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Building Your Author Platform: Do I Need a Website?

Building Your Author Platform: Do I Need a Website?

Last week I discussed the need for that elusive necessity, an author platform. This week I’m talking about the main foundation of an author platform: a website.

Your author website is your online home.

It’s where readers will go to find out about you and your books. I asked in a reader group and they confirmed this: they most commonly visit author websites to find out:

  • More about the author
  • When the author’s next book releases
  • What other books the author has published
  • The correct order of a series

And a website is where agents, publishers and editors will look to see if you have that magical author platform. It’s where publicists and bloggers will look to find information about you.

You also need a way for readers to subscribe to your email list—your list provider will probably have a way to integrate this with your website. I’ll talk more about email lists and why they’re important next week.

Your website one of the foundation elements of your platform and of your passive marketing. While it’s a lot of work to build a website, the ongoing maintenance isn’t as difficult, as long as you set it up properly (and remember to keep all your themes and plugins updated, especially security plugins. I’ve learned that the hard way).

What does my website have to have?

Not a lot. You need:

Home Page

To bring people into the site and introduce your brand.

About Page

To introduce you as the author, in order to engage with readers and begin to developing a relationship.

Books Page

(Only once you actually have one, of course!)

Your Books page should include all your books. The general guide is to feature your newest books at the top of the page, but a series should always be presented in reading order.

Contact Page

To allow people to communicate with you.

Email Signup

This isn’t a page, but a form. Ideally, this should appear on every page, and should be a central feature of your Home page. We’ll talk more about email lists next week.

Other pages

Other pages, such as a blog, media kit, reviews, and writing advice are all optional. Which makes it a lot easier to set up a professional author website, and a lot harder to find excuses as to why you can’t!

Many authors procrastinate about building an author website.

It’s too hard. It’s expensive. They don’t have time. I can relate—but I still managed to build an author site in a week using the fabulous 5-Day Challenge from Shannon Mattern at WP-BFF.com. (Click here to find out more.)

If you’d like a little more support, consider joining my Kick-Start Your Author Platform Challenge. (Click here to find out more.)

What questions do you have about author websites? What is the best author website you’ve visited, and what made it good?

Building Your Author Platform | What is an Author Platform?

Building Your Author Platform: What is an Author Platform?

It’s a term we hear a lot: author platform.

But what is an author platform, and how do you build one?

Simply put, an author platform is any means by which you can connect with readers and sell books. And you build it. Brick by brick.

The size of an author’s platform is important to publishers, because it’s a broad indicator of how many copies of the book they might be able to sell. This influences their decision on whether they will publish the book … or not.

A book by a famous politician, sportsperson, media star or preacher? Check. A book by the son or daughter or spouse of a famous (or infamous) dead person? Check. A book by someone whose last book sold a bazillion copies and was made into a movie? Check.

Because those authors all have a platform.

A book by a new author no one has ever heard of … maybe not.

While an author platform is important for traditionally published authors, it’s vital for self-published authors. Self-published authors don’t have the marketing power or distribution networks of the big traditional publishers, which means there is no one to help. Self-published authors have to connect with readers and sell their books themselves.

And that’s where having an author platform is important.

A good author platform will achieve three aims:

1. Attract potential customers
2. Engage with potential customers
3. Convert potential customers into actual customers

Marketing gurus will tell you a potential customer needs to be exposed to something seven times before they buy. People move through several stages between first hearing about you and your books to actually buying one of your books. A well-designed platform will help them move through those stages.

This process is called a sales funnel. In Sell More Books with Less Social Media, Chris Syme outlines the six basic phases:

1. Discovery
2. Awareness
3. Research
4. Word-of-Mouth
5. Purchase Point
6. Conversion or Sale

How Do I Build an Author Platform?

You can’t build an author platform overnight any more than you could build the pyramids overnight. You build one brick at a time, starting with:

  • A website
  • An email list
  • Social media

I’m going to address each of these over the next few weeks—why they are important, and how they help you to attract, engage, or convert (and which is best for what).

Meanwhile, what questions do you have about building and maintaining an author platform?