As the creative possibilities of online technology continue to evolve, promoting yourself as a writer has never been easier! Creating a dedicated website for yourself is essential and there are many platforms to choose from. Once you get your website started, you’ll be one step closer to getting your name and your work out there. But in order for your website to be a success, there are five basic pages that must be included – About, Sample, Blog, Shop and Contact.
The people who visit your website will want to know everything about you! It is up to the author to consider how much personal information they would like published online but there are some key components that should be included.
A good ‘About’ page will offer:
- Biographical Information – Where and when was the author born? Where did they grow up and does this influence their writing?
- Inspiration – What inspired the author to become a writer in the first place? Where does the author get inspiration today?
- Major Accomplishments – Has the author won any awards? This section is also a good place to include a list of published works.
- Present Status – Where is the author living now? Does the author have a secondary occupation?
Contact details are an essential part of your website. By staying in contact, you are connecting yourself with the literary world and a myriad of opportunities to get your writing career on track. Your local library may ask you to do a book signing or you might be asked to present an author talk to inspire children at your local school. A film company may contact you about purchasing the rights to produce your work on screen. A publisher may even wish to speak to you about publishing your manuscript, or you may get offered freelance work. The possibilities are endless but nothing will happen if people cannot reach you.
Some writers will be worried about publishing their contact details online, but there are ways to ensure your privacy is maintained. Remember, you do not have to list your phone number or your residential address. The best way for your visitors to reach you is via a contact form. Your visitors fill in the required fields, and without even seeing your email address, can send a message to your inbox. Most of the time this is fast, readily accessible and totally free.
Writers who are new to blogging might not know what to post online, especially those just starting out. What can a new writer put on a blog? You might want to publish small samples of your writing to build your audience. You could display links to articles or stories you have published on other websites. Many writers choose to speak about the writing process, providing inspiration to readers and creating a published version of their writing journey over time. A blog is also a good place to display information about events, like author talks, book signings or launches, for more established writers. Depending on your platform of choice, you can display your blog on your actual website or create a link to a blog set up elsewhere.
Maintaining a blog has several benefits. Firstly, blogging attracts a larger audience. As you gain followers they’ll be able to see what you are doing every time you post to your blog. This is an excellent way to keep your fans informed. Secondly, blogging can lead to further publishing opportunities. For example, a publisher might come across your blog and see some potential in your writing. Also, you may find that your blog reads like a story – this is a good springboard for a longer published piece. In 2005, Belle De Jour published The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl, a diary-structured novel based entirely on blog entries posted over the course of a year. Random House Australia published Tasty Express this year, a cookbook based on the highly successful blog, Cook Republic, by Sneh Roy, and Walker Lamond published Rules for my Unborn Son, a collection of humourous and practical fatherly advice based on a blog of a similar name. Finally, blogging improves your writing. Imagine how much your writing skills could develop if you posted a piece regularly!!
Your author platform will be one of the first ports of call for readers seeking a copy of your book. Ensuring that your book is available on your website is very important, especially for self-published authors. If you don’t set up a shop, there should be links to sites where your book is available for purchase. After all, you want to sell your work – it needs to be readily accessible. Readers should be able to buy a print copy or an eBook without too much hassle.
Showcasing a sample of your work gives readers a glimpse of your writing. Depending on your writing niche, the samples of work you publish will vary between sections of your novel, short stories, character profiles, essays and diary-style posts. Be sure to check with your publisher when posting samples of a work that is under contract.
This is your opportunity to show off. Your sample should impress upon readers your style, your talent and your voice. It should show them what you’re all about, like a preview for a movie. Think about what your writing sample says about you as an author. By choosing a strong piece of writing, you might just persuade a potential reader to buy your book, or an organisation to hire you as a freelancer.
Building an author platform can be time consuming and daunting if you’re new to the technology, but try to remember – making a website can be fun! Get creative. Think of new ways to structure the five core elements. Consider the possibilities of different platforms – WordPress is very popular but you may like to check out Tumblr, Weebly, Wix or Squarespace. Though, WordPress is the most commonly used Content Management System, so a familiarity with this platform may benefit you in other aspect of your writing career as well.
If you’re stuck for ideas, search online for your favourite writers and have a look at their author platforms. Here are some examples to get you started: