So you’ve written a great book, but now what do you do? Now you have to market it and that for most authors can be the hardest part of the job and it can definitely be the most time consuming.
I’ve spent almost two decades in online marketing so I thought that I would share some of what I’ve learned over the years with you, my fellow authors so that you can perhaps use this information to better promote your book. Today we are going to talk about your website. Every author needs a website and for some people, just the thought of that drives them bonkers. But it really doesn’t have to and it also doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money. In fact, you can create a website with everything you need for free at wordpress.com.
You don’t need a big fancy, $10,000 website to properly promote your book. Sure it would be nice, but so would saving all of that money and using it instead on something that will actually help you sell more books.
Don’t worry if you’ve never done this before because I’m going to walk you through it, every single step of the way.
Before we get started, I want you to know that for some people this can be overwhelming. Don’t let it stress you out. I am going to walk you through every single step and give you very specific examples (sometimes with pictures). So if you find yourself getting agitated or frustrated, take a step back – go take a break and come back to this later. You don’t have to do it all right now – or even all today. You can do all of this at your own pace.
Step 1: Go to wordpress.com
You now have two options – you can create a new account or sign in. If you don’t have a wordpress.com account click the get started button (it’s the big orange one) and sign up for your free account. If you already have a wordpress account then sign in.
Once you’ve signed in you have a big blue bar up top and it gives you a few options like Reader, Stats, My Blogs and Freshly Pressed. What you want to click is MY BLOGS.
Now you want to create another blog – click that blue button – it may say create a new blog or create another blog. Either way, click it.
Step 2: Name Your Blog
The first thing it wants you to do is create your blog address.
This is a very important step because the name of your website needs to be professional and easily identify you. A lot of people out there have websites already so chances are if you have a common name it’s probably taken but try variations like for example I would enter TracyTegan as my blog name (the free version so it would be tracytegan.wordpress.com. You don’t need to spend any money right now on extras. You can later on, but for now let’s just stick with all the free stuff. Trust me, it is all you need right now. If your name isn’t available try variations like AuthorTracyTegan or Tracy-Tegan or some fun variation thereof.
Once you’ve picked a blog address, the next step is to name your blog. The default is “My Blog”. You want to change that and put in your name. So in my case I would change My Blog to say Tracy Tegan.
The next question is will ask you is about privacy. Leave it at I want my blog to be viewable by everyone.
Now select the free version and click CREATE BLOG.
Great job! Now you’ve taken the first major step, you’ve established your blog which we are going to turn less of a blog and more of a full site all about you and your book.
So let’s continue ….
Step 3: Setting up your settings
Once you’ve clicked the create blog button, wordpress will tell you congrats and take you to a page that says congrats, blah blah (see graphic below). Now what you want to do is click on the link that talks about changing your blog description or permissions. Don’t worry we’ll get to changing the theme (how your site looks) later on.
Once you click that link you are taken to your general settings page. Notice the left hand side of your screen – that is your main menu. I’ll refer to it a lot from now on. But for now let’s continue on with setting up your general settings.
I know it can get boring and tedious filling out all of this stuff but it is important you fill out every bit that you can. All of this stuff may not seem important but believe it or not, it can help you sell more books because if you do it right, people can find you via search engines. So let’s get down to it.
- Site Title: This is your name. It’s important you use your full name. In my case I would put Tracy Tegan.
- Tagline: The default setting is something silly like – This WordPress.com site is the bee’s knees. What you want to do is put a short description about you or what your site is about. I put The official site of author Tracy Tegan. You can however put anything you want. Just remember it should be short and sweet. This isn’t your bio, it’s just a tagline of what your site is about – like a newspaper headline.
- Timezone, Date Format and Time format don’t really matter. Put in what you want there. I use my own timezone obviously, but as far as date and time format go, it’s really just personal preference. Use which formats you like best.
- Week Starts On: To many people a week starts on Monday, to me it starts on a Sunday so I always change that setting to Sunday. Really it’s up to you. It only matters with the way the site displays your archives so whatever you pick is no big deal.
- Language: select English.
Now click SAVE CHANGES.
Oops we forgot to set your blog picture – your icon. Click that little upload image button and add a nice picture of yourself.
Once you’ve done that, click SAVE CHANGES yet again and we can move on.
Once you are sure you’ve clicked save settings, look at the left-hand side of your screen – to your menu bar. Down towards the bottom, there is SETTINGS and under that, there are the following options …
- Email Post Changes
You’ve already completed General and there is really nothing under Writing or Reading that you need to change but you can look through the options if you want.
The part we want to focus on now is DISCUSSION. The settings here are basically where you give instructions on the website about what you want it to do in terms of notifications.
- Default Article Settings: I leave those as they are.
- Other Comment Settings: Look where it says “Users must be registered and logged in to comment”. Make sure that box is checked. You don’t want just anyone posting comments on your website. This will help you, later on, fight stupid spammers.
- Email me whenever: I un-check all of those because I personally hate email notifications. I check my blog daily so I don’t need these email updates. I get enough email so getting email notifications for me is just a hassle, but you can set those to whatever works best for you.
- Before a Comment Appears: This one is important. There are two boxes there – make sure that “Comment must be manually approved” is checked. You don’t want some crazy person out there posting junk ads on your site. With that box checked, the only way a comment will appear is if you approve it.
Now scroll down to the very very bottom of that page and select SAVE CHANGES.
Again making sure you saved the changes you just made before you move on, it’s time to select SHARING from the main menu to the left. This is a big part of marketing and with this, you will integrate your social networking profiles with your website.
