Today we’ll try to tackle one of the key issues in building your author brand and that is your author website.
Life’s hard for the small fish a.k.a. the self-published author. It’s simply not enough to write a book, publish it and let the universe to the rest. Even the greatest literary masterpiece is bound to get lost in the ever-growing literary pool and it’s up to you, the author to make your nook in the writing industry.
Today we’ll have a look at the how-to of creating a media presence for yourself, through your author website and alternatives for writers who are not necessarily media-friendly.
It’s the word of the 21st century and even more so for any brand trying to build an audience and grow into a steady niche. It’s important to accept the fact that you, the writer are a brand and your readers are your consumers in this supply and demand power play.
You write books, you have a niche and therefore, an audience. And this audience is not going to know you exist to provide literary greatness until you make yourself discoverable. Consequently, understanding the market you’re selling to will only bring you closer to your readership.
Why, through your online presence of course. It’s not a set in stone rule what to begin with, so whether you choose to develop your social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or approach your own literary website, all roads eventually lead to Rome. And in this case, Rome means visibility.
Some authors are not comfortable with being on social media altogether, so what remains is the only channel to reach and interact with your readers.
Simply put – to grow your readership and create that beefy mailing list.
As a millennial, the first thing I do when I discover an author I absolutely love is to Google them and sign up to their mailing list so I get a notification regarding their next releases, special offers, book signings, etc.
Some authors organize all sorts of fun games, events, giveaways and original ways to integrate readers in their projects and you could be one of those cool authors out there.
Because nowadays it’s all about how you engage with your audience. Unconditional worship is experiencing a dramatic decrease and the fan phenomenon is morphing into a new creature altogether. Today’s fans and followers demand to actually connect and create a relationship with the brands of their time.
Your readers will be no different, so your online followship wants you to get personal. They want to interact with you and be the first to know when your book becomes available which for me at least, is the greatest of honors. Because those followers are your consumers and through their purchases and support you can grow as an author.
Here are some ways authors can benefit from having their own website:
The self-publishing industry is evolving into a competitive market, so if you plan on giving your best to make yourself discoverable, read on.
Your name. That simple.
Many authors make the mistake of creating social media accounts and website domains with the name of their first book and that is one of the capital mistakes you should try to avoid. Your first book is not the brand; you are (presuming you plan on releasing more than one book).
If you’re at the very beginning of the road and you haven’t published anything yet, check Goodreads to see if your author name is either taken or very similar to any other. Whether you’re writing under your real name or a pen name, know firsthand that the .com domains generate far more traffic than their .net .org siblings.
So, if www.namesurname.com is taken, try variations such as:
By all means make it as short and catchy as you possibly can. Choosing a pen name that is nearly impossible to remember or spell correctly may generate a certain degree of confusion.
There are two reasons authors should focus on their website: visibility and traffic. If you plan on just putting it out there and not working on it, quit while you’re ahead. Just like regular posts on social media, regular posts on your author website/blog are imperative for SEO positioning (when your website appears on the first pages following a Google search).
As you can see from the example to the right, when I googled my own name, the first result is my author website, followed by my social media accounts, Goodreads and other websites I’ve collaborated with either doing guests posts or interviews.
That’s the visibility I was talking about. My website appears first because it’s my main traffic source. In case an author is also a successful BookTuber, their own YouTube channel will appear first as the main source to generate traffic.
Like everything else, it all starts with research, so let’s see how other authors do it:
First off, I’d say to check out the websites of several authors of your genre and get a feel of what’s out there. Building your author brand starts with consistency and a recognizable design. What you write, your book covers and your website should share a sense of unity.
Take a minute to think about your style. Is it bold, dynamic, dark or feminine? Choosing the right font for your author name is just another layer of author branding. Because this will be exactly like the logo of your literary brand. Just like people recognize the M of McDonald’s or the W of WordPress… or the S of Superman for that matter.
Adding a little tagline under, above or next to your author name is a popular choice for award-winning and bestselling authors. It’s validation and modesty shouldn’t get in the way of promoting your brand. In fact, modesty won’t help at all in an industry where you technically have to sell yourself at your finest. I’m not saying it’s right or fair but it is what it is.
Presuming you’ve given an overall thought about the style and color palette which best defines your literary persona, let’s move on to the content. A neatly designed author website without the content to match is like a beautifully wrapped empty present.
You’re already a writer, you have your way with words so what should your author blog be about?
By all means, not a salad with everything. Think about your readers – what are some of their interests? And think about yourself – what would you like to blog about?
If you’re writing about vampires you have so much field to explore. From Vampfest (International Vampire Film and Arts Festival) to legends, castles, theme parties, other books involving your topic, etc.
Exploiting that niche to the max is only going to generate traffic in the right direction – your website. You can review books of the genre you write in, connect with other authors for interviews and guest posts, the World Wide Web’s your oyster. Profiling your readers and luring them in with your many talents is easier said than done – but what do you have to lose?
Unless you’re already an established bestselling author or lucky enough to have sold plenty with little or no promo effort, you do have to go the extra mile to make a name for yourself. You’ll notice that a hefty percentage of self-published authors have a little something extra on their websites aside from their author bio. Either they’re BookTubers, podcast hosts, bloggers or vloggers, it’s their extra involvement that makes the difference.
Even I blog for two reasons. On one hand, I write for the newbie author and blog about the process from writing to publishing trying to simplify the steps and on the other hand my blog has an interview section where I’ve had the honor to pick the brains of many professionals in the writing industry. Finding the blend that works for you is by no means a piece of cake, yet when you do, it’s bound to give you a boost in the right direction.
Be prepared because vlogging/blogging is as time consuming as it is rewarding.
You have your author picture, your bio and maybe you’ve even started writing a few articles to start off your blog. Now that you’ve thought about building your literary brand and all the details to get the best author website, let’s talk about some of your options.
For a personalized product please consider working with a designer. Platforms such as Fiverr or Upwork offer endless possibilities as long as you have your ideas straight. By no means should you jump into this adventure without having done the necessary research and decided upon key aspects of your future website.
WordPress is a favorite web software when it comes to author websites. You can check out some popular layouts for authors at ThemeForest. Keep in mind that every design can be personalized to your taste with the pages, subpages, pictures and content of your choice.
Pick your theme, fonts, pictures, content and colors and work with your designer. Your author website is your business card and that’s why I mainly wouldn’t recommend going DIY on this project.
Better than going DIY, you have D2D Author Pages. It’s a beautifully designed layout that includes:
And who says you can’t have both – an author webpage and a D2D author page? The more exposure, the greater the discoverability and this is one thing an author can’t have enough of.
Now my literary buddies, welcome to the hassle and let me share a secret or two. Google likes consistency and routine, so make a habit of posting on specific days. Either you decide to post your content once a month of five times a week, try to do it on a specific day so that your algorithm stays constant and your followship eager.
Investigate keywords and how other authors out there approach their something extra. Research, research, research and may patience be your greatest ally on this journey.
Esther Rabbit is a writer, a content creator for authors and a massive nerd. If you’re curious to know all the tips & tricks surrounding the process From Writing To Publishing Your Novel, you’re only a click away. For more goodies, articles and giveaways, please consider subscribing to her Newsletter.
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