A short post with big implications: the tricky issue of managing your indie author website. ALLi's blog editor Debbie Young shares a gentle reminder to self-publishing writers to keep their websites fresh, evergreen and relevant to the status of your indie author career, whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced, and whether or not they blog.
It's a truth universally acknowledged that an indie author seeking to connect with readers and promote his or her self-published book needs a website at the hub of all his or her book marketing and promotion.
There are plenty of website solutions out there, many of them free at entry-level. Thanks to the likes of WordPress.com (as opposed to the chargeable WordPress.org) and Blogger, you literally do not have to spend a penny to launch an author website.
No self-publishing author has any excuse not to have at least some form of web presence on the internet.
It's also received wisdom that it's best to have a website that you can manage yourself, even if someone else sets it up for you, so that you have no obstacles to keeping it up to date and to regularly adding new material.
Reasons to Keep Tweaking Your Author Website
One reason for regularly updating your website is to make it look desirable to search engines, which are geared to ignore static sites, on the assumption that someone who never changes their website doesn't have much of interest to say.
Another important reason is that your writing career doesn't stay static – and if it does, you're probably doing it wrong! Websites will naturally evolve alongside your writing career, if you let them.
Blogging is Not the Only Way
The obvious way to add new material to your website is to write a blog. Although as Commissioning Editor of this blog, I'm clearly going to be pro-blogs, but I recognise that not every author wants to write a blog, especially those who are pressed for time and want to direct all their writing hours into their books.
But deciding against blogging doesn't preclude you from continuing to hone your website.
What Else Should Be Changed?
So take a fresh look at your website every so often to see if it needs an overhaul. It's frightening how quickly a website can get out of date.
Make a date in your diary, once a month or even once a quarter to methodically visit every page and check it's still giving a true reflection of your writing career and doing justice to your current status. Consider whether it's now time for:
- a new theme/design
- a new section, e.g. for different genres that you've started writing
- new photos of you at events or other illustrations to add
- new book cover images to replace old ones
- new social media connections to add
- new reviews of your back catalogue of books
- future events just booked to add to your calendar
- a different strapline to the one you started out with
- new features or apps become available to add greater functionality
- a different platform, e.g. moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org
Two Quick Case Studies
I must have used at least seven different themes in the seven years I've had my own author website. Meanwhile its header has changed from “Young By Name” (I launched it as a blog of a column of that name I was writing for a local magazine) through various changes to “Debbie Young's Writing Life” to the current version “Debbie Young – Author of the Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries – and so much more!” I've also changed the URL umpteen times to reflect what I thought people might search for. I'm sticking with www.authordebbieyoung.com for now, at least!
Scottish novelist Wendy Jones says “I set up my blog before I was a writer. It was a book review blog. It naturally evolved into a reading and writing blog.” Hers now runs under the heading “Home of Wendy H Jones – Scottish Crime Writer“.
Where to Start?
If you think you need a new look or fresh content for your author website, it's easy to find inspiration – just make a list of the authors you admire most in your genre (no matter whether or not they are self-published), and trawl through their websites, listing your likes, dislikes, would likes, and must haves.
An indie author's website is never done – and that's both a blessing and a curse. Because while it means it'll always be on your to-do list, it's never too late to change it – unlike your work in progress!
OVER TO YOU Are there any specific changes you've made to your website that have made a big difference to its popularity? Do you have any top tips to share on how to revamp your author website? Please join the conversation!Is it time to revamp your author website? And do you really need to? @DebbieYoungBN discusses Click To Tweet
OTHER THOUGHTFUL POSTS ABOUT BLOGGING FOR INDIE AUTHORS – FROM THE ALLi ARCHIVE