Your website may be pretty as can be, but without the right elements, it won’t serve you as an author. Fortunately, a few simple additions can draw the right eyes.
The first place prospective readers, agents, and publishers experience your writing may be via your website. How you introduce yourself must showcase your unique voice and style. It’s a bio, but it’s also a monologue. Have fun with your website’s basic content. Short paragraphs about your life, services, and previous work are only boring if you write like they are.
A writer’s portfolio targets two audiences: the prospective reader and industry professionals. Your portfolio should be easily-accessible via links when possible. An extremely brief summary for every entry (for example: YA fantasy novel, published 2009, Fictional Press) helps both audiences skim through your work for material in which they may have an interest.
Agents and publishers want to see how much you’re producing, what audiences you’ve sold your work to in the past, and how well you represent yourself online.
Readers want more stories.
Make work easy to find in your portfolio with categories and clear organization. Maybe you have all your short story links together, listed in alphabetical order, or maybe you list your novels by publishing date. Whatever method you choose, keep it consistent.
Do you have reviews? Whether they’ve been printed in the local paper or shared on Goodreads, reviews attract more readers. We all like someone else to take risks on our behalf, and a reviewer can essentially give a wider audience the thumbs up. Coast is clear. Book is fun. Have a read, the water’s fine.
If you have reviews for most of your projects, I recommend linking/quoting them in your portfolio. Even one or two can do a lot of good, though. If you get a gleaming review from a regular book blog, critic, or c-list internet celebrity, go ahead and incorporate that quote into your home page. A separate reviews page is better than nothing, and prospective agents may appreciate it.
Your social media links serve as your most important contact details in most scenarios. Readers want to follow you for updates. Agents want to see how well you tweet.
Unless you have a secretary, you probably shouldn’t list a phone number. You’ll get a lot of robo-calls from spammers and very few (if any) professional connections.
You should post a professional email address. It doesn’t have to fancy, and it doesn’t need to cost money, but it has to be clean and professional. Google email accounts are free and easy to manage. Your penname is the best way to go, but you can also use your series’ or novel’s title.
If you want your website to turn up in search engine results, you need content. The easiest way to do this is to keep a blog. That doesn’t mean kissing your weekends goodbye, though. Simply posting a short blog once a week – or even once a month – will help keep your site SEO-friendly.
As for topics: do what you do best. Do you travel a lot, have tips for indie writers, or write historical fiction? Post those travel shots, give the newbies a boost, or share some bizarre history. If you bring your love of gardening to your writing, by all means, bring it to the blog, too. Pets are always in vogue, and if you don’t know what to write, remember there are always other writers craving reviews of their own work.
The most important element in a great author’s website is this: editing. Make sure you have no typos, errors, or broken links. Triple check everything and then consider paying a couple other people to go over it, too. At the very least, have friends and family give it a once-over before you start sharing the link. Poor editing will send agents running and make prospective readers second guess your work’s quality.
Have you ever seen a particularly great author’s website? What did it feature? Did you sign up for a newsletter or email list? Share your insights below!