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ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated

Build Your Author Website in Four Simple Steps

If you are an author, building your website will not only help you reach wider audiences—it's also a great resource to promote your work and build your online presence. While social media might reach audiences easier than an author website, it's also a third-party service that doesn't give you total creative control over how you are presented. Your website, however, can be something that you have complete creative control over and build over time exactly the way you want it.

Step 1: Buy a domain name

The URL or web address of your site is also known as its domain name. For example, StephenKing.com is Stephen King's personal author website, and most writers choose their first and last name as their URL. However, [yourname].com might not be available, so be sure to consider .org and .net, as well. Another thing you can do is add "author" to the end of your name on the URL (for example, stephenkingauthor.com) or "books" (stephenkingbooks.com).

There are several services available online to help you find and purchase a domain name. Google is one and most top-level domain names (.com) are $12 annually going this route. GoDaddy is another popular domain name purchasing site, and advertises domains as low as .99 cents annually.

Keep in mind, however, that if you plan to choose managed hosting, which we'll cover below, many of the hosting plans offer a free domain name with purchase of premium hosting services. This means step one and step two would be combined in your purchase of hosting services, so don't buy the domain name separately.

Step 2: Select a host

Your site's host will be the servers that contain your website, and can vary from free hosting, fee-based self-hosting, and managed or premium hosting. Most authors—particularly those who have never built a website before—will want to go with the managed or premium hosting option because these types of services offer full customization, site data backup, and technical support.

If you're just starting out as an author and don't have a lot of money to spend on building and maintaining an author website, it might be a good idea to start with free hosting. Sites like Wix and WordPress are great places to start, although if you want the freedom to move your content to a paid service, be careful that you choose a host that will allow you to do this. Below, we look at some of the most popular options used by authors for their author website and what you can expect from each.


One reason WordPress is so popular is that it is a free, open-source content management system that is used for approximately 20% of websites that are online. Its free option includes a WordPress.com subdomain, community support, multiple free themes with basic design customization, and 3GB of storage space, although there will be WordPress.com ads on your page. For just $4 per month (billed annually), you'll get a custom domain name, email and live chat support, several free themes to choose from with basic design customization, 6GB of storage space, and all WordPress.com ads will be removed from your site. Their $8 per month (billed annually) package tends to be the most popular choice for authors, and includes a custom domain name, email and live chat support, Unlimited Premium Themes, Advanced Design Customization, 13GB Storage Space, options to monetize your site and all WordPress.com ads will be removed.


Squarespace is another highly popular hosting and website building site that's easy to use and offers a built-in selling platform. For $18 per month (billed annually) or $26 per month (billed month to month), you can have a fully customizable website with unlimited pages, galleries and blogs. This price also includes unlimited bandwidth usage and storage, so is perfect for an author who already has a sizeable following and is ready to integrate e-commerce (for example, books sales) into their website. Squarespace boasts mobile optimization for all websites, which means that visitors will see a professional, well-designed website, even if they are looking at it on their mobile phones or other portable devices. The site also offers a free custom domain name with any purchase of a hosting package and 24/7 customer support.


Wix provides an extremely easy-to-use website-building interface that creates gorgeous websites, although the heavy use of flash might make optimizing your website for SEO a bit trickier. For $17.50 per month ($14 per month if you pay annually), Wix offers hosting, unlimited bandwidth, 10 GB of storage, a free domain, and $300 worth of Ad vouchers to promote your site. There are cheaper and more expensive plans offered on the site, as well, depending on what you need and whether you're willing to have Wix ads show on your website. They also offer mobile optimization for when visitors view your website on a mobile device and a logo maker which can come in handy if you are starting fresh and need to build your author "brand identity" from scratch.

Step 3: Design your site

If you've chosen one of the managed hosting sites listed above, there are templates available where you'll simply replace the photos and text with your custom content. These templates are great ways to get a site up and running quickly without spending a lot of time learning the ins and outs of website development and HTML coding. However, in the process of designing your website, keep in mind these website design best practices:

Keep it clean (from a design perspective)

Cluttered, overly wordy websites are not only annoying to be on and look at—they're highly ineffective. Don't just take our word for it, either, because there is data showing that most users spend 10-20 seconds on a web page they visit. They will stay for up to a minute if they feel there is a clear value proposition being offered in what they're reading/seeing on the site. But put simply: few people are going to read a lot of cluttered copy or sift through a bunch of images on your website, so just don't do it. Keep the design clean, let there be white space, and avoid too many words (just leave those for your creative writing efforts).

Keep it simple

We've all been to websites that are difficult to navigate. Your author website should include a page that has your bio, a link to your blog (if you have one), your social media account links, and a way to contact you for press inquiries or representation. If you are planning to use your website for e-commerce, your page's navigation might be slightly more complicated, but ultimately—the simpler it is to navigate, the more people will want to be on it.

This same rule of simplicity applies to your website copy, as well. Since your visitors will initially scan a page for headings, use them often and wisely by choosing important keywords and/or hooks as headings for your text. Along with having multiple headings to break up long sections of text, keep in mind the following best practices for simple copy:

  • Use short sentences and short paragraphs – This doesn't mean your sentences should all be five words or less, because then your copy will be monotonous and repetitive. This just means that you should have more short sentences than long sentences and your paragraphs shouldn't regularly be more than five sentences in length.
  • Don't be wordy – Remember the data above about how long your website's audience is likely to stay around? It should be a consideration for writing copy, as well. If you have 10-20 seconds to get someone's attention, long paragraphs are a bad idea. Your audience will likely skim the headings (which is why you should have them) and decide from that if the page is worth reading more in-depth.
  • Don't use language your audience won't get – The word choice, voice and tone of your website copy should reflect your writing. If it sounds like someone else wrote the copy, your website won't have the same appeal.

Keep it credible

The easiest way to lose credibility as an author is to project an unprofessional, lazy image. With websites offering freelance editing services—and even free proofreading programs available online—there is no excuse to have any of the following on your website:

  • Spelling/grammar errors
  • False facts
  • Inflated credentials

Step 4: Keep it updated

Establishing a reputation as an author is a long and complicated process. It's not something that will happen overnight and a website needs to be updated and tweaked to stay relevant and professional. Your website is a significant marketing opportunity for you to sell your work and attract a larger audience, so put some time into creating it, updating it, and getting the word out about it (through social media, guest blog pieces, etc.). This is especially true if you are a self-published author and it could make a significant difference in the success of your book(s).

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