It is not a requirement of being a published author to have a website, but it is very highly recommended. It is also recommended to have a website if you’re an aspiring author as a solid author platform is a great starting point to market yourself and your books. Today, we look at the top reasons authors should have a website, so you can decide for yourself if you should get one or not.
Social media is certainly an important element of your author platform but it should not be all you have. A website is crucially important – here’s why …
1. You Own Your Website – Socials are Reliant on Algorithms
Quite simply, although social media is great, you have absolutely no control over it. You could have your account blocked or removed at any time without notice. You also have no say over what content is shown in other people’s feeds or how often they see your posts. The mysterious and magical algorithms define how much of your content is seen and often times, this is not as much as you would want. (For more information on algorithms, check out this post on HubSpot).
In contrast, you own your website, have full control over what can be seen and can guide people through the content on your site however you wish to. By all means share your website content on social media but getting visitors onto your website is the best way of getting exposure.
2. Websites Have Everything in One Place
Social media is a very fast moving platform and all too often content your post is quickly replaced by new content both on your own accounts and in the feeds of your followers. We have all felt the frustration of having glanced at something on someone’s social media feed and then gone back later to try to find it again to no avail.
Your website on the other hand is more static. Everything remains where you left it and, with the right strategies, you can easily guide people to elements on your site, and provide easy ways for visitors to find what they’re looking for. You do need to keep updating it and publishing new content but finding older posts is much easier on a website.
Absolutely everything your visitors could possibly want to know about you and your books etc. can be found on one website. Signposts from your home page or navigation can help them find that information quickly and easily.
3. You Can Write an Expanded Bio and Have an FAQ Section
Social media platforms tend to only give you a small area for writing your bio and other information. Facebook does enable you to have a more expanded about section, but Instagram and Twitter limit you to quite a small number of characters. How much can you say in those few words?
On your website you can have a full, expanded bio from which your visitors (be that readers, journalists, researchers etc.) can find out everything they want to know about you. You can further embellish that with an FAQ section, providing answers to the questions your visitors are most likely to ask.
4. Readers Can Easily Find Chronology of Your Works
If you write a book series, it is often the case that readers will want to read those in sequence. Having a page on your website that lists your works in order makes it easy for readers to find that information. You can also include links of where they can buy, making it super simple for readers to get hold of your books.
Even if you don’t write a sequential series, readers still might want to know in what order your books were published, or in fact, know what other books you’ve written, so having these in one easy to find place is essential.
5. Aids Researchers Find Information About You/Your Work
Related to points 3 and 4, researchers love it when they can easily locate all the information they need quickly and simply. Having all of that in one place can make their job an awful lot easier. They may in turn, be more inclined to promote you!
6. Websites are Seen as More Official
One of the main reasons authors should have a website is that an official website is seen as being more authoritative and trustworthy. Yes, there can be ‘unofficial’ websites but that is much harder to do than it is to set up an unofficial social media account.
7. Social Media Channels Can Be Blocked on Some Devices
Some employers and institutions do not allow the people to access social media while in the building. This can be set using firewalls and other technologies, and cannot be easily circumvented. Whilst this is not always a massive issue as people will use their spare time to browse social platforms instead, have you considered that Councils sometimes do this, meaning librarians cannot access social media whilst at work? If they want to find out information about you to promote you and your works, they’re unable to find that location during business hours. Having a website with all the information on it can avoid this issue.
8. You Can Publish Short Stories, Cut Scenes etc.
Your website is a great place to publish “extras” for your readers. This can be in the form of short stories (either standalone or that include characters from existing books), cut scenes, character profiles, back stories etc. All of these add extra value for your readers and will keep them coming back to you and your work over and over again. Take a look at my earlier post What Should I Blog About? – Supplemental Literature to find out why this is a great thing to do (and discover further examples).
Although you can post these on some social media platforms (Facebook and LinkedIn are less limited on number of characters/words you can have in a post), they are harder to share on Instagram or Twitter, and cannot be easily found again by followers at a later date.
9. It Can House Links to Podcasts/Media Interviews
Another of the great reasons authors should have a website is that you can link out to other websites that have helped spread the word about you and your work. Have you done an interview on someone else’s blog or podcast? Then share the link to that on your own site so your visitors can pop over and take a look. This not only promotes you and your books but also helps spread the word about other authors, bloggers, podcasters etc. A “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” approach to marketing is a great way to get yourself noticed.
10. Your Site Can Be Used to Show Sneak Peeks
Similar to point 8, you can also use your website to tease sneak peeks, cover reveals and competitions etc. in relation to forthcoming projects. Anyone visiting your website would be able to see up to date information straight away which can generate excitement for your next book. People will keep returning to your site to find out more and all of the information they will ever need to know will be right there at their fingertips.
11. A Website Can House Loads of “Extras” for Readers
With visitors popping back to your website regularly, you can give them lots of extra information. How about a monthly reading list, past newsletters, any extras you’ve written, lists of books, reviews, recommendations etc. This is all great content that provides extra value to your visitors and will keep you and your work at the forefront of their minds.
12. A Website Enables You to Grow an Email List
One of the top reasons authors should have a website is that you can gather visitor information and market to them direct to their inbox. By this I don’t mean hound them with sales emails but being in their inbox is personal and provides a valuable way of keeping in touch and informing readers of new books etc.
For more information on email list building and why it’s so important, check out my earlier post here.
13. Provide Easily Accessible Press Kit
In addition to providing information about you and your work, you can also have a link to your press kit for bloggers or journalists on your site. Again, this makes it super easy for people to get hold of all the information they need without having to go digging for it or to get involved in an email back and forth, saving time both for them and for you.
14. Publish Information for Book Clubs
Do you provide information for book clubs at the back of your books? If so, consider also having this on your website so that discussion groups can easily locate the information they need. Again, giving easy access to such information means that people are more likely to use you and your books for their discussion groups, which is great for your marketing campaigns.
Have you considered any of these in your own website planning? Do you believe that authors should have a website as well as social media accounts? Can you add to my list of reasons authors should have a website? Let me know in the comments, I’d be really interested to know why you think authors should have a website.