Building an Author Platform: for Non-Fiction Writers

At author meets and even on email, I seem to have struck a similar vein when authors are asked when it will be time to build their author platform.

“I will focus on that when I’ve finished my final draft”

“I will start planning the marketing when I’ve got my production (cover, edits) done”

“I am in creative mode now, so I will worry about that when I am administrating and launching”.

In other words, they are putting off till tomorrow what they could (and probably should) be doing NOW.

Admittedly, it might help to have named your book title and come up with the angle – that is always going to help. But you don’t need to wait… FAME as an author never happens overnight. It is a long, slow road, best taken one pitch, tweet, or post at a time. Here is a simple break-down of the author platform steps.

Brand:

Set up your author brand colours (two is good), theme (i.e. saving money is mine), and get some initial author photos done. You’ll need another photo with the book cover later (which will contain your colours). Working with a designer will help to ensure your brand is awesome, from the typeface chosen down to the relevant logo for your imprint.

Create an Author Website… without a Migraine

When you’ve already expended $4,000+ to edit, produce and promote your book, the realisation that you need an author website to promote it online might bring up these two questions:

1.  Do I create a book website or an author website?

2.  How do I get a good result without busting my bank account?

There are a few more things to consider as well, so let’s open this can of worms now.  You need to know how to upload new books, social share, and post articles and media mentions. Naturally the best option to do this is with WordPress, but there is another option below.

You’ll need to realise that free isn’t without cost, and the choice of a supported pro theme is a good idea. (This is because a free theme could leave you with a non-working website down the track).

 

A Long Term Approach to Author Branding

Another aspect is, rolling with the times. you brand will grow and change. If you set up a ‘book’ domain and website, unless you have some expert support, you may not have enough time to justify a one-book-one-website approach.

But… with your Author Website, just like Jennie Brown or Jennifer Lancaster, the site can be added to and morph over a decade or so, as you put out more books and courses for your growing number of fans. (And you are capturing your reader emails with a valued offer I trust?)

Option 1:  A Novice to Websites… on a Low Budget

For novices to website design, I would recommend the bare minimum of:

1. Buying your ‘name’ or ‘business name’ domain name. Get it at Netregistry if you’re an Australian; they’re affordable and have support. Most hosts also sell domain names.  

2. Use SquareSpace. We have more instructions for this on this setup your author website page.

Option 2: Future Proof your Web Presence

If however you want to continually add and share articles and run a business too, then host a branded website yourself. WordPress (.org) on your domain name is the best bet for this.

Many website hosts offer a 1-click install in their control panel, to set up WordPress initially with one simple form. Others offer installation for a small fee.

Then the Theme shopping begins. Like a complex design skin, the theme lets you customise to your desired menu, navigation styles, sidebars, header images, static page as a home page, blog widgets, etc.  About 5 hours later, your head is spinning! 

So let me recommend some options based on experience.

 

Themes

1)  WordPress theme Impreza — my own website, JenniferLancaster.com.au, is based on this highly adaptable theme. It has its own header builder and is mobile responsive. $89. See http://impreza-landing.us-themes.com/

2)  Or choose your own from those quality checked by Envato.  | Click Below | 

Themes are not the final solution. You have to customise a theme, and this can be hard. BUT, if you get stuck there are plenty of WordPress pros to help out with customisation. I recommend Sphenn Stansfield in NZ to help with your WordPress development (US$25 an hour), or Matt Cummings (Red Sky Media) to do the entire website design. Email admin@businessauthoracademy.com to put through the recommendation. 

If DIYing, order some vibrant web banners containing your author photo and book cover, of the right size for your desired header image (usually wide). A .PNG file is a good option. Designers can blend several elements together, while sticking to your brand colours.

 

Bookstore

One book: just a focussed landing page with a giant book cover & order button & reviews will be good.

If you have multiple books, you might need a bookstore. The WordPress plugin choices I use and recommend are:

  1. Mooberry Books (see at JenniferLancaster)
  2. MyBookTable  (see at PowerofWords/bookstore)

They both work similarly; you just cut and paste your book information and buy links. As an author, you probably won’t need a Woocommerce or similar shop, unless you are selling other physical items. 

You can choose just to host one book sales page – with either of the Themes above.

 

Design Styles

What you must remember is… BIG.

You want your book/s to stand out big and bold, with solid endorsements or reviews as a clipped graphic underneath. With the book (hopefully in 3D), put a couple of hot selling points beside it. Don’t forget any ‘media mentions’; it all helps.

If you have reviews on Goodreads, then MyBookTable can feed those reviews into your page once the link is placed.

 

Hope for your Branded Author Website

Just like self-publishing books, creating a website is a 10-year plan, not a three-month push. When I think of my old website in 2004 and compare it to now, I laugh at my preconceptions that it was all about the design… and a graphic of a stack of books was a sales tool!  Expect your author website to morph with your changes, and tool it to receive more income from online sources.

I hope this post helps you create a website with more value and less trouble. If so, please share this post with your author friends.

End of content

No more pages to load