Does Your Website Help/Destroy your Credibility as an Author?
10 Tips to capture your viewers and look professional
By K.J. Hawkins, author of A Father’s Protection
The number one must have for all authors is a website. The website doesn’t have to be spectacular, or even hosted. You can create a free site through wordpress.com, wix.com, and many others. The key to every website is functionality.
Websites are used for a purpose. The first, and most important, is creating a platform for yourself. Think of your website as your home base. You need to be able to not only sell your books, but reflect yourself in the process. Remember, readers don’t buy books because your cover is pretty, they buy it because of you. They invest in the author and hope the book reflects them. Which is why you need to ask yourself this one question when creating your website: Does it reflect me?
The second purpose is to sell your novels. You have to be able to inform readers/fans which books are for sale and what is coming soon. If you fail at this, you limit your chances of success.
Another important feature of any website is whether it serves your audience. You must ensure your readers feel at home on your site. This means making it easy to navigate, easy to read, and most importantly, checking that everything is within easy reach (don’t make people search for content). You need the information to be front and centre, screaming hello!
Over the last few years I have discovered many websites in need of an extreme make over. If you are reading this post you’re in luck, because I am going to give you ten simple steps to improving your website. These are simple guidelines, and a must for making your readers feel welcome. You might find some of them obvious, and wonder why they have a spot on the list, but trust me, these are all issues I have found when visiting sites. This is my way of bringing them to light, to support fellow authors.
Now without further ado, let’s begin…
- Font-Headers/Sidebar Menus/Body Text – Ensure all fonts are readable. This means using large font sizes. If it gives someone a headache to read something on your site, chances are you just lost a potential reader. If the text is too small, it is often hard to understand.
- Menus – Keep it simple. I have seen menus that list so many different series and events it is mind boggling. If it can be grouped under one menu item do it. If not, then make a special place for it. The Menu is the biggest organization tool. If you don’t get it right, your website will reflect nothing but chaos to your reader.
- Images – These can be easy enough to format. However, images can bring your website to its knees. Make sure all images are at their lowest resolution for the web (this is usually set at 72 dpi.) Why? Because the bigger the file, the longer it takes to load. If your page takes longer than 10 seconds to load you might loose a reader.
- Banners – Always make sure your banners are set to a normal size that doesn’t cause distortion. Another thing to remember, is if you have specific colors in your banner, ensure they don’t clash with the overall color scheme. So if your banner has dark tones like black, red and orange, don’t mix this with pastel colors – it can make a good theme look unprofessional.
- Links – If you use links on your website, make sure they are up to date. If they don’t work, this makes them redundant and readers might not be inclined to go digging. Another good tip when creating your link, is to select the function in settings to allow the page to open in a new window. If a reader is directed away from your website they might not come back; navigation is easier if your site is still open and it will lead to more browsing time.
- Newsletter Sign-Up Forms – This is the biggest issue I’ve found on author sites. Number one: If you have a newsletter, ensure it is not only on your website, but also on your blog. Number two: Ensure it is at the top, so it is clearly visible the second a reader hits your home page. It must be on every page. If they don’t see it, they won’t sign-up. Offering perks, like discounts, helps drive readers to register for your newsletter J
- The Must Haves in Your Menu – The biggest and most common menu items for any author are: Home (Where you greet and welcome your readers), About (Bio and fun facts about yourself), Books (list every published work, if you don’t have a lot show – a works in progress), Contact Me (always give your reader a chance to email you), Events (best way to show off new releases and book signings), and finally your blog.
- Blogs- Every author should have a blog to create a platform for themselves. What you find important or neat tricks you have picked up over the years, can make great content. Yes, blogs are time consuming, but the more you update your blog the more often you will show up in google searches. There are two ways to go about creating a blog on a website. Hosted sites usually provide this feature. If you happen to link your website to a blogger or wordpress account, then you can just link to it in the menu bar.
- Spelling and Grammar Check – We all make mistakes. However, it is always good to have a close group of fellow authors, bloggers, or friends to check out your site before you make it live. They might catch minor or major grammar/spelling issues. If a visitor brings an error to your attention, try not to take offense or feel ashamed. It happens to everyone. The important thing is to make the change as soon as possible, and thank them for their input.
- Sit Back and Ask Yourself – Does my website and blog reflect me and my platform? Does the website cater to my audience? Do I love the way it is laid out now? If you can say yes to all of these, your site is ready. If you have doubts that something still isn’t right, keep working on it and seek advice from the blogging and writing community at your fingertips.
Remember this one thing when it comes to your website. It reflects you and the audience you are trying to draw. If you can’t fill those two purposes, your website probably won’t achieve what you need it to. You shouldn’t have to do a hard sell. The aim is to write, check in with others, and let the rest take care of itself. Your role is to manage the simple day to day things and ensure everything is up to date.
KJ Hawkins is a young fantasy author making her way into print. She has had a strong love for fantasy since she was nine years old.
As an adult the magic stayed with her inspiring her to write stories of adventure and magic. Hawkins, at her best, brings personality to every word she writes, exciting her readers with every page.
KJ Hawkins is actually a pen name taken from the initials of her real first and last name. Hawkins came from her favorite childhood film, Treasure Planet, the lead character is James Hawkins!
She has just released a short story in the Dragon Knight Chronicles anthology The Dragon’s Tempest: Tales of Fantasy and Adventure.
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00ZE6JJL6
Smashwords Author Page: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/authorkjhawkins