Design and Content Development for Your Author Website

Before you get lost in the design details of a WordPress website, it’s important for authors to keep in mind the type of site they want to build. For most of our clients, we recommend a site that says “successful, professional author.” But beyond this general aesthetic, what will your site actually look like? What will it say about you and your writing? What message are you sending to your readers? Don’t let the bells and whistles of technical features can distract you from the task at hand: putting YOU into your website.

It is important to add colors and photos to your site of course, but start with clean and simple black on white in a font that looks like typeface (e.g. Georgia, Courier, New Times Roman). If you have personal photos to upload, save them now as .jpeg files on your hard drive for later user.

If you want to include other images, beware of copyright restrictions. Because you are an author, any images you use are done with commercial intent. The Creative Commons is a good place to look for images to determine whether you need written copyright permission, image source credit, and/or a copyright fee.  If you don’t already own the image, assume you need copyright permission to post it on your site. There are lots of free images available at other sites, but be mindful not to violate copyright law.

You will need to prepare text for five pages or sections of your new website and blog:

  • Biography:
    • 150-500 word biography profiling you as the author, saved as a Word or text document.
    • A becoming headshot, saved as a jpeg file.
    • Your resume or C.V. in PDF format; you will create a link to the resume for your viewers
  • Blurb for Home or Welcome Page
    • 75-150 words describing what your site and book will be about, your intentions, and why your opinion matters
  • Blog which promotes your work-in-progress
    • 500 word synopsis of forthcoming book
    • Images (if available), including cover design, photographs, maps, etc. (.jpeg or PDF files)
    • A list of URLs of websites and blogs you recommend to your readers (blogroll)
    • A dozen or more short essays you’ve written that you can publish on your blog. Generally 500-1,000words, each blog update should be conversational and try to get your reader to respond to what you’ve written and what questions you leave the reader with in your post. Having blogs in queue ready to post is advised for authors who are just starting to build an audience platform. When you are on vacation, delayed by weather or traffic, or suffering writer’s block or lack of time, these blog posts are your backup for these times and can be scheduled to publish in advance.
  • Books/Publications (i.e., published works)
    • If your book is already available for sale, you need a page with product details and a link to purchase. We’ll have more on creating this page and developing a marketing plan in 2012, but for now this is what you need to know:
      • The description of your book should match all other catalog and marketing materials developed as collateral for your book
      • Consider linking the book description directly to your publisher’s site
    • If your book is not yet available for sale, showcase your other books and publications here.
    • If you don’t have previous publications, you might consider sharing an excerpt of your writing-in-progress or upcoming speaking engagements/ exhibitions/or some other interesting dimension that promotes your authority and work in progress.
  • Contact Page: Short message explaining how you want people to contact you, if not by leaving a comment on your blog.  Comments are great but we advise our clients to use contact pages so visitors – like booksellers, agents, publishers, event managers, and more – have access to you as author in a more formal, private setting. This being said, WordPress allows you the ability to review, edit, accept or deny all comments on any post before publication. Plus, it is also very effective at filtering spam. Interactions with your readers through comments can be an effective and alternative strategy. And if you already have an author Facebook Page, a Twitter Account (@authorname), or a LinkedIn or Google+ profile, have these URLs handy so you can create links easily. If you don’t yet have other social media accounts, don’t fret. We’ll break down each step and build these links in at a later time.

Preparing these materials as carefully edited Word or Notepad document files for your new website is important. You wouldn’t want to see a typo in your resume. Your web presence creates opportunities for visitors to read your work and interact with you. You want to entice them to read more and delve deeper into your website. Having your website content written, organized and ready for upload prepares you for Step 6 next Saturday here at Swenson Book Development, LLC.

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