A well-optimized author website can help an author brand themselves and sell more books. It’s an important marketing tool that provides readers, publishing professionals, and members of the media vital information. But designing one can be overwhelming — and on top of writing and other marketing activities, remembering to update it regularly can seem like a chore.
So what should an author’s website include (and keep up to date) at the very least? What crucial elements should you ensure aren’t missing from yours?
We scoured dozens of successful authors’ websites to see what elements they include with the most regularity and showcase several examples of each below. This way, you can see different formatting possibilities when you’re deciding how to incorporate these details into your own site. (Some elements may overlap, as authors often include multiple on a single page.)
- Books (with retailer links)
- Author bio (in the third person)
- Author headshot (with photographer credit)
- A way to get updates (via email and/or social media)
- A way to get in touch (with you or your publishing team)
Note that this is not a fully exhaustive list of everything you could include on your website. Rather, we hope that keeping this list short and manageable inspires many of our readers to carve out some time to optimize their websites!
Make it easy for readers to find all of your books — in the right order, if applicable — and in their preferred format by listing your books on your website and including all retailer links.
Kiru Taye – Multiple Series
Kiru Taye has the Books section of her website organized by series name.
On each book’s page, she includes the cover image, blurb, a buy button for each retailer where that book or audiobook is sold, and an excerpt from the book.
Brenda Novak – PDF Book List
Brenda Novak has also organized the Books section of her website by series, along with a brief description of each series.
Each individual book’s page includes the links where readers can purchase each available format. And scrolling down the page, you can see a list of other books in the series, in case any readers land directly on the book page via a search engine.
Notably, Brenda also has a printable book list PDF available to download, which she regularly updates with her latest titles. It’s so lovely and organized!
Jason Reynolds – Linking to Publisher Book Pages
On his Books page, Jason Reynolds breaks out different sections for his series and standalone titles.
Clicking on a book links to the page on the publisher’s website. Publishers usually do a great job of optimizing their book pages with retailer buy links, so this is a time-saving option for traditionally published authors.
Fatima Farheen Mirza – Standalone Novel
Fatima Farheen Mirza has a page for her debut novel A Place for Us, which lists its accolades, blurbs, a description, an excerpt, and a reader’s guide — and it includes a red buy button. Clicking that button opens an overlay that allows readers to select their preferred format from the dropdown then choose a retailer where that format is available.
Make it easy for event organizers, bloggers, and members of the media to write about you or grab your bio for their programming. This means writing your bio in the third person so they don’t have to do extra work rephrasing your first-person bio. You can find more great examples of author bios here. (Note that there’s a lot of overlap here with author headshots in section #3!)
Tayari Jones – Biography Page
Tayari Jones includes a Biography page on her website with her author bio, along with her author headshot with photo credit.
Kit Frick – Short and Long Bios
Kit Frick includes two bios on her About page: a short and long bio, both written in the third person. This gives bloggers and the media different options, depending on what they need.
Michael Mammay – Press Kit with Bio Options
In his press kit, Michael Mammay includes both a long and short bio, specifying the word count next to each.
Alexa Donne – Short and Long Bios
On her About page, Alexa Donne includes a standard short bio, then specifies that a longer bio is also available in her full press kit.
You can find these bios in her press kit below her high-resolution headshots.
Similarly, make it easy for event organizers, bloggers, and members of the media to find a high-resolution headshot of you. This not only makes their jobs easier, but it will also prevent you from feeling frustrated when a pixelated or old photo of you shows up in an important article. Remember to credit the photographer, reducing the need for back-and-forth over email.
Note that some authors with pen names prefer to remain anonymous. Even then, having a graphic instead of a headshot is helpful to decrease the chance that you’ll be excluded from an article or opportunity because someone couldn’t easily locate the right assets.
Angie Thomas – About Page
Angie Thomas’s About page includes her author headshot, along with photo credit hyperlinking the photographer’s name to his website.
Helen Hoang – About Page
Helen Hoang’s About page includes her author headshot with a photo credit. (Her website also consistently shows her social media links and newsletter signup form in the sidebar.)
Dahlia Adler – Media Kit
Dahlia Adler has a media kit on her website in which she includes her author headshot, photo credit, and reprint permissions. Also included are a short bio, standard bio, social media links, buy links, and anthology credits, and there’s a Google Docs link near the top of the page to download all the information and files.
Adam Silvera – About Page
Adam’s About page, like the rest of his website, is clean and simple, providing all the important information. It includes his headshot (with a photo credit) and a short author bio.
Make it easy for people to hear about your latest books and updates without needing to keep checking your website. Many authors choose to maintain a mailing list, while others link readers to their social media profiles. And of course, many do both — but what you choose depends on your unique audience and marketing goals.
Debbie Macomber – Top Navigation Bar
Debbie Macomber’s top navigation lets readers see where to sign up for her newsletter or follow her on social media — no matter where they are on her website.
Julia Quinn – Icons and Instructions for Connecting
In addition to having a newsletter, on her About page Julia Quinn includes icons to all the social media sites in which readers can follow her, and she also includes large callouts and instructions for how to follow her on Facebook, BookBub, and Amazon.
Barbara Freethy – Newsletter Signup
Nana Malone – Free Book for Signup
On her Newsletter page, Nana Malone encourages readers to subscribe to her newsletter by offering a free copy of her first-in-series book Sexy in Stilettos.
Make it easy for people to contact you. Some author websites don’t include contact information or a contact form, but you never know who might try to get in touch next, whether it’s a reader who wants to compliment your work or a Hollywood producer interested in optioning your title. Many authors include transparent messaging about their communication policy or list the contact information for people on their team instead (e.g., their literary agent or author assistant) if they feel they’re too busy to reply to all the messages they receive personally.
Jessi Gage – Contact Form and Social Icons
On her Contact page, Jessi Gage includes a basic contact form and links to her social media profiles, with a quick note that she loves to hear from her readers.
Derek Milman – Mailto Links and Contact Form
Derek Milman prefaces his contact form with mailto links to people on his publishing team, including his literary agent, film agent, and publicists. He also includes a link to download his press kit, which includes a long and short bio and high-resolution headshots and book cover images.
Kristin Hannah – Contact Form and Publishing Team
Above Kristin Hannah’s contact form, she includes a note explaining that while she reads all of her emails, she can’t personally respond to each one. Alongside the form is information on where readers can get signed copies of her books, plus the contact info for her publicist, literary agent, and film agent.
Helen Scheuerer – Contact Form and Other Resources
Helen Scheuerer’s Contact page includes a contact form alongside links to her rights management team, media kit, and FAQs. She also includes a widget with her latest tweet.
Building an author website doesn’t have to be overly complicated. But including these crucial elements will help people who want to read or promote your work easily do so!
What are your favorite author websites? Let us know in the comments below.
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