Fact: Authors are more successful when they adapt to changes in the publishing industry. Having an author website is becoming as necessary and expected as having a business card. And there’s no webpage that’s more important on your site than your homepage. But what should a writer put on the homepage of his/her website? How do you want to greet the world?
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Option 1: The Personal You.
This is the friendly, inviting homepage that features your bio, a “Dear reader” letter, and possibly a photo. You have decided to make the “real” you the focus. This is a good strategy for authors who are not well-known. If people are more likely to recognize you as a real person, as opposed to a celebrity, it is best to lead with your personal life and your most intriguing qualities.
Introducing yourself as a well-rounded, interesting person will entice people to get to know your work. Have you had any noteworthy experiences or careers? Did you study with any famous writers? Have you traveled the world? Do you do any volunteer work? Do you have any unusual hobbies?
Welcome people to your site like the gracious host you are. If you can hook visitors with your personal side, they are more likely to take the time to read your work.
Option 2: Your Current & Upcoming Projects.
Featuring your newest project on your homepage is great for established authors whose works are already available to the public. Up-and-coming writers can also feature their new projects on their homepage in order to drum up some attention and enthusiasm for the works.
Book authors can post pictures of cover art with links to sites where the books can be purchased. Short prose and poetry authors can link to online journals where their work has been published. Images make poem and short story titles more eye-catching.
Option 3: Your Blog.
Anyone can have a blog as a feature of his/her site, but some people prefer to use a blog as their homepage. One advantage of having a blog as your homepage is that each time you publish a new post, your homepage will be refreshed. As long as you update your blog once a week or more, visitors will always have something new to see.
This is also a great way to showcase your raw talent. If you can gain readership for your blog, those same readers are likely to want to read your next piece. Having a solid number of blog followers can be a great tidbit for your cover or query letter!
Option 4: Your Talent As Told By Others.
Your homepage can feature exciting feedback for your work. If you have garnered praise and accolades from readers, associates, newspapers, book review websites, authors, publishers, editors, etc., you can list these on your homepage.
As long as you have quotes to use, this option is just as viable for unknown authors as for well-known authors.
Option 5: Menagerie.
If you don’t want to commit to one type of homepage, you can feel free to mix it up!
For authors just starting out, showing off an exciting potpourri of information can be just as effective as showcasing one strong attribute. You can share one short paragraph of a bio, a link or two to published works, a link to an existing blog, and a quote in praise of your work or talent. As long as these are formatted clearly and simply on your homepage, they will offer a well-rounded view of who you are as an author without appearing muddled or disorganized.
Final Thoughts on Your Author Website: Your Homepage, Your Home
Think of your homepage as the front of your house. You want to have some curb appeal, as well as substance and information that will entice readers to do more than just drive by.
QUESTION: When you are looking at another author’s website, what catches your interest? Is it one of our homepage options?
I keep putting off creating an author website, even though everyone is telling me I should. This article gives some really helpful guidelines and really streamlines the process with some good tips. Maybe I’ll finally get started on making one. Thanks!
My homepage has the cover of my latest novel, ‘Martian Divides,’ my slogan, “putting fun into scifi,” and a brief excerpt from the book, which I change from time to time. The image at the top of the page is a stock photo provided by the website host.
Advantages of having a professionally hosted site include: experienced advice, a certain level of customer service (my host responds to problems quickly and resolves them without fuss) and not having to worry about suddenly being dumped when a previously free hosting service decides to change or start charging.
I agree about the importance of an author site. Many people put it off until they can get it done professionally, but if I did that I’d probably be less likely to update it as regularly.
I use a wordpress blog and have the blog part as my home page and four other static pages that act like a website. It works for me. And it’s easy to stay on top of because, as you say, every time I post it refreshes content and I can put the link on twitter and attract more traffic.
When I look at another author’s website, I like to get a feel for the them – as in, their ‘voice’, it’s how I decide if I’d like to read their work.
Great post. I have my blog on my home page. I’ve decided to keep it personal and mix it up. I write about writing, cruising and dogs on board. I have pages on my site for the books I’ve written, my catamaran that I spend winters on, and my dog who lives with us on our sailboat. I’ve been trying to find the right mixture of subjects to keep the blog interesting. Thanks for putting your list out here.
Very timely, as I’m currently in the process of getting my author’s website up and running – another piece of the learning curve of becoming a published author. I think it’s important to choose a web developer you like and whom you think “gets” you and what you are trying to accomplish. One who specializes in author sites is particular useful, as they already have a good understanding of what’s important on this type of website – you don’t have to explain every single detail. Once it’s up and running, I’ll be committed to writing on the blog every day. Quick blogs don’t take up much time and I would think it’s easier to get into a routine that way (i.e. same time every day). For me, first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee works – gets me up and running. What about others, when do they feel is the best time to schedule time to blog or update their website and how often?
Thank you for the info about setting up a website. My blog is not my home page but a tab. I may need to rethink.
I am in the planning process of setting up a website. I am plagued with all of the usual questions, fears and reservations that accompany this task.This information goes a long way in allaying those fears and answering the questions I have. Thank you!
You’re welcome, Linda!
You might find the information on our Web Design Relief blog helpful while you’re in the planning phase of creating an author website: http://www.webdesignrelief.com/blog.
Of course, if you have any questions or would like us to help you build your website, you’re certainly free to contact us. We would be happy to help in any way!
Your personal take on options is effectively thought out, I’m going
to talk about this with my customers.