whitefox: helping brands, thought leaders and writers create beautiful bespoke books
As an independent author, the important step of promoting your book can often lie entirely with you. Among the plethora of marketing tactics an author can use to promote their book, creating an author website is among the most essential long-term. In fact, it is the single most important tool for promoting yourself and your work – the anchor for all other promotional efforts.
Most new authors strike into the world of book publishing with a vivid vision and a drive to establish their presence as writers. This is the case of Liz Amos, author of All the Truths Between Us, who took the promotion of her book into her own hands and created her author website from scratch. Although a convoluted process, this experience has brought value to Liz’s marketing strategy and has revealed some crucial tips for making your author website one of your greatest marketing assets.
Tip #1: Determine your website’s purpose and goals
Your author website can be a dynamic tool to build your audience, keep your readers informed and connect with other professionals and the press. It acts as a portal into your world and the central point for all the details about your book and yourself as an author. In other words, your author website is the equivalent of your online home as a writer.
Just like a home, the process of building a new website begins long before the foundation is poured. The construction process is most efficient if you first develop a good plan and find an appropriate and easy-to-use website builder. Regardless of what platform you choose, it should match your goals and needs.
When Liz Amos approached whitefox to self-publish her new debut novel, All the Truths Between Us, she had clear goals for it: to make the book available to a wide audience and to create a strong and loyal community of readers around it. While Liz had a clear vision for how she wanted her book to look and feel, she felt overwhelmed by the multiple decisions that had to be made in regards to her website, and how to prioritise them.
To address this, Liz demonstrated proper planning to ensure that the important decisions regarding the structure of her site were made to fulfil her goals. These are essentially the ‘calls to action’ across your website: what should visitors do when they visit? Should they buy your latest book, sign up for your newsletter or follow you on Instagram?
This crucial first step will guide you as you design and structure each page and help you prioritise the individual components of the website, which for Liz included keeping her book front and centre, with her author information secondary, to allow readers to visually get a feel of the work.
Once you have identified the building blocks for your website and the amount of work and time they will each require, you can gather the tools and assets you will need. And here is a top tip – as you develop your site, be sure to ask questions and share your progress with people around you, particularly those who have gone through that same process.
Tip #2: Spend time thinking about your brand as an author
As an author, you focus on craft, style and structure. The choices you make when writing your book are the same choices you will be faced with when creating your website: what is the story you want to tell, and how?
You can think of this process as the springboard for creating your author brand. The aim of a strong author brand is to build an authentic relationship with readers and, furthermore, to encourage readers to think and feel certain emotions.
With regards to your marketing efforts, your author brand is a plan for how you will show up as an author, both online and in real life. In other words, it is how you package and present yourself and your work.
For self-published authors in an increasingly competitive marketplace, having a platform will increase the probability that people will know about your work. On the other hand, having strong branding will increase the chance they will care. It is about establishing your uniqueness.
In order to reach those first few readers who would give her book a chance, Liz knew she had to take some time to nail down the details of her author brand.
After being provided with the right resources, Liz made the creative decisions that would best represent her – both as a writer and as an individual. These pertained to the appearance of her site, which showcases a soft but dynamic font, a cream and forest-green colour palette and a friendly and welcoming author picture. It was important for Liz that the overall look of her site was consistent and evoked the kinds of emotions she wants her readers to feel when reading the book.
Setting a tone and providing engaging content were other aspects of her branding that needed consideration. Liz chose to stay authentic and adopt a conversational and intimate tone. She decided to reposition her blog as a ‘Journal’ to creatively and authentically welcome readers into her world and engage her audience ahead of the book’s publication. In it, she also gives valuable insights into her journey creating her website.
Your author brand is tied in with any platform you decide to use. It establishes the mood and themes people can expect from your books, and will play a vital role in all of your future projects. Bring together an audience of people who really care about what you write, and you will have loyal readers who will support everything you decide to put out into the world.
Tip #3: Build your website into your future plans
An author website provides a platform upon which you can showcase your book while also housing a blog, a place to post some book reviews, links to any radio or podcast guest spots you have done, and is a brilliant way to capture a substantial email list which can be used to keep in touch with your readers and followers.
However, this microcosm is not self-sustaining and will need cultivating with regular love and care. The biggest challenge of having a website is committing to maintaining it, continuously making updates and changes when a feature no longer serves you and your audience, creating fresh content and ensuring your website is running at full capacity.
Luckily, you do not have to figure it all out now. Like in writing, this work is iterative and will be refined over time. Building a brand is the first step to building an audience. A good author website will grow with you, and is a long-term investment in your author career. Once published, it will give you a space that is fully your own to manipulate and utilise as you need.
Liz Amos’s debut novel, All the Truths Between Us, will be published on 25 May. Check out her website and keep your eyes peeled.