Last updated Jul 1, 2024 | Author blog

If you’re getting serious about your writing career, you may be thinking about whether or not to launch your own personal website. After all, it seems like everyone and their cat has a dedicated website these days. But at the same time, they’re an investment of time, effort, and money, and they can be challenging to build on your own. So is an author website really essential to literary success?

We’ll give you some ideas for planning out your author website, and show you why we think it’s a smart move for authors at all stages of their journey.

Why should you create an author website?

An author website is a writer’s official calling card, and it does a few helpful things if you’re looking to build a life telling (and selling) stories.

A personal website shows readers, literary agents, publishers, and event facilitators that you’re serious about your writing. It elevates you from a hobbyist writer to a working professional. This helps develop trust in the people who will be working with you or engaging with your writing in some way.

It also gives you an avenue with which to directly communicate with your readers. Not every reader uses social media, and some outlets — like the platform formerly known as Twitter — can’t be accessed by people who haven’t signed up for an account. But, almost every reader has internet access, which means your website is their first stop when they’re trying to learn more about you and your work. It’s where they can learn what else you’ve written that they might enjoy, see what new projects or events you have coming up, and send you their questions and/or adoring praise.

Plus, some writers use their websites to sell their books directly to readers through an online shop. This means you can make more profit on your books because you’re not selling them through a third-party retailer.

What should you include on your author website?

An author website should include, at a minimum:

  • An “About Me” author bio that introduces readers to who you are, what you’ve published so far, and what inspires you to write
  • A list of all your books so far, if you have them (note that you don’t have to have published a book yet to have an author website. You can create one early if you’re working on a novel or are entering the querying stage with the aim of publication)
  • Links to any of your stories, poems, or essays that are available to read online
  • A blog or news page to share updates, like where you’ll be signing books or what you’re working on
  • A way for people to get in touch with you

You might also choose to include:

  • A professional photo of you
  • A place where readers can sign up for your newsletter
  • An online shop where readers can buy your books or merchandise (like snazzy bookmarks with your cover art on them)
  • A dedicated list of upcoming appearances, if you’re going around to a lot of bookshops or literary festivals
  • Book club guides with thought-provoking discussion questions
  • A media archive showing any interviews you’ve done with magazines, newspapers, or podcasts
  • An overview of any writing-adjacent services you might offer such as editing, developmental critiques, writing workshops, or freelance writing

Obviously, you may not have or need all of these things right away. You can start a simple website with only the basics and then add more elements as your writing career grows.

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What should you avoid on your author website?

Your author website should be clean, accessible, and professional, so steer clear of anything that makes it look unprofessional or cluttered. This means avoiding:

  • Overly fancy fonts and design elements that could be challenging for visually impaired or neurodivergent people
  • Blurry, on-the-fly selfies (it’s worth investing in a professional photo session, or at least a cheap tripod for your phone)
  • Excessive rambles about your darling children/pets/model train set (we get it: you love your kids. But that’s not why your reader is here)
  • Swearing, unless it’s really a strong part of your personal brand (for instance, if you write humorous self-help books that would make sailors blush).
  • Links to social media accounts that you haven’t posted on in years

Remember that everything you include on your website should, directly or indirectly, relate to the work you produce for your readers. Everything else should probably find a home elsewhere, like your personal Facebook page.

Examples of effective author websites

Let’s look at how a few writers have designed author websites that work well for their brand.

Adrienne Young
Adrienne Young’s website is crisp and clean without being sterile; the soft colours make it look welcoming. She has her newsletter signup right front and centre, from which you can easily navigate to other areas. She has her books broken down by genre, and her contact page contains a detailed breakdown of who to get in touch with depending on your mission. This website manages to juggle a lot of information without ever feeling chaotic. 

Anthony Horowitz
Mystery writer Anthony Horowitz’s website has a completely different feel. It’s much more traditionally masculine, giving the reader an idea of the tone to expect from his work. He chooses to feature his latest news update on his homepage. At the top, you can visit a range of areas. There are quite a lot of categories, which Horowitz balances by keeping the font small but bold enough that it’s still easy to read. He also features some of his most recent releases at the bottom of the page. 

Auralee Wallace
Aurallee Wallace is another mystery writer, but her website has a very different mood. Hers is full of colour, and the first thing her homepage features is her two bestselling books. She uses images and subtle animation to make you feel like you’ve wandered into an evening garden party. Unlike the previous two examples, this writer has a limited number of categories at the top of her page, making the site easy to navigate. 

Using these examples, and the websites of your own favourite writers, think about what kind of tone and personality you want to use to connect with your readers. 

Fija Callaghan is an author, poet, and unapologetic daydreamer. Her work has been shortlisted and longlisted for a number of short story prizes, and you can find her writing in publications like Gingerbread House, Crow & Cross Keys, Corvid Queen, and Mythic Magazine. When not writing or helping other writers get the best out of their work, she can be found haunting her local bookshops or watching the tide come in.

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Join our email list for content and opportunities to help you develop your writing, promote your books, and build your author business.