5 Things You Need BEFORE You Build an Author Website

checklistI admit it. I was wrong. I have told you in previous blog posts that it’s never too early to build an author website. Well … it’s time for a mea culpa.

I recently was working with an author who clearly had a lot of work to do before she was ready to build a site. She wasn’t really clear yet on her message, her goals, etc…

With that in mind, I present … the five things you need before you build an author website.

1. A goal for your website. What do you want your website to be? A place where people come to learn more about you? A way for people to sign up for your newsletters/updates? A resource for people who want to learn more about the information you convey in the book? Until you know what you want the website to be, there’s no point in building one.

2. A brand. What is your website selling? Is it the book? Is it you? And if it is you, what is it that makes you so interesting? All of this falls under your brand. And whether the brand is built around a business name, a book or series title, or your name, that brand needs to be in place before you build a website to compliment it.

3. An idea about your future. Is your first book going to be your one and only book? Do you plan on turning it into a series? Are you going to write other books? Having some idea of this (without being able to predict the future, of course) is so important. If your book is the first of a series, you need to build a site that can incorporate a whole series. If you plan to write completely separate books in the future, you need to build a site that can encompass different books in different genres. If your book is a stand-alone, then you definitely don’t need an author site; you need a book site. Having some idea about this is crucial before investing in a website.

4. A book cover (or at least an idea for one). Imagine this. You build a beautiful, flowery website that’s pink and purple and perfectly feminine. Then you get your book cover and it’s dark and mysterious. See anything wrong here? Your website design should match your book cover. It doesn’t have to match exactly, but they shouldn’t be distinctly different in look and feel. That’s just a confusing message to visitors.

5. An idea of your audience. Who does your book appeal to? Is it parents of young children? Fans of mystery/suspense stories? Professionals in a certain field? The purpose of your site is to sell your work to a specific audience; unless you know who that audience is off the bat, you will be wasting your time and money building a site that may or may not hit the target.

In the case of my most recent client, she really needed to hire a consultant who would have helped her nail down her goals, her message, her brand and her audience. Don’t make the same mistake.