Most authors - independent, traditionally published, or otherwise – need a website. You can have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, Instagram or LinkedIn profile but they aren’t really the same. A good website can feature your writing, your various channels of engagement (social media, live appearances, readings etc.) – it’s basically your brand.
And while it’s a good idea for all authors to have a website, it’s even more important for self-published authors. Having a good website is a way of leveling the playing field.
But what kind of site should you have? Here are a few pointers:
#1: Identify the primary goal for your website
What do you want to achieve? Are you trying to sell more books? Build an audience? Communicate with your readers?
If your goal is to sell books, make sure your book is the first thing anyone sees when they get to your site. If your goal is to build an audience then immediately ask them to sign up to a newsletter or show them your social channels.
#2: Give customers different ways to buy your books
One way might be Amazon. Another can be an alternative shop, e.g. Tesco, W H Smith, Waterstones. And finally, maybe a direct link to your own shop so they can buy direct from you.
#3: Collect email addresses
Successful independent authors understand that email is an invaluable channel when it comes to connecting with readers. Don’t waste time looking for Twitter followers and Facebook likes if you can get someone’s email.
People are far more careful about subscribing to newsletters (via email) than they are about following someone on social media. With an email address you can send people useful information, news and free content. (Like this I hope).
#4: Make your website mobile-friendly
These days most people look at things online using their mobile phone. You need to design your website to be multi-platform’ ready. The industry word for this is ‘responsive’. Wordpress themes should do this for you.
#5: Get a professional designer
There are a variety of services / platforms you can use for this (e.g. Wix, WordPress and others) that allow anyone to create their own website, but if you’re not that great with computers or feel this is a waste of your time (time that could be spent writing or marketing) then it might be worth paying a professional.
Check out our own services – Web Design Wales.
#6: Offer free stuff
A great way to attract readers’ attention (and get their email addresses) is to offer people something of value. The most common offer could be free poems (in my case) or the first chapter from your book, or even an entire e-book! This is very common for authors who have written a series. You can offer a free first book, in the hope that readers will enjoy it and then go on to buy the second and third in the series. Hopefully readers will feel happy buying a book from you if they’ve already had one for free.
This column can also be found on Medium – click here.