How To Improve Your Author Website

author website

Your author website is a reflection of you as a writer and of your book as a work of art. It pays to make sure it is as enticing as the story you’ve spent months (or years) laboring over. Here are six ways to improve your author website.

Every author — independent, traditionally published, or otherwise — needs a website. A Facebook page doesn’t count, nor does a Twitter or LinkedIn profile. In today’s dynamic and competitive book market, you need a space that provides a complete picture of what you’re offering. That space needs to feature your writing, your various channels of engagement, and all the intangibles that set you apart. It’s a critical component of your brand.
And while it’s necessary for all authors to have a website, it’s even more important for self-published authors.

Having a comprehensive website (and general web presence) is a way of leveling the playing field  and giving your book a chance to compete with the big-name authors and traditionally published books in the market.

But not every author website is created equal: I’ve even seen authors’ sites that have damaged their books’ market potential. Luckily, it’s not difficult to improve your author website to ensure it elevates your book’s potential instead of stifling it.

Tip #1: Identify the primary goal for your site

The first step in building a successful author website is establishing a mission for it. What are you hoping to accomplish? Are you trying to sell more books? Build an author platform? Start conversations with your readers? Whatever your primary goal is, define it, then use it to inform the focus of your site.

If your goal is to sell books, make sure your book is the first thing readers see when they navigate to your site. If your goal is to build your platform, actively prompt readers to subscribe to your various social channels.

By focusing on one goal, you can ensure your site does at least one thing really well. This will give you the foundation needed to start building other features later on.

Tip #2: Give readers three ways to buy your books.

Whatever the primary goal for your site, you need to give visitors a way to buy your books.

You should give your readers no more than three buying options to choose from. One of these will likely be Amazon. Another can be an alternative outlet like Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, or even And the final option should link to your own e-commerce page  —  like the BookShop pages provided to BookBaby authors.

Tip #3: Collect email addresses

Like all savvy marketers, successful independent authors understand that email is an invaluable channel when it comes to connecting with readers. Are you placing an emphasis on your email channel, or are you chasing Twitter followers and Facebook likes?

While building Twitter and Facebook followings are important, they’re not nearly as influential as your email list. My rule of thumb: one email subscriber is equal to 25 likes on social media. Why? Because people are simply more careful about subscribing to something via email than they are about following someone on Twitter. Then, once you have someone’s email contact, you can build a more genuine and direct relationship with them than you can through social media. With a well-crafted email newsletter, you can build fans for life.

Tip #4: Make your website mobile-friendly

One of the most common problems plaguing inadequate websites is they aren’t geared to adjust to mobile devices, which makes the presentation look choppy at best. You want a “responsive” website, meaning it optimizes itself for the device used by the visitor, from laptops to iPhones and every size in between.

You might not think having a responsive website is all that important until you consider how many people use iPads or iPhones to search the web. At BookBaby, we’re seeing that about 35 percent of visitors to our site are using some kind of mobile device.

If your author website is not optimized to ensure these readers have a positive experience when they come to you, you’re severely limiting your reach.

Tip #5: Invest in design

Just as professional design and editing services are essential to ensuring your printed book can compete with traditionally published works, it pays to ensure your author website looks like those used by traditionally published authors.

There are a variety of services you can use for this (e.g. Wix, WordPress, Squarespace, and HostBaby) that make it simple for anyone to create their own website. But these sites will only help you reach a baseline. Authors now compete in an extremely crowded market, and if you really want to take your online profile to another level, it may be worth collaborating with a professional web designer.

Tip #6: Offer enticing incentives

A great way to attract readers’ attention — and entice them to provide you their personal email addresses — is to offer them with something of value. In publishing, the most common lead magnet is some kind of free content: usually chapters from your book, or perhaps even an entire eBook. This is especially common for authors who have written a series. Hook readers by giving them book one, and then contact them by email and get them to buy book two (and three, and four). Giving away content like this helps you engage with readers. It also makes readers more likely to “repay the favor” of receiving free content by buying your book.

