Thursday, April 27, 2023

Building Your Website: Expert Advice for Every Stage

I think you’ll agree when I say:

Creating a website is a daunting task.

Or is it?

It turns out, you can dramatically increase your enjoyment and success of the project by doing one simple thing…

…something so simple that you probably do it before you embark on your important writing and illustration projects already.

And in today’s post, I’m going to show you what the simple this is…and exactly how you can easily incorporate it when you’re ready to revamp or make your very first website.


So what’s this simplistic way to website success? 

It’s making a game plan before you start. 

And this isn’t just any game plan, it’s one that takes into consideration your mindset, your technical needs, and the support available to you at each stage of the website creation process - before starting, during the creation, and after publication.

After all, the more you know, the less you fear. And I would add, the more excited you get once you know what the next steps are and how to tackle them.

Before Creating an Author or Illustrator Website

Mindset Needs

To start, understand that goals are your friends. What do you want to achieve with your website? Do you want to increase book sales, connect with your readers, or build your brand? Knowing your goals will help you make the right decisions during the design and creation process. Need a tool to get your goal-setting locked in? Here you go.

It's also important to come to the process with the feeling of wanting to further serve your readers. To do that, you must understand who they are and what they want to see on your website. Knowing your audience will help you create a website that speaks directly to them.

Lastly, designing and creating a website takes time, so it's essential to be patient with the process and take the time to do it right. Three months is a good benchmark.

Technical Needs

The technical needs to consider before creating your website include choosing a domain name, selecting a web hosting provider, choosing a Content Management System (CMS) that suits your needs and technical abilities, and designing the website layout.

  • When selecting a domain name, ensure it is unique, easy to remember, and related to your brand or book. 
  • The CMS platform should be mobile-friendly, user-friendly, and align with your goals and technical abilities. 
  • For web hosting providers, it's also important to consider factors like transparency of pricing, server speed, uptime, and customer support when selecting.
  • Before designing your website layout, take the time to gather content, such as book descriptions, author bios, and photos. This will ensure that you know what needs to be included, if not quite exactly where it needs to go. That will come later.

Optional Support to Help You Succeed

Remember that you don't have to do this alone. If you're unsure of what you want your website to look like or what content you should include, hiring a website planner or marketing strategist can help. They can work with you to create a clear plan for your website, including the structure, design, and content. 

Hiring a professional graphic designer or branding expert now can also help you think through and define your unique voice, writing style, and themes that recur in your work and how that can translate to the elements, imagery, fonts, and tone of your website copy.

During the Website Creation Process

Mindset Needs

During the website creation process, it's important to be open-minded and flexible. Be open to new ideas and suggestions from the design and technical professionals you may be working with as well as when you receive feedback from others like friends and family as you progress. When you're in the weeds, it's hard to see the big picture. Others' opinions of ease of use, navigation, colors, etc. can be very helpful and lead to a better end product.

An understanding that this project requires organization is also key. You will need to keep track of all the content, images, and other assets you need for the website. This can help avoid delays and ensure everything is in place when needed. 

Lastly, not only will you need to be open to feedback, but your voice in the process is very crucial so even though you might not know everything, speaking and asking questions is important. If you hire professionals, provide specific feedback to them throughout the creation process. If you are designing the website yourself, don't be afraid to join forums and ask questions and get advice or workarounds for something that isn't quite working the way you'd like during the creation process.

Technical Needs

During the website creation process, you'll need to focus on website structure, content specifications, search engine optimization (SEO), website security, and testing and debugging.

The website's layout and design should be aesthetically pleasing, easy to navigate, and align with your brand or books. Correctly sized images and clear descriptions help the visitor to view and understand the content.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is also essential to increase the visibility of your website in search engine results pages (SERPs). This involves using relevant keywords on your pages, optimizing your images and videos, and ensuring your website is mobile-friendly.

