Ready to build your author website? Wondering about content?
Your author website will tell readers and potential readers who you are, what your niche is and what separates you from the other authors out there.
Here are the must-haves (or, in some cases, nice-to-haves) for a site that will wow editors and readers:
• All about you. Somewhere on your site—whether it’s the front page or an “About Me” page—should be a bio that lets editors and readers know who you are and that you’ve got the goods. On the main page of my site, give a brief roundup of what you offer, from articles to e-courses, with links to the relevant pages. Your brief bio should also appear on the “Media” page.
• Your contact information. Don’t forget to tell people how they can contact you. If the content on your site is appealing to an editor or publisher but they can’t easily find your contact information, that’s bad. A dedicated contact page is important. Repeat that information on the home page. An e-mail address or e-mail form is the minimum you should provide. You can include your phone number as well. Google voice offers one number that can ring your office and cell phones while hiding your real numbers.
• A picture of you. While not obligatory, a photo is a nice perk to include on your site. If possible, have the photo was professionally done.
• A press page. If you’re selling a book, a press page can make it easy for the media to spread the word about you and your product. At a minimum you want your book announcement press release, some biographical information about the author, a graphic of the book cover and a headshot.
• Testimonials. Testimonials and reviews can give you even more credibility than you naturally have. How to get them? Ask! Your favorite editors will likely be flattered that you asked them for a testimonial. If it’s a book you’re plugging, include positive reviews you’ve garnered; An “Ask the Author” section for example.
• Samples of your work. To pique editors’ and readers’ interest, include sample chapters, your table of contents or clips of your articles. You can display clips in different ways: as text on your site, as downloadable PDF or Microsoft Word files, as links to online articles or even as password-protected documents so only the people you choose get a peek. We recommend having at least some of your clips as text-only on your website, as this gives search engines more text to scan (so you may come up higher in search results); also, some editors may not like spending the time to open a downloadable clip. In addition, avoid having too many links to outside sites, as the links may change and turn up an error message when editors click them.
• Buying 411. If you’re selling a book, be sure to have a way people can snap it up right then and there, whether it’s through a form on your site or a link to your book’s page on Amazon.com.
• Personality. Included in the bio of your website, include some fun, quirky information. For example, “A former spelling bee champion, he does the NY crossword daily and hasn’t missed a word yet.” Don’t be afraid to let your personality show on your website.