Write It Sideways

10 Ways to Improve Your Author Website

Today’s post is written by JP Jones, author of Market Yourself: A Beginner’s Guide to Social Media. Thanks JP!

Unfortunately, I have met a lot of authors who frown upon the idea of having their own website. They seem to think if they’ve already written a book, they have done the hard part.

It’s my job to break the news that their work is just beginning.

I’m in a unique position to do that, owning both a publishing company and a website company (insert shameless self-promotion here). However, when I work with my clients on their marketing strategy, I’m quick to tell them, as they say down south, that there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

Nowadays, having a website doesn’t necessarily mean having to sink a lot of money into it. Heck, it doesn’t even have to mean sinking any money into it, but it is one of the deciding factors in the success of an author.

When authors hear this, they immediately think that having a website will automatically increase their book sales. While it definitely gives a new avenue for readers to purchase the book, the site is most useful is in establishing the author as an expert in their field.

The site acts like a 24-hour employee. The only difference is, unlike their human counterparts, the site will always give the same information to every person. That information proves useful when conference or event hosts are wanting to research you as an author—see where you’ve been and what you’ve been up to.

As a result, there are definitely things you want to make sure you include in your website. Whether we are talking about a free site from WordPress or a professional website that’s been created for you—above all keep it current, keep it active, and keep it growing.

I’ve compiled a list of ten pieces of information you’ll want to be sure you add to your author website:

  1. A Synopsis of your Book(s). You are an author, after all, and people want to see what you’ve written about. Many authors simply list their books.
  2. Upcoming Book-Signings, Festivals and Events. Think you’re not doing anything important? It’s all about how you angle it. If you are giving a free speech at a senior center: list it. If you are attending a gala for a fellow author: list it. Nothing is too small to draw attention to as you work on building your speaking schedule.
  3. A Standard Press Release and Press Kit. Including a press release and your press kit allows news agencies, book stores and other PR outlets to get a feel for what you’re doing on your own to market your book.
  4. Chapter Excerpt(s). Don’t forget readers want to buy a book they are familiar with. Put your best foot forward, or in this case, your best and most captivating chapter on the website, available for reading.
  5. Honors, Affiliations and Awards. It’s very important that you build your credibility as an author by listing any honors you’ve received, affiliations, such as writers’ groups and clubs, and any awards your book has won.
  6. News and Updates. No matter what you’re doing as an author, chances are you’ve got several instances of news, updates and information that can be used to bring attention to the things you are actively doing. Some ideas include: book reviews, special site listings (Are you on PolkaDotBanner.com or Goodreads.com? If so, turn that into a news item.), published articles for magazines, etc. community outreach and book signings.
  7. Social Media Contacts. Are you on Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn? If not, you should be. And if you are, you should have opportunities for you readers to connect to you via them on your website.
  8. Readers’ Comments. Allow your readers to leave comments about your book, your news items or your speaking engagements. I strongly suggest that you moderate these comments.
  9. Contact Information. Whether you are trying to get speaking gigs or just sell books, it’s important to include valid contact information for your readers, bookstores and schedulers.
  10. Purchasing Options. Let’s not forget one of perhaps the most important things on any author’s website: the opportunity for others to purchase your book! Purchasing should always be handled securely for your buyers’ safety. You can even simply link to a listing on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, but make sure you give any site visitors the opportunity to buy your book.

Take this list and compare it to your current site. Use it as a checklist. For any items missing, create a strategy to fill in the gaps.

And if you don’t have a website, take a chance, launch into the deep and see what you’re missing!

JP Jones wears many hats. Among them are graphic designing, web designing, social media marketing, teaching, book publishing, blogging and writing.

The author of “Market Yourself: A Beginner’s Guide to Social Media,” JP is the owner of Paige1Media & Paige1Publishing, a graphic design firm and publishing company that work with domestic and international clients on projects ranging from basic logo development to magazine and book design. She also owns Collipsis Web Solutions, a website company that works closely with authors and is one of the founding hosts of a series of author conferences, “Life After Publishing,” dedicated to helping authors market their books. www.marketyourselfthebook.com|www.collipsis.com