Author Archives: Web Design Relief Staff

Design The Story Of Your Author Website: Beginning, Middle, End | Web Design Relief

 

An author website is the best long-term investment you can make for your writing career—it’s an online hub where readers can get to know you, buy your book, and engage with you. At Web Design Relief, we know your author website is where literary agents and press can access your credentials and see more of your writing. And it’s entirely yours to design as you wish!

You might be thinking, I’m a writer, not a tech-savvy website designer! But your creative writing skills can also help you create the perfect author website.

How To Write The Story Of Your Author Website

The Beginning:

Stories often are born from daydreams and musings, so take plenty of time to daydream about your website’s story, its “genre,” what you want it to convey. Will it be dark and serious like your gothic novels? Or light and breezy for your beach novels? Modern, romantic, or classically simple? (A dream board might help!)

Now that you have a vision, create an outline of your author website, just as you would a novel or short story. Elements might include a home page, a biography, a blog, writing excerpts, links to journals that have published your poems or short stories, links to social media, a way to purchase your book, news and events, and a press materials page.

Do a little research and visit other author websites to see what works, what doesn’t, and what appeals to you most strongly. Dig a little deeper and learn the best way to choose a domain name  and what new features and apps are out there. The more knowledgeable you are about the process, the easier it will be to set some concrete goals. Armed with a detailed outline, you can lay out a to-do list (with deadlines!) and get started.

The Middle:

While it may not be fair, the truth is that a sloppy, unappealing author website screams out to visitors that your writing is probably sloppy and unappealing too. (Read more about how to make a great first impression.) So whether you plan to create your own author website, start to finish, or rely on experts to design (and maintain) it for you, it’s key to reach out to the right people to help you design an easy-to-navigate site that truly reflects your professional, creative side.

And just as you would diligently edit and proof your creative writing before sending it out into the world, each element of your author website should be checked and double-checked before the site goes live. Make sure trusted friends and colleagues have tested it, and listen to their feedback. Is the site hard to use? Frustrating or annoying in any way? You’ll want to fix these problems before the Big Launch.

The End:

Brand-new restaurants often hold “soft” openings, when they open the doors but do no promotion. It’s a slow start that allows you time to test , make adjustments, and discover weak areas before the big opening. When your writer website goes live, you’ll have the same benefits of a soft opening—this is your chance to test and tweak. You can slowly let people know about the new site and have a “grand opening” later, when you feel everything’s perfect.

Anxious to get started? Skip the soft opening and make your author website launch a Virtual Event! Use social media to generate excitement, or hold a real-life party with friends, family, and other writers.

Whatever approach you choose, launching your new author website is a big step toward building your author brand. Here’s a step-by-step guide.

To ensure that the story of your website has a great “happily ever after” ending, Web Design Relief can help design, create, and maintain the best author website for you. Learn more: What’s Your Story? Tell It On Your Author Platform!

 

Question: Did you design your own author website? What was the hardest part?

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The 5 Essential Pages You Need On Your Author Website—Decoded | Web Design Relief

An author website is a central hub for your books and your writing. Here, you’ll reinforce your brand, encourage sales, offer exclusive content, make major announcements, interact with your fans, and build your audience. The tech experts at Web Design Relief know that designing such an important centerpiece can be intimidating. Yet with just five essential pages, you can achieve all those goals.

The 5 Pages Every Author Website Needs

Inviting Homepage

When potential fans find their way to your website, the homepage is what they see first. Although you might be tempted to jam-pack it with as much information as possible, a clean, uncluttered, smartly directed homepage works best.

A well-designed homepage will:

Informative Author Page

Readers adore inside information about the authors whose books they love. The “About Me” or author page is an opportunity for a writer to show some personality. Rather than posting a dry bio, consider these options:

  • Include a Q&A where the interviewer is one of your characters.
  • Post candid photos that reveal your hobbies, travels, garden, artwork, or pets.
  • If you’re comfortable with being filmed, include a video introducing yourself and your books.
  • Tell your life story—or how your interest in writing began—in funny, moving, or otherwise enthralling anecdotes.
  • Encourage engagement by including a Call To Action to join your mailing list, engage with you on social media, or subscribe to your blog.
  • List upcoming public events.

Your Publications List

How you design this page (or these pages) depends on how many books you have written or how many publication credits you have.

For an author with only a few publications or books, a single page may be all that’s needed. For a book author with a series, or multiple series, a page that lists the books in order and delineates any links between them is an absolute necessity. Very prolific authors may want to design a page with a full book list that has clickable links to send readers to specific pages for more information.

For books, be sure to include:

Contact Page

When a reader selects this page, she or he wants to send you a message. A contact page should provide a form that is linked to your author email address, so that any questions come directly to you without your visitor having to leave the webpage.

