General and widespread advice to author’s is to have a website even if you do not wish to blog. Whether you should have a blog or not is a different topic and one I do not intend to deal with in this post.
So, if you accept the advice and decide to set up a website, what should your author website comprise? Please note, as an author, I am writing from that perspective nevertheless, I suggest many of the aspects referred to here would apply equally to any other kind of website.
There is a considerable amount of detailed advice about but, for this post, I intend to primarily deal with the top-level aspects otherwise it will become endless. One thing to note: it is consistently suggested the home (front) page of a website should be static e.g. not change on a regular basis. The idea is for it to contain sufficient upfront information for a reader to quickly gain some understanding of who you are and what you do. After that there are ‘pages’ which contain a variety of additional information and details. As already stated, in this post I intend to deal with the general aspects rather than go into excessive detail. So here goes.
Author Biography - Many readers like to know something about the author as a person. Share a little about your background; where you come from; who your ancestors were/are; how you came to wright; your interests and hobbies; etc. How much you share is up to you; you may consider it desirable, for a variety of reasons, not to share all details. For example, for the protection of others, whether they deserve it or not, I retain anonymity (bear in mind a lot of my writing is autobiographical/biographical). You may also wish to steer away from topics which can be controversial or tend to polarise people e.g. politics; religion; ethnicity, etc.
Book Page(s) - Some recommend a ‘Landing Page’ for each and every book. I have to say, unless you really are a bestselling, well known author, I consider this to be a little over the top. For most of us, a single ‘Books’ page should be sufficient. This would contain the cover image for each of your books; a synopsis of each; extracts from any reviews; links to purchase sites or a ‘buy’ button if you intend to sale direct from your site.
Contact Details - An e-mail address reader’s may use or, if you have a more versatile site, a contact form. Remember this information will be publicly viewable so ensure any e-mail address you give will not compromise any you use for personal or other business purposes e.g. banking, legal dealings etc.
Call to Action - What is meant by this? In the majority of cases this is related to the utilization of an e-mail capture system. This enables readers to sign up for receipt of an e-mail each time you have something to share. Be sure to only use these for the communication of valuable, relevant information otherwise you may be accused of spamming. Please note this is different to the ‘follow’ option most website hosts provide. Having an e-mail capture facility means you WILL e-mail the individuals who have signed up as advertised e.g. you may have stated it to be a weekly, monthly or an ‘as and when’ e-mail.
Social Media Buttons - Buttons enabling readers to follow you on Facebook and Twitter, if you have them. It is strongly recommended by most you do. Of course you should also include buttons for other social media you may utilize e.g. Goodreads, LinkedIn, Pinterest; Instagram; Google Plus; the list can go on though you should try and avoid the temptation to spread your resources to wide. It all takes time of which no doubt you already have little enough of.
Interviews and Articles - If you have been fortunate enough to have been interviewed or have written or contributed to articles, provide links so your readers may enjoy them. These would also, probably, provide them with a greater insight into who you are. For some the more they know about you the better.
Calendar - Publication dates, if you are someone who sets these prior to actual publication. Dates and details of any public engagements. You may even wish to include dates for up and coming pre-planned posts. Of course, if you are not someone who pre-plans it would be best to omit having a calendar: it would not look professional to have one without any events in it.
Blog Page - I have already said I do not intend to discuss the topic of blogs in this post however, for many of us, blogging has been and is our primary channel for publicising our work. Of course you do not have to blog but if you decide it is for you then it makes sense to combine your blogsite with your website. Doing so will provide your readers, followers, fans with one comprehensive site rather than them having to remember or follow multiple ones, which, in these, for most, time constrained days, can be tedious. In fact, they may tire of it and cease following all or some of them.
Media Page - This sounds rather grand for most of us nevertheless, the idea may have merit for some. Again, I think this really more something for those who have been fortunate enough to be identified as a bestselling author. As the title implies, this page is intended to contain information the media may use. Among other things to include, if you do decide to have such a page, should be good quality images of your profile and book covers. It is highly recommended your profile photograph be ‘professional’ e.g. not a general, homely, family one. Other things recommended for this page: author bio (again) but preferably not too long, 150-300 words or less recommended; book descriptions and buy links; reviews; contact info (again); book trailer, if you have one e.g. iTunes; how your book(s) relate(s) to current issues; extracts/sample chapter(s). I could go on and on. As said, I doubt this page, at least in the full state suggested, is really appropriate for most of us. If I think it will be of interest to my readers, I may try and expand upon ‘media pages’ in a future post.
Without question I agree with all the advice recommending an author have a website. To date I have relied upon blogs for the purpose of communicating with readers and contacts but now appreciate I could do with something that will, hopefully, be more professional. Besides wanting to communicate with them I really do want my readers to have an enjoyable and informative experience.
Naturally, when first setting up your website, it is not necessary to include everything at once. You have the facility to update and enhance your site over time. But I suggest you do include author biography and book(s) details as soon as you are able.