11 Author Websites That Get It Right
Now that you’ve learned our 10 Tips on How to Make an Author Website, you’re probably ready to set up shop. If you’re itching to make a big impression but need a boost of creativity to get you started, check out the 11 author websites below. Each website was picked because it features an example of effective and personal author marketing.
Take a look, and don’t forget to leave us your thoughts and opinions in the comments!
1. David Sedaris: Put your book front and center
Authors often make the mistake of thinking that people visit their websites just to read their bio. Are you, the author, important? Sure, but your book’s more important. Let people know they’re on an author’s website by making your product the star of the show, as David Sedaris does. A minimalist setup makes it impossible not to notice the main event: David’s new book.
Also important: the buttons below “Pre-order now” that steer folks to your retailers. To build the perfect author website, you must generate retailer links to your books. Once you have a book to sell, you need to make sure people know where to buy it.
PRO TIP: Keep site speed in mind! On the technical side, a simple setup will help your site load faster. Heavy images will slow a site down and frustrate visitors. They came to find out about your book, not wait around watching their fingernails grow.
Takeaway: Promote your book.
If a reader visits your site and doesn’t realize immediately that you’re an author with a book to sell, you’re probably doing something wrong.
2. JK Rowling: Add a social element
Granted, not every author can burn cash on a website like JK Rowling can. However, JK’s site features several practices that are just plain good takeaways for any author website. In Pottermore, she’s created an interactive book world where fans can interact with the website. (Bonus content and butterbeer galore!) You should offer such an option for the friendly visitor, even if it’s just a feed of your Twitter or a newsletter for updates.
And if you’re not on social media yet, get started. Amongst other things, it’s a powerful tool for building your community of fans and supporters. At minimum, you should be providing an email sign-up form on your front page to pick up those contacts.
Takeaway: Try to make your site interactive to encourage engagement and retention.
If you just make your site a static pretty thing, you’re wasting an opportunity. You want to engage people — and you want your interactions to be a two-way street.
3. Austin Kleon: Keep your website up-to-date
On that note, don’t show off your social media feeds if you don’t post regularly. Your author website should be kept up-to-date. Easier said than done? Yup.
Unless you can uncannily churn out quality books on a constant basis, your website will probably remain inactive for periods at a time. However, when people visit your site, you don’t want it to seem as though it’s been idly collecting dust for years. You want it to seem as though someone is home.
Austin Kleon’s website achieves this with regular blog posts displayed front and center. Straight away, you know that Austin is around and still writing. What’s more: it’s good for business! Studies show that businesses who run blogs have 55% more website visitors than those that don’t.
Takeaway: Give people a reason to come back.
Knock, knock. Who’s there? You should be. Something as simple as an up-to-date Twitter or an upcoming events feed can keep your website feeling fresh and show that you’re committed to interacting with your readers.
4. Veronica Roth: Go to your readers
The favorite social networking site of Americans under the age of 25 is no longer Facebook. The new winner? Tumblr. While Tumblr may not seem like the obvious home for the blog of a best-selling novelist, it starts to make a whole lot of sense when you think about the fact that “under 25” is the exact age group of Veronica’s readers.
Veronica doesn’t exactly need a leg up in terms of being found by her readers. However, the point remains that if you have written your novel for a market (and authors who have done their due research will know this is essential), then you correspondingly want to ensure you are putting your book and yourself out there in a way that is accessible to that market. Furthermore, by making her presence as an author known in an online space her readers already naturally go to, it’s almost like she’s just “hanging out” with them. In this way, she’s able to foster a tighter sense of connection between her and her readers, which goes a long way in ensuring future sales of upcoming books.
Takeaway: Make sure you’re visible to your target market.
Not all author websites need to be authorname.com. Figure out where your readers spend their time online, and make your website available there: go where your readers are. Don’t wait for them come to you.
5. Jon Krakauer: Negative space is your friend
An author website can’t (and shouldn’t) be a textbook. Instead of cramming text into every corner, use negative space. When you implement it correctly, negative space will make your visitors’ eyes jump wherever you want them to. (Hint: you want them to go straight to the “BUY NOW” button.)
