Updated October 2023
Creative writers who wish to go pro should have an author website. A Web designer can help you create a classy, interesting website to showcase your creative writing—or you can create one on your own. A great site can also help you sell books, gain readership, and create a Web presence (not to mention get a literary agent or editor).
GREAT NEWS! Writer’s Relief can help you design your author website. Check out Web Design Relief! We know the publishing industry, and we know great design. Check us out!
Some Website tips:
Choose a domain name that accurately reflects you and your work. Use your own name or your pen name. If your name is very difficult to spell or pronounce or if it’s already been claimed, you may want to use the name of the work you’re promoting. Just be aware that if you choose your book title as your URL, you may need a new site for each book you write.
Keep it clean. One of the quickest ways to lose a reader’s interest is to force him or her to scroll through miles of text, navigate blinking graphics and pop-ups, and struggle to turn down the volume of your favorite techno beat just to get to the heart of the matter—you and your work. If your content is simple, keep it all on a single page, in an easy-to-read format. (By easy-to-read, we mean no white text on black backgrounds.) Additional content? Create and post links on the (front) home page; for example, one can click on Publication Credits and Educational Background, which will lead readers to your writing bio.
Speaking of keeping it clean… Unless your site is promoting colorful picture books for children, stay away from using too many font styles and sizes or bright-pink and purple backgrounds. Don’t let your graphics and layout distract the reader from the important stuff. However, feel free to use a nice, large, and prominent font when displaying your name on your home page. Being shy won’t help your readers remember your name.
Learn more about How To Build Your Reputation As A Writer.
WHAT TO PUT ON YOUR HOME PAGE:
Make it a snap to contact you. At the very least use a professional-sounding email address with your name or pen name (no cute monikers, please). Some writers include a phone number, but you can decide what other contact information to post.
If you have books to sell, make it as easy as humanly possible for people to buy them. If you aren’t set up for credit card processing and your books are only available through Amazon, for example, provide a link directly to it. Feature a picture of your book’s cover, a very brief summary of your book, and a great review or recommendation if you’ve got one.
Make sure links to additional pages are prominently displayed.
Samples of your work.
If your site is dedicated to promoting your published work, you can post excerpts from your work as text. Choose scenes that are sure to pique the reader’s interest. You may also want to include excerpts from other as-yet-published work, either as text or as downloadable files. You may also use this section to promote future projects.
WAIT! If your writing hasn’t been published yet, you should know that many literary agents and editors have policies about writing that has been posted online. Before you post your work online, be sure you know What Is Considered Previously Published Writing.
Do you give motivational speeches? Organize workshops? Provide editing or mentoring? Are you a professional proofreader? List any other services you provide here.
Blog or journal entries.
If you write a regular blog or journal entry, keep your audience in mind, and give them relevant information—or make them laugh or cry or identify with you in some way. Keep the content new and fresh and update frequently.
Let ’em fly. Do not hesitate to fill the entire page with glowing praise about your work. (Take a look at the Writer’s Relief testimonials. We’re proud to have been collecting them since 1994!)
If members of the press wish to contact you, make it easy for them. Use this page to display your contact information (again), and include downloadable photographs, press releases, a bio page, and a link to the testimonial page.
Keep your audience in mind when designing your site. Instead of creating a sales site (Buy now! You won’t regret it!), let your personality shine through, and hook your readers with what makes you and your work unique. Give them something to take away from your site. For example, you can share some of the publishing pitfalls you’ve run into and how you dealt with them. Offer links to sites that have helped you with grammar or finding a literary agent or that inspired you on days when the muse flew the coop or the rejection letters overwhelmed you.
Above all, have fun with it. Your readers will notice!