information Systems at Indiana Wesleyan University. Shortly after graduating, she began to freelance and has since designed sites for campaigns, day care centers, her local sorority chapter, authors, local celebrities, and many more. She is the Chief Website Designer for Divine Legacy Publishing and owns Johnson Website Creations.