You’re an author, and as such, you know how important it is to promote your works online.
Building a website can help you grow your social media following, build your email list, and drive more sales for your books.
But you might be intimidated by the notion of setting up a website. Doesn’t it cost a lot of money? Doesn’t it take a lot of time and effort?
Not to worry – I’ll show you how to set up your website the easy way.
Make The Core Website
The first thing you’ll need to do is make the core website.
This process involves several steps. The first step you’ll need to take is to register your domain name and purchase a hosting plan from hosting plan from Justhost*.
Once you have your domain name and hosting plan, you’ll need to install WordPress, which now runs nearly 29% of the entire internet.
WordPress is a great tool for building a website on, contrary to what you may have heard. It isn’t just for blogging. It can become a forum, an eCommerce store, a membership site, and so much more.
These days, installing WordPress is generally a one-click maneuver. Isn’t that a relief?
After that, you’ll want to install plugins and a suitable theme for your site. We’ll look at several of the best themes for authors a little later in this article, so don’t get too far ahead of yourself.
And, that’s about all you need to do. If you need further more details instructions though, you can check our full guide on how to build a website here.
Or watch out video tutorial here:
Once you have the core website in place, you’re ready to move onto the next steps. First, let’s look at the importance of showcasing your most popular books on your site.
* Disclosure: If you go on to buy hosting through my Justhost link, I get a commission from it. This doesn’t affect the price you pay, nor is it the reason I recommend this hosting company. I recommend it because I use them to host many of my websites, and they’re the best value hosting company for new websites.
Important: Showcase Your Most Popular Books In A Prime Position On Your Website
What’s the number one thing you’re trying to sell as an author? Your books.
As such, it’s important to showcase your works on your website in strategic positions. If you just have one book, then draw attention to that. If you have many works, then highlight the most popular ones.
Here are several suggestions on where to showcase your most popular books on your website:
- The sidebar. The sidebar is a popular place to put call to actions, because elements on the sidebar generally remain consistent across the entire site, whether it’s another page or a blog post.
- The header. The header has the same advantages the sidebar has but has the potential to be even more effective because it’ll be one of the first things people see on your site.
- The footer. The footer has the same advantages the sidebar has. While placing items in the footer is generally considered “less aggressive”, you’d be surprised by the number of visitors who click on something in the footer.
- Your homepage. One of the most visited pages on your website will inevitably be your homepage. This makes it an ideal location to highlight your books.
- A landing page. A landing page is a page designed with one purpose in mind – in this case, to sell your book. This is a great place to put customer testimonials.
What Are Some Good Themes For Author’s Websites?
The primary way to unleash the power of WordPress is with a premium theme. Many premium themes have a lot of the functionality built right into them, so you don’t end up having to waste a lot of time finding plugins. Oftentimes, the only thing you’ll have to do is plug in your content and you’ll be good to go.
Here are some of the best themes for author websites.
Narratium – Simplicity Theme For Authors
Narratium is a beautiful theme that’s perfect for authors with a knack for visuals and art. The developers note that it’s ideal for both beginner and advanced users, so it’s easy to use.
Some of its features include:
- The ability to add text formatting to your titles and subtitles.
- The ability to use template for posts, categories, author profile, etc.
- Responsive design (making it mobile friendly).
- Multiple color schemes to choose from.
This theme is less about the features and more about the simplicity and art for writing – perfect if you don’t want to endlessly mess around within the WordPress admin panel.
Preface: A WordPress Theme For Authors
The Preface theme features a simple design that makes it easy for you to show off all your books.
Preface is WooCommerce compatible, comes with a custom book post type and book launch landing page, and book filter. You can also easily control your font sizes.
Again, this is a good theme if you don’t want to spend a lot of time fussing over the details of your website’s design.
Odrin – Book Selling WordPress Theme For Writers And Authors
Odrin has a sleek, modern design with all the bells and whistles. It should make it easy to sell your books with the ability to add a large image at the top of your homepage.
This is a great theme for both single book authors or multiple book authors. It gives you the ability to create single product pages, which makes it easy for you to set up your site like an eCommerce store. It also integrates with WooCommerce.
Be Sure To Capture Reader’s Email Addresses Using Sign Up Forms
This is something that’s easily overlooked by many people when they’re first setting up their website – sign up forms. But the reality is that at some point you’re going to look back and wish you started earlier (trust me).
So, don’t be that kind of author. Start capturing people’s email addresses right away.
Why? Because your email list could very well be your retirement plan.
On average, email lists tend to be far more engaged than social media followings. So, when you have something new to share with your audience (such as a new book), you’re probably going to get a better response from your email list than your social media followers.
If you start building your email from day one, sure, you won’t get many subscribers early on, but you’ll have started an importance process and you won’t have any regrets.
I recommend using Active Campaign to build and manage your email list. It’s cost effective and easy to use.
Plus, it’s easier to get this element of your design sorted out earlier rather than later. If you end up having to add a sign up form later, you might have to keep tweaking until you feel it fits with your site. If you do it upfront, there will be less fussing about later.
Check Out These Three Author Websites For Some Addition Ideas
If you use the above tips to get your website off the ground, you’ll be ahead of the pack.
But it’s always worth seeing what other authors are up to. There are some great websites out there already, which means you don’t need to carry out all the research and innovation yourself. You can make strategic tweaks to your website based on what you see out there, and what you like.
So, here are three author websites for some additional ideas.
If there’s anything we can learn from David Sedaris, it’s to keep your website minimal and simple.
His book cover is front and center, and there are links to pre-order the hardcover, audiobook, and eBook versions of his upcoming work.
Below that, you’ll find a brief author bio, a book trailer video, and images of signed books (i.e. for social proof).
So, are people coming to your website to learn about your book, or are they coming to learn about you? In most cases, they’re there to find out about your book first, so put your works front and center.
Austin Kleon has built a recognizable brand that carries over into everything he does – including his website.
Plus, he is excellent at publishing new content on a regular basis, keeping his audience engaged. There’s never a dull moment on Kleon’s website. By the way, that’s part of how he’s built his email list of over 50,000 readers.
Okay, so you’re an author. But are you sure your audience wants to see a wall of text the moment they land on your website? Fat chance!
That’s where Jon Krakauer’s website succeeds. His homepage is minimal, opting to highlight his book and other visuals, instead of overwhelming potential readers with a lot of information upfront.
Make a Great Book Website, Conclusion
You’ve set up your core website. You’ve placed your books in strategic locations on your site, and you’ve set up your email list. You’ve looked at several authors who are doing something right with their website. You should now have all the inspiration you need to start getting yourself established online. Now you just need to market your author website.