Marketing Tips for Writers: Your Website

In a previous post, I gave the top five general guidelines for your book marketing strategy. So today we’re going to talk about the hub of your marketing presence, your website. Some author websites genuinely reek. After searching some really big names (which I will not name here because I don’t want to burn bridges) I was like, “Wow! If I hadn’t heard about this person through word of mouth I would not read their books based on their website.” THEY have the luxury of being uber-bestselling authors who can have ugly websites. If you’re not quite there yet, I’ll teach you the essentials of a damn good website.

This summer, I’ve been working with my web guru sister to update my website which will go live right before my book launch.

My old site was okay. It was kind of blah, focused only on my blogging, and didn’t highlight my work, but people could find those important bits of information if they looked for them.

This is what my site used to look like:

camille faye before


And this is how it will look when it goes live this fall:     {Shh! This is a sneak peek!} after

First and foremost, my home page names my book, Voodoo Butterfly, along with a link making it super easy for people to BUY MY BOOK. If you scroll down on the home page, you’ll see my author photo, purposely chosen to support my brand. How you may ask? My expression is fun and light, but the brick wall gives me a little edge. But, wait, there’s more! That brick wall is also the wall of the most haunted mansion in Saint Louis, The Lemp Mansion. I write paranormal, so this picture perfectly supports my photo

The “About” tab includes: my bio, awards and credentials, what readers have said about my work, and my author photo. Every single one of these elements was created to support my author brand tagline: love, purpose, and the paranormal in New Orleans. For info on the importance of a good author photo and tagline in establishing your brand, read this post by Jonathan Gunson which highlights the “7 Ways to Spotlight Your Author Brand and Grow Readership.”

If you click on the “Works” tab of my website, you’ll see what I’ve written, including an excerpt of Voodoo Butterfly. Note: for authors working with a publishing company, read your contract. Mine stipulates that I can use 10% of my work for marketing purposes as long as I link to the publisher’s website.

The “Musings” tab is my blog. It’s important to have a component on your website that’s update-able so you get better rankings from Google and, thus, people can find your site more easily. We’ll talk blogs next week.

The “Contact” tab allows readers to ask me questions or leave me comments. But, even more important to me as a writer, the contact form also allows me to capture email addresses for my database, so that when my next book comes out I can let readers know.

So let’s recap. Every good website should include these things:

  1. A list of your books (obviously) along with links to buy them from Amazon
  2. Your bio and a compelling photo
  3. An excerpt of your work
  4. A blog or news about you (press releases, media links, awards) to update readers about your writing life
  5. A contact form for your email list

Above all, your website should be simple because if you’re like most authors, you don’t have much time to dedicate to coding, designing, updating, and running a website. You’re supposed to be writing, after all. So the simpler you can make it, the easier it is for you and (bonus) it’s easier for your readers to navigate.

Why is a website so essential to your sprouting writing career? Because it will be the hub of ALL of your marketing activities (like social media, PR, and blog tours) which will feed right into that one channel: your awesome site. So the number one thing your site should say is: I write [blank] and you can buy my work here [insert clickable Amazon link].

On a final note, do not feel pressured to dump a bunch of money, time, and effort into your website. It’s the journey, not the destination, so pace yourself. If you were going to spend money, I would have someone design a custom header and logo. I was lucky enough to get help from friends and family on this part, so ask for some charity first. Do not, repeat, DO NOT spend thousands of dollars on a website when you’re not well known yet.

In my next post, we’ll discuss blogging. Until then, start researching how you’d like to establish or tweak your website.

Camille Faye | Author of Voodoo Butterfly | Coming Fall 2014

Experience love, purpose, and the paranormal in New Orleans.

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  • GREAT POST–time to go look at my hub. . .thanks for the tips.

    • You’ve done such a good job updating your site. It does take some time, but the visual impact and improved ease of use definitely makes a difference.

  • It looks great! I can’t wait to see it!

    • Thanks, Busy Lady! I get so EXCITED when I go on the site now! My other site just felt kind of “blah.”

  • I really enjoyed this article. Good information!

    • Thanks, Marilyn. I hope it helps with your site (which looks very clean, BTW…just went on and checked it out).

  • Great advice, Camille. Thanks for sharing your helpful tips!

  • This was a great tutorial – I’m not promoting anything yet – but I’m going to be blogging more next year on my website, so I’ll be interested in your next post, too –
    THANKS! Deborah

    • Stay tuned, Deborah :) Also, it’s important to know that many sites (even the NY Times) are published on a blog platform, but they’re still considered websites. My site has a blog element built in, too, but the overall design (whether a blog, site, or hybrid of both) should follow these guidelines. Thanks for stopping by our blog.

  • I gave up on my website. But between this blog and an older one by Geeky Lady on repurposing (something Margo taught me about years ago, but I didn’t have enough to repurpose), I may give it another go. Thanks.

    • Holly, I feel your pain. All of the Lit Ladies have had ups and downs with our individual sites and with our group blog here. Personally, I’m getting better at and seeing the advantages of breaking down large blog posts into a series, so that readers don’t get bored reading an overly long post. Plus I end up with several posts that I can schedule over a period of months and don’t have to put much daily effort into the blog. Good luck revamping your site :)

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