Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: Without question, social media has increased the opportunities for authors to connect with readers and build their brand. This only makes a dedicated web presence more necessary now than ever. Here are three reasons why you still need a dedicated website:
- First, social media is about sharing, not showcasing yourself as an author. An author website is about one thing: you. You are the focal point in the universe of your website.
- Second, social media is about change. Think of the torrent of posts on Twitter and the ever-changing news feed on Facebook. Your site, on the other hand, gives you the opportunity to build a case for your book and present yourself, and your ideas, in a structured fashion. You keep the site fresh by updating news, adding reviews, writing blog posts, etc. Change happens on yourterms.
- Third, social media is about “sameness” – your page on Twitter looks the same as anyone else’s, save for customized headers. That’s how it has to be for social media sites to “scale” and accommodate hundreds of millions of users. A (custom) author website is about creating a uniquepresence; you start with a blank canvas, then create a unique look and feel that conveys your brand with words and images. You can have any configuration of pages, content zones, downloads, and media. The specific look, feel, and even capabilities are up to you.
The website is your “mothership.” Social media can drive traffic to your website where you have total control over what the visitor sees, and your site should provide opportunities for people to share and like your blog content. Blog? See the next question.
The more pertinent question is: are you willing to blog? If so, then absolutely—we’re major fans of author blogs. Based on our 15 years of experience helping authors shine online, blogging is a one of thebest ways we know to reach out to the world with your ideas and build a community of dedicated readers who just may, at some point, buy your books. When you blog, you also create new content for the search engines to find which, in turn, helps with your SEO (search engine optimization). As long as you’re blogging three to four times a month and including keywords that relate to your work or your passions, it’s well worth the effort.
What should you blog about? Some clients ask why anyone would care about what they had for breakfast. And no one will, unless your meal was a daring and exciting culinary experiment, it somehow related to a major world event, or you penned a cookbook. Rather, you can use a breaking article in the news, topics trending on social media, or a gem that you found in your research as a point of departure. Tie it all to your work and whatever expertise you might have. Be sure to include photos whenever possible (be careful about violating copyrights) and embed links to relevant videos. There’s a universe of possibilities out there. And after you publish a blog post, don’t forget to share! By creating branded content on your blog, and then sharing it across your social media channels on a consistent basis, you can significantly increase your visibility and “cement” your brand in your readers’ minds while you continue to build a robust online author presence.
Yes. AuthorBytes creates mobile-friendly (responsive) WordPress themes that display properly on large monitors, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Responsive design doesn’t mean that the site simply shrinks so it fits the screen. Responsive sites automatically reorganize themselves based on the device’s screen. Users don’t have to scroll left and right, or “pinch and zoom,” to click on links or see smaller text. Worth noting, Google factors in mobile-friendliness when it ranks your site.
Think of WordPress as the scaffolding of a building—including girders, plumbing, electrical, and other services. A theme is the façade that wraps around the scaffolding. Your content is the furniture, desks, and people—everything that transforms the building from an empty shell into a vibrant, “living” structure.
Sorry. We create custom themes from scratch for each client based on their specific needs, a read of their most recent or representative book, their answers to an online preferences form, and their responses to a structured verbal interview that takes place during a conference call. The goal is to create a digital persona that best represents the author’s brand and highlights the author’s work in a compelling and effective manner.
A number of low-cost web-based offerings allow you create your own site. Before doing so, consider this: Creating an effective and compelling DIY author site is considerably more challenging than the marketing copy makes it seem. Also, build-it-yourself sites don’t come with strategic advice. Finally, it’s often difficult, if not impossible, to export your site to another platform if you want to upgrade to a professionally-designed site or another host.
AuthorBytes has built more than 600 author sites over the past 15 years, and has expertise in all aspects of website design, development, and beyond. Our goal is to create a site that’s not only visually compelling, but more importantly, communicates your brand while providing a satisfying user experience. You write, we take care of the bits and bytes.
Welcome to the boundary-less digital world, where you buy products and services from companies across the globe. We have clients living in major cities around the world (and a handful that live nearby). We communicate via email, telephone, and screen sharing. We use a variety of content transfer tools to collect clients’ text and photos and to display designs and prototypes. While we love getting together for lunch, coffee, or drinks with clients when they come to town; those offline occasions are almost always social. The real work happens over the wires. Whether or not we ever meet face-to-face, your site will be professionally designed and developed with the highest attention to detail. All of the preceding said, if you truly need to sit and watch over the designer’s shoulder, you’ll best be served by a local company (although the firm will probably prefer creating and showing you the work electronically, anyway).