Takeaway: Keep it simple.
An additional note: After writing about accounts of rape at the University of Montana in his most recent book, Jon uses his website as another way to help out, building his resources page specifically for victims of sexual assault.
6. Lesley M. M. Blume: Transport readers into the world of your book
When you first land on Lesley M.M. Blume’s website, you are greeted by an old, faded picture of a 22 year old Ernest Hemingway. Beside it, a caption reads: “Ernest Hemingway, age 22, turned up in Paris, determined to become the greatest of writers — but he could not break through. “I knew I must write a novel,” he later wrote. Easier said than done. There were at least three false starts. The only choice, he realized, was to “let the pressure build.”
This slide eventually moves to new picture of Ernest Hemingway in 1925, with another caption explaining the snapshot. Within the first few moments of arriving on Lesley’s site, you are aware that she is a writer, that she has written a book about Ernest Hemingway, and that the book is an intimate account of his life accompanied by photos. This quick preview of her book grabs your attention and is almost a book’s equivalent of a trailer.
Takeaway: Your website should visually give readers a taste of your book.
Allow readers to get an idea of what your book is all about right away — and do it in a format that is quicker and easier to consume than a full synopsis straight off the bat.
7. Judy Moody: Brand your site
An illustrative style on the website gets Judy Moody’s author brand across almost immediately: fun children’s books! Ultimately, the best author websites are the extensions of the author’s novels.
Are you branding yourself or a series? What’s the voice and tone of your novel? Who are your ideal readers and would your site resonate with them? What’s your author brand? Our co-founder spills more tips on author branding over on Book Machine.
Takeaway: Your website can (and should) be an extension of your author brand.
Keep the voice and tone of your website and novels consistent, so that people can recognize it.
8. Anthony Horowitz: Be selective in your use of color
A beautiful author website does not the colors of the rainbow make! Anthony Horowitz’s word may be murder, but the color is all orange. As designers know, the psychology of color can make or break your website. It’s not a competition you win if you manage to splash all your favorite colors onto it.
Instead, use one or two colors to draw visitors’ focus towards the most important things. Here, the color orange cleverly tugs your attention towards two elements: Anthony’s name and also the oeuvre of books down at the bottom — where, incidentally, one click will take you to an Amazon page to purchase said book.
PRO TIP: Did you know? You can find Liam Fitzgerald, the designer of Anthony Horowitz’s website, right on Reedsy’s marketplace. This is what Liam said to us about the behind-the-scenes process:
I’ve been working with Anthony for almost 13 years now (Yikes! was the word Anthony used when I reminded him of this recently). The first site was just plain old html and had no such fancy things as content management systems. The second version of the site lasted for quite a few years and was built around a core of WordPress for the news section with a patchwork of other scripts running other areas of the site, we had the photo gallery running on one application and the forums running on Simple Machines. It worked but of course it was very fragmented with each section requiring it’s own login and having it’s own templating and setup idiosyncrasies.
Conversations about a redesign has been going on for quite sometime and in late 2014 I went to London and met with Anthony to discuss how we would overhaul the site entirely. For the design Anthony’s overriding directive was that it was’t boring!
For me there was only one solution in terms of a content management system and that was Expression Engine. I had been using it for years on many other sites so when it came to rebuilding Anthony’s site it was a no-brainer. All of the disparate parts of the old site all of the separate functions could now be managed with one application. All it took was a 10 minute demo on a test site to show Anthony’s assistant how to create and edit content via the CMS.
All content is controlled by the CMS including the forum so we no longer have multiple logins and there are powerful membership capabilities. The image galleries are managed via Flickr. All book cover images are pulled directly from the Amazon api so are automatically updated even when the publisher changes the cover and we can easily accommodate both UK and US versions of the cover art. Anthony uses Twitter regularly so having an embedded Twitter feed throughout the site was a given.
