You are confused.
Your ears are sore hearing advice on why all successful authors have a website. And why you need one too.
Agreed. But you are yet to publish your first book. Does it make sense to have a website? Even if it does, what will you have on your website as an unpublished author?
Valid question. And you are not alone.
Most unpublished authors are worried that there is nothing they have that’ll make site visitors like them or their work. Worst, many feel miserable after browsing websites of established authors.
However just because you are unpublished doesn’t mean your website can’t be interesting for your visitors.
A simple and clear user experience improves your chances of converting curious prospects to subscribers or paying customers. And that is what you want. Don’t you?
In today’s post, in addition to showing you 6 important elements for your website, I’ll also show how to use these elements to deliver a good user experience to your site visitors.
Shall I show you what they are?
Author Website Goals
Before I begin I want you to know that your website needs to help you achieve 3 main goals:
- Build your list of subscribers
- Sell your books
- Build your author brand
If you are going to put in your hard earned money having a website it is important that you clearly understand and align the website content that helps you meet all of the 3 goals above.
With that said, let us dive right into the necessary elements that aid in helping you meet these goals.
Take a look at the image below.
How much time did it take you to learn that:
- The author’s name is Bella Andre
- She writes romantic fiction
- She is a New York Times & USA Today’s bestselling author
Let me guess? 5 seconds or less.
The author banner is the first thing you see on her website.
For you, it is important that you attract the right kind of traffic to your website. If your first book is a murder mystery, who would be the ideal visitor to your website? A thriller/suspense lover or someone who enjoys historical romance?
And more the right type of audience visit your website higher is the chance for you to convert that casual browser into a subscriber or a buyer.
It is ok if you don’t want to follow such a layout for your author website. The main point here is that it should take no time for your website visitor to figure out if she is in the right place.
As long as you make it clear right off the bat, you’ve got her hooked.
Quite obvious isn’t it? Yes indeed and why did I even mention this? Because I wanted to highlight a few important points you should keep in mind.
The most important reason to have your book intro section is to make it enticing for your ideal reader to consider buying it. And your job is to make it as simple and easy as possible for her.
Introduce this element as the first or second section on your homepage, like the example in the image below.
As you may notice, the most important element of this section is your book cover, followed by book title, description, and links to all the online bookstores the book is available.
Your book cover, believe it or not, plays a huge role in what action the casual website visitor chooses to take. I’ve written a couple of detailed posts on this topic, 9 mistakes to avoid for a perfect book cover and how to get your first book a perfect cover.
And so does the book title and description.
Yes, this too is obvious. But what you may not know is this – People like to buy from people they like.
The principle has been discussed in detail in the book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” by Dr. Robert Cialdini. I highly recommend you read it.
You know how sometimes we meet strangers we start talking to and something clicks? We instantly like that person. Have you had that feeling? I did. In fact, I have made some of the best friendships this way.
And when I look back and think I always find that those first few minutes we came to know of something that we shared in common. Either it was our interests, hobbies, favorite books or authors, kind of music or movies we loved, our professions and those pesky managers. You name it.
In fact, Dr. Cialdini goes so far as to say that at the subconscious level we tend to develop a fondness for attractive people. Mind you, I did not say beautiful people. There’s a difference.
So, how do you go about doing that?
By being you in your author bio. Don’t write it like a resume but make it personal. Bring your personality into it.
Here’s a short guide to help you write an author bio:
- A brief intro
- Why did you choose to write a book?
- Who are you in your personal life
- What do you like or do when not writing?
- The takeaway for your readers
Finally, take your time finding or taking a good picture of you. You can also include secondary pictures, of your writing desk or one with your pet or your family. You want your site visitors to feel like they got to know you. The more your bio makes them feel good about you, higher the chance they’ll like you.
Remember your author bio indirectly contributes to the 3 goals we discussed above. So don’t make them fall asleep.
Aarrghhh….another jargon! I know. I’ll explain it in case you don’t know.
A Reader Magnet is an offer you make to a casual browser of your website to subscribe to your list (Goal # 1 above).
This could be anything – free chapters of your book, a collection of short stories, an anthology or even your book.
For non-fiction writers, there are far more alternatives. A free course on a topic related to your book delivered over emails or a how-to video, an eBook, a checklist, a template et al.
So why do you need a Reader Magnet?
The short answer is besides adding a subscriber to your list it helps you earn the trust of a curious prospect to your website.
And if you succeed in earning that trust via your Reader Magnet, you bet you’ve got yourself a customer, most likely a lifelong one.
You can offer the Reader Magnet right on your homepage, or make the offer between or end of your blog post or when the visitor is about to leave your website.
The only caveat is that you need to make sure the content is really good. Your prospect is getting a first impression at the quality of your work – make it a good one.
You want to let her convince herself that she made the right choice and nudge her from being a subscriber to a paying customer.
This is the home page, right? Yes and No.
By landing page I mean the page where you want your website visitors to land when they click on the link somewhere on the Internet. This could be one of your tweets or a Facebook ad campaign you ran announcing the launch of your book.
Why do you need to have a separate landing page for your book?
Because when someone clicks on your book promotional message it means she is curious to find out more. And that is exactly when you have the highest chance to convert her from a curious shopper to a paying customer.
Bringing her to your home page may not be a very good idea as you may have several other elements there to distract her from her primary intent – curiosity about you and your book.
Having said that how you may peak her interest? Three elements will do the trick. They are:
- Book Intro
- Author Bio
- Reader Magnet
I’ve discussed all the three above.
And there’s a bonus. The Amazon Associate Program.
If you are selling physical copies you can embed your book’s Amazon Affiliate link and earn a 4.5% commission besides the royalty everytime someone buys your book clicking the Amazon link from your website. Not bad I say.
Unfortunately, affiliate commissions are not available for eBooks as of this writing.
In one of my earlier posts, I emphasized why new authors should blog. But I think it depends. For non-fiction writers, it can be a source of invaluable, free traffic to your website.
But for fiction writers, it may not be so, always. The reasons are technical in nature and will need a separate blog post for me to explain in detail.
Keeping the technical reasons aside, a blog will help your readers get a sneak peek into your personality, your writing style and make you seem more familiar and increase your chances of shall I say, ‘likeness’ (Is that even a word in English? :). I can vouch for this from my own experience.
At the end of the day, maintaining a blog comes after your primary task – writing your book. If keeping your blog updated seems like a chore, drop the idea. Focus on writing and finishing your book instead.
However, I still feel new authors ought to blog. Not a lot. Maybe a one or at the most two posts a month.
There you go. The 6 key elements you must have on your website and how to go about plugging them in to make your website interesting for readers.
These elements are not set in stone but more of a guide to set you thinking clearly about your website instead of browsing endlessly at best-selling author websites and feeling miserable about yourself.
If you haven’t yet set up your website check out my earlier blog to help you decide which way to go.
Don’t overthink this part of your self-publishing journey. Just get your first website up and running.
If you need help, I’m just an email away. 🙂