If you’re an author, you should have an author website. The first place everybody turns to get information about you is Google, so you want your own little corner of it to pop up in that search. It’s nice to know that you can control at least some of the narrative, right? If anything web-related is scary, fear not. You can build your own author website with relatively little time, money, and know-how.
Remember the Goal of Your Author Website
The goal of a website is to sell books, collect email addresses from interested parties, and let people know what you write. The first two are the most important, but they’re facilitated by a clean, organized site. Look at some of your favorite author sites, or even just your favorite webpages, and study them critically. What do you like or dislike about them?
The best sites appear simple. They are clear, clean, and have simple navigation. Remember the goal. It’s to sell books and collect email addresses. Make sure those two points are easy to find. I think navigation at the top of the screen makes sense because that’s where people look for it. Otherwise, the sky is the limit. But if you’re doing this yourself, don’t go for the sky. Go for simple but find some author sites you like to work with as a template.
Reserve Your Web Address
The first step in building a site is to find an address for it. The best author website address is your name (or your pen name). Don’t use your book title or series title because ideally you’ll write way more than that! Use your name so readers can find you no matter what you write.
You’ll need to purchase your web address, and you can do so on a few sites like godaddy.com, Iwantmyname.com, among others. Here is a site that reviews various domain name registrars, so you can decide for yourself.
Be mindful that many domain names get purchased by groups who want to go on to scalp them later for a higher price. Or, someone else might have the same name as you and already reserved it. If this happens, you could always add “books” or “writes” or “author” after your name. You will also be offered various domain name extensions like .us, .org, .me, or .net (among others). If you want to use this, you can, but keep in mind that most people automatically type in .com, so using a different extension could hurt your traffic.
Find a Host
Once you have your domain name, you’ll need to find a place to host your site. All of the data, images, text, etc, have to be held somewhere, and you’ll need to pay a web hosting company to keep your files and make them available to the public. The oldest and best-known host is godaddy.com. You can also register your name with them, and their directions for site hosting and web building are pretty easy to follow. I’ve used them before, and I’m no computer genius, believe me. I’ll say that some people quibble about various issues with them, and I don’t know enough about it to make a blanket recommendation. Let’s let the good people over at Tech Radar give you the ins and the outs of various hosting companies here.
Choose a Platform to Create the Site
Now that you have a name and a host, I’ve got bad news. You still don’t have a website! But don’t worry. There are many platforms out there that enable you to build a site in a step-by-step process using free or relatively inexpensive templates to do so. WordPress is what most people use, so why recreate the wheel? They have many themes, fonts, setups, and features that you can use to make the site you want. Don’t worry. You don’t need to know any .html to upload your photo, chooses a background, link to your books, and ask for people’s email addresses. It’s fairly user friendly.
The main thing with an author webpage is to not get intimidated. If you have the extra cash, by all means, hire someone to help you. But all of these steps are straightforward, and you are capable of following them. You don’t need an extensive or elaborate site to accomplish what you want: inviting readers to get to know you, your writing, and buy your books! Happy building.