Recently, I spoke to a colleague who made her first sale. I remember the feeling for me, almost a year ago…a little numb, a lot anxious, and very excited. During my journey, I began establishing the social networking tools for publication: Twitter, Facebook, and a website. Signing that contract changed my perspective on my toolset. As a result, I refined my author repertoire in preparation for “release day”.
One of my big changes is that I completely revamped my website. Never having done a website or a blog before, I had started out with a free WordPress blog that doubled as my website. While that helped me get my feet wet, I wanted something with a little more pizazz. My domain was hosted through 1and1.com so I started there but ended up choosing Wix to create the actual website. Having a tech background, I didn’t mind rolling up my sleeves to figure out how to use the application, which is very user-friendly.
Below are some things you need to consider before you get started.
What is your author brand? Not your book brand, although the genre you write is a part of branding you as an author. What do you want your readers—yes, you’ll have them—to think about when they hear your name or first come into your site? If you write dark, paranormal stories or romantic suspense, you may want darker colors or a picture that will allow the reader to convey this at first glance.
Since I write contemporary, I struggled with my brand. Finally, I decided to keep it simple. I picked colors I liked and found an image of vines that reminded me of my Tangled Hearts series.
What about a tag line? Whether you have one is a personal preference. You certainly don’t need one, but if you’re a newbie author, it may be nice to have something catchy you can use on your website or on a business card. I struggled with this. So many good tag lines are taken. I brainstormed a list, ran it by the Femmes, and went with one (Tangle Yourself In Love). Then, as I found myself blogging, printing up promotional materials, and needing to talk about my book, it didn’t feel right. So I ended up changing it to, Where Love, Family and Friendship Unite. And it feels right for me and sums up my stories very simply.
You’ll need an author bio for your book, marketing materials, blog tours, and your website. Not sure what to write? Look at what other authors write. I think it’s nice to share a tidbit about both your professional and personal life. Readers want to be able to relate to an author so if you like to garden in your spare time or love to watch romantic comedies, then find a creative way to work it into your bio. Oh, and along with a bio, you may want to consider having a picture taken if you don’t already have one. It doesn’t have to be a professional photo. Femme Jaye took mine when I hadn’t even planned it and it’s probably the best picture that’s ever been taken of me!
Book Summary/Buy Links
You’ll want a page for your books. Even if you’re not published yet, create a page and tell the readers what you’re working on. If you’ll be published soon, share what you know. Maybe it’s only the title and a short blurb. You can always put “Coming soon from XXX publisher”. This is something that as you get more information, you’ll modify.
You’ll want a way for readers to reach out to you without giving them access to your personal email. Most website applications have a contact form you can utilize for this purpose.
In designing your website, you’ll want to plan what Pages you want at the top. You’ll also want your social media links on each page. Newsletter sign-up. While this is not something you have to do, you want to build a readership. That way, when you have news on the release of your book, you can reach out and let people know it’s there and how to buy it.
Below are some resources I’ve found. You can spend weeks researching all the possibilities. I found a couple, tried two and went with my second option. Personally, I found Wix easy to use and love that I can change things on the fly.
Getting published is overwhelming and handling all the marketing aspects on top of edits from your publisher can be a stressor for many. Creating a website may not be something you want to take on yourself. There are many companies that will design your website and manage your content. You have to decide how much time you’re willing to spend figuring it out, whether you’re skilled/patient enough to do it, or if you’d rather lay out the money.
Not sure? Try the free version of these sites. Play around and see how easy it is for you to build your own. There are templates you can choose from and customize. This makes it very easy to get started. Remember, keep it simple. Less is more. It took me weeks to set mine up. I did a little at a time until I got it the way I wanted it.
If you want to check out my site, hop on over to:
I know among the Femmes we have a mixture of self-created website verses paid. What lessons did you learn or what suggestions do you have?