Create an Author Website With Jimdo
Writing a book is not an easy thing. Being an author takes time, skill, passion, and commitment. And then after you have completed your masterpiece, you still have to find an audience for your novel, short story, or article. This is where a website can really help. A writer’s website acts as a central hub for all information surrounding your literary life. Share news, photos, writing samples, and links to all of your social networks and book retailers in one place.
Jimdo makes building an author website easy. Any of our flexible designs can become a wonderful author website template. And our sites have tools to help you land near the top of Google’s results so new fans can find you. It is also easy to integrate third-party tools like social media feeds, progress meters, and book reviews.
This guide will teach you everything you need to know about making your author website with Jimdo.
Start Creating Your Author Website
Whether you are just beginning your writing career or you are a successful novelist with dozens of books under your belt, Jimdo is a great solution for creating your author website. You can even make an author website for free and then upgrade to JimdoPro or JimdoBusiness when you feel ready to add your own domain name and want to get more serious about selling books and merchandise directly from your site or improving your search engine results.
Getting started building your Jimdo website is simple. Visit www.jimdo.com/templates and select a starting template. Don’t worry though, you can easily change Jimdo templates at any time without losing any of your work.
Select a Template for Your Author Website
With Jimdo, there’s no one specific “author” template that you have to use — Jimdo’s modern and responsive templates are available for all types of websites. With the right images and text any Jimdo template can make a fantastic author website that will look great on laptops, tablets, or phones. The template determines where on the page your logo, navigation, content area, and sidebar will appear. You can learn more about how to select the perfect template for your Jimdo website on our blog.
Making the best template choice for your author website will come down to the type of specific features and content you plan on showcasing, as well as your personal taste. Choosing a template with a sidebar is a good way to promote your latest book or a list of upcoming events. The content in the sidebar is always visible, which makes it a great place to promote your books and news.
Bordeaux, San Francisco, or Dublin are all great choices. If you want a more modern look for your author website, consider a template like Tokyo or Shanghai. Avoid templates with large “hero area” (visual areas at the top of the site), unless you have some fantastic photos that you think would help your personal brand.
You can select or change your template at any time by logging into your website and clicking Templates in the Site Admin and then selecting one to preview from the alphabetical list. If you like it, click Save, otherwise choose Undo and try a different option.
To see all the features of different templates and sort them to find ones that will meet the needs of your author website, browse the Jimdo Template Filter. Remember that you can change the color, photographs, and subject matter of the examples very easily.
Choose a Domain Name for Your Author Website
While anyone can create a free author website with Jimdo, most serious writers will want to use JimdoPro or JimdoBusiness so they can hide the Jimdo advertisement on their site and register and/or connect a custom domain name to make it super easy for people to find you and your work online.
Choosing the right domain name is one of the most important decisions you will make when starting out with your author website. Using your actual name is a logical first thing to try. Something like “JoeSmith.com” would work great, but might not be a great idea if your name is difficult to spell.
Avoid using your book title as the main domain for your author website. Your website should document your entire writing career, not just a single point in the journey. However, you can connect multiple domains to a single website. So you if would like to also register a domain based on the title of your book, you can have that also bring visitors to your main website.
If your name if very common and is unavailable, try something like “JoeSmithAuthor.com” or “JoeSmithWriting.com”. Since domain names are not case sensitive, you can always make them easier to read by showing them written or typed with the first letter of each word capitalized.
If possible, the best choice is still to get the .com version of your domain name to avoid someone else getting traffic while looking for you. Remember that domains can’t have spaces or characters other than letters, numbers, and dashes. A top level domain for “.author” is in the works, but these are not available for registration yet.
Avoid domain names that are too difficult to spell or ones that use hyphens, as those will require you to spend extra time explaining how to reach your website. Another common pitfall is replacing words with numbers.
What Pages Does an Author Website Need?
Most visitors expect to find certain information on an author’s website. You want to make sure that you provide all the relevant information for all the different groups of people that will check out your site: fans who want to find out more information about you, check the progress of your latest writing endeavors, and purchase books and merchandise, literary agents and editors following up on submissions that you have sent, press who want to interview and promote you, and bookstores and literary conventions who might be interested in having you come and speak.
Consider adding these pages to your website:
The home page is your chance to make a first impression. Make sure to have the most important information about your latest book, and a small paragraph-long mini-bio on the page. It’s also a good idea to add an email newsletter signup and links to all of your social media profiles.
Place your entire biography along with a headshot photograph on this page. You can easily add a high-resolution version of your photo as a File Download Element for members of the press to use.
