One of the most important decisions that’s made in the process of designing an author website is how much the site should resemble the book cover. In an attempt to answer that question, here’s a list of dos and don’ts, based on my personal experience with authors:
- Do put yourself in the position of a first-time site visitor. Will they know what your book is about just from seeing the photos/domain name in the header bar? If you have a subtitle or a “burst” on the cover of your book that better explains what it’s about, don’t be afraid to replicate that in the design. You want people to get to know as much about the book as possible at first glance.
- Don’t tie yourself to one book … unless that’s your only book. Some authors I work with have written one book and swear it’s their last. If that’s the case, then there’s not much harm in designing the site around that book. But if there’s a chance that you might write more, you don’t want to be forced to redesign your site when your second book comes out.
- Do replicate the fonts from your book cover. Your cover designer probably took a lot of time in deciding what font best represented the feel of the book. And assuming you like it, it’s not a bad idea to use the same font on the website (at least in the header bar).
- Don’t let the site become too bland in terms of colors. A book cover will generally include two or three colors. You’ll probably need more than that in a website. So if you plan to replicate the book cover colors, make sure to add a few “accent” colors to make it a little less monotone.
- Do use images from the cover. If there’s a photo on the cover that you feel best represents the theme of your work, don’t be afraid to use it in the website design as well.
How closely an author’s website should resemble the book cover depends on a variety of factors: how many books (and in how many genres) the author plans to publish, what colors/images the cover includes, whether or not the book title/site name clearly conveys the subject matter. It’s different for each author, but the guidelines above should help you get started.
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