Whether you sell books directly on your website or use it as a referral site to Amazon or another retailer, your website should be a one-stop shop for readers who want to know about you and your writing.
Your website is your opportunity to pull it all together, tell the world what you write, and how, and why. And to get to know who reads your work and what they value.
The key to a good website is to tunnel in. Write only for those who read your books, nobody else. Not your mother or your boss or your friends and certainly not for ‘everybody'.
As an indie, you don't have the benefit (or constraint) of a marketing department. You have to think extra hard about your readers.
So take out a notebook and F-R-E-E-Write some answers to the following questions:
- Which group or groups of people might enjoy, and benefit from, reading what I've written?
- What would they be attracted to in an author website?
- What else (besides what's in your book) would I like to say to them?
- What do they need to know about me?
- What would I like them to remember after I'm gone?
That is the greatest value of your author website. Putting it together, and maintaining it, will constantly call on you to hold the line that connects you to your readers. You will have to connect with your worldview, find your voice, and gain a clearer understanding of what you are doing.
Your site must make a good first impression and contain the information the readers want, with an attractive, professional design. It must also be easy to navigate. A simple wordpress site is usually more than sufficient for a writer's needs.
Include at minimum:
- Your book jackets with description
- Your author bio — actually, two. A short, professional version and a longer more human version.
- Links to where visitors can buy your book (or an order page if you are selling directly)
- Information for retailers and media.
- A contact email for media questions, ordering queries, etc.
- Social sharing buttons for sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as social bookmarking sites like Digg, Pinterest and StumbleUpon.
- A sign-up facility (see below).
Ideally, you should also consider:
- Table of contents for nonfiction books
- Excerpts that draw readers into your books and leave them wanting more
- A blog — or a link to it if you have one on another site.
- Reviews and endorsements. Information about awards.
- News about you your latest book, including any speaking engagements or book signings
- An author interview or FAQ page
- Videos or other multimedia
- News clippings or links any interviews you have done with print media
- An inducement to sign up — free ebook or other giveaway.