Thursday, July 10, 2014

Author's Website - A Must for Self- and Indie Published Authors

Tips for Creating an Author's Website

When signing up with hosted websites such as Blogger, an author's website is more of a blog than a full service, e-commerce website. Authors who wish to sell books right on their website opt for buying a domain name and URL from a site like GoDaddy.  Since my books sell on Kindle for, I decided to publish a blog hosted by Blogger - Wordpress is another good option, and has even more features specific to helping an author succeed.

Hosts like Blogger and Wordpress can accommodate a purchased URL with a program where you buy your domain name in order to have a dotcom as your address even though your site is under the umbrella of the blog host's platform.  Its very inexpensive, only $10 per year and there are a few extra bells and whistles, at first, although the features of the blog remain virtually the same.  Its not the same as a full-service site, but you don't have to be your own web developer to own your dotcom URL.  An author's website is a necessary step in building a platform, so appearing to own the URL is, for some, a status symbol.  Authors who have built a platform on the web, already, probably went this extra step to help brand their name; or, they own their domain with web developer tool access.

Either way you decide to go, you'll need an author's website or blog with your name on it.  The next step is to decide what kind of SEO content you'll add to its pages, and the specific aspects to include to sell your book and provide information.

SEO Content Isn't the Same as Book Selling

As an author and writer, I keep two seperate blogsites which link to my Indie publishing blogsite. This helps me keep each purpose in its own package (I try to refrain from going off on tangents or mixing content up, this way).  Some authors like to keep it all on the same page - book selling and SEO content - however, understanding the difference between the two, first, helps you include both the salad and the entree in your website's content.

A blog with SEO content helps you sell books, moreover, it helps you create a platform.  You are a person, with a book, and a cart to checkout or buy the book.  This equals book sales. Prompts for finding your best SEO content can be questions like "Well, what else do you do?" or "Why does that matter to a reader who lands upon/looks for your site?" In other words, imagine a viewer of your page asking you, "How does this help me?"  Base the next prompt on what your content is about and ask if you can help: "I am trying to find a book market, (a sewing machine, a tomato cage, etc)."

As a self-published author, you will have more than one book. And, yes, probably more than one Facebook page or Google+ page as you go.  Marketing the places you sell your books, your books, and your social media sites is now involved in your marketing task.  All of these pages now must contain links to your events, online book tours, book festivals, signings, or launches, and links to buying your books.
A good rule of thumb for the self-publishing niche:
  1. The author's site contains the information readers look up
  2. The SEO content is the information authors look up.

How This Translates with Other SEO Content Subject Matter

Here are other ways of seeing this concept (or rule) played out on your author sites with your web content:

  1. The author's site features your book covers, sample chapters, book signings, a raffle.
  2. The SEO content is a fan page about your fictional characters with quotes, sign-ups for whatever fans of your characters like to read about, or is referenced by.
Another idea to illustrate the differences:
  1. The author site features your photo, bio, press releases, and books about sewing.
  2. The SEO content has sample fabric patterns used in the book, links to sewing community pages, articles about sewing techniques, and maybe a pattern download, or something.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.  Its really the content a person looks up who isn't looking exactly for your book - but can be reached by your book which offers the kind of entertainment, or
information.  Its as though a search for tomato plant growing is too minimal for the author of a vegetable gardening, how-to book.  Your book won't show up, and you can't tell/help that new gardener - which might be the reason you wrote the book!  Frustrating.  If you blog about tomato plants, however, with links to your book, chances are better that you've caught a reader's eye who then finds a link to your book.

If you are self-published, however, chances are good that your best market contains both readers and writers who also self-publish; or, readers who know quite a bit about self-published authors (like C.J. Lyons on the New York Times Best Seller's list) and Indie published books including fans of YA or Indie labels like Quirky Books.  However, if your market is children's books, chances are they won't want to read about SEO content for author websites and how to involve yourself in an online community.  That's why I have a seperate Indie e-book label blog, too.  From that site, kids who read my books can find other books, games, and art.

Another Tip I Found in Research

Add your e-book to as many possible sellers book lists as possible.  A Kindle book can easily be formatted for Smashwords was once the hook (it wasn't ever easy); but now, the two formats blend seamlessly - no hours of reformatting required.  Then there is Publish for Barnes and Noble, and a whole host of other book sellers.  Twitter and Facebook are great places to find indie sellers like Brave Bird Publishing, who interviews featured authors, and then offers their books in their online store via  This type of seller is usually a niche seller such as Bravebird whose niche is feminism light (or so I call it) - books with strong, female characters.  Katniss would be a great example from the Hunger Games series.

Once your book is selling in these places, your blogging can be about what you'd like to say, share, or show about being an author and the writing craft.  Your blogsite's sales will depend on the strength of your links rather than adding a PayPal or Google checkout to your page.  If you sell print books or pdfs, you can add these checkouts and sell the books right on your site - just like a buying your own domain from GoDaddy who provide your site with shopping cart, checkout back end programming.

For now, is my GoDaddy e-commerce.  I don't worry about the back end unless I am on my kdp or dtp checking my sales analyses data.  Eventually, I would like to offer my special edition books, but even then, Amazon has fulfillment which means you can become a vendor to them and they are the seller.

Also, authors with books on are given an author's webpage like their own book shop.  All books, no matter the genre.  There is an author's bio area, photos gallery, gadget for recent tweets, and you can add content from your blogs.  This kind of page can also be created on your own domain or on a hosted blog if you create - or purchase - a landing page.  Landing pages help your blog look like a full-service website like is a great place to find techies who can create a landing page, and Facebook has many talented people who offer and sell code for a great first impression on your webpage or blog.

I created headers, button, icons, and images that matched.  Instead of a landing page, clicking through does take the reader to different sites, but it is all connected, visually, to hint at being similar to a landing page section within one website.  Gimp,, and, can help you create images, buttons, and headers for a congruent visual placement while you are building a platform. Which is the next step, but sorry, not covered in this post.

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