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.
Thanks to WordPress, this is surprisingly easy to do. 🤩 And in this post, I’m going to show you the exact steps that you need to take to get your own author website up and running.
📚 Table of contents:
- Step 0. Get your foundation right
- Step 1. Find a WordPress theme made for building a WordPress author website
- Step 2. Create a landing page
- Step 3. Start an email list immediately
- Step 4. Include testimonials or reviews
- Step 5. Provide multiple options to purchase your books
- Step 6. Display a portfolio
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
A WordPress theme is the foundation of your author website because it dictates how your site looks and functions at a basic level.
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.
Alternatively, you could also install our free Neve theme and choose from one of the many starter sites we offer our users. These starter sites are essentially pre-built website templates that you can edit to make them yours. They’re a huge timesaver.
As of the time of this writing, we don’t have a starter site that’s explicitly dedicated toward authors, however, there are a few that could still work if you adjusted them. For example, the Blogger one looks like this:
It doesn’t require too much imagination to see how you could change “Services” to “Books” and adjust the rest to give it more of an author feel.
Otherwise, if you want to conduct a search yourself, we suggest keeping 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 only PayPal.
- An author page to explain more about yourself.
- A testimonial module.
Although you might not need all of these features when you first launch your WordPress author website, as it continues to grow, your needs will likely grow as well. Having these features in your back pocket will prevent frustration down the line if you ever want to take advantage of them.
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, don’t sweat it. You can still build a landing page using the WordPress Block Editor. If you’re not a fan of the Block Editor, you can also use something called a page builder to create a landing page using drag and drop (no code required!). Here are two tutorials using:
For full transparency, we recommend sticking with the Block Editor but we understand everyone has their own personal preference. Hence why we provided you with multiple resources to get the job done.
Finally, if you want a more advanced option that will let you create individual landing pages for each of your books, then you can use the WP Landing Kit plugin for this purpose. It’s compatible with both the Block Editor and page builders.
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 has a beautiful minimalist author website that includes an email list signup form. Due to the design of the site, the email form is highly visible. It contains a description to the left of what you’ll get if you sign up. Simple and effective.
Check out this post on how you can create an email newsletter right from your WordPress dashboard to help you get started. 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
Ideally, you start with an email list and convince readers to buy directly from your website. However, we’re living in an age where Amazon dominates the book market, and you’re likely to make sales across multiple platforms like Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart, and in the Apple Store.
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. 😎
Have any questions about building your WordPress author website? Let us know in the comments!