How to Create an Author Website to Increase Book Sales and Build A Following

As a self-published author, you already know how much work goes into getting your book off the ground. And chances are when your pub date rolls around, you’re ready to sit back and watch book sales come in.

But without a digital marketing strategy, it’s pretty hard for your self-published book to do any lifting at all. And that all starts with a solid author website.

Building a strong author website is key to helping you sell more books and build a fan base over the course of your career as a writer. Soon-to-be readers might not find your book on the shelves — they may come across your social media pages, or your author blog first.

To help you build your author website, we’ve outlined the most important elements for a successful self-published author website so you can sell more books, build brand awareness, and stay connected with life-long fans.

Why Are Author Sites Important?

Your readers want to become fans for life. Make it easy for them by routinely offering them more than just your book — in a place that’s easy to find and accessible, aka your author website.

Your fans and followers want to interact with you online. Your author site is a great place to house interesting content that will keep them hooked and follow your journey in future publications.

That can mean writing blogs on topics that are related to your book, posting videos of speaking events during a book tour, or asking your readers questions to engage in conversation.

Whatever you decide to put on your author website, just make sure you’re staying true to who you are as a writer. If your upcoming historical fiction novel is about World War II, it might make sense to write blog posts about your favorite unsung female heroes of the war. In this example, it probably wouldn’t make sense to post food recipes or dog photos.

Your website is also a key element to direct people to links to buy your book. If you’re sending out books yourself, you’ll want to send people directly to the right link to purchase.

For those blog posts we just mentioned, you can even drive readers to a link at the end of the post with a Call To Action (CTA) for readers to order your book, donate to your Kickstarter, or support you on Patreon.

Here’s an example of an author blog with a clear CTA >

Where Can You Host an Author Site?

Bottom line: you’re going to need to create an author website, either on WordPress, Squarespace, or otherwise, to engage your following throughout the life of your self-published book.

There are plenty of website hosting platforms for writers and many allow you to create a website for free or a monthly subscription (billed annually).

Our favorite hosting sites are:

What’s great about all these hosting platforms is that you don’t have to be a website wizard to use them. These sites offer templates, resources, and easy-to-use content blocks to help you create an eye-catching author site.

What Makes a Great Author Website?

The best author websites have clean interfaces, engaging content, and reflect the personality of the author. This doesn’t require a super-expensive website design, but the site should tonally reflect the types of books you write.

Here’s the nitty-gritty of how to build a self-published author website that will generate sales and create a long-term fanbase.

Make Your Author Websites Easy to Read

The goal of any author site is ultimately to get the user to buy and read your book. But despite your writing style, less is more when it comes to your author site.

79% of readers scan web pages and don’t read them word-for-word.  So you don’t have to add tons of text. Also, keep in mind:

  • Fancy fonts are harder to read
  • White space is your friend
  • Make your page accessible for disabled users with large text

To keep your site organized, separate landing pages. That way your site will feel less cluttered and be easy to navigate for your viewers. You might create landing pages for:

  • About
  • Books
  • Press
  • Videos
  • Events
  • Blog
  • Contact

Best-selling author John Krakauer keeps it clean and simple >

Add Stunning Visuals

Images have a profound impact in the marketing world. You know this if you’ve worked hard to make a beautiful cover for your book!

The same goes for author websites. Adding high-quality imagery or videos to your website can make it stand out and capture the attention of someone scanning your page.  It’ll also allow you to come across as a professional, giving readers more confidence in the quality of your book.

We love this example from author and art director Miquel Reina >

It’s also a great idea to add an Instagram feed to your author website. Readers will be encouraged to follow you there, and they’ll get some captivating images to look at on your homepage.

Put Your Book Front and Center

For some self-published authors, it makes sense to have a multitude of pages. Authors who have podcasts, book touring info, or blogs might have separate pages to navigate to.

But it’s also okay to make your website clear and simple: Buy my book!

We love David Sedaris (for so many reasons), but he’s also got a great site that puts his most recent book right at the top of the page.

Let your book shine from the start >

Build Community on Your Site

Readers are looking for great content and community. If you can offer both of those on your author website, they’ll stick with you as fans forever.

In addition to your self-published book, what kinds of engaging, inspiring, and educational content can you offer?

Think podcasts, videos, message boards, and courses. The more you bring to the table, the higher the likelihood that your audience will find something they love on your site (including your book).

Don’t feel the need to do 5 new things at once — just start thinking about what you have to offer to your readers, and how you can consistently foster a community around that content.

We’re fans of Gretchen Rubin’s impressive offerings >

Provide Ways for Readers to Get in Touch

An author site can generate plenty of sales and engagement — if you give your audience a way to get in touch with you.

Creating an email list should be at the top of your priority list. Creating a pop-up to collect emails for a newsletter or blog is super easy to do. You can try out platforms like Mailchimp to send out reoccurring emails to your following.

When offering a newsletter, start with getting users signed up. You can make call-outs on your social media, or give sneak peeks of what they’ll soon find in their inbox. Then you can decide how often you’d like to email them, and what kinds of content you’ll offer in each email.

Your contact information and social handles should be easily found from your front page (or a separate “Contact” page) so that viewers can quickly jump to connect with you in other places.

Great Author Sites Lead to More Sales

If you’re considering putting money behind your author website and hiring a web designer, make sure you put a budget in place that makes sense for you.

Don’t have the spare cash? Maybe it’s time to raise some money for your book release.

Check out our hacks to raising money for your self-published book >

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