At the top of the SHARING page (under settings from the main menu) you first have the PUBLICIZE section. If you click CONNECT to Facebook then every time you post about a new book or some news story about your book, it will post a notification on your Facebook page automatically for you. This can be very helpful so you don’t have to log into all of your social networking accounts to tell people to visit your site to read your latest news or contest or book review. Connect to all the social networking accounts you work with – I personally only use Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, but some people also use the others. Connect to whatever accounts – as many or as few as you want to.
Next, there is a section specifically called Google+ Profile. It wants you to sign into your Google+ profile from this page. What this does it … if you log into your Google+ account on that page, every time you make a post on your website it will display a button encouraging others who read that page to follow you on Google+. Click that image below and you can see a real example of what that looks like on my own page.
Notice the other buttons above the Google+ following one … The ones that say twitter, Facebook Google? These are what they call your social networking sharing buttons. Under the Sharing Buttons section, you’ll see a ton of options. So you know exactly what I’m talking about click on the picture below.
See those buttons under where it says available services? Drag them down under ENABLED SERVICES. See the little Pinterest box? Just put your mouse over it, click and drag.
Again click save changes when you are done to make sure everything you just did is saved. Now you are done with your settings.
Let’s do something fun like decide how you want your new website to actually look!
Step 4: Picking Your Website Theme
Everyone has a different style and the great thing about using a platform like WordPress to run your author website is that you can easily change the look and feel of your site on a whim and for almost no money and in many cases, for free. Today, as I said before we’ll only be going over the free option, but again you can upgrade to fancy premium themes later on if you so desire.
If you look at your main menu you’ll see that above SETTINGS is an option called APPEARANCE and an option under APPEARANCE called THEMES.
Once you select themes, you’ll find you have a few bazillion choices to pick from. Top right you’ll see three categories of themes, ALL, FREE and PREMIUM. Premium means you have to pay money, so let’s just select FREE.
Now scroll down and find a theme you like. Pick any one – it’s really up to you. Some are very simple, some are kind of fancy but it doesn’t really matter which one you pick, that is totally up to you.
Once you find the one you like click it and then select the button that says ACTIVATE and WordPress will automatically update the graphics and make them live on your website.
Step 5: Setting Up Your basic pages
Now before you get all excited and start making all these crazy changes and adjustments, let’s continue on setting up your website first. As an author, you are going to need a few basic pages. First, you need an about you or biography page.
From the main menu (to the left) look for PAGES and click that. You’ll find PAGES on the main menu below where it says LINKS and above where it says COMMENTS.
You’ll notice there is already a page there called ABOUT. What you want to do is mouse over that and then click EDIT.
Type up a short bio, tell the world about yourself. Well, it doesn’t have to be short … go crazy and tell whatever you want about yourself there. When you are done click the UPDATE button to the right.
When you are done with that click pages again and then time ADD NEW.
Name this page CONTACT or CONTACT ME or CONTACT YOUR NAME – ie: Contact Tracy Tegan.
Under there click the button that says ADD CONTACT FORM. Once you’ve added the contact form, click PUBLISH (to the right).
Now your new website has two pages on it, an about us and contact us page. So far, so good!
Next, you want to click PAGES – ADD NEW PAGE again and call this page SOCIAL MEDIA or your name social media – ie: Tracy Tegan’s Social Media Pages. On this page, you want to list off all of your social networking links.
Here is what I say but you can say it any way you want … it is after all, YOUR WEBSITE!
Don’t forget to click PUBLISH when you’ve added in everything you want to say about your social networking profile pages so that your work is saved and pushed live – this means that others can now see it when they come to your site.
Step 6: Posting About Your Books
Now that’s you’ve setup the basic pages about you, let’s talk about the whole reason we created this website in the first place and that is YOUR BOOKS!
On the main menu, I want you to look for POSTS – this option is above PAGES, towards the very top of your menu bar to the left.
Posts work a lot like pages in how you create them, but when you start posting about your books you want to use POSTS instead of pages. You do this because posts offer far more options for you and this is important for search engines and in setting up the navigation of your site. With a post, you put them into categories and throw in some tags.
So let’s create your first post. Click POSTS from the main menu to the left and then ADD NEW. First, what we want to do is title our post. Post titles should be like newspaper headlines – description but short and to the point. So what do you want to post about today? What is it specifically you want to share with your fans?
How about letting them know that you are writing a new book?
So the first thing you do is give your post a title. ie: My New Yet To Be Titled Mystery Book
Next, in the big white box, tell your fans and readers about what you are writing and some plot elements of your new book. How much or how little you tell them is totally up to you. You can write 100 words, 1000 or heck, even 10,000 – just write what you feel is appropriate.
When you are done look to the right-hand side of the page … notice where it says categories? There is a box there that is unchecked called Uncategorized. That is the default category and any post you make that you don’t assign a category to, will automatically be placed in that category. Please do yourself a favor and never make a post without giving it a category. Click ADD NEW CATEGORY and then add in a name. You could call it books or new books or writing … whatever you want really.
Next, you see under CATEGORY is a section called TAGS? Tags are like category but more marketing specific. So let’s say you wrote a post about a new mystery book you are writing. I would put in tags – Tracy Tegan, New Book, Mystery Novel, Book.
Any short words that would describe what is in the body of your post add them. Don’t be afraid to add in a ton of tags – tags are great for marketing. Just make sure the tags you add are appropriate and actually apply to what your post is about.
Now click PUBLISH and you have your first post. Congrats! This is a huge first step in creating your official website.
Now feel free to go write several more posts telling your fans about how they can buy your other books, where and maybe tell them about some character ideas you have. Talk about book reviews or just whatever you want to share with your fans.
Good luck and have fun!