Every writer needs to have a website. A writer’s website is one of the first places many readers look to learn more about their favorite author and his or her other works. But what makes a good website? Here’s some things to include on your writer’s website.
People like to put a face to a name. Include a good headshot of yourself: you can take the photo yourself or have it professionally done. Be aware that if you take the latter route, make sure you have the photographer’s permission to put the photo on your website. Even though you’re in the photo, technically the copyright is retained by the photographer.
Don’t forget to smile. Orient the photo in such a way that your face looks into the website: in other words, if it’s a photo of you turned slightly to the left, put the photo on the right side of the page, so you look in towards the content instead of away.
A Short Biography
You don’t need to include your entire life’s story, but a short biography, something like you’d find in the “About the Author” section at the end of a book, is a good way to connect with your readers. It’s up to you whether you decide to write this in first or third person.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. “I’m a published writer! People should buy my books if they want to read my stuff! It’s the only way I make a living!” Get out of that mode of thought right now. We live in the Internet age, where content is available for free perusal. Write a few good pieces and publish them for free on your website. No, you probably won’t be able to publish them in a book. But when a new reader finds your website and reads your sample works, they’re more likely to want to buy your other works if they like them.
News About You
If you’re working on a new book, let your readers know it. Feed them little snippets of what they can expect from your next work. If you’re doing a book signing in Tuscaloosa, Alabama next week, post the details on your site. If you’ve been nominated for an award, tell people. If you’re attending a conference, tell them where you’re going.
Audio / Video
If you’re giving a reading at a library or coffee shop, get someone to record video of it, and post it up on YouTube, then embed the video into your site. People love streaming video and streaming audio. Post audio recordings of you reading your latest poem.
Consider putting a contact form on your website linked to an e-mail address, so your readers can contact you directly. E-mail them back. If you get frequent questions, post them on your website with answers. Show your readers you care about them.
If you’ve written a popular book, consider posting some peripheral content on your website. Was there a chapter you wrote, but later decided to edit out? Maybe post that up on your site. Write a short story based on one of the minor characters in your book, and include that. Scan a page of your handwritten brainstorming notes and publish it on your site. Consider movies on DVD and the ways they include extra content: emulate the same principle with your writing.
If your book was popular enough that people have started putting up fan community websites about it, link to those websites. If the fan community has a forum, pick the occasional topic and highlight it on your own website. If one of your favorite writers has published a new book, give it a plug on your own site.
Where To Buy Your Work
This is a funny one, but you’d be surprised how many writers forget to provide links to places to buy their books. Find your book’s listing on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and link to those listings on your website.
A good writer’s website will help you connect to your readers and help you gain more exposure, which will in turn lead to more book sales. If you don’t know how to design the site yourself, find a good designer to do it for you.