How to Create an Author Website in 5 Steps: A Guide for Self-Published Authors
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Setting up an author website is the most important element of a well-crafted book marketing strategy. There are countless other things you can do to promote your book online—from content marketing on social media platforms and guest interviews on podcasts to blogging, data analysis tools, and Amazon discounts—but creating your author website is the number one item to check off on your to-do list, especially if you’re self-published. Of course, you should do those other things as well, but having your own website is the foundation.
The goal of online marketing is to be googleable so new readers can easily find that little corner of the internet where your book and everything related to it lives and where only you—the author—can curate and control the content. Your very own author website allows you to advertise your books, share information about yourself, promote events you’ll attend or speaking engagements, and run a blog to convert curious passersby into loyal fans. It also adds an element of professionalism to your personal brand since it shows you’re serious enough about your writing career to have a dedicated website.
If you’ve already set up your author website and are keen to launch your marketing campaign, check out our book marketing packages for authors. If you have no website yet, let’s start with the basics.
1. Choose a name for your author website and buy a domain
It’s important that you register your domain in your name and email address, not in the name of a developer or a third party. Remember: This is about you being in control of your own content, and you want access to your site no matter what. Read up on what each web hosting company or registrar offers its users and choose the one that works best for you. From transferring your site to domain renewals, you’ll find they don’t all do things the same way. Also, keep in mind that you can buy your domain separately from your hosting platform, which we’ll discuss below.
Most authors choose their name for their domain, but you might find that yours is already taken. If that’s the case, you’ll still want to keep your name but differentiate your domain by adding words like author or books at the end. Using hyphens or choosing a .net or .org address instead of a .com one isn’t recommended as it’ll be harder to find or distinguish from the existing address. You might have to be flexible and a little creative if your ideal domain name isn’t available. Just be sure to go with something that makes it clear you’re a writer.
You could create a site with a free website builder using its domain, but this doesn’t look nearly as professional, and readers won’t take you as seriously. It doesn’t cost that much to buy and maintain a domain, so making the investment is definitely worth it.
2. Define the purpose of your author website
You want to promote your book, right? Great, but it’s a bit more complex than that. The real question is how you want to promote your book on your website. Before setting it up, you should think about its purpose and how you’ll use it to sell books.
For example, do you want to build a mailing list or send more traffic to your social media accounts? Do you want to link to online marketplaces such as Amazon where readers can buy your book? Do you want to sell it directly through your own website? Are you going to start a blog? All of the above? Answering these questions and focusing your marketing strategy will help you figure out what you need from your website.
Whether you’re using a third-party website builder to put your website together yourself or hiring a professional web developer, you need to know what you want in advance because it can have a massive impact on how your site is designed. For example, allowing users to buy and download your book directly from your website sounds ideal, but that means you’ll need robust eCommerce security and enough server space to host all downloadable content.
3. Pick a hosting platform for your author website
Once you’ve bought your domain and know what you want from your site, you can decide what platform to build it on. Some cater to more image-heavy sites, while others are best for text-heavy ones, as yours will probably be. Some require more knowledge and maybe even a bit of coding experience, while others are easy to put together even for beginners.
Among the most popular self-hosting options are Bluehost, GoDaddy, and Network Solutions, and the most widely used site builders include Wix and Squarespace. Just make sure you do your research—read reviews, blog posts, and threads—before choosing the best one for you and your wallet.
In case you’re hiring a designer or a developer to build your site for you, it’ll save you time and effort but cost you money. If you’re doing it yourself, it’ll be cheap (or even free), but it’ll take time. Also, if you don’t have any experience with web design, you may not be able to create the site you envision. Even if you can, you may not have considered important aspects of the user interface, which can impair the visitor experience. If you do choose to hire someone, study their portfolio carefully and make sure they have experience in book marketing before recruiting them.
4. Determine what content will appear on your author website
Now that you have your domain, host, and a clear idea of what your marketing strategy will be, it’s time to start building your website. Even if you’re hiring a designer or a developer, deciding what goes on your site is your job. However, an experienced web designer can offer pertinent suggestions if you explain your needs and vision. Of course, it’s your site, your name, and your money, so you can put anything you want on it, but there are a few basics that you should include.
Your author bio, or “About” page, is indispensable because you want your audience to know a bit more about you and humanize the person behind the writing. This makes you more relatable and likable, helping you develop a deeper connection with your fans. You also want to make it easy for them to contact you, which is why you should have a contact page with an easy form that directs any messages straight to your inbox. You could also provide your email address on the contact page, but be warned that doing so will almost certainly invite spam mail.
If the purpose of your website is to promote your book, then a dedicated book page is also a must. On it, you will not only include a summary or a description of your book but also offer your visitors a way to buy it, whether directly through your site or a third-party retailer. If you’re promoting an upcoming book, post the release date and direct readers to where they can buy it when it launches.
You’ll also want to invite people to join your mailing list, which is another feature we recommend adding so that you can notify your subscribers when your book drops. If you’re selling the book directly from your website, you may also include a pre-ordering system. In case you have multiple books, each one should have its own dedicated page that links back to your main books page.
You can also include an events page or a calendar and a media page that includes any online content written about you or your work. If you’re also starting a blog, it should have its own page on your website.
5. Get traffic to your author website
Now that you’ve got everything set up, you can choose to just let it sit there as a place for people to find and contact you or you can focus on getting traffic to your website as part of your ongoing book marketing strategy. To get more visitors to your site, you’ll need to engage on social media platforms, share your posts, comment on other websites with similar themes or niches, write guest blog posts, give podcast or YouTube interviews, send out newsletters, or advertise.
You should also make sure all the content on your website is optimized for search engines (SEO) by analyzing your keywords, page views, and top content, which you should be able to check on your hosting platform’s dashboard. Once you build up a following on your website, you’ll need to maintain it through continued promotion and consistently high-quality content.
We know it can all feel overwhelming, and running a website can easily become a second job, but you needn’t worry: Our team of experts is ready to help you craft your marketing strategy. Check out our book marketing packages for authors and kickstart your online campaign today.