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May
2015
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How to Set Up an Inviting Author Website that Converts and Builds Loyalty

Landing on this post, you might be wondering how on earth your author website is echoing cricket sounds instead of high traffic. You want real answers because it just doesn’t make sense. You’ve designed its visuals into perfection, you’ve planted keywords to Google’s liking, and you’ve spurred social media to posts you oh so beautifully crafted that readers couldn’t help but burst into your domain and ask for more. Or have you?

With the web’s knotted ins and outs, there are loop holes and sure cuts for an attractive author website that can reap you a huge following, and you’re here for that magical route. So after all the whys and why-nots, here’s the best hows from some of the biggest names in online feat.

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The worst thing an author can do is build a blog and then not keep it current. After all, if an author isn’t paying attention to the site, why should a visitor?

Karin Bilich Author
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The average amount of time someone spends on a website? Three seconds. Make sure your author website is strong enough to take advantage of those three seconds and really grab a reader’s attention.

Too many authors forget to collect email addresses. There is no good reason an author shouldn’t use his or her website to build an email list.

Book authors aren’t always copywriters. Writing the text for an author website is a very different beast from writing a book. If you have a history of writing marketing copy, great. If not, then have someone who does work with you on writing the copy for your website.

When it comes to SEO, time is your best friend. A new author website isn’t going to show up on Google search results right away. It can take weeks for it to appear at all. And then, it can take months (as well as some SEO strategies) to start climbing up the search results ladder. Patience is key. - K. Bilich

Karin Bilich Author
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Comment on relevant blogs.

Do a virtual book tour where you visit other blogs and online venues to promote your book.

Consider running pay-per-click ads on Goodreads, Facebook, and websites specifically targeted at your book’s audience.

Post articles in online newsletters, blog carnivals, article directories, or other websites that accept article submissions, and link back to your site in the “about the author” section at the bottom of the article. - D. L. Smith

Dana Lynn Smith Author and book marketer
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Offer guest articles on blogs that cater to your target audience.

Dana Lynn Smith
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In the case that the book was recently published, promote it front-and-center with a large 3d bookshot, an enticing blurb, and featured purchase options. Include a link here to a page where someone can read more about the book, or get some behind-the-scenes information or other promotional materials (such as an excerpt or resources). And if you have a great review excerpt or testimonial – include it! - K. McMillan

Kate McMillan Outbox Online Design Studio
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Depending on the kinds of books you write, you might include a slideshow of photographs, or an audio file, or a YouTube video, or a quiz, or myriad other things that tie into the content of your books.

Kate McMillan

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I recommend a brief, professional bio (250 words or less), and a photo. You can expand in many different ways, but a short bio upfront is very helpful and essential for those looking for the quick facts.

Make it easy for people to subscribe to your blog via e-mail/RSS (here’s how). If you don’t have a blog, then offer an e-mail newsletter. - J. Friedman

Jane Friedman Co-founder and editor of The Hot Sheet
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Some elements of your author website can be “responsive.” These elements will respond to the dimensions or position of the screen on which they are being viewed and auto-adjust for optimum display. The most common elements that are responsive include headers, photo galleries, and navigation menus. - Web Design Relief

Web Design Relief Web Design Service
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Streamline Your CSS …make sure any code written to your author website’s CSS is succinct. By avoiding redundancies, you reduce your site’s risk of displaying improperly on any device.

Web Design Relief
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Your site is polished, legible (go for clear, not clever) and spell checked.

Avoid a chaotic mix of colors. Instead pick two to four colors for your design template and don’t try to make everything stand out–then nothing will. - K. Grabas

Kimberley Grabas Author
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Avoid anything unnecessary like Flash (Apple currently doesn’t support Flash), animated backgrounds or music. If your site takes a long time to load, or doesn’t work on a mobile device (iPad), you will lose a large number of visitors to your site.

I highly recommend using Aweber to manage your email list. Using a high quality, industry leader for your email list management is important to ensure your emails get to your fans and not their spam boxes.

Kimberley Grabas
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Think of a headline as your post’s book cover. If your headline isn’t irresistible, your post goes unread.

Frequently reference your own posts as well (internal links).

Write book a book or a guide. Yep, still one of the best ways to build authority!

Partnering allows you to share audiences, cross-promote products and services, and develop content that you may not have been able to produce on your own.

Kimberley Grabas
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Be pretty. Well, you don’t have to be pretty, but…Hey. Just don’t be boring, okay? Inject your own personality into your site. - J. Khoury

Jessica Khoury YA and MG author
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Professional – This doesn’t mean your sites need to be made by a professional; it just means your site needs to be professional.

