You can create a website dedicated to your authorship and books in less than 30 minutes in many cases (an hour if you’re not quite as tech savvy). Being a new author, we won’t bore you with the minutia of technical stuff like metadata and SEO. As a newbie, you’re first goal is simply to get something online that represents you as an author so that you’ll have your own space to promote your book once it’s finish. We encourage you to start your site ASAP (seriously, within the next week), whether you’ve started your manuscript or not. With the overwhelming number of free blog, site, and social media options available, getting set up is a snap! But here are some things to consider and steps to follow regarding starting your author website.
1. Dedicated Email Address and Social Media Profile
Building an author site is about as easy as getting a new social media page these days. But since this particular site is going to be all about the wonderful books that you write, the best first step is to open a dedicated author email account.
For example, you could open a new Gmail account such as AuthorTeneshaLCurtis@Gmail.com or ReadTenesha@Gmail.com. When you pass this email along to literary agents, publishers, or readers, it should be clear that it’s not your personal email address. If you want your email to have a more professional look, after you create the account, go purchase a custom domain name and then use your email service (Gmail, in this example), to create a custom email address such as Tenesha@TeneshaLCurtis.com or Bob@BooksByBob.com. This is by no means essential, but it can help some people take you more seriously than an @gmail.com or @yahoo.com account.
Once you have an email address, use it to create a dedicated social media profile (focus on one or two, don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to manage 10 different social media accounts). Remember to brand it as your author profile (@TeneshaLCurtisAuthor or @BooksByBob).
Having a dedicated email address and social media profile that you only provide to people for literary reasons also means you don’t lose important messages (such as those from editors, publishing houses, or libraries) when they get shuffled into your family, work, or other personal communications.
2. Pick a Site
There are hundreds of hosts to choose from when it comes to starting an author website. Some of the most popular are WordPress, Wix, and Weebly (alliteration, anyone?). They all have various features that you may find interesting, but if the general idea is that you need to have a website that people can go to so they can learn more about you as a person and writer, just about anything will do. Remember, you can also switch later if you’ve purchased a custom domain. It’s a simple matter of pointing TeneshaLCurtis.com to Teneshasblog.wordpress.com instead of teneshasblog.wix.com. No biggie!
3. Open an Account and Start Writing!
You’ll find “start a site” or “start your blog” or some similar such button on whichever platform you choose. Once you’ve followed all of their instructions for registration, it’s time to start putting up some content. That’s where the remainder of these considerations come into play. Once you’ve read through all the following topics and made your stylistic decisions, put up at least one blog post and then go ahead and start sharing your new site with your (understandbly small, maybe even non-existent at the moment) social media audience.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS FOR STARTING AN AUTHOR WEBSITE
Separate Personal and Author/Business
I know the idea of adding a second Facebook or blog to deal with may seem daunting, but it’s not as hard as you might think. And separating your fans and readers from your friends and family is critical for a couple of reasons. First, you will want to post different things for your personal profile than you will for your author profile. For example, your readers may not want to know about your latest power struggle at work with your supervisor. At the same time, your family may have no interest in reading your incestuous erotica (especially your siblings!).
The second benefit of separating these two worlds is that you don’t end up divulging personal information to your readers that you would normally only share with close family and friends. This might include things like a medical diagnoses or mental health issue.
We know you know your own name (at least we hope you do), which is not the issue here. Consider your pen name (if you want to use any), consider your company name (if you decide to start one), and consider your blog name (if it’s different from your website name), as well as your website name. For example you could follow a pattern like this:
Company Name: Tenesha L. Curtis, LLC
Site Name: Tenesha L. Curtis
Pen Name: Tenesha L. Curtis
Blog Name: Tenesha L. Curtis
A lineup like this makes your job super simple. If you prefer to have different names or variants for these different aspects of your authorship, have at it. Just make sure that they make sense for helping people find you or your work and are easy for you to keep up with. For example:
Company Name: Curtis Enterprises, LLC
Site Name: The Burning Keys
Pen Name(s): Tenesha L. Curtis (Self-help and Historical), Noro Kusaki (Thrillers and Mysteries), Eden Tole (Romance)
Blog Name: The Burning Notions
Your Post Schedule
Some authors post multiple articles per day. Some through sheer will and discipline, others by paying a blogger to post things for them. Either way, it’s up to you to decide if a schedule such as three posts per day is workable for you. Generally speaking, the more you post (granted the content is of some value to your audience) the more engagement you’ll receive (shares, likes, and comments). However, most authors seem to do well with daily or weekly posts. Daily posts to a blog subscriber can seem annoying to some (us, we’re “some”), but other people love the constant influx of information. At the same time, if you work full-time and are raising three kids by yourself, it might be unrealistic to think that you can accomplish multiple quality blog posts on a daily basis.