No. We can get ideas from your existing site and use them as a basis for building your new one. Butgood creative design is part of a site’s DNA. When you do “genetic re-engineering” on a website, you usually wind up with a hybrid monster. Small touches usually have little or no effect on the site. Do it right and start from scratch.
Let’s clarify what “change” means. When it comes to websites, there are three types of change: routine, theme refresh, and transformation.
- Routine change focuses on the day-to-day items—news items, upcoming events, new videos or podcasts, swapping out author photos, and the like. The addition of new books and switching the hardbound cover to a paperback cover of a title also fall under the category of routine change. We train our clients so they can handle many of the routine changes themselves, or we manage the updates for them as part of a maintenance arrangement.
- Theme refresh, as the name suggests, entails changes to graphic elements and minor layout alterations. This might entail shifting the color palette or adding new content zones on the home page. It often doesn’t take a lot to display a fresh, new look.
- Transformation means creating a whole new look and feel. Some authors routinely want to redo their sites every two or three years for a completely new look and feel. Others are perfectly happy with their sites and keep them as is for many years. It all comes down to these questions: Does your site reflect who you are as an author today? Does it look contemporary, or is it starting to look dated? Are you still in love with it? Your answers to the above will dictate when it’s time to go back to the digital drawing board.
Yes, you can register your domain with us if you contract with us to build a site. AuthorBytes is also a domain registrar. We can register your domain and automatically bill you when it’s time to renew. We provide you with peace of mind that you will not lose your domain because you’ve forgotten to renew it. When we registrar your domain, you own it and have complete access to your domain account. If you’ve already registered a domain, we simply “point” it to our servers.
Yes. Our hosting includes all WordPress updates and security patches, plugin updates, enhanced security and antivirus protection, daily backups, 24/7 monitoring, and other important functions.
As an author, you are the brand. The vast majority of our authors have sites that showcase them as an author, highlight their current book, and display all or selected backlist titles as well. We typically create a one-book site in the following situations:
- A business executive or consultant has written a book and wants to give it a web presence separate from his or her corporate site.
- Someone has no plans to write another book. An author has got that “one book” out of their system. They had to write it, and they’re done. Although you never know; even Harper Lee had a second book in her, after all. (We still recommend creating an author site and featuring the one title; as any good publicist or book promotion expert will tell you, it’s all about the author rather than the book.)
- More rarely, an author has taken a major detour from his or her established genre, style, or other signature elements. The author may even have used a pseudonym. A new book simply doesn’t fit with the rest of the author’s site, and no amount of design/redesign will help. A dedicated book site can make sense in that case.
- Most rarely of all, someone truly loathed writing the book, but had to complete it personal or contractual reasons and is obligated to have an online presence for it. In that case, the book should probably be showcased on a site of its own.
Before we begin any site project, we explore all possible site configurations with you and get a firm understanding of your writing intentions and your short and long-term needs for your web presence.
Absolutely! We strongly encourage all of our clients to include a mailing list sign up function on their sites. (MailChimp is our preferred mailing list management service.) Mailing lists have become the Holy Grail of marketing and should always be included in your decision about what to feature on your site. People who sign up for your mailing list are part of a dedicated audience that wants to hear from you. But, as we tell all of our clients, don’t abuse the opportunity to email your base. Trust is hard to earn and easily withdrawn, especially when people can withdraw with a simple click of the mouse. We also tell our clients to be patient; don’t be discouraged if subscribers come in ones and twos. List building takes time. With patience, you’ll eventually end up with a mailing list that will be a valuable marketing tool. Even someone whose list boasts of 25,000, 50,000, or more opt-in names started with…one!
Once an AuthorBytes site goes live, you’ll have access to our online Client Center where you can request help by filling out a support ticket, read knowledge base articles, and review your current and previous support tickets. An AuthorBytes team triages service requests throughout the day and assigns them to the proper team member for resolution. We review and address trouble tickets immediately. More complex requests are handled on a case-by-case basis, and we work closely with you to make certain your needs are met in a timely manner.
We can always incorporate social media feeds on your site, typically on the home page or blog sidebar. That said, it’s a good idea to be realistic about your level of participation in whichever social media channels you want to feature. In order to keep your feeds (and hence your site) from looking stale, you’ll need to post frequently. If that’s something you enjoy doing, then an automated feed can be an interactive and worthwhile addition to your site. If not, you should perhaps reconsider.
Every site is different, and each AuthorBytes site is custom tailored and priced accordingly. We always work with clients to design the best site possible at the best pricing we can provide. Click here to fill out the form and start a one-on-one dialogue.