Lastly, you should ensure website security by taking steps to secure your website against hackers and malware. This involves installing security plugins or software, creating strong passwords, and keeping your website's software up to date. Thorough testing and debugging will ensure that the website is functioning correctly and free of errors.

Optional Support to Help You Succeed

At this stage, content creation can be challenging. You may have the skills to weave an amazing story, but writing persuasive and engaging website copy is a slightly different skill set. If you need help writing content for your website, hiring a copywriter can be a good investment. A professional copywriter can help you create engaging and informative content that speaks directly to your audience and aligns with your brand. 

Similarly, if you lack the technical skills to build a website, hiring a web developer can be a great help. A web developer can assist you with website structure, coding, and website functionality, allowing you to focus on collecting and creating content that fits your brand. 

Additionally, as you work on your website, you may encounter technical issues that you are not sure how to solve. Choosing a hosting provider that is known for its technical help is crucial so that you can get issues resolved quickly and efficiently, saving you time and frustration. Don't hesitate to use the chatbox or call the help number that's provided. Most times, these success departments don't just tell you what's wrong, they will fix it for you.

After the website is published

Mindset Needs

Once your website is published, it's important to know your work is not done. The world needs to know your website exists and that there is a reason to check your website often. So adopting a mindset of sharing is important. Respond to comments, messages, and emails in a timely and professional manner to show your readers that you value their engagement. 

Consistency is also key. Just as you must be consistent with your craft, that can also translate to doing your work justice by consistently keeping your website updated with fresh content, images, and other media. Regular updates, and sharing that those updates are happening, will keep your audience engaged and returning to your website. 

Finally, it's important to celebrate your achievement. Launching a website is a significant accomplishment! Allow yourself to take time to appreciate the hard work you put into it and share it with others.

Technical Needs

Once your website is published, it's time to monitor, connect, and tweak it so that it's meeting your goals.

  • Website analytics tools can help you track website performance, such as website traffic, click-through rates, bounce rates, and conversions. This can help you understand your audience better and make informed decisions about future website updates. 
  • Regular website maintenance is also crucial, including updates to the CMS, themes, plugins, and backups. This can help prevent security breaches and ensure that your website is functioning correctly.
  • The connecting of the social media profiles to your website happens in the design phase, but now it's time to ensure your social media profiles link back to your website to increase traffic.

Optional Support to help you succeed

With the more technical aspects of monitoring, maintenance, and the sometimes tedious need to create content and make sure everything is updated and connected on social media, post-website publication is a time where I see many authors and illustrators take a back seat. But you've done all this work! Don't let it fade into the background.

If you know the maintenance things scares you, outsourcing website maintenance to a professional can save time and ensure that your website remains functional and secure.

Similarly with tracking your web analytics and updating your SEO. If you have an assistant, this is something they can do. But if not, free programs like SEMRush and Google Analytics make it easier to see what's working and adjust accordingly.

And finally, if you're updating your website consistently, there are plugins and services out there like MissingLettr or Jetpack that will automatically create tweets or Facebook posts when new content is uploaded. Never miss an opportunity to share your news, updates, and exciting information.


Creating an author or illustrator website may seem overwhelming at first, but with a solid plan and the right support, it can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Remember to consider your mindset, technical needs, and support options before, during, and after the website creation process. With these in mind, you can create a website that aligns with your brand, speaks directly to your audience, and helps you achieve your goals.

Ayanna Coleman is a high-level marketing and creative concept strategist. As founder of Quill Shift, a boutique marketing agency, she helps thought leaders, experts, and creative thinkers expand on, clarify, and crystalize their next big ideas for programs, movements, or life-changing experiences so they (and their team) can make them a reality. Trained as a youth services librarian, she started her career at Hachette Book Group in digital marketing, moved into the nonprofit space and led programming and diversity initiatives at the Children’s Book Council, and over the last eight years has partnered with and led marketing initiatives on behalf of publishers, distributors, literary agencies, and startups across three continents. Snag a helpful author website checklist and gain access to more of Ayanna’s marketing tips and tutorials here.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

It's Time to Vote For the Winners of the SCBWI Crystal Kite Members Choice Awards! (Do so before April 30, 2023!)

