Do You Really Need An Author Website?

Yes. Yes. Yes. The answer is always, yes. To my surprise there are still technophobic, or at the very least techno-reluctant, people in the world. Technology no longer lends itself exclusively as a resource to the “computer geeks” of Silicon Valley. Today, things like a website are a must for any brand, and you, dear author, are a brand. In order to reach as many readers as possible one of your best resources is an author website, and a modern one at that. Don’t freak out. You don’t need to know how to design, code, host, launch, and maintain your website. There are people with various computer science degrees to do that. However, you, as the CEO of your brand, need to play an integral role in creating your website.
So, how do you get started? First, you need to determine what content you are going to have on your website, and what you want it to feel/look like. Again, you don’t have to know specific language or terminology, but you have to be able to give your web designer some ideas.

Let’s start with content. Rob Eagar has some great examples of specific web pages you should have in his [amazon text=book&asin=159963421X], but let’s just focus on the general information for now.

  • Your website should clearly convey your brand, your value statements, and your expertise. You want viewers to know who you are, what value your books will bring to their lives, and why they should trust you. An author bio is a good place for this, as well as your homepage.
  • Offer a place for your fans to gather on your website. Things like forums or blogs are a good place for people to congregate and discuss what they love about your work.
  • Your website should offer valuable information for free. You don’t want to give everything away, but people like to know what they are buying before they put their money down; think of test driving a car.
  • Contact information. This is not just for your readers, but for anyone who might want to contact you: a media producer wanting to do an interview, a leader wanting you to come speak, another author wanting you to write an intro or guest blog. This is a must have for any website.
  • A calendar of events. You want to let people know where they can see you speak or watch your next interview.

Next, look at other author websites and see what you like and dislike about them. Look at their content, how they are set up, and the colors that were used. Your website should reflect who you are, and you are the best person to determine what that looks like.

Once you have the general content for your website, and a basic idea of how you want it to look, you can start to put the website together. Now, you have to be honest with yourself: do you have a good enough grasp of technology to set up the website yourself with the help of hosting and design services? If the answer is no, then you should invest in a professional web designer. It will cost between $3,000 and $6,000, maybe more depending on what you want. But, it is well worth it if you are techno-illiterate. You absolutely do not want your website to look homemade. Rob Eager has some great tips on choosing a web designer in his [amazon text=book&asin=159963421X]. Find the right one for you, and don’t look back. For a list of designers, contact Lucid Books at [email protected].

However, if you feel confident enough in your ability to use website design tools, then have a go at it on your own. Just remember, if at any point you feel overwhelmed by the process contact a professional. The investment is worth the reward a good website will bring.

If you decide to build your website yourself you will need to do the following:

  • Determine your domain name, ex. JaneDoe.com
  • Find a host site
  • Register your domain name. You can either do this with your host site, or find a site to independently register it for you. The former is the easiest.
  • Construct your website with a trusted web builder
  • Launch your website

If you need help finding reputable sites for the above tasks Amanda Luedeke of MacGregor Literary has reviews of some great options.

Whichever route you end up taking, the most important thing is that you have a well designed and well maintained website at the end of it. Make sure that the information is kept up-to-date and fresh. You should have new content on your website every month, at the very least. Your website is the portal of communication between you and the rest of the world. You want it to be informative and professional, but most of all you want it to express who you are and what value you bring to the world as an author.