5 Changes You Need to Make to Your Author Website Immediately
Writers are not just writers – they need to be entrepreneurs, marketing experts, and business people to succeed today. Today, there are so many writers, so many books on Amazon, some of which are free or at a very low price. It’s very difficult to tap into a market – and yes, it is a market, even if you want to say “I want to write because I love to write.”
Here is the thing: unless you do the hard work of an entrepreneur, you will not be able to write because you love writing – you will be looking for a day job because you will not be able to cover your bills.
One of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal to achieve the goal of writing for a living and managing to make a living, is your author website. It needs to look professional, yet personable. It needs to show that you are a professional writer – yet you need to be relatable. Think of yourself as the protagonist of your own story: can the readers relate to you?
Your author website can make them relate to you – if you do it right. There are many things you can do to improve your author website, but today we will only cover the most basic needs of a website. These are the things that every reader wants to see in an author website, so include these in your “improve author website” checklist.
1. Include yourself
Everything that you write and do on your website should be done mostly by yourself. As your readership grows (and we really hope it grows and expands) you can get help with administrative stuff – comments section, email, newsletter, etc.
Beyond all that, however, your readers need to be convinced that you are running the show. Your readers have to know that when they come to your website, they will see you, not an assistant, or someone who just runs your website.
What does that mean?
It means putting a professional photograph of yourself, and a short biography about who you are. You are a writer – think of the most interesting biography you’ve ever read – and yes, that’s the kind of bio you need to write. Don’t shy of embarrassing moments, of tough moments when you received rejection letters. This is 2017 – if you are not present on social media, you need to remedy that immediately. And you need to add “connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, etc” below where every reader can see it. Also, you need to write, occasionally, about yourself.
2. Categorize your blog section
As said above, your readers need to know that you’re writing everything on the website, that you’re handling their emails, comments, and connections on social media. Now, you need to have a blog section. Unlike professional bloggers – who often have to choose a niche and write blog posts that will be relevant, helpful, and a lot of other special and especially difficult things – you have the freedom to write about your own books, your own niche.
It is especially important to offer posts about writing. A lot of your readers are aspiring writers themselves – so offer something for them too. Even the readers who are not aspiring writers will like to read what happens “behind the scenes” as you write.
However, if each of your post is “uncategorized” you have a problem. Because some readers want the background info, other readers want publishing news, some readers want to read other content. So, make sure to categorize accordingly. You travel often and want to write about it, even though it’s not related to your genre or niche? Make a special category for it. Some of your readers will be interested in that – some of your readers will be interested in every post you write, but keep in mind that not all of them will be.
3. Exclusive content
Exclusive content is content that is unavailable anywhere else except on your website. This content can be anything, but what most readers want are excerpts – not of upcoming books, just scenes where your characters do something that didn’t happen in the book (and did not impact the plot). A short prologue or epilogue, or a short story that will not be available anywhere else is also a good idea.
The best idea is to ask your readers for stuff. You can ask them for fanart, fanfiction, you can hold contests with interesting giveaways (usually Advanced Reader Copies, signed copies of your books, etc.). You should also ask your readers what they want to read – a favorite character, a favorite place, the short backstory of a character. This is especially important if you’re writing a series with a lot of characters. And, if they do send you fanart, fanfiction, and other fan stuff, make sure to pay attention to them and post them on your website – along with the fan’s name or pseudonym. In other words, when it comes to content on your website, including your readers into it will make you even more relatable – and you will be called an “awesome author” by a lot of them.
4. A guide for your books or characters (or both)
A separate section of your website needs to cover your own books – and, instead of offering them the same blurb or synopsis as on Amazon, or Goodreads, make sure to write original blurbs, give something extra, so that your readers will feel like they are reading something exclusively written by you for your books.
And, it is very important to write a guide for your characters, especially if you are writing a series with a lot of characters. Some romance authors, who write series sets in the same universe, with different heroes and heroines in each book, have these guides, especially if a couple from previous books makes a cameo in latter books. And even if you’re not a series writer, but have written many books, you can make character guides for each of them, and separate them in book sections.
And best of all, it would be the perfect idea to ask your readers for illustrations of the characters – and include them in the guide. Or, you can take another approach and hire an artist to do them for you – in either case, make sure the guide comes with images of your characters.
5. Recommend books
Your readers want to know what you’re reading. So make sure to let your readers know. No, you don’t need to post a review each week – keep it honest and true. If you’re reading a book that you’re really enjoying, tell your readers about it.
There are two benefits from this: once again, you become more relatable, because you let your readers know that you’re also an avid reader, not a writer who doesn’t read anymore. Another benefit is that it makes you look professional – especially if you take the time to write short reviews of the books you’re reading, instead of just mentioning them in passing.
Other things you need to include are book covers, appearances, and of course, news about your upcoming books – and don’t forget to let your readers know how your next book is coming along, especially if you haven’t set a publishing date yet.