By Elizabeth Ludwig
I belong to several organizations for writers. In recent months, one topic of conversation crops up more than any other…author websites, and the questions being asked are almost always the same. Do I need an author website? What sort of content should I include? How often should I update? Obviously, answering even one of these questions could take up more space than a simple blog post would allow. I will, however, endeavor to give you some reasons why you should have a website as well as a few tips for managing your content.
Okay, so you’re debating whether you need a website or not. Do people even visit them? What is my ROI (return on investment) if I shell out some bucks to get a sleek looking website? I believe the answer is yes, every author needs a professional looking website. Here are a few reasons why:
- Websites help you control how readers see you online. This element sort of goes back to developing your brand. If you write suspense, your website graphics, text, fonts should all reflect that and give the reader a sense of what they are getting before they buy your books. It also allows you share a little bit about who you are and what you’re working on now. The “Home” page is especially important. If readers go no further than this, you want include the things you want them most to see. The first page of my website includes three book titles—my highest seller, my most recent award winner, and newest release.
- Websites allow industry professionals to find you easily. Having a well-designed and well-maintained author website is crucial if you want industry professionals to know that you take your writing career seriously. If you’re wondering which industry professionals I mean, let me just tell you…it’s all of them. Editors, agents, librarians, book sellers, they all want to know that you’re serious about helping promote yourself and your work. A polished website says something about you…Are you organized? Dedicated to your craft? Is your content streamlined and easy to read? Is it easy for readers to find you? Attention to detail matters!
- Websites make it easier to cultivate your fan base. Once a reader has searched your name and found your website, your next step as an author should be cultivating that relationship through a carefully constructed “About Me” page that includes a current bio, plus some candid photos of me and other industry professionals. Your website will also make it easy for you to post reviews, awards, maybe even a video or two. But that’s not all! Newsletters are a great way of keeping your readers informed and building a loyal fan base, so be sure to include an easy to find link for signing up.
- Websites make it easy for readers to find and purchase your books in one convenient place. I know what you’re thinking…isn’t that what Amazon is for? Well, yes…for you and about a billion other authors. In contrast, your author website is a virtual one-stop-shop for everything you put out. A simple way to accomplish this is by creating a “Books” page with buy links next to every title. And here’s a little tidbit I didn’t know when I first started out: It is important to include buy links to all the major outlets. Book sellers want to see their buy link included on your book page, so don’t alienate them by only posting a link to their competitor. Also, if your book page has gotten long, go ahead and break it up by series or genre. That way readers aren’t scrolling endlessly to find that one title that fits what they’re looking for.
- Websites help you expand your social media presence. It’s an easy thing to overlook—those pesky little social media buttons that invite readers to seek you out in avenues besides the one they’ve found. But if you’re anything like me, interacting with readers is not only easier, it’s a lot more comfortable on sites like Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. That’s why I have four of my favorite social media icons featured prominently on every page of my website…to make it easy for readers to jump from one platform to the others.
Elizabeth Ludwig is an accomplished author and speaker. Besides writing, she enjoys skiing, cooking, and curling up with a good book. Recently, she was awarded the HOLT Medallion for a book which combines two of those hobbies, A Tempting Taste of Mystery, part of the Sugarcreek Amish Mysteries series from Guideposts. To learn more, visit ElizabethLudwig.com.