After spending months, or years, writing your book, it deserves to get the best exposure possible. One way to accomplish this is to set up a WordPress author website for selling your books, sharing excerpts, and showing testimonials.
This way, you’re able to offer extra value to your readers and establish a platform built around your own brand, not Amazon’s or Barnes & Noble’s.
Step 0. Get your foundation right
In order to create a WordPress author website, you’ll need two foundational elements before you can get to the fun stuff:
- WordPress hosting. Here’s how to pick a good host.
- A domain name. Ideally, you want this to be your name (or pen name)
Most WordPress hosts will automatically install WordPress for you, so it’s pretty easy to get started! And once you have WordPress installed, you can start making your author website a little more…yours.
Step 1. Find a WordPress theme made for building a WordPress author website
You can find free WordPress themes, but some of the best author/book themes cost around $50. These bookstore themes provide galleries, eCommerce tools, page templates, and more.
Although you might not need all of these features, keep an eye out for themes that include the following:
- A landing page or homepage that puts all focus on your book (or library).
- WooCommerce support for selling both digital and physical versions. You could also consider Easy Digital Downloads if all you’re selling are eBooks. Some of the themes have their own digital download systems.
- A book detail page with images, Buy buttons, descriptions, and links to marketplaces like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
- A responsive design that allows users to read the eBook previews right from their devices.
- Some sort of feature to offer readable previews right from the website.
- Multiple payment gateways so you have more options than PayPal.
- An author page to explain more about yourself.
- A testimonial module.
So how can you find such themes? Google can usually turn up some good options – but here’s a curated look at some of our favorites to get you started:
Step 2. Create a landing page
Your landing page is what readers see when they first visit your site’s homepage. Usually, you want to use it to promote your latest book.
David Sedaris does a good job of this, where his homepage always promotes his latest work.
Some landing page themes or services have more advanced designs than what Sedaris does, but he manages to keep things clean and modern, sending eyes directly to his book covers and Buy buttons.
If your chosen theme doesn’t have a built-in landing page like this, you can use something called a page builder to create one using drag and drop (no code required!). Here are two tutorials using:
Step 3. Start an email list immediately
An email list is the easiest way to market your book(s) for free. Furthermore, you’re able to remind fans about upcoming releases and promos, getting them to come back to your site without much effort.
Jeff Goins makes stunning landing pages for all of his books, and they have large cover art right next to an email list signup form.
Although this is taking it to the next level, Jeff provides an insane amount of value if you buy a book and sign up for the email list–with multiple file formats, and three extra worksheets and other bonuses.
This post shows you how you can create an email newsletter right from your WordPress dashboard. And here are some tips to get more email subscribers.
Step 4. Include testimonials or reviews
Both fiction and non-fiction writers can benefit from testimonials. More often than not you can reach out to influencers in your industry and provide a free version of your book. Then, you ask them for a quick testimonial and hopefully get something in return that you can publish on your website. Some authors also publish Amazon reviews on their websites.
As with pretty much all of these points, your best bet is to find a WordPress theme with a testimonial module. If not, we have a guide for making rotating WordPress testimonials for free.
Step 5. Provide multiple options to purchase your books
Some authors only sell on these marketplaces. But it’s also fairly easy to create your own bookstore using one of two WordPress plugins:
- Easy Digital Downloads can help you sell eBooks, but it’s not a good option if you want to sell physical books. Learn how to use Easy Digital Downloads.
- WooCommerce can help you sell both physical books and eBooks. And if you don’t feel like storing the physical books yourself, services like BookBaby will print and distribute them for you. Learn how to use WooCommerce.
Step 6. Display a portfolio
Sometimes there’s no need for a gallery or portfolio, but once you have a respectable collection of books to sell you’ll want to organize them into a filterable portfolio. Hugh Howey has dozens of books, so he shows all the covers in a portfolio, with filters that help readers filter out specific books.
Ideally, the theme you choose should have a gallery or portfolio tool. If not, the Novelist WordPress plugin provides a shortcode for a book gallery:
Are you ready to make your WordPress author website?
If you have some favorite authors, go to Google and start browsing their websites. You’ll notice that some big-time authors have terrible sites, while authors are top-notch. But by looking at both the good and the bad, you can better figure out the specific features that you want for your site.
Then, you can mix-and-match the features highlighted on this page to build the perfect WordPress author website for you.