If you’re a first-time author, congrats! It’s a massive undertaking to write a book, whether you’ve got a traditional publisher or not. When you get to the point of thinking about your author website (and see this post on Author Website Design for Unpublished Authors if you’re not yet finished with your book), you’ll want to know what are the most important elements to include on your site as a new author.
I’ve written extensively about what to include on your author website, but it’s important to call out specific author website elements first time authors should pay attention to:
- Start your Mailing List. If you don’t already have a mailing list, it’s important to start building one as soon as possible, and ideally well before the release of your book. A mailing list lets you communicate with your target audience whenever you have news to share, or want to generate buzz about a new project, so the more people you have on your list, the more excitement you’ll be able to create when you need it the most. Giving something away that’s valuable to as many people as possible, such as the 3 successful books that influenced your own writing, is a great way to generate interest. You can also give away your own work, but since you’re a new author, that might not generate as much interest. You’ll run this promotion for a specific period of time with the giveaway at the end, and you’ll let as many people know about it as possible — ideally on social media — so people can share the opportunity to win with friends.
- Get people excited about your book, its universe, and you as an author. Here’s where you get to be creative about bringing your book to life through visual design, through the content and media that you use, and how you tell your own story. Your readers will be indirectly spending time with you by reading your book, so make sure your author personality comes through on your site. Be approachable through the language that you use to encourage people to follow you and join your mailing list. If you’re active on a social media platform, make sure that’s clear from your website and that it’s easy to follow your feed from there if someone doesn’t already know about it. As a new author, fewer people will find you via search, so keep in mind that people will likely end up on your site through your outreach efforts, and you want the payoff to be good so that they keep you in mind when talking about books with their friends and thinking about what they’ll read in the future. The more creative you are with the kind of information you share, the more likely it is to be remembered.
- Get some quotes about you and your work to share. Of course it can be difficult to get blurbs/endorsements when you’re a new author, especially from high-profile folks, but don’t let that stop you from working with what you have. Every author has people who champion their work, and starting with quotes from folks, even if they’re unknown (even if they’re your mom!), helps lend credibility to your claims that your book is not to be missed. This is not the time to be shy — so ask the people who you think will come through for you to send you a few words about your writing that you can share with people online. As you gain traction, you can start swapping those initial quotes out (if you want) with higher-profile review blurbs that help demonstrate what’s enjoyable about your writing and your stories.
Although you might be shy, now is not the time to give in to your introvert tendencies! If you want success as an author, you need to put yourself out there a bit to get noticed. You don’t need to dramatically overhaul your personality, but you do need to champion your inner marketer so that the efforts you do make with your limited time and resources pay off as much as possible.