The journey to publication varies as much as the authors writing books do. That’s to say, there’s no right path to publication. Because of this, I’m hesitant to give blanket advice to writers about how to approach their website. Depending on who you are, what you’re writing, and who your audience is, your website may be vastly different than that of your fellow writers.
However, one piece of advice I will give to most authors is to get started on your website before you publish your first book. Whether you’re self-publishing or going the traditional route, a dedicated author website will be an important place for readers to discover more about you and what you write. So it’s best to have it up and running before your first book hits the market.
Not sure where to start with your website? Here’s some basic advice:
Grab a Goal
Everyone says, “Have a site!” Even I’m saying you should have one. But what you have to decide for yourself is what purpose your site will have. For example, my current site: kojiadae.ink is meant to give potential agents more information about me as a writer. At the moment, it is not focused on attracting readers. Many authors (and agents) will prefer a site that focuses on building a mailing list and attracting readers for your future books.
What matters is that you have a clear goal for your website, as this will help you make smart design and content decisions.
Be Budget Conscious
Maybe you have money to burn, but most authors I know aren’t exactly flush with cash. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons I hear that authors don’t have a website: they think they can’t afford one.
The good news is that there are many budget-friendly options for building beautiful and functional websites. For example, purchasing a decent theme, paying for hosting, and buying a domain name can cost you as little as a hundred dollars. When your book starts bringing in cash, then you can upgrade your website. But in the beginning, consider keeping your site simple and relatively inexpensive to create and maintain.
Your author website may change a lot in the beginning. As you grow as a writer and your career takes off, your reason for having a website will likely change. This may mean structural, design, and content changes to your site.
When you have to overhaul your current site, it doesn’t mean that your original site was a flop. In fact, it can mean it did its job and you are onto the next step in your career. In the beginning you should be prepared to embrace change. Yes, start with a site you love, but be prepared to replace it with a new one when you get an agent, publish a short story or book, or even based on critique partner feedback.