Do I need to be published to have an author website?

The simple answer is no, you don’t. You can build your website as a pre-published author as a way to build your platform and start getting readers.

Many of the ideas in this blog/book can still be used on your website, such as sample writing, news, and a media page.

When building your website, choose a platform that can be updated easily once you have published some books so you don’t need to start your website from scratch.

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Author picture

One important aspect of your website is to include a good photo of yourself. It may be tempting to have another image to represent yourself on your site, however readers and publishers will want to see a picture of you.

For an author photo, do your best not to have a casual snap of your for your author picture. These pictures can be used in other places on your website, such as attached to news items.

Where possible, get a professional headshot to include on your About Me page as well as being able to send to publishers and anywhere you may be speaking. However, this isn’t possible for every budget.

If you can’t afford a professional photo, ask a friend to take one for you. Where possible, get dressed in good clothes, or clothes that represent you as an author, as if you were doing a professional photo shoot.

Awards

If you have won any awards for your writing, be sure to include them on your website. You can also include other awards that are relevant to your work. For example, if you have written a book about quilting or that features quilts, and you won an award for the best quilt at a local quilt fair, you may want to include it on your site.

With any award, include details about the award, the date it was awarded, the book it was for, and anything else that may be of interest. If you attended the awards ceremony, you may also want to include a photo of you accepting your award.

Keep it simple

Your website needs to be kept up to date and be updated regularly, however you don’t want it to be something you spend hours on and take away from writing your next book.

To achieve this, consider the following:

  • Choose a platform that is easy to update yourself or to have someone else update it for you
  • Set aside time regularly to update your site with a new content
  • Find a platform you can schedule content in advance (eg if you put up a story on your site as sample writing, you can schedule posts up to a year in advance or even longer!)
  • Plan content so it’s easy to keep up to date
  • Automate things as much as possible
  • If you need to, outsource the uploading of your website content, you will still have to create it, though

The easier your site is to update, the more likely your site will be kept up to date for website visitors.

Video & Podcasts

If you connect with readers through video or via podcast, include these on your website.

YouTube and other video sites make it very easy for you to embed videos into websites by providing code you can enter into pages, as do many podcast sites.

You can embed your video and sound into your website, or include an image, a description, and the location.

If you create a lot of videos or podcasts, you may want to include a few highlights on your site, then link to your channels where readers can find your whole collection. From time to time, update this page by highlighting a new selection of videos or podcasts so your website visitors can see new content when they visit.

Testimonials & Reviews

If you ask anyone, they will tell you that reviews sell books, they will also help get you speaking engagements.

Include some testimonials and reviews on your website. If they are about your books, include them with your book information, if they are about your workshops, include them there.

With any testimonials or reviews, ask permission to include them on your website with the name of the person who has sent them to you.

Another way of adding reviews is to link to reviews on blogs, the Amazon book page, the Goodreads listing, and any other places reviews will be posted. It is always helpful to have some listed on your website, however external links are also valuable. These external links can also direct readers to your most recent reviews when you are short of time to keep your site up to date.

Behind the Scenes

Think about your website as the special features on your favourite DVD. I know I enjoy watching the Making Of features. Use your website to give your readers a sneak behind the scenes of your latest book.

This could include:

  • How you came up with the idea
  • Any research you did
  • Scenes that didn’t make it in the book (like deleted scenes on a DVD)
  • How you chose your cover & any illustrations
  • Where you wrote the book
  • How you wrote it – notebook, computer, etc

This could be a single article, or a series of articles showing an insight into the creation of your book. With any behind the scenes articles, remember to include a link so visitors to your website can buy the book.