Author websites come in many shapes and colors, but they all have one thing in common—they have all been created to build the all important "author platform". Definition of "author platform" from Jane Friedman: an ability to sell books because of who you are or who you can reach. (Take a look at my related posts at the bottom of this page for more helpful info on social media, networking, and being GDPR ready.)
I took the suggestion to create a website very seriously, and after a lot of trial and error, I found that wix.com helped me create the sleekest website in the easiest fashion. Once a website is created, the work is not finished. I work on my website a few times a week by updating my blog, updating news, and making changes as I see fit. I also focus on my SEO to make sure it is as efficient as possible for maximum search engine exposure. (A few links, if you want to learn more about SEO: Getting your site found on google ... , Optimizing your sites content for SEO).
One of the things that I do to maintain my website is look to other author websites for inspiration, and to see what works and what doesn't. The following websites have become my favorite go-to sites to learn from because I think that they get it right.
Tara's site is clean, sleek, and well organized; hopeprose.com effectively combines several of the important pieces that are needed on an author website: a consistent theme, links to her social media accounts, and a call-to-action. I immediately felt engaged, and more importantly, connected with the serene ambience of this website.
2. Katie Evans
Katie Evans' website is streamlined and consistent with it's design throughout every page. The look and feel is seamless from within any part of the site that you click on. Every book that I have read about author platforms insist that you ensure that your website has an identity that is not only clear, but that is clearly you. Job well done, Katie! This website is beautiful and informative.
3. SJ Lomas
When you search for tips and info on creating an author website, most sites tell you that you should have your book(s) front and center so that visitors can easily see—and more importantly buy—your books. For those writers that have already published their work, this makes complete sense. I haven't published my first novel yet, I am considering going indie with it, but at the moment I am knee deep in my second—more personal—project. So, when I have a published novel I will definitely showcase it on the homepage. SJ Lomas does this very nicely on her site. The website is only one page, but it is very nicely organized. Her site is dedicated to her novels, and that is perfectly fine! I love the scrolling effects and that everything that you need to know about her work is found in one place. Despite the site being a singular page, it does NOT come off flat or 1-dimensional. Plenty of color, effects, and personal touches create a wonderful depth to this YA author website! In fact, it works especially well because her audience is YA; a one-page scroll with lots of visual interest would probably prove very effective in this fast-paced and short-attention-spanned world we live in.
4. Jacob Rundle
Here is another site that does an excellent job of showcasing the author's work first and foremost (this is the whole point, right?). Creating an author website isn't for someone who has no intention of getting their work into readers hands, especially having it sold. Another important detail that Jason, and other writers included in this post, captured is offering site surfers more than one clear path to the material encased within the site. Multiple clear avenues that point people to the information you house on your website creates a fluid flow of traffic. More points of access means more chances of getting eyes on your material.
5. Antony Christal
Similar to SJ Lomas, Antony Christal's website uses a one-page method. Also like SJ Lomas, Antony does an excellent job of making this method work beautifully. It is well laid out, and it's simplicity is tasteful. Beautiful imagery draws you in, and then you are quickly informed about his literary work. The identity of his site is clear, and the theme is consistent. Rather than a call-to-action, Antony's site allows visitors to connect with him via a link to his Twitter account. Offering a subscription service is more of a personal preference or a need on the author's part. If you are only using the site to inform readers about your upcoming books and events, then a subscription to an email list may be unnecessary. The bells and whistles that you choose to include on your site should be selected based on what you wish to accomplish with your site. Antony's site is spot on as it is.
6. Jason VanHorn
When you check out this site you'll understand why I love it and why I think that it is so well done! Jason's site is unique to the others on this list in that it speaks to you like a character straight from one of his books. You land on the homepage and are treated like a prospective secret agent. The site dives deeper into the characters and gadgets found in his books to bring his audience closer to the story. It's an excellent site for his eager middle-grade secret agents! Jason achieves the point of "targeting your audience".
7. Kellie Michelle Parker
My favorite thing about Kellie's site is how inviting it is. It's more than just the welcoming first sentence on her home page; it's the bio that let's us into her home life, as well as the synopses and storyboards of her writing projects. Her site is organized and flows well from page to page. She ticks so many of the boxes on the list of must-haves for author websites according to every book and site that I researched on the topic.
While researching "author platform" and "author website must-haves", the following items were listed everywhere I looked:
A consistent theme - One that fits your personality and/or genre. Most website hosts offer themes or help with theme set ups. Themes involve color schemes, consistent font choices, layout options, and style elements. Once you pick a theme make sure to stick to it.
Include a "call to action" - A great way to reach and/or grow your audience is by offering them a way to connect with you. This is especially the case for those that include a blog on their sites; a subscription option is an excellent way to create a following and update your readers.
Include links to your social media accounts - Social media is everything right now. It plays a major role in building an author platform because it's a great way to connect with your audience on a regular basis. Give them the chance to follow you on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. You should also make sure that you offer sharing options so that your happy readers can share your work with others.
Books - If you have published books, put them on display front and center and include a clear way for readers to purchase them. If your work is not yet published, give people teasers about your projects—snippets, descriptions, story aesthetic-galleries, etc.
Smooth traffic flow - Give visitors more than one path to the different areas on your website.
There is so much more information! Here are a few of the resources I used to point me in the right direction.
The Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman