It’s not enough for an author to write books. Authors need websites.

It used to be that an author could sit in a tiny garret late at night and scribble out his manuscript or pound it out via typewriter in a smokey cafe. That’s the writer’s life we’ve romanticized.

The only problem was that more often than not, those authors became famous after they were dead.

It’s a different story today. Thanks to the internet, we’re able to multiply the word of mouth effect.

We can find out what our literary friend from college is reading via Goodreads. On Twitter, we can find out what books our favorite authors (or celebrities) are reading. Agents are discovering blogs and signing writers. Fanfiction writers are getting their stories picked up by publishing houses because they have the numbers that publishing houses and agents are looking for.

And it all starts with the internet.

That’s why you need a website. Think of it as the first draft of your book. Here are the three things that are essential to author websites:

1. A blog

Are you starting out as a writer? Are you an author who gets royalty checks that wouldn’t cover street parking? Are your only readers your immediate family? Is your online platform shaky? Do you have dreams of being the next great writer? Do you plan on releasing an ebook?

If you’ve answered yes to any of those questions, you need a blog.

  • Do you have something to say? Blog about it.
  • Do you have content that people are asking for? Blog about it.
  • Do you have a unique point of view? Blog about it.

Your blog is where your readers will go to get the inside scoop on your writing projects. Give them the content they are looking for. To do this, get to know who they are and what they want.

They’ll reward you with loyalty, numbers, and hopefully, their money when it comes time to buy your book.

Tweetables –

  • 3 key elements every author website needs. Do you know what they are? – Click to tweet.
  • Here’s the secret that will set you free: you don’t have to produce a newsletter every week. – Click to tweet.
  • If you aren’t on social media, you might as well be dead to the majority of the online world. – Click to tweet.
  • What do you think is essential to an author website? – Click to tweet.
  • Give your readers the inside scoop! – Click to tweet.


2. Newsletter Capability

At Author Media, we encourage all of our authors to use MailChimp.  It’s a powerful newsletter program that is easy to use and free (until you hit 2,000 subscribers). There’s even a code you can copy and paste into your posts that will create a signup form!

You may be saying, But Caitlin! I hardly have time to write blog posts! Where am I going to get time to write a newsletter?!

That’s a great question. Here’s the secret that will set you free: you don’t have to produce a newsletter every week.

MailChimp has a wonderful feature that I like to tell my clients about. It’s the RSS to Email feature. You can set up your newsletter to be a weekly (or monthly) digest of your blog articles. There isn’t a hard and fast rule that says all newsletters must be chock-full of fresh content.

You can also be honest with readers and tell them that you aren’t going to be writing weekly emails. You’ll just write them when something major happens in your career or you have a new book coming out. It’s okay.

The importance of a newsletter isn’t just found in additional connection with your readers. For unpublished authors seeking representation, it can be proof to agents that people are interested in your words.

3. Sociability

If you aren’t on social media, you might as well be dead to the majority of the online world.

Think of social media as a dinner party. If you want to make friends, you have to show up. You can’t just toss the invitation in the trash, plop on the couch night after night to watch the latest reality TV show, and then expect people to keep calling. Real life doesn’t work that way.

Fans want to connect with you.

If you are on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, or Twitter, make sure you have the social icons to prove it. Your profiles act like digital business cards. If you have a social profile, link to it. You can’t complain that you don’t have any followers if you don’t link to your social accounts.

The other element you need is social share icons. Make it easy for your readers to share your content with their friends. If you are at a dinner party, you want your friends to introduce you to their friends.

It’s just how things are supposed to work.

These days, a lot of our friends hang out online. That’s where connections are happening. There are hundreds of sharing toolbars that you can use with WordPress. You need to make sure the one you choose has Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. There are many other sites you can cater to but you need to have these three covered first.

The bottom line is to put the social in social media.

What elements have I forgotten? What do you think is essential on an author website?

Do you need a new author website? Author Media can help!

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