For best results, you will want to create one page that lists all of your books, stories, and other pieces of writing, and then a separate unique page for each individual book. These standalone book pages are essentially product pages. You can use a Store Item Element to sell the book directly from your Jimdo website, but you also should link to every other place where someone might like to purchase it, including Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Though it may seem like overkill to add a new page for each book, it’s worth the extra effort. Doing so will give you a unique URL for each page (usually with the book’s title in it) and will boost your overall SEO. Then, on each page, you can add a basic synopsis and cover image, and include all the support materials about the book on this one page. You can have a video trailer, testimonials, reviews, and social media share buttons that make it easy for your visitors to share the link to that specific book page with their friends and followers on assorted social media platforms. Then, as your list of works grow, you have more flexibility to add new information than you would if you tried to fit every book on only one page.
Your contact page is how your fans, press, agents, publishers, or anyone who might want to book you for a speaking engagement can easily reach out to you. Place a Form Element on the page along with links to all of your active social media profiles. Lots of authors also include a mailing address, even if it is just a PO Box, as fans sometimes send handwritten notes or gifts.
If you go to literary or writing conventions, do book signings, or speak anywhere at all, mention it on this page. If your goal is to build an active audience for your writing, giving readers the opportunity to meet and speak with you in-person is very powerful.
Posting regularly recurring content on your website is a great way to improve your search engine rankings and it also helps to keep your audience coming back to your website. Post updates on your various writing projects, mention events, and link to influential or inspirational articles or happenings. Some authors post outtakes from their books like alternate endings or deleted scenes. You can also publicly answer user questions or post short stories.
Using your Author Website to
Build an Audience
The main goal of your author website should be to build out your audience and personal brand. You want your readers, interested journalists, agents, and publishers to see you as a professional. The look of your website will have a direct impact on their impression of you. It might not be fair, but just as customers in a book
store will judge your book by its cover, so will visitors judge you by the look of your website.
- Use imagery and design elements that will appeal to your readers. Obviously an author writing in the thriller, mystery, or horror genres should have a website that looks very different from someone writing in romance or fantasy. Just like with your writing, always think about your audience when making decisions about your website.
- If you are unsure of what to do or don’t feel that you have a strong design sense, err on the side of simplicity. A clean and minimal, mostly white website will not turn off any potential readers. On the contrary, a gauche color scheme, a cluttered layout, or poor quality images can negatively impact their opinion of you before they even read a word.
- Jimdo templates are built according to modern web design practices that strongly emphasize a logo. If you don’t have a logo, you have a few options. You can have a logo professionally designed for you, or you can make one yourself. Many authors use their signature as a logo. This can work well if it is readable. You can scan it and convert it to a solid black or white PNG file with a transparent background. If you don’t want a logo, just leave the Logo Area of your website blank and select a nice font for the Header Text area and put your name there.
- If you already have a solid following, consider using a progress meter when mentioning works in progress, especially if fans are waiting for a sequel to one of your existing books. There are several free and easy-to-use widgets that can generate a progression meter for your word count. Try putting one in the sidebar beneath the cover art for your next book.
Optimize your Book Pages
Whether you use the Jimdo store features to sell your books directly from your website, or you simply want to link to your Amazon product page, your book pages need to provide the right information to turn visitors into readers. Your book’s title, synopsis, and cover art are just the beginning. You can easily use the rest of the Jimdo Elements and third-party tools to incorporate just about any type of content you can think of.
Like it or not, Amazon is the driving force for book sales in today’s world. Why not use some of their tools directly on your website to help convert your readers? If you already have your book for sale on their platform, you can embed the Amazon Kindle Instant Book Preview right on your author website.
If Amazon is the most important retailer for books, Goodreads has emerged as the most important community for book lovers. It is critical to have as many reviews for your books as possible to help your potential readers find your novel within the noise. It is really easy to add a Goodreads Review Widget to your book page to let your visitors leave a review and read reviews from others.
One important note about the Goodreads widget in Jimdo: In order for the widget to display correctly with the settings you enter on the Goodreads form, make sure to copy and paste the code in both a Widget/HTML Element on your website where you want the Review Widget to appear and also in the Settings > Edit Head area. Each place will cut out some code, but together, the two code blocks will properly display your widget.
Promote Your Writing with a Newsletter
Building an email list is the best way to stay connected to the new and existing fans that find their way to your author website. The best option for running an email newsletter for writers is MailChimp. You can start with a free Mailchimp account that will likely be enough for most authors out there.