Jessica Khoury

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Web design consideration: In what pattern do people scan (not read!) your website? Your first two sentences of each web page must convince the visitor to stay on your page. - D.M. Heilmann

Doris-Maria Heilmann Publisher and writer
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Any web pages which require sensitive customer details, need to be fully encrypted. If your web page has no https in the address bar, it shows that it is not secure.

Doris-Maria Heilmann
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If you have links to other sites: what happens when the visitor to your site clicks them? If they are taken directly to another site in the same window, and they find something more interesting, you have lost them. All your external links should be set to open in a new window, leaving your site still on view.

Doris-Maria Heilmann
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People connect with you then they want a real face to face connection. Let them know where they can meet you. - B. Schmidt

Bryan Thomas Schmidt Author and editor
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Contact Information. Make it easy to contact you by providing a contact page with a text entry form to email you, links to your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. and an address for press inquiries or sending books for autographs, etc.

Don’t tell them too much but do tell them enough to give them some hint of you as a person.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt
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Design everything on your site for that one visitor, and your site will automatically begin to draw in the people who are looking for your type of book. - K. Eckstein

Kristin Eckstein Author
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Easy navigation is more than just a good design.

Less is More—A busy home page makes for a confused buyer. And confused buyers don’t buy.

Branding is Everything—If your website is about your book, make sure the colors, fonts and imagery matches your book cover. If it’s about you, keep your brand consistent throughout.

A book page should include a cover image of your book, description, some endorsements and a buy button. Make it easy for prospects to buy your book by providing a buy button on your website!

Make it super easy for media to interview you about your book by providing one page with your headshot(s), book cover image(s) and samples of various-length bios where they can grab that information to market your interview.

Kristen Eckstein

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Speaking of links: the less your visitor needs to click, the better. Your most important pages should be no more than a click away from every other page on your site. - M.W. Selznick

Matthew Wayne Selznick Author and musician
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It’s safest to assume a lowest common denominator screen resolution of 1024 pixels wide by 768 pixels high.

Every Google search result includes a little blurb about 150 characters long. The first place Google looks to get content for that blurb is a web page’s meta description tag. If Google doesn’t find a description, it settles for the first 150 characters of content on the page.

Matthew Wayne Selznick
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Your author website should quickly answer the following in a visually appealing manner for your targeted readers: who, what, when, where, why and how. - K. Brown

Kathryn Brown Publisher, Chanticleer Media
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There’s nothing worse than a website that looks like a ghost town. You know, tumble weeds flitting by on your About page. A blog with broken, swinging saloon doors that hasn’t been updated in two years. A cobwebby book page that still says “Stay tuned for the new release, coming October 2009!” - S. Godfrey

Sierra Godfrey Writer

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Go through and clean it up, sweep away the dust, and get the most current book information on your site, front and center. If you aren’t yet published and aren’t promoting a book, keep your blog front and center.

Sierra Godfrey
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You should have a basic site statistics tool installed. Google Analytics works with pretty much everything including WordPress, and I also like the Jetpack site stats tool for WordPress because it’s easy to use.

Sierra Godfrey
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People don’t want to see piles of text when they come to your site. They don’t want to read a welcome letter. They also don’t want to see that snapshot your husband took of you in the back yard. You don’t need photos of you necessarily but you need photos of something. Use photos that relate to your topic. - Thomas Umstattdt Jr.

Thomas Umsttadt Jr. Author
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Recommended Books – This is also a great way to make a little extra money on the side since amazon will give you a commission on any book sales you refer using their affiliate program.

Thomas Umsttadt Jr.
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Provide special goodies exclusively on your site and watch your visits blast off. Give them fun stuff they would be willing to pay for. MP3’s, short stories, whole books. Go crazy. Also, Google likes exclusive content so this gives you and SEO boost too.

Thomas Umstattd Jr.
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Setup your website under your own name. The one thing in life that you can count on staying the same is your name. Build your author platform around your name. - T. Grahl

Tim Grahl BookLaunch.com

What’s missing in your author website? Let us know in the comments section below.

 

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4 Responses

  1. It’s easy to spot good and bad author websites… when it’s not your own. I did a complete overhaul of my (very do-it-yourself-quickly-looking) Blogger blog, moving it to self-hosted WordPress site and doing the site design myself (I got a friend designer to create some graphics). When I finally went live I felt so proud of my new shiny web-home, but when I looked at it again a few days later as a reader, it felt… wrong. Now I need to figure out how to change what so I can go from “wrong” to “right” and hopefully get to “ideal” someday. Posts like this is a great help, thank you!

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