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051: Author Sites (Pt. 2): Hitting a Home Run with Your Home Page

Last week we talked about how to get started with domains and hosting on your author website. This week, we’re diving in to your home page.

Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, as authors we are competing with the entire writing world, from other self-published indie authors to New York Times and Amazon Bestselling authors. What the competition has that you may not is an attractive and compelling home page that draws readers back again and again. Well now, we’re going to level the playing field. In this episode, we’re sharing tips from some of the best fiction and nonfiction authors’ websites and the tools you can use to get those over to your website working for you.

Are you ready to hit a home run with your home page? Here are the five things you must have on the home page of your site for it to be highly effective.


Have a Compelling Landing Page

  • Be sure to have a great graphic header that tells people where they are and makes no mistake about it. Keep it clean and professional if you’re a nonfiction writer or author limiting it to your logo, your name, and an image of yourself (if you’re associating your brand with your personal image) Take a look at AJJacobs.com or MichaelHyatt.com. Start thinking about how you can use this prime real estate to create a billboard for who you are as an author.
  • As with nonfiction sites, fiction landing pages should be clear as to their purpose, which is to inform visitors about your books and yourself. I think it’s a good idea to have your books as one of the first things visitors see along with your name and logo. One of my author friends, Keith Kareem Williams, has done a good job of this on his website. His books are front and center when you land on the page. There’s a clear menu bar where you can choose where you want to go. He has an announcements section just under the books display.


Offer Something Enticing

  • What can you give away to your site visitors on the landing page that will possibly convert to more books sold? Can you create a lead magnet (like a tip sheet, an ebook, a resource guide, or writing spreadsheet, like our sponsor Jamie Raintree does)? Check out James Patterson’s website (JamesPatterson.com). He offers several sample chapters of various new books. If you visit EOFire.com, John Lee Dumas offers a free podcasting program, a free webinar program, and a free goals workshop. Learn to think of your website as a storefront and not a brochure. People come back to stores, but they trash brochures when they lose their usefulness. What can you give your website visitors to keep them coming back for more?
  • Often times fiction authors that give away full-length books on their website to entice people to sign-up for their email list. Toby Neal is a police procedural/mystery writer who has a 12 book series. Right now she’s giving away a copy of the second book in the series in exchange for email addresses.


Capture Leads& Readers with an Email Opt-In

  • If you’re not capturing email from your website, you’re letting opportunities slip through your fingers. Your offer can be what you give in exchange for an email opt-in. This gives you a chance to build a permission-based email list that you can send updates and information out to.
  • You can use App Sumo’s WordPress plugin to create pop-up opt-ins like the one on Social Media Examiner (socialmediaexaminer.com). This plugin creates a window that pops up within 15 seconds of a user being on your site.
  • You can use Click Funnels or Lead Pages to create an opt-in landing page that readers have to interact with before viewing your website. Check out Jeff Goins’ website (Goinswriter.com) to see this in action.
  • You can use HelloBar and display your offer at the top of your website so it stands out. To see this in action visit Lewis Howes’ website at LewisHowes.com. It’s a handsome way to house your button and offer and it doesn’t get in the way or force the reader to interact, if that’s not your style.
  • And for your email responders, use MailChimp. MailChimp is a free email handler that allows you to push out email blasts. You can send up to 2,000 for free. Unless you have an autoresponder to deliver your giveaway, then they have a $10/month program for up to 500 subscribers.


Have Prominent Social Media Links or Buttons

  • Be sure to have visible social media links where readers can see and interact with them. Patt Flynn (PatFlynn.com) uses large bold text for his links.
  • Thriller author, Joanna Penn has fun round buttons to bring attention to her social links.


Captivate with an Engaging Video

  • YouTube is the world’s largest search engine after Google. People consume hours of video each day. Why not use video to introduce them to you and your books, or programs. Elizabeth Gilbert (ElizabethGilbert.com) does this well. She has a fun 6-second video on her website that shows you how she created the cover for her NYT bestselling book, Big Magic. Tai Lopez (TaiLopez.com) has his top rated TEDx Talk on his home page. Get creative and think about whether video would be a great engagement tool to connect you to your audience.


Showcase Your Books

  • Be sure that your book is on your home page if it’s new or if you’re still marketing it full-time. Of course, you can put any number of your books on your home page. That’s up to you. Just be sure that you put up the best version of your cover, one that is clear and easy to read. Use a service like MyCoverMaker.com to create 3-D book covers and electronic covers renderings (your cover in a Kindle, tablet, or a smartphone. This software whips up your covers and all you have to do is upload them to your website. An example of this would be Simon Sinek (StartWithWhy.com) who has a great graphic in the middle of his site of his two books and he invites readers to request signed copies.
  • Toby Neal’s site is such a great example of so many things. She has a neat slider that scrolls through her books at the top of her page. It’s a nice touch for someone with a large catalog.

Now that you have all of these amazing tools to get your site ready for readers, we’d love to hear what elements you plan to use. If it seems overwhelming, do what Kayla does and hire a web designer to take care of these details while you continue to write. She’s been working with Robert Wall at GoodStart Blogs for several years and loves not having to worry about her website. Like what you’re hearing? Be sure to share this episode with a friend and subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, iHeart Radio, or wherever you enjoy listening to podcasts.

Be sure to check the show notes to this episode to get links to the tools and bonus material not discussed in this episode.

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Episode Sponsor

This episode of The Art & Business of Writing is sponsored by Jamie Raintree. Be sure to check out this great writing tool that will help you stay on track with all of your writing project goals.