If you’re an unpublished writer (or a writer with only a few publishing credits), you may think an author website is an extravagance you don’t need. But you couldn’t be more wrong—an author website is the modern-day equivalent of your business card! If your fans, potential new readers, and literary editors and agents want to know more about you and your writing, the first place they are going to look is the Internet. When they type your name in the search engine, what will they find if you don’t have an author website?
Okay, you say, but I haven’t published a single word, so my author website is going to be pretty sad-looking. Not so! At Web Design Relief, we’ve created websites for well-published authors and newbie writers, so we know the tips and strategies that will make your author website—and you—shine.
How To Have An Impressive Author Website Even If You’re Unpublished
There’s more to a writer bio than just writing. Your experience as a writer is not defined solely by your list of publishing credits. There are many other ways you can pack the author bio on your website with noteworthy accomplishments. Use your website to talk about writing conferences you’ve attended, creative writing classes you’ve taken, or editing and proofreading jobs you’ve had! List any writing groups or organizations that you belong to—this demonstrates an ongoing commitment to improving your craft. Every writing-related experience can help boost your credibility as an emerging writer. Check out the best ways to network at writers conferences.
Use a current, professional-quality headshot. Nothing screams amateur louder than a blurry headshot or an old photo of you wearing a leisure suit or a sweater with giant shoulder pads. If you want to be viewed as an author, dress and look the part. You don’t have to be stodgy and unsmiling in your photo—a little personality is a good thing! But a professional headshot is an investment that shows your website visitors you are serious about writing and boosts your online presence from newbie to “pre-published.” Here’s why a headshot is considered a must-have for any author.
You don’t have to follow the crowd. Resist the urge to use common themes and layouts in your author website—this is your time to shine! Let your design choices speak to your creativity and reflect your genre. Each element of your website, from fonts to color choices, can be used to make an impression on your visitors. Are you a horror writer? Skip a minimalist, modern theme in favor of a creepy typeface and eerie effects. Romance writer? Let visitors swoon over alluring script fonts and come-hither images.
By using design elements, images, widgets, and textures that represent you and your work, you’ll easily make your author website uniquely yours.
Creating an author website that stands out in a crowd doesn’t mean spending tens of thousands of dollars. We get it—you’re just starting out and haven’t signed a big six-figure publishing contract (yet!). But you can still have a quality website on a budget.
Give your visitors a taste. You may not be published, but you certainly have works in progress or pieces that haven’t been scooped up yet. Sharing excerpts of your book, a paragraph of your short story, or a line or two from a poem can give readers a taste of your content and style. So even if your work is not yet published, you can begin to establish a reader base!
Important caveat: Be aware work published on your own author website is still considered previously published. Most editors of literary journals are not interested in previously published work. One solution: Only post pieces that are specifically written for your blog and that you are not going to try to get published elsewhere. Authors publishing book excerpts have a little more leeway, but still tread carefully.
Remember, even the most famous, best-selling authors were once unpublished beginners too! Having an author website will show potential fans and interested agents and editors that you’re serious about your writing career and that you are a writer to watch. And when you DO get that first writing credit…and the next…and the next…you’ll have a website where you can post links and the good news!
Question: Which author website is your favorite? Tell us why in the comments section!