Many of the author websites I create are for authors who write as a second career. Sometimes it’s something completely different than how they earn a living and they love that it balances their day job — the financial advisor who writes historic fiction for example. Other times it’s a segue to retirement and something they’ve wanted to do for a long time. And for others it’s a part of their overall expertise — like the college professor who publishes nonfiction in their area of focus.
These folks have one thing in common, which is that they don’t have lots of time to dedicate to their author website. They won’t be adding content to it all the time via a blog, they might not publish books that often so there won’t be teasers for their next book, and they don’t have time for lots of upkeep. But they still need an author site to showcase their books, provide contact information, and tell people about themselves.
Lots of advice you’ll read (including here) encourages authors to take the job of book marketing seriously. After all, if you’re not going to do it & you’re not going to pay someone else to do it, you’re not going to get very far in getting your book to a new audience. This often involves spending lots of time on social media, being in the business of content creation, growing your mailing list(s), and mining your data to find out which of your efforts are most successful to guide you for the future. But what if you’re okay with the audience you already have, or you want to get started simply with an eye towards investing more in the future, or you don’t want to become the next Stephen King, you just want to sell a few books? That’s okay! That’s the nice thing about websites, they can be one thing today, and another thing tomorrow — so don’t let it keep you from getting started.
So, how do you create an author website that’s easy to maintain? What do you include and what do you leave out? Here are some tips…
- Make sure your name is in the header. This is an easy one, but unless there’s a very good reason, your author website should have your name in the header & it should also be your URL. Don’t make things complicated for yourself by using a business name (that might change) or adding a tagline (that might become obsolete).
- Feature the book(s) prominently, but simply. Include a cover image, the title, a short description, and a link to purchase the book on Amazon (and if you want, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, IndieBound & Books-a-Million). If you have a great blurb, use that too. Of course there are LOTS of other things you might include, but you might not have time to be generating PDF excerpts or audio clips or book trailer videos right now.
- Introduce yourself. As an author you want a good headshot (even if you’re just starting out), and some short bio text. Focus less on things like whether you’re married and where you live, and more on why you like writing the stuff that you do, and (if relevant) what makes you qualified.
- Let people get in touch with you easily. Provide an email address, and if you have a social media profile that you use regularly (like a Twitter account) link to that too.
- Use an easy & low-maintenance platform. If you’re already familiar with WordPress, that’s a great fit because their one-click updates (like the apps on your phone) are super easy to do, and it gives you the option for easy growth in the future. If not, look for one of the other long-standing, well-supported website creation platforms like SquareSpace — you’ll get fewer options, but fewer options means fewer things to think about.
And that’s it! I tell my clients all the time: “The more complicated you make something, the more complicated it will be.” It’s more important to get clear with yourself about what you do and do not have time for, and to spend your valuable time creating something simple & sustainable, than it is to create something with lots of bells and whistles that you can’t maintain. Don’t forget — you can always change things in the future as you have more time to dedicate to it!