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Steven Spatz is a writer, marketer, and President Emeritus of BookBaby, the nation’s leading self-publishing service provider. After a successful career with companies including Mattel, Hasbro, and Pinnacle Orchards, Steven joined AVL Digital in 2004 as Chief Marketing Officer, leading the direct-to-consumer marketing teams for music industry-leading brands Disc Makers, Oasis, and CD Baby. The native Oregonian was tapped to lead BookBaby, the company’s new publishing division, in late 2014. BookBaby’s growing book-printing operation is located outside Philadelphia, PA, and employs over 100 book-publishing experts across the United States to meet the printed and eBook needs of thousands of self-publishing authors around the globe. Steven retired as brand President in 2022 and continues to contribute via weekly emails, industry guides, and posts on the BookBaby blog. He’s in the process of relocating full-time to southern France in early 2023. Steven loves to hear from authors, editors, and publishers in the BookBaby community with tales of publishing trials and triumphs. To tell him your story, write to


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  3. I have a compelling story to tell, and want to get my book into the vast market place of authors and readers. First time writers are at a huge disadvantage when it comes to self publishing. A simple ting like formatting for eBooks has several variations for different readers and paperbacks are something else. I know everything can be found on the web, but the amount of people offering advice and video training tutorials for anything to do with writing and the publishing process is mind boggling. Each time you read and listen to videos, the more confused you become. Setting up your website, programs for writing, how to format you manuscript, how to market your book and which route to take on Amazon. All of them have a different opinion on each subject matter, and their choice will vary from the next one you read. You have decided what choice to make, when you read another version and get a compelling reason to change mid-stream. Too much choice is not always good, and when you don’t know who to trust, you end up doing more research and nothing gets done.

    • spot on. When one sees these ‘experts’ and checks them out all they have done is write about ‘how to’ and nothing else. What surprises me is the many who actually go to these seminars of ‘experts’. It is almost like religion. They want to believe that by being immersed in the ‘expert’ story it will magically transform them if they copy the liturgy note by note. I left writing groups and writing centres as well. It provides income for more ‘experts’ in providing writing classes. What is needed is writing skills. I got lucky by learning this at university. However I am still a digital dollop in the internet fog.

  4. Thanks for all the (free!) information you always give to authors who are looking to grow their businesses and find more followers. I have had a website for many years for my art and have included my books/writing on the same website. I blog about both and post mostly on Facebook (also using Hootsuite) but have embarrassingly few followers. I also write a quarterly newsletter. Can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong but will focus more on collecting emails as your article suggests. Thanks for the tips!

    • Followers are not readers. Do not worry. I used to publish as well. 1000 clicks = 1 sale I was informed. You are not doing anything wrong. The internet is stuffed to the gills with self important identities [not you here. this is the majority out there.] Internet search results by the big search engines are stacked. Paid for wins no matter the content. The reality is we are legion in numbers alone. As for emails I found that they tend to drop off within a few months. I personally [which means it is not worth much] would not want to be emailed by an author unless there is an interest other than the book if that author. There I can say I am still connected with two over more than a decade. Facebook. What can I say? What can anybody say? There it is all about -themselves- What they do. Not what you do. It is push and shove only. I left after a few years. Even had six real friends there. I wish you well. Writing is worth it no matter what.

  5. Steve;

    I have what I feel is an attractive website for my book; I believe that it will sell books once the target market becomes aware of it. I also have another website that was provided by the publisher. I have supplimented my websites with ads in a variety of magazines.

    My goal is to increase book sales by discovering other methods that will direct potential buyers of my book to the websites.

    I have read your ad for book baby. Some of the information provided I understand and agree with. However other suggestions such as tips 3 and 4 I do not understand how they would work.

  6. Oh, those first words hurt about our website being who we are as writers. I have allowed day jobs (current and past) to dominate my free time. I need to get organized to make time for both. I enjoyed this post. Thank you.

  7. Very good information. Although I already have a website that incorporates much of what this article states, I discovered more of what I should do. Thank you!


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