Author Business & Publishing, Writing & Publishing Articles

Building Your Author Platform: 8 Essential Elements for Your Author Website

So, you’ve set up your author website. Now what in the world do you put on it? First and foremost, know that it is your website. Your brand is unique to you, and there is no cookie-cutter model that will fit it perfectly. Only you can determine what features and content should fill your author website.

That being said, there are a few elements that I strongly suggest every author include. I will keep this post relatively simple and expand on some of these features in later posts. This is simply a “what” and brief “why” post — not a “how” tutorial.

1. Author Head Shot

Your readers want to connect with you, and nothing does that quite like seeing your face. Don’t worry — this doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Simply find or take a photograph of yourself that focuses on your face. It should be clear (high resolution) and cohesive with your brand. For example, romance authors may want to look dressy and sophisticated, while thriller authors may want a more brooding, black and white photo. You can read a more thorough post on this topic here.

2. Author Biography

You can read a detailed post on writing and placing your author biography(ies) here. However, no matter how much research you do, make sure you say something about yourself on your author website. Your biography can be written however you like, but it should definitely include: your publications/writing experience, any relevant education, and/or something personal about yourself.

3. Your Books or Works-In Progress

If you already have published books, fantastic! Make sure to advertise them! Include your book cover, book description, and links to purchase your books everywhere they are available. You never know where your reader may want to buy, and only including “big names” like Amazon could limit your market. Likewise, I strongly suggest allowing your readers to buy directly from your site. You cut out the middleman and keep 100% of the royalties yourself this way.

If you do not have published books yet, don’t worry! At the time of this writing, I don’t either! Instead, share the title of your work-in-progress, its genre, a short description, its production stage, and/or an estimated release date. Informing your readers about what is coming builds anticipation and creates a connection even before your creative product hits the shelves.

4. Email List/Newsletter Sign Up

You should have an email list. Seriously, it is your best marketing tool as an author. For more on why you need an email list, read this post. Make sure to include a link or widget to allow readers to sign up for your newsletter. If they are on your site, they probably want to hear more from you, and reaching them directly will be key to building relationships and generating sales.

5. Social Media Links & Widgets

Social media is a great way to craft an identity for your author brand and get in touch with your readers. There is so much to be said about what social media sites to use and the best way to use them (more to come). However, when you do commit to social media sites, make sure that it is easy for your readers to A) find you on them, B) see what you are doing on them, and C) share your content on them all from your website.

6. Contact Information

At some point, your readers will want to contact you. Maybe they want to tell you how much they love your book, maybe they want to tell you about a typo, maybe they want to offer a guest post on your site. Whatever the reason, make sure they know how to do it. Being accessible will make you likable and probably be a lot of fun for you, too!

7. Testimonials/Reviews

If you offer a service, make sure to have testimonials from previous clients on your author website. After all, knowing you offer editing services and seeing John Doe rave about your editing services create two drastically different impressions in the minds of your readers and potential clients. Likewise, knowing that you have a book on the market and seeing that other readers judged your book “Brilliant!” “Fantastic!” “The best YA book I’ve ever read!” give two incredibly different messages.

8. Content (Preferably lots and a variety)

If your author website never changes, readers will view it twice (the first time and once again to look for updates) and never return. Moreover, if you only ever update when you have a book for sale, readers will feel you are just a salesperson and never check your site. You have to figure out what works for you. Some authors blog, some vlog, some post interviews, some share book reviews, some write stories and poems. Whatever you decide, figure out content that you can put out consistently that is relevant to your reader and cohesive with your brand. As with other topics, more on this in a later post.

Remember, as I wrote at the beginning of this post, ultimately, your author website simply needs to work for you, your brand, and most importantly, your readers. Think carefully about which of these features you would like to include and how you can tailor them to your unique website. And, of course, have fun with it!

For more on building your author platform, click here.

Book Reviews, Writing & Publishing Articles

Indie Book Review: Your First 1,000 Copies

Your First 1000 Copies: The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book
Your First 1000 Copies: The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book by Tim Grahl
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Your First 1,000 Copies: The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book by Tim Grahl kicks off with a big claim. Grahl promises to take your online platform, build it with his four step “Connection System,” and help you sell your first 1,000 copies of your book. While I am not yet at a place in my career to fully test Grahl’s Connection System, after reading his book, I can guarantee that I will be enacting his steps when I’m ready to launch for real.

