Building an Author Website Step One: Pre-Nitty-Gritty

Author WebsiteWhen I was first asked to speak at the California Writer’s Club/Sacramento April’s breakfast meeting about how I’d built my website and decided on my platform and marketing strategy, my first thought was: Hold it! You’re talking to a technological greenhorn here—miss trial and error, miss whoops that didn’t work out too well, miss if you don’t at first succeed, try, try again.

In other words, I’m hardly qualified.

But then I thought: Maybe that’s the point.

It’s no secret that many writers take on website building and marketing strategy because they must, not because they have a talent for it or even remotely want to. So there’s a strong possibility that many of the writers attending the CWC breakfast meeting would actually be favorable to hearing how an amateur managed to accomplish a task that at first seemed overwhelming.

Unfortunately, with about forty-five minutes to share all the information that took me…um…months to unravel and adapt to my needs, I’d only have time to present the bare bones version of website and platform building, enough to possibly get my audience pumped up to try it at home, but, by its very nature, also likely to elicit more questions than answers.

It’s no secret that many writers take on website building and marketing strategy because they must, not because they have a talent for it or even remotely want to.

So, I decided to put together a series of short, step-by-step posts for my CWC audience, reiterating and augmenting what I’ll be sharing in my talk.

And by short posts, I mean short. Just enough for a newcomer to website and platform building to absorb and adapt to their needs in one sitting without becoming frustrated.

For those who feel up to it, go ahead and advance to the next post immediately. Though my advice is to take it slowly. Mistakes are part of the learning experience, but they tend to compound when you’re in a hurry.

Why Build a Website?

Mistakes are part of the learning experience, but they tend to compound when you’re in a hurry.

 

As an author, you need to build a foundation for your marketing plan – in other words, a central online presence. Yes, even if you’re J.K. Rowling.

Consider your author website a place where visitors from all over the world can visit you twenty-four seven. You’re always at home, your windows and doors are wide open, your house is tidy, and the furniture crisp and new and perfectly arranged in welcome. Visitors can inquire about your writing, where you’ll be signing or speaking, and when your next book will come out. You can provide them with your social media links and links to where your books are selling, plus share videos, reviews, and a bit of your history.

Ready to give it a try?

If so, then let’s get started.

Step One

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of creating your own website, I encourage you to take time to check the websites of some of your favorite authors to reinforce in your mind the importance of providing a hub where your readers can find you and communicate with you via your contact information.

Here are some of my favorites:

Dean Koontz

Joanne Harris

Sue Monk Kidd

Carol  Goodman

Elizabeth Berg

For each author website you visit, note the following:

  • The name typed into the address bar to direct viewers to the site.
  • The name of the website.
  • The placement of the author’s name.
  • Website subtitles.
  • Links to social media
  • The website’s page links and where are they located.
  • The contact form.
  • The header image.
  • The placement of the mail list signup, otherwise known as “opt-in form.”
  • The author’s photo.

Okay, so that’s it for step one. See what I mean by short, absorbable posts?

Go ahead and take a breather. You deserve it. Then on to step two for some important questions to ask yourself before you start building the hub of your marketing plan:

In the mean time, to make your job (and mine) easier, pick up WordPress for Dummies, a book that served as my guide while building my own website.

Building an Author Website

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