Laying the Foundation
All about the author website.
So you’ve written a book. Now what?
Probably one of the more overwhelming aspects of authordom is realizing you have to have a presence on the Internet. For some of us, this proves to be a challenge—we prefer to be out of the limelight and safely tapping away behind our computer screens. But regardless of what publishing path you decide to go down, inevitably, you will have to exist somewhere on the Internet. Don’t panic—I’ve got you. This is your comprehensive guide to navigating the online world as an author.
In Navigating Social Media As an Author, Part One, I broke down the most popular platforms and offered some (hopefully) helpful advice on the matter. You can access that article here:
In Part Two, I will offer tips and tricks I’ve used to grow my platforms with the hope that you’ll also succeed with them. But before I release that article, I want to discuss the first step before you start to build and grow your social media accounts: laying the foundation. Hopefully, you’ve already read Part One and my previous article, Determining Your Path, so I don’t have to reiterate those points. If you haven’t read the last article, you can do so here:
The Author Website
I was surprised to learn that authors still wonder whether they should have an author website; the answer is a resounding YES. Whether pursuing the traditional path (querying) or preparing to go it on your own, you need a place to direct people interested in your book. The easier you make it, the better. This part, I cannot stress this enough—make learning about you and purchasing your book as painless as possible.
If you over-complicate things or your website is too extra, people will give up, which hurts your chances at a potential sale. I know we writers tend to wax poetic, but the information on your website should be simple and straightforward.
Since these articles are intended for indie authors, making your latest book a key focus on your page is super helpful for book sales. Even if you’re not published, creating an eye-catching book landing page with your cover, blurb, and mood boards/aesthetics is a great way to generate interest. You can also include a blog, which doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it sounds. At the start of my indie author career, I created a blog to share my short horror fiction and indie horror reviews. Write what you like.
An author website can also be a good place to show off your creativity. An excellent example is the website of an author I’ve had the pleasure to work with, Catherine Fearns. As a heavy metal musician and a writer of dark fiction, the aesthetics on her website work beautifully to sell her:
But be careful not to go too overboard here; again, you want the information to be easily read and accessible. If you need inspiration, there are hundreds of author websites online for you to study and even templates you can purchase. I like to create landing pages for each of our authors at Quill & Crow that include both their author information and their books, which you can see an example of here:
Ready to get started? Let me offer you a brief overview of some technical stuff.
What website builder should I use?
There are a lot of opinions here. For my company, I use Wix, but there are plenty of free options available. I’m all about not overcomplicating things, so don’t stress yourself out—pick something that works for you. Here are a few resources to help you, but feel free to research more on your own:
Should I buy a domain?
In my opinion, if you can afford it—yes. Not only does it look more professional, but it helps with that ‘ease of finding you’ factor I’ve been talking about. If someone sees you on a social media platform, it’s easier for them to type yourname.com than try to remember some complicated freebie URL that includes the name of your host. It also helps for SEO purposes.
What about Linktr.ee?
I firmly believe in a good Linktree, especially when you market on social media (it’s a service often used by social media influencers). Having a Linktree (or Caard.co) gives you the ability to link your socials as well as individual websites. Since I maintain the websites for both Quill & Crow and my store, The Crow Shoppe, I use a Linktree for my personal author stuff (and it links to both those websites). I’ve seen some really cool Linktrees out there, but mine is pretty simple:
Other Author Profiles
Some retailers and book sites offer authors the ability to create and maintain their own profiles.
Don’t sleep on these opportunities! Having an author page across these platforms helps your visibility. It can also be a great way to get readers to sign up for your mailing list, visit your website, or explore your other publications. I’m only aware of these few, but I’m sure there are others out there to expand your reach. I keep up with my Amazon and Goodreads profiles since those are the sites readers frequent the most to access my work.
So why so much emphasis on author websites? Because to build a house, you can’t skimp on its foundation or it will collapse. You can begin to grow your social media accounts, but if you don’t have a place to direct potential readers and industry professionals, it’s just a popular social media account. The link to your author website will be included on every social media platform you create; it’s a good idea to put some effort in.
In conclusion, investing a little time and energy into your author website is a good idea. Whether you invest a little capital or prefer to go the free route, having a place to direct people to your work is important. From there, you can start to build your social media presence.
Please consider subscribing to my For Indies newsletter to get Navigating Social Media As an Author, Part Two (with tips and tricks) delivered straight to your inbox. Soon, I will also be including indie author interviews along with these articles; I firmly believe that our community stays strong when we help each other grow. I’m looking forward to gaining more insight into how different indie authors market their books, and I'm excited to share even more marketing tips with all of you.
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