Your Author Website Design Considerations

By | October 21, 2012

If you have followed my free book marketing course “REVEALED: How to Market Your Self-Published Book Online” you will know that I advocate creating a strong online presence in order to get yourself and your books found by potential readers. Many publishers are asking their authors to build an author platform, which is a posh way of saying get yourself an internet presence :-) The same holds true for you as a self-published author.

One aspect of an internet presence is to have an author website, a place where you promote yourself and your books. You probably already have this in place, or plan to. I tend to go a stage further when advising authors about how to use the internet for book marketing, by proposing they not only have an author website where all of their books are promoted, but that they also have a separate website for every book they write. Now, before you start emailing me complaining that you hardly have enough time to write your books as it is, the book website is created once and then basically left as is. Also, there is a standard way of creating a website as, irrespective of the books you write, there are certain features and design elements your book website should have that are common across all websites. You can, therefore, have a template for each site and change things such as colours, headings etc., which are easy to do, so the effort of getting the website up and running for each book can be minimised.

Having a website for each book you write brings enormous benefits:

  1. Each website brings you more opportunities to be found in search engines
  2. When someone has read one of your books they can easily find your other ones by simply typing your name into a search engine
  3. A website dedicated to your book focuses a potential reader on that book without any other distractions that would make them click away from your website
  4. If you use pay-per-click advertising to promote your books you can send your readers to a dedicated website for that book which helps to lower your click costs.

When considering what your book website should contain you need to consider the following:

  1. The look of the website to include a header, colour scheme, the footer, the content and how you are going to capture your potential readers email addresses so you can let them know when your next book is released!
  2. How you are going to create the website
  3. How to follow up with people who visit your website and leave their email address so that they become avid purchasers and readers of your books.

This list may panic you if you are technically challenged and don’t know where to start.

Don’t panic. I am here to help and guide you, starting with this post, it really is straightforward once you know how.

What Your Website Should Contain

In my book marketing course I used an example of a book website that, in my opinion, is one of the better book websites out there. If you want to remind yourself of the site I referred to you can find it at http://www.mbaadmissionforsmarties.com/. This website contains a lot of the features I would recommend you include on your own book website the key ones being:

  • a simple, clear layout with lots of whitespace
  • an offer of something for free, such as a free chapter of the book
  • a link to buy the book
  • a list of reviews from happy readers and/or experts in your field
  • social media share buttons so your visitors can share your book website easily with their friends
  • credibility builders on the front page such as any TV appearances, newspaper mentions, some of the stronger reviews etc.
  • a high quality image of the book cover.

One important feature missing from the MBA Admission for Smarties website is a way of capturing the email addresses of people who visit the website but do not buy. The best place to do this is when someone requests your free chapter, or similar free offer. People do not mind giving an email address if they are going to get something in return that is of interest to them, and more importantly, benefits them and gives them some value.

Don’t be tempted to simply copy the MBA book website, or substantial parts of it, that is a breach of copyright. Instead make sure you include the features I have listed above but make the layout and colour scheme match the colours and mood of your book cover.

How to Create Your Website

You may decide not to create your book website yourself. However, whether you do or don’t, it is important to understand the recommendation I make and the reason behind it so you can pass that to your web developer.

One mistake I see authors making with their website is they do not get one created that allows them to easily update or change it. I know I said that one of the advantages of creating a book website is that it can remain as is once it is created. There may be times however, when you want to update the website, such as if you create a new version of the book, or you want to add more reviews. Do not be beholden to a web developer who will want to charge you for every change you wish to make. It can become expensive, and also the changes may not be made in a timely manner if they are out of your control.

For this reason I suggest you get the website created using WordPress, which is a powerful free software program, originally developed to create blogs with, but can also be used to build websites very successfully. WordPress allows you to also make changes and add pages to your website without needing to have a technical understanding of the program. Instead you use an editor similar to Microsoft Word for adding text, images and other items such as videos.

There are also many hundreds of places where you can get free website templates designed for WordPress if you do decide to do it yourself.

How to Follow Up With Your Visitors

As I have said before, capturing the email addresses of visitors to your book website is key to building a devoted audience. Building an audience of readers will make it easier for you to market and sell increasing numbers of your books by dropping your audience an email each time you release a new book. So how do you capture email addresses and easily keep in touch with your audience?

The easiest way of doing it is to use what is called an autoresponder. This is a program that will take the email address submitted through a form they provide on your website and store it in a list. You can use the autoresponder to send an email to the list without having to enter every email address manually. In my opinion the best autoresponder to use is Aweber as emails sent from their system tend to get through the spam filters as they are very respected. There are other autoresponders available so you should look around before making a final decision.

A good autorespodner will cost you a monthly or yearly fee but they are well worth it. There are some free ones around but don’t be tempted to use them as very often the emails sent through them tend not to get past the spam filter.

What to do next

If you have a book already self-published which does not have an associated website I strongly urge you get one established. If you have one already for your book, I recommend you review it against the recommendations I make in this post to ensure you are getting the most value from it.

I will be releasing more detailed posts and videos to help you to get your book website established, so make sure you are subscribed to this blog, if you are not already on my list, to be notified when those posts are available.

I hope you find this post valuable to your book marketing efforts. Please leave me a comment below to let me know how it goes, or to provide any advice from your experiences with your own book website to help your fellow authors.

Good luck with your book sales.

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