Author Websites and Self-Promotion

Dickens poster

Charles Dickens was a big self-promoter and if he were writing today would definitely have a website and be on social media!


I have built websites for several authors and their needs are generally similar. (A few samples are here.) If someone just typed your name in the search bar, what would we find? Chances are they are looking to find out About You (biography), your Publications, any Events you might be involved in (readings, workshops) some samples of your writing, and a way to Contact you. And those topics make up a reasonable starting place for a website menu.

For a business, if you don’t have a website you don’t exist, and for a published (or hoping to be published) author that is also true. In 2020, a website is a mark of validity. (That is unfortunately also true for conspiracies, scams, and questionable groups.) Every writer should have a website as a way to market and promote yourself and your writing and build your audience.

I have worked on designing sites for a number of writers who were actually told by their publisher that having a site was a requirement for being published. The bigger publishers often will host a page for your book with a few of those elements but a lot of the marketing of writers (especially novices) falls on the author. Self-promotion is important.

That self-promotion online has a lot to do with having a social media presence on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram etc. It can also be having a blog as part of your website so that fresh material is out there about you. If the only update to an author site is when they have a new book (which might be a year or years apart), people are not going to return to your pages.

Every writer I have worked with or just talked with about websites has wanted to know how to get their site to be the top result when someone searches for their name. That’s a whole other topic but in general, your “page rank” from Google and other search engines largely results from how many other sites link to you and how important those sending sites rank themselves. A link to your website from The New York Times is going to move you up a lot more than a link from your friend’s blog – though both are important to have.

Here’s a quick set of tips to help writers increase their search results, and I’ll write more about search engine optimization (SEO) in other posts – including the scams involved in paying to get higher results.

Branding Versus Personality

personal branding needpix

Branding – personal branding – should be closer to a personality than a brand.

Do you get an impression of someone’s personality (consciously or subconsciously) at the first meeting? With people, that means things like body language, attitude, and tone of voice, even physical elements that we know are not really part of their personality.

We make fairly quick judgments about things like trust and based on these early impressions we decide if we want to continue a conversation or consider a stronger relationship.

Does that happen with a brand? I suspect that companies not only have brands but a kind of personality – if their branding is well done.

An online personality – like online dating – can be tricky. I’m more interested in my online personality even if I know from a business sense it is my brand. If people come to this website and explore a bit, they get some sense of my personality. Hopefully, it resonates with them and they engage or at least leave with a good feeling. It has been shown that when people have an emotional connection to a brand – as is the case with a PERSONality – it is of much higher value in the longterm.

An article on cultivating your online personality is about companies and brands but it can apply to personal brands too. That personal brand comes from what is communicated in any personal contact you have with a client, your website, social media presence, and any other digital platforms.

It may seem strange to think of yourself as someone who has attached to your personality things like “copy”, a color palette, a font, imagery, etc..

That article recommends 3 things:

1. Choose and maintain a consistent tone
2. Help your audience associate a face (or series of faces) with your brand.
3. Make your aesthetic cohesive across all channels from logo and fonts to colors and style across all digital platforms.