9 Elements Your Author Website Must Have

I was reading my trusty “Internet and Marketing Report” this past weekend, and came across an article about 9 “can’t-afford-to-forget” elements on any website looking to sell something. An author website is no exception.

With that in mind, here’s what they had listed, along with my author-slanted twist on each one.

1. Descriptive headline. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You’ve got three seconds to catch someone’s attention. Make sure you take advantage of those three seconds with a headline that tells people what they will get out of your book and your website.

2. Brief benefits copy. People are more likely to buy your book if you can tell them what they will get out of it. For a nonfiction author, this may mean “information on… that you can’t find anywhere else.” For a fiction author, it may be something like, “laugh and cry at the same time.”

3. Above-the-fold call to action. For those of you not familiar with these terms, let me define. “Above the fold,” means what someone sees on your site without having to scroll down. “Call to action” refers to a specific direction on what to do. So, an “above-the-fold call to action” is a specific action — be it “buy the book” or “sign up for the newsletter” — that you’re encouraging someone to do immediately upon arrival.

4. Features. Once you’ve sucked someone in with the “benefits” of the book, now you have to tell them about the “features” of the book. For example, how long is it? How many chapters? What formats do you sell it in?

5. Success indicators. Make sure to include excerpts from rave reviews of the book, testimonials from professionals, etc…

6. Supporting image. Use a picture (and not a stock image) to sell your book and your website. Maybe it’s a powerful book cover. Maybe it’s a photo of you. Whatever it is, make sure it conveys something.

7. Resource center. According to Internet and Marketing Report, about 96% of website visitors won’t be ready to buy anything right away. So make sure you give them a place they can spend some time on the site, learn more, and come back to regularly.

8. Content offer. The best thing you can do is collect a visitor’s email address. But how do you get them to give that to you? You offer them a bonus for doing so, like a downloadable white paper or a list of secrets behind the book.

9. Social media icons. This is practically a requirement in 2012. People want to know that you’re up-to-date and responsive. Having places for people to friend or follow you on Facebook and Twitter sends that message.

See? An author is just like any other website owner. Follow these nine guidelines and you will have an author website that helps accomplish your goals.