Your Post Content
Now that you have figured out how much you’re going to post, consider what exactly you’re going to post. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. If you don’t think you have enough ideas to stay hyper-focused on a niche issue (the kinds of insects that help tea grow in Kentucky, for example) bring in some more tangential things. For instance, if your book is a work of fantasy that involves overthrowing a government, an interracial romance, and dreams affecting reality (and this is just ONE book, mind you), you could write way more than 52/53 posts (to cover the year). Here are some examples:
► Memes about people who want to overthrow the current government / president / prime minister.
► News articles or videos related to things like trends in fantasy book publishing, interracial marriage statistics, foods that increase vivid dreaming, etc.
► Triggers for increased dreaming (stress, diet, mental health issues, etc.).
► True stories / interviews with people who are in interracial relationships or marriages and had to overcome issues similar to what your characters faced.
► Features or lists of the stories of people who have survived civil wars and toppled governments.
Your Domain Name / URL
Don’t fret if your initial URL is something like teneshalcurtis.blogspot.com or freesite.com/teneshalcurtis. These are perfectly fine, especially if you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford to purchase a domain name (often under $20 for a year).
Generally speaking, you’re going to want the shortest, most memorable, yet SEO-friendly, URL you can come up with. As an author, don’t be afraid to add words like “writes,” “books,” “read,” or “author” to your domain name just to be clear that you’re the author Jodie Krane, not the plumber Jodie Krane or the lawyer Jodie Krane. This way, when someone types “Jodie Krane book” into a search engine, they’re more likely to find you and not the Jodie Krane travel agent (because they want to book a flight to Tahiti).
We encourage you to set up your author website or blog as soon as possible. Even if that means you’re up and running online before your book has been published (that’s actually the preferred order in which to do this—blog then publish). So, as you’re shopping around for places to set up virtually, consider how you plan on selling your books on the platform. Sites like Shopify and GoDaddy are built to help people sell items online (and include the price tag to match!). Meanwhile, you can get a free blog or website from Wix.com, WordPress.com, and similar sites. The catch with these free sites is often that you either cannot sell products directly to consumers from your site or you must upgrade your service (and pay a monthly fee) in order to do so.
If you’re starting out like many of us did with a seven-figure budget and all seven figures are zeros, you might want to consider looking for a platform that will allow you to sell your book online and simply take a SMALL (5% or less) fee from each sale. Examples include Square and, to an extent, PayPal (though they’re shopping and checkout is pretty clunky by comparison). Just as important as being able to sell items at all is being able to sell digital items. There is a lot of money to be made, at a high profit margin, by selling e-books and audio books on your site. Yet, some platforms don’t allow for digital downloads, or that capability comes at an extra cost. Be sure to research what functions are included on the account / package you plan on using for any website host you choose.
Be Ready to Move
As you gain more followers and sell more books on a consistent basis, you may find that your website needs change. You may need more robust services or more sophisticated capabilities. This is the beauty of getting a custom domain name. VoloPressBooks.com could be a Wix site one year, a WordPress site another year, and a GoDaddy site the year after that. However, the URL itself never changes. VoloPressBooks.com will always point to wherever it needs to. But if you stick with a jodiekrane.tumblr.com site URL, then you’ll need to stick with Tumblr until you’re ready to alert everyone who normally visits that site that you’re changing sites. You can also set up a “We’ve moved” page that allows visitors to the old site to click through to the new one, or automatically be redirected to the new one.
There is a lot to think about when it comes to creating your author platform. However, there are plenty of resources available to help you get started all around the internet and here at Writerwerx.com!