the start of a long road through a desert
Teylor Schiefelbein

6 Things to Have Before a Website Build as an Author

We’ve created a helpful resource for those working on a book and thinking about building an author website to promote it.

Preparing These Items Will Make Building Your Author Website Easier

We often serve authors at Alter Endeavors, and we wanted to create a helpful resource for those who are working on their first book and are ready to think about building their author website to market it. We’ll cover the top 6 things for authors to have ready before embarking on a website project to ensure it’s a smooth and efficient process.

an example of an author website with text overlaid that reads "6 things to have before building an author website"

1. Personal Branding

When building a website for an established business, we typically know what colors, fonts, and design elements to use thanks to a pre-existing Brand Style Guide or by basing it on the look and feel of existing brand assets. For authors, the recommended route can depend on your ultimate goal—do you want to build a website specifically for this book or do you want to build an online platform that supports your future endeavors? The former route allows us to refer directly to the book cover and themes when designing your site, whereas the latter is structured around you as the focus. Ultimately, this decision determines whether we’re able to get right to website-building or if time needs to be spent identifying the design elements of your personal brand.

2. Personal Brand Photography

Some level of personal brand photography is a must, however, the style of those shots will differ if we’re building a book website vs. an author website. The book website would include classic “author” headshots—you in your writing environment or in settings that correspond with your book content. If the website is meant to help promote you in other professional capacities, like speaking, then we want the user to get the sense that you’re comfortable in those settings as well.

We typically recommend 8–10 landscape and 5–7 portrait photos in a variety of settings that help convey your personality. Photographers who specialize in personal brand photos do an excellent job of ensuring there are a great number of options that will translate well on both the website as well as social media platforms. If you’re located in Austin, Texas—we highly recommend working with Brandon Hill! We worked with him on all of our own brand photography and feel he did an incredible job.

3. Social Media Platforms

It’s a great idea to claim your handles on the social media platforms you plan to be active on as soon as possible. When choosing which platforms, we suggest researching your niche and seeing what others in your sphere are doing. What type of content are they posting? Does it seem to be resonating with their audience and are people engaging? Are you able to create content at that level and frequency? Do you see an opportunity to put your own spin on it? We don’t believe in being on a social media platform just for the sake of it and encourage authors to be highly intentional about what is sustainable, will build community, and ultimately help sell your book(s). 

Once you have the social media platforms set up, we recommend posting as consistently as possible a few times a week and start sharing your profile with your immediate network. This way, you can start teasing the imminent website launch, book pre-order links, and publish date well ahead of time.

4. Blog Writing

Most of the author, speaker, and thought leader websites we develop include a blog, a space where you can educate or entertain your audience. There is no expectation to have depth of content by website launch day, however, we do recommend 2–3 posts be written by launch so that the user can get a feel for what to expect and potentially subscribe to your newsletter to stay in the know.

During the website design and development process, we will take any long-form content you produce, edit it, and publish it on the website. Following the launch, we will demo how to edit and add content to the site and recommend that at least 1–2 new blog posts be added each month.

5. Press Gathering

Whether you’re working with a PR company like Zilker Media to promote your book or you’re organically receiving media requests, we recommend starting a spreadsheet to track them over time. Most of our website builds include a Press & Media page and we love when we can reference an existing spreadsheet for those articles, podcast appearances, and YouTube videos rather than having to do a deep dive on Google to find instances where your name or the book was mentioned.

Having this information gathered is also helpful for your literary agent, publisher, or PR team—essentially anyone who is tasked with pitching your book and garnering attention.

6. Publication Timeline

Over the years, we’ve engaged with authors at every point in the process whether it be a mad dash to get the website up ahead of the pre-order date, or years in advance to begin building a substantial online presence ahead of shopping the book around to publishers. 

Whenever possible, we like to know the tentative timeline upfront so that we can make realistic demands on your time in the website process while working within an overarching strategy. Fortunately, with our new Platform – SEO Program, you can expect to have your site launched within 6 weeks and can plan accordingly to avoid the mad dash. As far as building a website years in advance of an actual product or service launch, please note that it does put pressure on you to consistently create new long-form content to keep users engaged as they will only “anxiously await” a book launch for so long. We feel the sweet spot is launching 6 months ahead of pre-order.

We hope you find all of the above recommendations helpful. We are happy to answer any questions if you’re an author who is looking for guidance in the digital realm!


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