If you are a writer of any sort, an author site is a key tool for creating an online presence. Having your own website gives you a great platform from which to market your various books or services and to take control of how you are portrayed online.
Whether you are self-publishing, working through an agent or even blogging, an author’s website offers you the opportunity to reach more potential readers. Combine that with social media reach and any other marketing efforts and you can build up quite an online audience.
Many authors struggle to decide what they should do in terms of putting together a website, so here we’re looking at five of the best author websites we could find. See what they are doing well and think about how you could “borrow” their strategy for yourself:
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Jeff Goins is a great example of an author who speaks to his identified target audience immediately. “Tell your story,” his headline says on his homepage, immediately evoking a desire or pain point among his readers. The books Jeff writes and the talks he gives are for other “artists” who aren’t sure how to make a living out of what they do, or how to build up an audience for themselves.
This headline is followed by an obvious call to action to get a free guide he has created, helping people to tell their own stories. You can see a second call to action in the header that is also designed to attract his target audience by giving them what they want; “Start a daily writing habit and FINALLY finish your book.”
The website design is simple and clean. In fact, we can even tell you what WordPress theme he used! The tool “What WordPress Theme is That?” reveals that his website uses Tribe2, a theme by Notable Themes that has specifically been created for authors, writers and artists.
Scrolling further down the homepage, Goins has a further call to action and a short and sweet introductory section about himself. This section again highlights who his target audience is and gives a strong call to action:
“And here’s the thing: you don’t have to starve to share your best work. If you have a passion for creativity and changing the world, this is the place for you. I invite you to subscribe and sit tight. This is going to be fun.”
The next section highlights testimonials as social proof, providing potential readers with the answer to “why should I listen to you?” He keeps it simple on the homepage, with only his latest book and book cover shown, then links to his podcast, blog and further information. Site navigation is easy to follow from the buttons at the bottom of the page.
A great value-add for his target audience is the “resources” page which is included in the links at the bottom of the homepage. Here he outlines some key resources for the budding or aspiring writer. It’s good use of the idea of reciprocity – when someone sees the useful information he provides for free, they wonder what he includes in his books. This is an excellent book marketing technique.
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If you’re the prolific author of multiple book series, then keeping a website well-coordinated can be a challenge. Cassandra Clare is a well-known fantasy author who releases a few books each year and has created an intertwining fantasy world across the different book series.
There is a lot going on for an author site, but it has been designed to be simple to navigate. Each series has its own menu button at the top and importantly for book marketing, there is a prominent “coming soon” tab. The main images are a gallery that goes between new-release titles and artwork for the books. If it’s all a bit overwhelming for someone new to Clare’s books, there is a helpful “where to start” tab at the top. Any author of multiple interweaving books where it is important that the reader start with certain titles should have a similar page.
The website design definitely involves custom coding to achieve the vintage look, but the overall vibe really works for the history and fantasy elements of Clare’s books. It’s worth investing in an appropriate look if you are a genre author.
As an interesting addition in her “resources” section, Clare directly addresses her core target audience – young readers. For any who are interested in how to become an author or who would like to ask questions for a school project, she provides a list of FAQs for them to get the information.
There are clear calls to action for readers to sign up for her email list, which is another excellent marketing technique. Each book page also includes links to Amazon and other sites where it can be purchased.
What if you’re an author who writes across a spectrum of genres, including fiction and nonfiction? Jennifer Niven introduces herself as such: “I’ve written nonfiction and fiction, both historical and contemporary, adult and YA. At first glance, my books are all over the map, but if you look closely they share a common theme: they are stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”
This is how she’s drawn them all together into an effective author site – by highlighting the common theme among them all. Her introduction here is short yet interesting, appealing to a broad audience yet also narrowing it down to those who are interested in reading about people. Notably, she tends to write about strong, independent women, who would form a core part of her target audience.
Scrolling down her homepage, Niven highlights her New York Times bestsellers first, a sort of “social proof” for anyone who may not have read her books yet. She shows the book cover and the Amazon or other purchase links so that people can easily order the book immediately.
The website design is simple and contemporary, making it easy for potential readers to navigate. Niven also includes her social networking links at the top of the page, helping to grow her social media audience too.
Peter Rosenberger gives a great example of an author website for someone who specializes in a particular non-fiction niche. He is an author, speaker, and a known expert in his field – being the primary caregiver of an adult in his household (his wife).
One of the striking things that will immediately resonate with his target audience (other caregivers) is his list of “credentials” for being an expert on the topic. The first thing you see on the homepage is details about his wife; 80 surgeries, multiple amputations, 100+ physicians and of course – one caregiver for the last 30 years. This will immediately resonate with anyone who might be struggling with the caregiving role and looking for someone who will understand. It says “I get you.”
Instead of making an obvious push to sell books, Rosenberger’s site provides a wealth of information for his audience. There is a “books” tab showcasing his titles, but he largely relies on good content marketing to get his message across. He includes facts, statistics and free content such as videos and clips from his radio show. It gets back to that idea of sharing value with the target audience to create goodwill and boost the author platform.
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Paul Jarvis’ website is a good reflection of his personal ethos – that business growth (or being bigger) isn’t always better or even required of business owners. His website is one of the simplest you’ll ever see – that’s the homepage above.
Jarvis has a quick call to action to join his email newsletter, but other than that, he’s basically practicing what he preaches. A complex website with multiple calls to action, images and paragraphs wouldn’t really suit his core message.
The tiny homepage does leave room for a brief piece of social proof – a one-line recommendation from Cal Newport, who many followers of productivity practices will already know. Basic navigation buttons lead people to Jarvis’ products, articles and newsletter. It’s very simple, but it works for his core messaging.
If we were to sum up anything that these very different author websites have in common, it’s that they adeptly speak to the target audience they are seeking to attract.
The best author websites aren’t just about showcasing the books that they sell, they’re about engaging the imagination or the core needs of the audience. All of these authors have found ways to deliver extra value for people who visit their website.
Of course, good design helps too. If you need a sharp new author’s website, then have a chat with us at One Week Website here.