Grahl’s Connection System has four steps:
1. Permission – the reader allows you to send him/her content
2. Content – delivering valuable, helpful written, audio, or visual information to the reader
3. Outreach – branching out and networking with traditional and nontraditional media
4. Sell – convincing the reader to buy your product in an ethical way

These steps are comprehensive and build nicely on one another. Within each step, Grahl provides his reader with a detailed explanation of what each step entails and how to put it into action. Perhaps most helpfully, Grahl informs the reader which analytics to track for each step in the Connection System. He also ends each section with “take-away” points that help the reader digest the chapter and see its core focus.

While reading Your First 1,000 Copies, Grahl literally follows his own marketing advice to the letter. He tells the readers stories and testimonials to create trust in his system, he is “relentlessly helpful” by providing his plan and resources, and he keeps his content “evergreen” by directing readers to his website for his most recent advice on the best analytic trackers, blog sites, email lists, etc.

Even though I could clearly see that Grahl was using his Connection System on me, I didn’t care in the slightest. Why? I truly believe that Grahl markets with morality. At every possible opportunity, he emphasizes that a writer must always be helpful — relentlessly helpful — to his reader, chastises writers who rely too much only social media and only care about growing their follower numbers, and provides selling tips that are realistic, personal, and not pushy at all.

In short, Tim Grahl’s Your First 1,000 Copies is an actionable, realistic, and integrity-driven way to market. His Connection System is simple, self-reinforcing, and beneficial to both writer and reader. Grahl has truly created a way to market with morality, and I cannot wait to try out his strategies when my manuscript is ready.

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If you are interested in reading Your First 1,000 Copies: The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book and would like to help sponsor my writing and research, you can purchase it at my Amazon Associates Store. By doing this, you will not pay a cent extra, but I will receive a small commission on the sale. Simply click the book’s title or the book’s image.

Thank you!

Book Reviews, Writing & Publishing Articles

Feedback Friday, Review: Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World

Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World
Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Michael Hyatt’s Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World is a solid guide to building a brand and using social media. Due to the range of subjects covered, I would say that this book would be useful for all experience levels, but most useful for beginner and intermediate platform creators.

Platform is divided into five parts: “Start With Wow,” “Prepare to Launch,” “Build Your Home Base,” “Expand Your Reach,” and “Engage Your Tribe.” Hyatt begins by describing the product/brand creation process: how to select a name, how to garner attention, and how to create a “wow” experience. As the book progresses, he moves into advertising and marketing, utilizing social media, and starting a blog and growing its following.

Within each section, Hyatt begins with the very basic procedures and then works his way up to more technical realms. For instance, Hyatt provides step-by-step guides on how to create Twitter accounts and blogs, then expands on how to use them strategically, and eventually, how to track one’s statistics. While this structure is useful for a beginner, it can be a bit redundant for more experienced social media users and marketers. Therefore, I would encourage experienced individuals to read the book in a non-linear format in order to avoid wasting time on simplistic chapters.

My main criticism of Platform is that Hyatt deems it “A Step-by-Step Guide for Anyone with Something to Say or Sell.” He claims that the procedures work for companies, products, and individuals. However, as the book goes on, he gets less focused on this comprehensive model and more into the individual aspects. Admittedly, social media and blogging are somewhat more geared toward individuals than companies. However, I still feel like Hyatt was not true to his premise in the way that he actively focused more on individuals than products and companies for the bulk of the text. (Of course, as someone who read Platform for individual branding purposes, this does not bother me personally.)

Structurally speaking, Platform is strictly organized with lists, graphics, and certain font styles. This is both a positive and negative. On the positive side, it creates continuity between chapters, makes the content easier to absorb, and helps the reader memorize the tips. On the negative side, the format does begin to feel tired and the predictability becomes a bore after a few dozen chapters. In short, while the structure may be a bit boring in fashion, it is necessary and helpful in function, which is clearly more important.

Overall, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World is a comprehensive guide to starting a brand and using intelligent and creative marketing to grow it. Platform is accessible to beginners while still being useful to intermediates and experts. If you are looking for a place to start your platform, or strategies for expanding and analyzing your traffic, this is the book for you.

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platformIf you are interested in reading Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World  and would like to help sponsor my writing and research, you can purchase it at my Amazon Associates Store. By doing this, you will not pay a cent extra, but I will receive a small commission on the sale. Simply click the book’s title or the book’s image.

Thank you!