If you are a published (or an almost published) author, you must have a professional-looking website where readers can find out more about you and your books. Take a look at mine: www.jillwilliamson.com. It’s far from the best author website out there, but it’s free. And free is good. I made the whole thing with a WordPress blog. It was easy to do and there were a number of website templates to choose from. If and when I can afford to pay someone to make me an amazing website, I will. Until then, I have a site that I can update myself and is easy to use. Here are some tips to consider:
1. Choose a simple hosting address.
Use your name if you can get it. You want something easy to remember, if you were to do an interview or meet someone in person. Since I use a WordPress blog, the actual hosting address is: www.jillwilliamson.wordress.com. That’s too long.
Since I own www.jillwilliamson.com, I simply place a forward on my domain name that goes to www.jillwilliamson.wordpress.com. If you don’t know how to set up a forward, call the people you bought your domain name from and ask them for help.
All my domains are owned through www.godaddy.com, if you’re looking for a place to get one. It’s a reasonable company that also provides hosting and tech support, if you need that.
2. Link, link, link
Once you have a website, link to other people’s websites. This gives your site more credibility.
There are so many scammers out there, starting websites, and ripping people off. The longer your website exists, the higher the ranking will be in the search engines. If you type my name into a search engine, my website is the first one that comes up. I’ve had my website up for over five years. It will take time to get your site to appear at the top of a Google search if you are just now building a site. But you’ve got to start somewhere.
If you have a blog, or your website happens to be a blog site like mine, you should also register it with www.technorati.com. This will help your rankings and help people find your blog.
And be sure to link to your social media pages, your publisher’s website, to other authors you like, and to your book on Amazon.com or whichever online store you’d like to support.
3. Let your readers subscribe
Publishers care about numbers. Many will ask how many authors you can reach. You can’t just email everyone you know and tell them things. That is called spamming and it is illegal. But you can set up a way for fans to subscribe to your blog of newsletter, if you write one. Feedblitz or Feedburner are two sites that allow you to create a legitimate way for readers to subscribe to your site. I highly recommend setting this up on your site.
4. Blog with Value
I’ve heard this so many times, and it is not my strongest gift. If you have a blog, get creative with what you post. You need to write about topics that will bring traffic to your blog and those are things that interest readers. Everything you write can’t be about you. See if you can find a controversial topic that you can connect with your book and blog about that. People love a controversy.
5. Sell autographed copies
If your publisher allows it, offer to sell autographed copies online. I set my online store up through Paypal. Make sure you put a shipping cost in the Paypal item page, so that you aren’t paying to ship these books out.
6. Let your readers talk to you
Be accessible to your readers. It might not be possible to write back to everyone who writes to you, but you could set aside an hour a week to respond to your fans. I set up an email address with my domain name (firstname.lastname@example.org) that forwards to my personal email. This way my personal email address isn’t displayed online.
What about you? Any website tips I missed?