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Author Website Checklist

No two author websites look the same, but they all share a few common characteristics. Generally, author websites have to fill four needs. An author site needs to tell visitors:

  • what an author has written,
  • who the author is,
  • how to contact the author, and
  • what the author is writing next.

Before you launch your author site, here’s a quick checklist to make sure you have all the parts you need.

  1. Author bio – Have you posted a bio on your site, and does it include a photo? Readers want to know more about you, which is why you should post a bio on your site. You should include a photo as well as details about how you got into writing, what you do for fun, and other personal info.
  2. Books – People can’t become your fans if they don’t know about your books, and if you don’t list your books on your site they will never find out That’s why you should create a listing page for each of your books, and while you’re at it  a directory page and series summary.
  3. Mailing list – Your fans will want to hear from you when your next book is out, so you should give them the chance to sign up for your mailing list. Don’t forget to offer a freebie to anyone who signs up.
  4. Contact page – People need to be able to reach you so organizers can invite you to events, fans tell you they love your books,  and bloggers can ask about ARCs. That’s why you should have a contact page with a contact form and your email address.
  5. Social media – Have you added links to all your social media accounts? (It’s okay if you don’t have any, but you should link to the ones you do have.)
  6. Events – Have you added a calendar or some other way for fans to know when and where they can meet you?
  7. Home page – Your home page is the first thing new visitors will see, and you never get a second chance to make a first impression. That’s why your home page should tell visitors who you are, and include either a call to action or the cover of your most recent book (or both).

You don’t need to check off all the items on this list, although it would be a good idea to include all the details you think will be useful or important to your site’s visitors.

image by Amy Guth

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Maria (BearMountainBooks) October 5, 2017 um 12:18 pm

Aw, come on, Nate! Link to some good ones!
The contact is critical. I see authors all the time not have contact info listed. I post bargains and interviews or just guest posts on my blog every single week. Just last week, for the 1000th time, I tried to contact an author after a reader suggested his work. His website is horribly out of date and the contact info is probably defunct because he never replied. I’d say around half the authors I try to contact either don’t have contact info at all or don’t respond. Some apparently assume a FB page is enough–but FB is notorious for not passing along messages in a reasonable manner. They often put message from "non-friends" in a bucket that is never seen. Be easy to find and easy to contact.

Nate Hoffelder October 5, 2017 um 12:24 pm

"Aw, come on, Nate! Link to some good ones!"

Honestly? I accidentally clicked the wrong button earlier, and didn’t notice until it was too late. (I didn’t think this post was ready. )

Nate Hoffelder October 5, 2017 um 1:17 pm

"Some apparently assume a FB page is enough–but FB is notorious for not passing along messages in a reasonable manner."

AHA! So this doesn’t only happen with my messages. That is good to know.

Author Website Checklist | The Passive Voice | A Lawyer's Thoughts on Authors, Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing October 5, 2017 um 12:38 pm

[…] Link to the rest at The Digital Reader […]

Mike Hall October 5, 2017 um 2:03 pm

How about things authors shouldn’t do like having a pop up asking you to subscribe to their newsletter which hits you in the face as soon as you arrive at their website? I like to see a sign up link on every page (top right hand corner is good) but never anything that gets in the way of my accessing the site.

Anne October 5, 2017 um 2:47 pm

I’m going to add the following-
A printable list of books
Links to where they’re available to buy.

I’m also going to stress Nate’s point of a well organized, easy to understand menu. I can’t think of anything on an author’s site that should be more than one click away from front page except maybe the individual books in a series.

I’m at your website for information regarding your books and to a lesser degree, you the author. If you make it easy for me to find the information I want and if your links include one to my preferred retailer, your odds of a sale to me are increased.

Forget the cute stuff and go easy on the graphics. If you have to have your cats on your site somewhere, keep it to the bio page. I say this as a cat lover.

I find it hard to take someone who thinks a FB page is enough seriously. FB owns/controls that page, not you and they’re putting their best interest first. I’d say that to every business owner, not just writers.

Mike has a good point about the popups. If you have to have them, make them pop up in a bottom corner. Having to close it before I can get to your well organized menu is just one more click to get to the information I’m looking for.

Harvey Stanbrough October 6, 2017 um 7:09 am

Did you publish an earlier version of this article? I saw that the extended URL included "author-website-checklist-2" and wondered. I often share your articles (as I’m sharing this one) with readers of my Daily Journal, so I just wondered.

Nate Hoffelder October 6, 2017 um 10:29 am

Not sure how that happened. There was a snafu where this piece went up before I was done, but I don’t think that would affect the URL.

Harvey October 6, 2017 um 11:20 am

Ah, okay. Thanks. Like I said, I just wondered. If so, I was going to check the earlier post against the latter, just for my own knowledge.

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