After you are signed up and have started to build your list, it is easy to embed a MailChimp signup form on your website wherever you would like it to appear. Putting it in the sidebar or footer of your website is a good idea as it will then display on each page of your site.
Search Engine Optimization for
Once you have all your content on your website, the next step is to make sure your author website gets the proper attention from Google and other search engines. The practice of actively trying to make your website more appealing to sites like Google is called Search Engine Optimization. Appearing in all the search results that you want will take time, but by following the advice in this guide, you will be successful.
Start by using the tools that Jimdo provides. Go to Settings > Site Title and entering your name. Next go through each page of your website and click on the SEO button on the Site Admin. For each page, enter a Page Title. This will be appended with the Site Title, so you don’t want to make it too long. You will see a handy preview of what your Google result will look like that will tell you if you use too many characters.
Take this opportunity to add a Description for the page as well. Make sure to mention the genre and types of books you write as they can be important terms that people could use to find you on search engines.
The most important thing to know about search engine optimization is that Google is smarter than all of us. You can’t trick it, so don’t waste your time trying. Make sure you have lots of text on your website that mentions your name, genre, book titles, and other noteworthy attributes that potential visitors might search for. It is also important to properly use headings throughout your site. Put one large Heading Element at the top of each page and use Medium Headings and Small Headings to introduce new sections of pages. Also make sure to update your website regularly. This should be easy to do if you are writing new material or doing any speaking engagements, but adding news about these things will keep Google (and your audience) coming back to your site regularly.
You can gain further traction for your author website by making sure that you link to your website from all of your social media profiles. Make sure you have a Google Plus listing and a YouTube channel as these are Google properties and usually show up pretty high in search rankings themselves. Then try to find logical web directories that make sense such as lists of authors in your genre or anything like that.
Do’s and Don’ts for Author Websites
By this point, you should have most of the basics of building an author website down pretty well, but it never hurts to get a bit more advice. Here are some more best practices to follow and some pitfalls to avoid:
- Do add lots of text to your homepage in a logical and clean way. Adding a small bio that describes your writing, books, genre, and style, along with information about upcoming releases or appearances is the best way to give your fans what they are looking for.
- Don’t make the homepage of your author website into a splash page. A splash page is when you arrive at a site and just see and image and a button and nothing else. This is frustrating for your visitors and will not do you any favors with search engines.
- Do create a separate page of your website for each of your books. Put all the information about that book on that single page and then you have a specific link that you can send out to fans, press, or retailers.
- Don’t use one of your book titles as your primary domain. Your author website should represent your entire writing career, not just a single book. If necessary, register the book title and simply have it redirect to your main author website.
- Do create an email newsletter to keep your fans engaged. Building an email newsletter list with a tool like MailChimp is easy and free. Make sure that the newsletter signup box is in a prominent spot on your website.
Author Website Checklist
Building a website for your writing is not difficult, but there are a lot of small details to take care of. This checklist can be really helpful to make sure you don’t forget any of the steps that will help you be successful with your website. If you have trouble with any of these steps, please explore the Jimdo Support Center.
- You registered or a connected a unique custom domain
- You created an email address using your domain
- You tried out a few templates and selected the right one
- You have created 4-8 pages of your website
- Your navigation menu does not break onto a second line
- (for templates with horizontal menu)
- You have a professional logo
- Your logo has a transparent background
- Your headings font stands out but is easy to read
- Your paragraph font is very easy to read and not overly stylized
- Your website colors match your logo
- You hid the login link
- You hid any unnecessary footer links
- Your background images are high-quality and look good
- Remove unnecessary or redundant header text
- You use images regularly on every page
- Your paragraphs are in short blocks of 2-4 sentences
- You are using Columns Elements to place content next to each other
- You have created separate book pages for each book
- You have added a newsletter signup box to your website
- You added a favicon
- You updated the Site Title
- You added a Page Title and Description in the SEO panel for each page of the site
- You linked to all of your social media profiles from your website
- You linked to your website from all of your social media profiles
- You have linked to all the places where people can purchase your books
- You have a list of upcoming speaking appearances or literary conventions on your website
Example Author Websites:
Template: Zurich (small header variant)
High-Quality Free Photographs For your Author Website:
Nothing beats using original professional photographs on your author website, but that isn’t an option for everyone. If you need some great photographs for your website, there are dozens of websites with fantastic photographs that are free and legal to use. These are great to use for background images on your website (where a thumbnail image of your book cover won’t be the right size or shape to work well). Here are just a few ones to start with. Click on each image or links to download the example or others from the same source: