When you’ve already expended two to four grand to edit, produce and promote your book, the realisation that you need an author website to promote it online might bring up these two questions:
1. Do I create a book website or an author website?
2. How do I get a good result without busting my bank account?
There are a few more things to consider as well, so let’s open this can of worms now. You need to know how to upload new books, social share, and post articles and media mentions. Naturally the best option to do this is with WordPress, but there is another option below.
You’ll need to realise that free isn’t without cost, and the choice of a supported pro theme is a good idea. (This is because a free theme could leave you with a non-working website down the track).
A Long Term Approach to Author Branding
Another aspect is, rolling with the times. you brand will grow and change. If you set up a ‘book’ domain and website, unless you have some expert support, you may not have enough time to justify a one-book-one-website approach.
But… with your Author Website, just like Ali Brown, Jennie Brown, or Jennifer Lancaster, the site can be added to and morph over a decade or so, as you put out more products/books for your growing number of fans. (And you are capturing your reader emails with a valued offer I trust?)
Option 1: A Novice to Websites… on a Low Budget
For novices to website design, I would recommend the bare minimum of:
1. Buying your ‘name’ or ‘business name’ domain name.
2. Use Weebly, the free platform to set up on. It may not end up ranking as well, but it’s simple to set up and costs from $US88 per year to take off the Weebly logos and add some functions, like a store. It takes the hassles out of hosting and constant updating. I use Weebly for ProsperityTimes, and so I joined their partner program. Weebly – The Easiest Way To Create A Website
Option 2: Future Proof your Web Presence
If however you want to continually add and share articles, then host a branded website yourself. WordPress (.org) on your domain name is the best bet.
Many website hosts offer Fantastico in their control panel, letting people set up their WordPress initially with one simple form. Others offer installation for a small fee.
Then the Theme shopping begins. Like a complex design skin, the theme lets you customise to your desired menu, navigation styles, sidebars, header images, static page as a home page, blog widgets, etc. About 5 hours and 40 theme options later, your head is spinning! So let me recommend some options based on experience.
1) WordPress theme Impreza — JenniferLancaster.com.au is now based on this highly adaptable theme. It has its own header builder. See http://impreza-landing.us-themes.com/
2) SKT Themes Launch Pro theme (US$48) — Particularly good for authors, PowerofWords.com.au has now implemented this theme. So far, so good… you can try out and use the free version.
You will need some idea of how to customise a theme if doing it yourself, but if you get stuck there are plenty of WordPress pros on Fiverr to help out with customisation.
First though, order some vibrant web banners containing your author photo and book cover, of the right size for your desired header image (usually wide). A .PNG file is a good option. Designers can blend several elements together while sticking to your brand colours.
You’ll also need a bookstore. The plugin choices I use and recommend are:
Mooberry Books (see at JenniferLancaster)
MyBookTable (see at PowerofWords/bookstore)
They both work similarly; you just cut and paste your book information and buy links. As an author, you probably won’t need a Woocommerce or similar shop, unless you are selling other physical items.
What you must remember is… BIG.
You want your book/s to stand out big and bold, with solid endorsements or reviews as a clipped graphic underneath. With the book (hopefully in 3D), put a couple of hot selling points beside it. Don’t forget any ‘media mentions’; it all helps.
If you have reviews on Goodreads, then MyBookTable can feed those reviews into your page once the link is placed.
Hope for your Branded Author Website
Just like self-publishing books, creating a website is a 10-year plan, not a three month push. When I think of my old website in 2004 and compare it to now, I laugh at my preconceptions that it was all about the design… and a graphic of a stack of books was a sales tool! Expect your author website to morph and grow with your changes, and with more income from online sources.
I hope this post helps you create a website with more value and less trouble. If so, please share this post with your author friends.