Book websites and author websites – the DYI guide to build your own site.
Author websites and book websites are often a topic of discussion brought up by our clients. We offer tons of information to help them print the best books with us. In addition, we publish tutorials that are pertinent to Star Print Brokers books that are printing on press. But, even before authors print books, they need put their message out to the world in their own website.
We offer some advice and tips. The name of the game is high SEO ranking. No one can promise you the first page on a Google Search. If they do … run!
We are asked about websites and book promotions all the time, so here it is. StarPrintBrokers.com is ranking fairly high now, so we are passing on our knowledge to self-publishers. We want you to sell tons of books and promote book sales from your author websites and book websites.
The links on this page are to helpful sites we use or recommend, giving you the basics based on our experience.
We always say to print books with Star Print Brokers because we print the best quality.
Sell on Amazon because because they have the most traffic.
Authors need a platform for author websites or book websites in addition to selling on Amazon. Develop a following or harness your existing network.
While Amazon is important for sales, it is equally important to drive traffic to your website or send visitors to Amazon or Barnes and Noble to buy your book.
What you need to start author websites or book websites, and / or blogs …
A domain name (yoursite.com)
Decide if your site should promote you the author, or your book(s). Keep it simple. Use a dot com, and don’t use underscores or dashes in the domain name. There are many places to buy and register a domain name. You might start at SiteGround Domains.
If promoting the author, your site can be yourname.com. A book domain name could be yourbooktitle.com.
A web host for author websites and book websites
SiteGround Hosting. We’ve tried other hosts over the years, since 1998. SiteGround support is usually excellent, with one recent support exception that is happening as I write this. I escalated the issue to a supervisor and was not satisfied with the outcome this time.
Not all hosts are known for WordPress support. SiteGround hosts author websites and book websites, and any WordPress site.
WordPress and why
WordPress is not just for blogs, but also for websites. There are many website builders. Some developers build beautiful author websites and book websites, but are pricey. A top goal of ours is high ranking. The higher you rank on search engines, the more traffic goes to your author websites and book websites.
WordPress is free. Add it at SiteGround. Support may do it for you, if you ask. The basic WordPress is rather boring. There are many other themes, but we prefer those built by proven developers.
The next tool … Genesis Framework
We found Genesis Framework years ago, after having WordPress themes that break. The interruption of time and business is a nightmare. You might need a developer to fix it.
We chose Genesis, a rock solid framework for use with WordPress. You can buy Genesis Framework at StudioPress.com, alone or in conjunction with their themes.
Genesis child themes
StudioPress.com is a good starting point for WordPress Child themes that work with Genesis. They also have third party child themes. We like Restored316. Two of their themes are on StudioPress.com: Refined and Market.
See all of the Restored316Designs.com themes on their website. They offer super support and excellent instructions. Here is a site that I built with their Beloved theme and there is so much that you can do with themes. It’s not a book or author related site, but that of a family member. Take a look at Klamped Performance.
Best Selling Author is another child theme at StudioPress. You can choose other WordPress themes. But, if you use Genesis, ask if their theme is compatible with Genesis.
Make sure your CTA or Call to Action is near the top of home page. Your CTA may be used to sell your book or to collect email addresses. Choose your theme to reflect this choice. Initially for book sales, you want to collect email addresses. Next, you want to pre-sell books. When the book is printed and ready to sell; yes, you guessed it … use your CTA to sell it.
A note on retail price
Many people go to Amazon to buy because they can buy the book at a deep discount. You want to charge the retail price on your website. Be sure to set a high enough retail price as Amazon will have you discount it by about a third. They charge about 15 percent to list a book.
The ‘Look Inside’ feature is well worth paying a little extra.
Add Pages to your website
If you buy a theme, you can usually download the demo content – it’s optional. The developer will provide instructions.
Depending on the theme, they may or may not have a page called ‘home’. Keep menu structure simple. Suggestions for page names:
- About (your name)
- About the Book (or just ‘Books’, but be sure to add a Buy button, or send them buy on Amazon)
- News & Events (or tabs for Media, and / or Appearances)
- Blog (if needed)
Another style is a one-page site (parallax). Each section on the main page will drive the reader to the next section below. You may add links to other pages, categories or posts, depending on the theme you choose. Several parallax themes are on StudioPress.com.
Start with a few. The thing to remember is that Google likes to see a somewhat even division in the number posts in each category. Establish categories that make sense.
Posts are different than pages. They will post to the blog page, in a category you designate. Some themes start the blog on the home page which is great for having new, fresh content on the home page.
Your WordPress website might not need a blog. A cookbook or reference book may have many blog posts. A single author page or novel may have none.
Add Useful Plugins
Yoast Premium plugin is by far the most important plugin that we use. You can link to Google’s Keyword Planner. Research which keyword (phrases) to use on Amazon. Use them on your website pages too. You can use a number of keywords in a post. Can you tell that the keyword phrases for this post are ‘author websites’ and ‘book websites’?
Google Analytics for Dashboard is useful for sites, including author websites and book websites.
Genesis Author Pro may be used if you have multiple titles to display.
Here is a list of other Genesis plugins.
We like the Social Warfare plugin too!
Send out news and announcements for your author websites and book websites
Collect email addresses from day one. You won’t have much traffic initially, so promote your site on social media. Send out a newsletter once a week. Write content frequently for author websites and book websites.
Note the pre-set dimensions of blog images. Tweet posts to Twitter with links and hashtags, to author websites and book websites.
We like Twitter. Many authors like Facebook to sell books. We have over 50,000 Twitter followers. Come join us at @StarPB!
Keyword phrases for author websites and book websites
Plan your keyword phrases carefully. Use them on author websites or book websites, as well as your author page at Amazon. Check the Google Keyword Planner to evaluate keywords.
Using a builder like Wix or Squarespace
We’ve heard negatives and more recently positives things about site builders and their SEO ranking. Good SEO ranking is vital to author websites and book websites, so check references!
I hope you read about a few key things to use as they have for us and other self-publishers. The proof is in the SEO ranking! We hope you found some short cuts and advice to create your own author websites and book websites.
In conclusion, there there is a learning curve in building your own author websites and book websites, but it is less costly than paying a developer, and you have full control.