Build your brand. Establish your presence. Speak your truth.
Every author needs a webpage. Being without one is like cutting off your foot. Using social media is wonderful, but any of those apps can disappear in a heartbeat. Owning and maintaining your own website ensures your connection to your readers. You control the content. You control traffic. You control your footprint. I can’t stress enough how a webpage guarantees you will still be there for your fans even if Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. crash down.
Google is a powerful tool that most of your audience uses. They’ll Google you. Let your webpage be the first thing that comes up. That means paying for a domain name. This ensures that new and old readers can find you and your message.
Be sure your webpage has good content. Links to your books are essential, and make sure the covers are prominently displayed. Also, add a newsletter sign up, photos of your life beyond writing, classes you teach, and a blog or two. Give your readers/fans something to look at when they visit you.
And keep it simple. People will visit your site for many reasons—interest in you, curiosity about your books, and blog. Straightforward menus in plain language help users navigate websites. Don’t hide content down eight menu clicks or bury blog messages in thousands of pictures. Clean, uncomplicated content allows users to find what they are looking for with ease. Especially those who are visiting to buy books. Make it a one-click with e-commerce plugins or links to various booksellers.
If you can, try to brand your website in line with your books and blog. Come up with a color scheme that works with your logo, business cards, who you are as a writer. If your site is all pink and yellow, but you write erotica, users will think they hit the wrong site. For authors who write in multiple genres, pick something neutral or create separate websites. This goes for authors with multiple pen names too. Separate the content into the names and genres. Too much on one plate will confuse readers.
Pop-ups. Yes, we all want users to sign up for newsletters, see our latest covers, etc.. But we don’t want to scare them off with obnoxious Pop-ups that drive them away from the site. That goes for widgets too. If you have an audio clip, that plays a tune over and over, visitors may leave rather than listen to it again.
Simple is good, with a little flair. Meaning keep your site up to date with the latest trends in web design. I’m not saying to change it up every week. Absolutely not. (Seriously familiarity with your set up with help visitors in the long run.) But if a pictures carousel appears on some bestsellers’ sites, maybe you should add one. Speaking of other authors, check out bestselling authors in your niche. See what kind of content they have and how their site displays.
In summary, have an easy to navigate website with great content that promotes your brand.