A contact page also serves as another opportunity to remind readers of all the ways they can connect with you:

  • Delineate the perks of joining your mailing list
  • Reveal what you do that’s special on social media (Do you live-Tweet The Walking Dead? Do monthly contests or giveaways on your Facebook page?)
  • Encourage them to subscribe to your blog to receive breaking news

Your Blog

A website can function perfectly well without a blog. But if you’re an effective blogger, an active blog can raise your website’s SEO, your profile, and attract more subscribers. For those authors who contemplate blogging with a weary sigh, consider easing the pressure by using your website blog page just for cover reveals, book launch announcements, holiday greetings, or even a travelogue.

Effective website design combines technical proficiency with an artist’s eye—so, unfortunately, there are plenty of ways that amateur website design can go terribly wrong. Authors can limit mistakes by thinking long and hard about branding, determining exactly what you want the website to do, and hiring a professional designer whose work you’ve researched and admired.

 

Question: When you visit an author’s website, what do you usually look for? A list of books? The latest news? A blog post? Details about the author?

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10 Places To Advertise Your Book—And Should You? | Web Design Relief

Writers who self-publish—and even those who contract with traditional publishing houses—often dream of a big ROI (return on investment) for paid book advertising. So first, Web Design Relief presents the options available for advertising your book in hopes of reaching more readers and increasing book sales.

And then we’ll let you in on one of the publishing industry’s biggest secrets.

10 Places To Advertise Your Book To Reach Book Readers

Goodreads advertisements. Goodreads is a social media site just for book lovers, and it offers writers the opportunity to bid for ads placed next to books in their genre. For example, a casual reader searching for the newest big hit thriller novel might also see a small ad for your thriller.

Social media ads. Facebook and Twitter have their own specific ways of reaching audiences through targeted, paid ads. To make the most of these opportunities, it’s important to have a thorough understanding of the nuances of each particular platform.

Amazon sponsored links. If your book meets Amazon’s criteria, you may be eligible to advertise your book so that it appears when users search for other people’s books or books in a specific genre.

Reader and reviewer blogs. For an example of a vibrant reader/reviewer blog that offers paid ads, check out Fresh Fiction.This blog connects readers and writers to the benefit of all.

Google Ad words. Google is able to target certain products to certain customers based on browsing history; writers pay by the click (PPC ads).

Reader email lists. BookBub, Shelf Awareness, Author Buzz, Buzzing About Books, and other lists reach millions of voracious readers every day. But do your research—some require that books meet certain criteria before they are eligible for promotion.

Local newspapers. Old-fashioned advertising can be effective, especially if the book that’s being advertised has regional connections.

Writing group conference SWAG (Stuff We All Get). Writers can often sponsor conference tote bags, notepads, luncheons, etc.

Trade organization publications. Writing associations like AWP and RWA create nationally distributed periodicals that offer ad space. But you might have to be a member to advertise your book.

Paid mass mailings. Some book publicists cultivate large mailing lists (email and snail mail) in order to promote their clients. Some people regard the success rate of well-targeted snail mail to be higher than an equal number of sent emails—but the costs are much higher.

Does It Work? The Truth About Paying For Book Advertising

Ever wonder why cars, mops, and cosmetics are regularly advertised, but it’s rare to encounter a book advertisement? One of the most notorious secrets of marketing in the publishing world is this: Many book publicists believe that advertising can raise awareness—but will not necessarily lead to book sales.

To put it more bluntly: Advertising can make people aware that your book is available, but it won’t necessarily make people want to buy.

Some major publishers will back a title with a big awareness campaign, usually involving a huge print run of advance reader copies (ARCs) to reviewers, in hopes of generating some buzz. But most traditional publishers listen for word-of-mouth sales before they make a major investment in awareness-building ads.

So what does this mean to authors? Generally, the most powerful way to build books sales is to garner great reviews online and to nab coveted person-to-person book recommendations among groups of readers.

Click to learn more about how to increase your odds of drumming up organic word-of-mouth book sales.

 

Question: Do you think advertising helps book sales?

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What Is A Call To Action? And How Does It Work For Writers? | Web Design Relief

When you research ways to market yourself as a writer, you’ll run across experts who talk about creating a strong call to action. But what is a call to action? And what does it mean for creative writers who want to build their reputations and sell books? Let’s take a look. Web Design Relief Explains… Continue Reading

Introduction to Medium: Can It Help Promote Your Writing? | Web Design Relief

At Web Design Relief, we’re always on the lookout for new, online ways that writers can build their reputations and gain more fans. One online platform that’s been steadily gaining interest is called Medium. Writers Ask: What Is Medium? Launched in 2012, Medium is an online blogging platform developed by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams. Instead… Continue Reading

6 Web Design No-Nos For Your Author Website | Web Design Relief

At Web Design Relief, we can’t stress this enough: Your author website is your online business card—your online identity for your fans and potential readers. Do you want it to be uniquely “you” and show your personality? Yes. Does that mean you should fill each nook and cranny with colors, special effects, and every thought… Continue Reading

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