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Author websites – making a difference

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At Bookouture we’ve recently relaunched the site of Lindsay J. Pryor – you can check it out HERE.  Here’s a quick overview of what we did – and what you can do too.

Most authors now recognise that it’s important to have an author website. But having a website alone is not going to magically increase your sales overnight.  Indeed a bad website might be nothing more than a waste of your time and money.

So, let’s backtrack quickly and establish WHY an author website is important.  Here’s three quick answers.

  1. So readers can discover you via online search.  That could be if someone is looking for you specifically, or equally if they’re searching for terms related to your writing.
  2. To act as an hub of content about you and your books.  High quality content builds audiences and helps to sell books.  A website should make all of your content (blog posts, book trailers, book lists, free extracts etc) readily available in one place.
  3. To create direct relationships with readers.  Being able to talk (and listen) to readers is incredibly valuable.  A good website should help readers sign up to updates, connect with you via social media, and talk to you via comments or e-mail.

Lindsay already had a WordPress.com site and some great blog posts, so our aim was to make her website easier for readers to discover, to add a little visual excitement in keeping with the author identity that we’d created, and to integrate her social media presence.

We opted for self-hosted WordPress site – the same as used on the Bookouture website – with a customised theme. We did this because WordPress.org (as opposed to wordpress.com) allows greater functionality and freedom – especially in being able to add plugins and the widest range of themes.

The new site has a ton of great features, but let’s get back to the three questions of WHY an author website is important in the first place to see what difference the re-launched site can make.

Reader discovery via online search

We used the Google Adwords Keyword tool to do some analysis on what search terms we should be targeting for Lindsay’s author website. This helps to guide the posts that Lindsay creates to ensure we’re talking the same language as readers, so that search engines will suggest her site to them.

We’ve added WordPress SEO by Yoast a great (and FREE) plugin to help us make sure that each post is optimised for search and is hitting those keywords that we identified.  We have also ensured that all posts are categorised, images are named and posts are tagged – providing more keywords for search engines to find.

These steps aren’t the most glamorous part of a new website, but are key to making sure that you can connect with readers.  They’re about Search Engine Optimalisation (SEO) – and whilst they aren’t a magical overnight fix – over time, combined with the great, regular content will help to improve her Google ranking.

To act as a hub of content

We’ve added some extra content to Lindsay’s site in the form of Sliders which tie in with her author branding and help to promote her Paranormal Romance series – Blackthorn.  This helps to give the site a bit more visual impact.  The new theme also makes adding video and images all the easier – which ties in brilliantly with the plans we have.

We’ve also added an extract from Lindsay’s first book Blood Shadows and a Press section – with press releases embedded in the page (We’ve used Scribd to do this).  And in the run up to the launch of Blood Shadows there’s going to be much more to come.

To make the content in Lindsay’s website easier for readers to discover, we’ve added a search box and improved the navigation with a second menu bar that links to the categories of her blog posts.  Want to see everything about Lindsay’s author journey? Or all the posts on Paranormal?  Just click the links.

There’ll be plenty more content to come on Lindsay’s site in the coming weeks and months – including an AWESOME book trailer – so sign up via e-mail to receive the latest updates… which brings us nicely to our final point.

To create direct relationships with readers

Lindsay already had a sign-up for readers to subscribe to her blog posts but, for the new website, we’ve integrated Lindsay’s other social media activity too.

You can see all of Lindsay’s latest Pinterest activity in the sidebar, check out her latest tweets or even see those that are connected to her on Facebook.  This makes it easier and more compelling for readers to sign up and connect with Lindsay with their favourite social networks.  One of the real strengths of the WordPress system is the plug-ins, and all of this social integration is easily achieved simply by finding and appropriate plug-in.  And even better – it’s free.

Summary

If you’re considering setting up or re-launching your author website, think about WHY you need it in the first place, and focus on features that will help you achieve those goals.  Bookouture works with our authors to make their online presence the best it can be, but often the reality is that it’s down to you as an author to find your own way.

The good news is that, with tools like WordPress readily available, your own website is cheaper and easier to achieve than ever before – just make sure it’s doing what you want it to.

 

 

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Showing 4 comments

  • Tima Maria Lacoba
    Reply

    You did a great job for Lindsay, Oliver. I knew her blog before she was ‘discovered.’ So, it’s such a pleasure to see it turned into a professional website all her fans can access – and most importantly – one Linds herself can easily manipulate.
    She’s been waiting along time.
    I’m now re-doing my own blog site. Thanks for the tips.

    I wish you were my publisher!

    • Oliver Rhodes
      Reply

      Good luck with your site… and we could still be your publisher ;) Just send us a manuscript!

  • Tima Maria Lacoba
    Reply

    Sorry, I meant to write, ‘ a long time.’ Blame it on dyslexic fingers!

  • Tima Maria Lacoba
    Reply

    Hi Oliver,
    I had to read your comment a couple of times before it sank into my brain! Yes, I’d certainly love to send you my manuscript.
    It’s on its way!

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