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Indie Publishing: Creating an Author Page

Greetings, fellow wordsmiths and sentence scribblers. Today, we will journey into the realm of creating a professional author website. It is a daunting prospect for most but can be fun if you go about it with creativity and experimentation in mind.

Self-Publishing: Creating an Author Page

WHY I NEED ONE

The way I see it, there are three reasons to have a polished website.

Say Hey to Fans – Your website is a place to tell your fans something about you. Don’t have any fans yet? Create a site because some readers enjoy learning who wrote their latest page-turner. An engaging page about you and your works can turn a friendly reader into an advocate, which is pure gold for the heart and for word of mouth.

Get Found – Your website is like a road sign for anyone who wants to find your first or latest work. If I Google an author’s name, I might find their Amazon page, but the odds are it will be hard to find somewhere down the page. If you add a link from your site to your book’s Amazon or Apple page, it tells Google where to find you and your books. Every link brings that page higher on Google’s list.

It’s Fun – If you enjoy expressing your artistic side, creating your author page can be a fun experience. From finding pretty pictures to playing with fonts and proportions, it is an artistic endeavor with a message; there is a human behind that keyboard.



WHERE TO START

I recommend jumping right in and treating your first attempt like you would your first cup in pottery class. You expect it to turn out misshapen and not very useful. You’ll be much happier if you expect to scrap it and have a second go. Round two will turn out much better and in the end you’ll be happier with it than you would with your first attempt.



WIX

I’m going to assume you will start with the best website builder for novices (not affiliated). I’ve tried the others and keep coming back to Wix. It mixes ease of use with being able to customize what you want. Wix even asks you questions and helps you set up a rough draft. It isn’t free if you want common features, but it’s inexpensive and you can often find deals.



WRITE IT OUT

Start by writing out what you’ll want to include in your site. I do this in Google Docs, but you can use any word processor/notes app. Here are the biggies:

Author Bio – Provide a concise and engaging author bio. You probably have one if you’ve already published on Amazon or will need one, so this is good practice. Highlight your journey, accomplishments, and personal details.

Social Links – Include links to your social media platforms. This tells readers and fans where to find and engage with you.

Subscription – Let visitors sign up to get updates. You don’t need to have a regular blog, but announcements such as a new book release are important.

Blog – If you have ambitions of writing blog posts, Wix and other page builders can help you do so. I’d recommend looking at the blogs you enjoy most and identifying what you like about them. Then come up with a list of three possible blog subjects to get you started (don’t write them yet).

Book Links – Collect the links to your works. I also recommend collecting images of your book covers to showcase your best. It’s next to impossible, but if you can boil your books down to three words or less, it can mean the difference between sales and no sales.



SIMPLE AND TIMELESS

The goal is simplicity. The fancier you get, the more likely your stuff is to break. While it’s tempting to use scrawling scripts and create intricate image patterns, you will probably want to redesign it sooner than if you stuck to the basics. You can’t go wrong with plain backgrounds and easy-to-read text in black or white.



WHY I CHOSE WIX

I’ve tried so many web-builders over the years that I’m embarrassed to tell you the numbers. Here’s why I keep coming back to Wix:

User-Friendly Tools – Wix's user-friendly interface allows even me to design a visually appealing website. The drag-and-drop editor lets me move things around and helps line things up.

Built-In Blog – Most web builders have built-in blogs, so it’s nothing new. What I like is that posts are easy to create. I can copy text from Google Docs right into the blog editor. You can copy images directly into it. Wix keeps track of likes, views, and read time for you. Perhaps the best part is the scheduling feature so it will publish when I want it to (usually morning on Tuesdays).

Customization – Authors who want more control can delve into advanced design options, but you don’t need to if that’s not your thing. It’s easy to tweak layouts, fonts, and colors to suit your aesthetic.



HELPFUL EYES

Just like it’s important to get feedback from friends, beta readers, and a writer's circle for your book, seeking friendly viewers on your website can save a lot of embarrassment. As we know, those pesky typos love to hide where you least expect them. Designs and layouts might not work for some people. For example, some people are red-green colorblind. They’ll tell you if the fonts are too hard to read or too small.



URL/DOMAIN NAME

Imperfection is Okay. Let’s be honest. Your website doesn’t need the perfect url. For example, I didn't own www.jflawrence.com for a long time because someone else was using it. Once they stopped, I swooped in and grabbed it. In the meantime, I used www.jflhere.com because it’s easy to spell, short, and cost $9 per year (yes, you have to pay each year).

Extensions like .com or .biz aren’t necessary. I used to use www.jflawrence.co (not .com). I’ve considered using .author, .books, or .writing. These can be distinctive and add a touch of creativity to your digital identity.

For ease, I recommend buying your domain name through Wix (or whatever builder you choose). It will keep everything simpler. If you already purchased a domain name somewhere else, Wix will help you through the process of connecting it.



HAVE FUN

Remember, this is your website. It should reflect you. If you’re goofy, show it. If you’re precise, that’s great too. If you love dragons, let them fly. If you have any questions about creating your author page, please reach out to me on Twitter or Facebook. I’ll write more on the subject soon but in the meantime, enjoy treating it like an art experiment.


 

As always, I appreciate your support of indie authors. In the name of putting myself out there, here are a few of my works.



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