Build Your Own Author Website – Step One

Build Your Own WebsiteWhen I was asked to speak at the California Writer’s Club/Sacramento  last year about how I’d built my website and decided on my platform and marketing strategy, my first thought was: Hold it! You’re talking to a technological greenhorn here—Miss trial and error, Miss whoops that didn’t work out too well, Miss if you don’t at first succeed, try, try again.

In other words, I’m hardly qualified.

But then I thought: Maybe that’s the point.

It’s no secret that many writers take on website building and marketing strategy because they must, not because they have a talent for it or even remotely want to. So there was a strong possibility that many of the writers attending the CWC meeting would be favorable to hearing how an amateur managed to accomplish a task that at first seemed overwhelming.

Unfortunately, with about forty-five minutes to share all the information that took me months to unravel and adapt to my needs, I’d only have time to present the bare bones version of website and platform building, enough to possibly get my audience pumped up to try it at home, but, by its very nature, also likely to elicit more questions than answers..

So, I put together a series of short, step-by-step posts reiterating and augmenting what I would share in my talk.

When members of the VFA steering committee suggested that I publish my “Website Building” series at the Visionary Fiction Alliance, I once again worried about my amateur status. However, I agreed to give it a try and continue or discontinue the posts depending on the response of our readers.

The “Website Building” series will consist of short, step-by-step posts, presented on the third Monday of each month. And by short, I mean short—just long enough for a newcomer to website and platform building to absorb and adapt to their needs in one sitting without becoming frustrated.

Why Build an Author Website?

As an author, you need to build a foundation for your marketing plan—a central online presence. Yes, even if you’re J.K. Rowling.

Consider your author website a place where visitors from all over the world can visit you twenty-four seven. You’re always at home, your windows and doors are wide open, your house is tidy, and the furniture is crisp and new and perfectly arranged in welcome. Visitors can inquire about your writing, where you’ll be signing or speaking, and when your next book will come out. You can provide them with your social media links and links to where your books are selling, plus share videos, reviews, and a bit of your history.

Ready to give it a try?

If so, then let’s get started.

Building an Author Website, Step One

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of creating your own website, I encourage you to take time to check the websites of some of your favorite authors to reinforce in your mind the importance of providing a hub where your readers can find you and communicate with you via your contact information.

Here are some of my favorites:

Dean Koontz

Joanne Harris

Sue Monk Kidd

Carol  Goodman

Elizabeth Berg

For each author website you visit, note the following:

  • The name typed into the address bar to direct viewers to the site.
  • The name of the website.
  • The placement of the author’s name.
  • Website subtitles.
  • Links to social media
  • The website’s page links and where are they located.
  • The contact form.
  • The header image.
  • The placement of the mail list signup, otherwise known as “opt-in form.”
  • The author’s photo.

Okay, so that’s it for step one. See what I mean by short, absorbable posts?

Go ahead and take a breather. You deserve it.

Next month, we’ll move on to some important questions to ask yourself before you start building the hub of your marketing plan.

For those who feel up to it, you can advance to Build Your Own Author Website: Step Two–Key Decisions, though my advice is to take it slowly. Mistakes are part of the learning experience, but they tend to compound when you’re in a hurry.

WordPress for DummiesIn the mean time, to make your job (and mine) easier, pick up WordPress for Dummies, a book that served as my guide while building my own website.


About Margaret Duarte

Although warned by agents and publishers that labeling her work Visionary Fiction was the “kiss of death,” Margaret Duarte refused to concede. “In a world riddled with fear, misunderstanding, and lost hope,” she says, “I believe there are people prepared to transcend the boundaries of their five senses and open to new thoughts and ideas. The audience is ready for fiction that heals, empowers, and bridges differences.” Margaret joined forces with other visionary fiction writers to create the Visionary Fiction Alliance, a website dedicated to bringing visionary fiction into the mainstream and providing visionary fiction writers with a place to call home. In 2015, Margaret published BETWEEN WILL AND SURRENDER, book one of her "Enter the Between" visionary fiction series, followed by book two, BETWEEN DARKNESS AND DAWN, in 2017. Through her novels, which synthesize heart and mind, science and spirituality, Margaret encourages readers to activate their gifts, retire their excuses, and stand in their own authority. Margaret is a former middle school teacher and lives on a California dairy farm with her family and a herd of "happy cows," a constant reminder that the greenest pastures are closest to home.
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8 Responses to Build Your Own Author Website – Step One

  1. Thanks, Margaret. This is quite helpful.


    • You're very welcome, Theresa. I wonder if there is a need for this information about building one's own author website, since most members of the VFA probably have their own websites and author platforms in place. However, for those authors just starting out and those that have put off the inevitable need for their very own place in the public sphere of the Internet, I'm giving it a go. Thanks for stopping by.


  2. Vic says:

    Great that you made looking at other successful websites the first step. I actually tried to get through the how-to manuals for WordPress before doing this and got bogged down. Having an overview of a writer's site, what mine might eventually look like to start with, would have saved me hours of cement-headedness.


    • I'm glad to hear that you like having an overview of other successful websites sites as a first step in website building. I've found that rushing ahead without getting a feel of what we want our sites to look like does lead to some wrong turns and , as you say, hours of cement-headedness. Yes, mistakes are part of the learning experience, but they tend to compound when we’re in a hurry.


  3. I love how practical and simple your steps are – thank you, Margaret! Even if we have our websites set up, it's useful to fine tune them.


    • You're welcome, Jodine. Often the instructions for the things we must learn as authors are presented to us in ways that are far too complicated and off-putting. I'm trying to explain the website building process as I wished someone would have explained it to me. It would have saved me a lot of time and frustration.


  4. Margaret, I think this clear cut and step by step approach is useful for both those starting out and those experienced in designing their author websites, Thanks for this guiding series.


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