Platform Building 203: Plan Your Website

Janalyn Voigt, Author of Novel Books, continues the series on Platform Building.


House hunters usually come up with a “wish list” of features to look for in a future home. Similarly, in this post, I’ll suggest pages that you, as an author, might want to add to your Website. Only you can decide whether to put them on your “wish list.”

Your Website should help visitors understand, at a glance, who you are and what you write. For example, because I brand as the creative author of novel books, my Website features my image framed within a torn page. The entire template is positioned left of center, which reinforces the unconventional bent of my writing. Now, if I wrote formulaic fiction, this Website design would not work for me. Show yourself in a positive, and truthful, light.

To reinforce my brand as a creative individual (an artist), I include a poetry page and a page that features my drawings on my Website. Let your own brand guide your choice of pages for your site.

What about you? Have some fun finding the right template, background and colors to give the feel you want. You can use free pictures from http://morguefile.com and by searching the Commons at http://flickr.com. Read the site instructions to ascertain correct usage and photographer credits.

Common Website Pages

Home — This almost always contains a picture of the author (you). For camera-shy types (including myself), this is bad news. Get over it and get that amazing headshot that will present the picture you want to convey.

Other features found on a home page: a brief greeting, the author’s book cover, synopsis, endorsements and purchasing links, a book trailer, a link to podcasts, favorite links, your publisher’s link, an email button, a sign-in or register link to your forum, a book signing schedule, news updates, blog links, follow buttons for Twitter and Facebook, and a Facebook “like button.”

About (Bio) – Your personality and style of writing will dictate the tone you take on this page. Some writers have a natural flare for humor, so they entertain while describing themselves. Example: Michelle Griep‘s Website. Others are more formal. Example: Brandilyn Collins’ Website. Or, offer a combination of personal and professional information in an informal style, as Lynnette Bonner does. You could describe your journey, as Carla Williams does.

How do you want others to perceive you? What are you willing to share about yourself? Besides your biography, you might include press kit information about yourself and links where others may connect with you online.

Books or Writings – This is the page for book covers, back cover copy, tag lines, endorsements, links to sample chapters and purchasing the author’s books. It may also include blog links and links to archived and online articles by the author.

News – A page for the journey from idea inception, the research and writing process, publication progress, and book promotion. Lisa Grace does a great job of this.

Contact — Readers can fill out a form to connect with me. Others use a simple button that brings up a default email software window. Others just provide their email address. If you do this, protect yourself from spam by leaving a gap somewhere in the address or type out the @ as [at].

Links — If you provide helpful links, visitors may use your Website as a resource. This saves them from having to bookmark the links and is a great way to get traffic to your site. You also can support others by linking to them.

Speaking – Give a list of the talks you offer, your availability and your qualifications. Don’t forget to provide endorsements. Marlene Anderson does a good of presenting herself as a speaker.

Blog — Many authors include a blog on their Website. I’ll look at pros and cons of blogs attached to Websites or made through separate blog hosts next time.

Book Club Page – Use this page to offer special discounts and readers guides to book clubs.

Media Kit – Quick promotional information.

Homework

Make a “wish list” for your own Website. Look at various author Websites, especially those for authors in your particular genre or genres. Identify the pages to include on your Website.

Do you have anything to chip in to this discussion of Website pages and their content? Questions?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This post appeared January 18, 2010 on Author Haven. Used by kind permission.

Janalyn Voigt writes  novel books.

“Flower of Life” by Janalyn Voigt, in THE BOOK OF SYLVARI, Summer 2011.

DAWNSINGER, book one of her TALES OF FAERAVEN trilogy, will release with Port Yonder press in Autumn 2011.

Other publication credits include Focus on the Family, Scripture Press and Pentecostal Evangel. Janalyn is affiliated with ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and has been a NCWA member since 2008.  Visit her website.

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2 thoughts on “Platform Building 203: Plan Your Website

  1. Excellent pointers, Janalyn. I have a couple of additions:

    On your Speaking, About, or Media page, if you have a video of yourself speaking that you can embed (or link to it on YouTube or Vimeo), that’s always a strong selling point.

    A Contact form with a Captcha is a must. I had been using a visible link to my e-mail address and was inundated with spam. When I removed it and used only the Contact form with Captcha (where the person sending the email has to type in a series of letters/numbers or answer a question such as, “Is fire hot or cold?”), my spam decreased by 80%.

    Laura

    Like

  2. Thanks, Laura. You make some great suggestions.

    I just discovered the video idea you suggest and plan to incorporate it in my own speaking page. A person without a live video could use a voice-over behind images using Windows Movie Maker (a free program already on most computers).

    Agreed on the Captcha for your contact form. It’s horrible how much spam you get otherwise.

    Like

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