7 Author Website Lessons From Query Letters

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When you’re ready to query literary agents with your book project, it’s important to already have an author website in place. After all—what’s the next step that a literary agent will take after reading an interesting query letter? Visiting the author’s official website to learn more, of course!

There are many elements of an effective, well-composed query letter that can be applied to your author website to ensure your visitors get the information you want them to have in the best possible way.

Query Letter-Inspired Strategies For Your Author Website

Put your most important information on the first page (your homepage). If a literary agent or editor is only going to spend one minute on your website, be sure visitors see the most vital details right away. But don’t overwhelm the page with every detail of your pitch—instead, highlight the key elements and tempt agents to follow links to learn more. Mention your writing awards, integrate a live social media feed, and feature your headshot. Remember to focus on your homepage’s essential call to action.

Match the tone of your text to your author brand. Just like the tone of a good query letter matches the tone of the book it’s pitching, the tone of your author website should match the tone of your writing.

WOW visitors with your author bio. Agents check out the author bio part of a query letter to get a sense of a potential client’s skill, experience, and dedication to craft—and they will do the same on your author website. You’ll also get some visitors looking for a good book to enjoy who will stop by your website and check out your author bio to determine if your writing is worth reading. To learn more about how to write a killer author bio (how to list your publishing credits and awards, or how to get around not having any), visit our free Publishing Tool Kit.

Use an uncluttered design. Good query letters avoid having unnecessary bells and whistles, and so should good websites. You don’t have to be a minimalist (unless you want to!); but make considered, practical choices when choosing which elements to include on a single Web page.

Choose simple fonts. Literary agents like to read queries fast—in print and online. If your fonts are too big, too small, or just too difficult to read, visitors will quickly bounce off your site and onto someone else’s.  So choose fonts, colors, and backgrounds that facilitate easy reading.

Write good Web copy. Literary agents often give query letters a quick skim, then—if they are interested—they’ll go back and read more thoroughly. Your website text should be easy to skim as well. Don’t have big blocks of text that readers will refuse to wade through. And be sure to use effective SEO keywords and include links.

Be easy to contact. In a query letter, you always include your contact information front and center. And on your author website, you should make it simple for publishers, literary agents, and readers to contact you—but it’s important not to give away too much personal information. Find out how to be easy to contact and safe at the same time.

Remember: Maximize The Potential Of Your Author Website

The amount of information you can offer literary agents in your query letter is limited to a single page—which is why having an author website is so critical. With your author website, you can paint a more detailed picture of who you are and what you write. Be sure to include your website info in your query letter so literary agents and editors can visit it to learn more about you.

QUESTION: What other elements do you think are important to have on your website when querying literary agents?

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