From a content point of view the main challenge was in accommodating the volume of work that Anthony has produced over the years. He’s not called “the busiest writer in Britain” for nothing! We accomplished this by separating Anthony’s work into broad categories, Books, Television, Theatre, Film and Journalism. The books section was then subcategorised so that readers could find all books by series.
As the site is very popular we ensured that the hosting infrastructure can cope with high levels of traffic. In addition to that we utilise a leading content delivery solution from Stackpath to serve all of the site’s media assets, so that visitors experience the best site loading speeds wherever they are in the world.
Takeaway: Don’t use all the colors in the rainbow if you don’t want to distract visitors.
Less is more — this is especially true wherever color is concerned.
9. Gretchen Rubin: Make your website a "place to be"
The best way to keep people coming back to your site is to offer them something of value. If you can offer a little something extra other than details about you and your book, you are more likely to build an online presence and to become a resource people come back to.
Gretchen Rubin has done this by devoting whole pages of her sites to tips-filled listicles, “revealing” quizzes, podcasts, and resources for applying her methods for a happy life — all of which her self-help market will likely find value in and return to her site for.
Takeaway: Offer a little something extra.
Giving your readers a reason to visit your site beyond the promotion of your book is likely to create loyal customers.
10. Brent Jones: Use a lead magnet
One of our tips for author websites is to use a lead magnet. A lead magnet is a tactic for capturing a visitor’s contact information. In publishing, that usually means offering some sort of free content in exchange for a person’s email address. Reedsy’s very own Brent Jones exemplifies great use of a lead magnet by offering of a free sample of his book in exchange for subscribing to his website.
However, a free sample does more than just incentivize people to offer up their contact info. If you’ve read our Reedsy Learning course on how to run a price promotion, you’ll know that offering a free book is a great way to hook readers and to create a loyal fanbase for future publications. Offering a free sample can work similarly, giving readers a commitment-free chance to get sucked in by your book, leaving them more likely to pay to read the rest.
Takeaway: Offer readers a free sample of your book.
Lead magnets can help you build your mailing list so that when you publish another book, you already have a group of people to advertise it to. Ensure that your lead magnets offer people a concrete reason to sign up.
11. Gary Shteyngart: Give it a personal touch
Remember when we said to keep it simple and use few colors to your advantage? Well, that remains true. However, sometimes there are exceptions to the rule. Just be aware that if you are going to go against the grain, it needs to be purposeful. Take, for instance, Gary Shteyngart’s website. It has all of the necessary information (see #2 in our post on building the perfect author website): retail links, a short biography, contact information, and links to social media. But it is also loud, splashy, and definitely colorful.
In this case, breaking the rules works for Gary. His website reflects his satirical writing with it’s campy, old school layout and flashy colors which almost feel like they’re poking fun at the publishing industry, which can often be lofty with the desire to appear serious in order to reflect intellect. Upon first glance at Gary’s website, you might think, “Well, that’s zany.” And if so, two accomplishments have been achieved: (1) the website has left an impression that’s on-point with the author’s brand, and (2) it has given you an idea of what Gary’s writing is like.
Takeaway: Know when to break the rules.
The rules work for a reason. Break them if you have a concrete reason to, but if your objectives in going against the grain aren’t met, re-visit our previous takeaways and think about sticking to tried and true methods.
In order to sell books, indie authors need to first invest in their books. Part of this involves using as many of the marketing resources in their arsenal as possible, and this absolutely includes an author website. Each of the examples showcase best practices when it comes to author websites, but remember that your own website shouldn’t simply be a copy of an existing one. Take our tips and make them work for you.
And if you need a hand in getting your author website set up, head to the Reedsy marketplace where we have just welcomed a host of talented, professional web designers. To find out more about how these professionals can help you build an online presence and get a free quote, visit our Author Website Design page.
If you're looking for even more inspiration, check out an older post of ours on Author Website Design Inspiration.
If any of our tips help you improve your author website — or if your site hits the mark to begin with — drop the link in the comments so we can check it out!