Building Your Author Platform: 8 Essential Elements for Your Author Website

So, you’ve set up your author website. Now what in the world do you put on it? First and foremost, know that it is your website. Your brand is unique to you, and there is no cookie-cutter model that will fit it perfectly. Only you can determine what features and content should fill your author website.

That being said, there are a few elements that I strongly suggest every author include. I will keep this post relatively simple and expand on some of these features in later posts. This is simply a “what” and brief “why” post — not a “how” tutorial.

1. Author Head Shot

Your readers want to connect with you, and nothing does that quite like seeing your face. Don’t worry — this doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Simply find or take a photograph of yourself that focuses on your face. It should be clear (high resolution) and cohesive with your brand. For example, romance authors may want to look dressy and sophisticated, while thriller authors may want a more brooding, black and white photo. You can read a more thorough post on this topic here.

2. Author Biography

You can read a detailed post on writing and placing your author biography(ies) here. However, no matter how much research you do, make sure you say something about yourself on your author website. Your biography can be written however you like, but it should definitely include: your publications/writing experience, any relevant education, and/or something personal about yourself.

3. Your Books or Works-In Progress

If you already have published books, fantastic! Make sure to advertise them! Include your book cover, book description, and links to purchase your books everywhere they are available. You never know where your reader may want to buy, and only including “big names” like Amazon could limit your market. Likewise, I strongly suggest allowing your readers to buy directly from your site. You cut out the middleman and keep 100% of the royalties yourself this way.

If you do not have published books yet, don’t worry! At the time of this writing, I don’t either! Instead, share the title of your work-in-progress, its genre, a short description, its production stage, and/or an estimated release date. Informing your readers about what is coming builds anticipation and creates a connection even before your creative product hits the shelves.

4. Email List/Newsletter Sign Up

You should have an email list. Seriously, it is your best marketing tool as an author. For more on why you need an email list, read this post. Make sure to include a link or widget to allow readers to sign up for your newsletter. If they are on your site, they probably want to hear more from you, and reaching them directly will be key to building relationships and generating sales.

5. Social Media Links & Widgets

Social media is a great way to craft an identity for your author brand and get in touch with your readers. There is so much to be said about what social media sites to use and the best way to use them (more to come). However, when you do commit to social media sites, make sure that it is easy for your readers to A) find you on them, B) see what you are doing on them, and C) share your content on them all from your website.

6. Contact Information

At some point, your readers will want to contact you. Maybe they want to tell you how much they love your book, maybe they want to tell you about a typo, maybe they want to offer a guest post on your site. Whatever the reason, make sure they know how to do it. Being accessible will make you likable and probably be a lot of fun for you, too!

7. Testimonials/Reviews

If you offer a service, make sure to have testimonials from previous clients on your author website. After all, knowing you offer editing services and seeing John Doe rave about your editing services create two drastically different impressions in the minds of your readers and potential clients. Likewise, knowing that you have a book on the market and seeing that other readers judged your book “Brilliant!” “Fantastic!” “The best YA book I’ve ever read!” give two incredibly different messages.

8. Content (Preferably lots and a variety)

If your author website never changes, readers will view it twice (the first time and once again to look for updates) and never return. Moreover, if you only ever update when you have a book for sale, readers will feel you are just a salesperson and never check your site. You have to figure out what works for you. Some authors blog, some vlog, some post interviews, some share book reviews, some write stories and poems. Whatever you decide, figure out content that you can put out consistently that is relevant to your reader and cohesive with your brand. As with other topics, more on this in a later post.

Remember, as I wrote at the beginning of this post, ultimately, your author website simply needs to work for you, your brand, and most importantly, your readers. Think carefully about which of these features you would like to include and how you can tailor them to your unique website. And, of course, have fun with it!


For more on building your author platform, click here.

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31 thoughts on “Building Your Author Platform: 8 Essential Elements for Your Author Website

  1. Whitney says:

    I have a question about the email/newsletter thing. Doesn’t WordPress already come with the option of sending emailed posts to followers/subscribers? Or would you suggest something like MailChimp on top of that? Because some writers like you just have their posts sent out via email then a newsletter on top of that. How does that work?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate M. Colby says:

      Great question, Whitney! The option WordPress provides is for subscribers to have your blog posts emailed to them. So anything that is posted on your blog will be sent directly to them.

      An email newsletter is separate from blog posts. It contains information not found on your blog (or for writers without a blog, it can function like one). It is generally assumed that readers who sign up for your email list are “superfans” who want to know more about you and what you do. For example, some writers use their email lists to find beta readers and send out advance review copies, because these readers are more regular and connected than their general blog audience. Likewise, most professional authors only try to “sell” their products to their email list and use their blog for more passive marketing and building relationships.

      Personally, I suggest an email list (through MailChimp or Aweber) on top of a blog. I use my mail list to provide samples of my works-in-progress, more in-depth updates, and additional tips and resources.

      Sorry for the long reply! I hope that answers your questions!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. C.E.Robinson says:

    Kate, thanks for the great information. I wondered about the separate email list, and now I know. Not ready for that right now so I have a separate category for WIP books. Posting a few beginning chapters (even though drafts at this time) on my blog site to get an idea of reader interest. Enjoy your writing! Christine

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amanda J. Richter says:

    Wonderful post! I look forward to some more of the in-depth advice you have, especially around newsletters and email lists. I know they are important but I’m not sure how to effectively start and utilize one- outside of the basic “you get to see when my blog posts go up” thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate M. Colby says:

      Thanks, Amanda! I’m no expert on email lists yet either, but mine seems to function well enough for a beginning author. I’ll try to address this topic soon (and provide lots of good resources), as it seems to be one that inspires a lot of curiosity and interest.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. mike bernsten says:

    I am in the process of building mine. The thing about online projects is that it can be difficult to keep it going. Sometimes, a person is fine for even a year but then one day feels like it isn’t worth it.
    Content is sometimes hard to dream up and we all get burned-out feeling. But it looks so nasty when you return to your own site and see the last post was from a few months ago.
    I think it is good to add an amount of content but then give yourself a break but do continue to add more regularly.
    Maybe my views are wrong to the experts, but whatever keeps a person going is more important than doing nothing.
    Hope I made some sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate M. Colby says:

      You do make sense, Mike. I agree completely. As an author, it is important to have some form of online presence, but you definitely have to balance what is worth your time, money, etc. and what you have the energy to take on. Finding that line is difficult, but as you say, some level of consistency (whether it is posting once a day, once a week, or even just once a month) is important. My best advice is to keep a running log of ideas to (hopefully) keep yourself inspired and provide you with some form of content when you don’t feel that inspired.

      Best of luck with your online platform!

      Like

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