Calling all SCBWI Members: Round 2 voting is happening right now,  April 18 – April 30.

SCBWI Crystal Kite Members Choice Award logo

Note you may only vote for a book that is in your own division. Here are the divisions:

United States:

Atlantic (Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Washington DC, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland)

California, Hawaii

Midsouth (Kansas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana)

Midwest (Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio)

New England (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire. Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island)

New York

Southeast (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama)

Southwest (Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Southern Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico)

Texas, Oklahoma

West (Washington, Northern Idaho, Oregon, Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota)



Australia, New Zealand


Europe, Latin America, Africa

Middle East, India, Asia

United Kingdom, Ireland

To cast your vote:

1) log on to 

2) Once you are on your Member Home page, go to the left navigation bar, scroll to the bottom and click on Vote in the Crystal Kite Awards. 

3) That takes you right to the voting page where all of the books in your division appear. 

4) Then click the VOTE FOR THIS BOOK button below your chosen book and you are done! 

Curious about the guidelines and rules? Click here

Good luck to all the finalists!

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

9 Proven Ways to Level up Your Website as a Children’s Book Writer or Illustrator

As a children's book writer or illustrator, you most likely know that having a website is an important tool for connecting with young readers, but also, and many times more importantly, with their parents, educators, librarians, and booksellers. Armed with that knowledge, you also probably already have a website, which is great. But is it doing what it needs to do? 

  • Is it attracting visitors?
  • Is it providing well-organized information?
  • Is it engaging visitors?
  • Is it building trust?
  • Is it driving conversions? 

If the answer is no to any one of the above questions, then it's time to upgrade your website. From showcasing your work to offering exclusive content, providing resources for educators and librarians, and optimizing for SEO, I've got you covered. With easy and advanced steps for each suggestion, you'll be able to take your website to the next level and reach and engage a wider audience.


Showcase your work

Display your books, illustrations, or other creative works prominently on your website, so readers can quickly and easily find them.
  • Easy step: Create a gallery of your best illustrations or book covers on your homepage.
  • Advanced step: Create a video trailer for your book and feature it prominently on your homepage.

Create a blog

A blog is an excellent way to engage readers with your content, and it also helps with search engine optimization (SEO).
  • Easy step: Start writing blog posts about your writing process, behind-the-scenes details, or your inspiration for your work. Keep the posts to about 800 words so they are easily digestible and easy for you to complete.
  • Advanced step: Guest post on other blogs in your niche to expand your reach and drive traffic back to your own website.

Offer a newsletter

Encourage readers to sign up for your newsletter, which can help you build a loyal following and keep readers up-to-date on your latest projects.
  • Easy step: Add a newsletter signup form to your homepage and offer an incentive, such as a free short story or illustration, for signing up.
  • Advanced step: Segment your email list based on reader interests and tailor your content to each segment to increase engagement.

Host online events

Consider hosting virtual book signings, Q&A sessions, or other online events to engage with your readers and promote your work.
  • Easy step: Choose a platform like Zoom or Google Meet to host your virtual event and then promote your event on your website and social media
  • Advanced step: Partner with other authors or illustrators to create a larger event with multiple speakers and more promotion opportunities. Then, record those events, create short snippets from those videos, and use across social and blog posts for dynamic, engaging content connected to you, authors in your genre, and the themes of your book.

Make it easy to purchase your books

Showcase buy links prominently next to or under the book information.
  • Easy step: Add "Buy Now" buttons to your book pages that link to online retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop, or your local bookstores.
  • Advanced step: Set up an online store on your website using a platform like Shopify or WooCommerce to sell your books directly to readers with signed copies of your books and an option for personalized messages.

Make your website visually appealing

Use high-quality images and graphics to make your website visually appealing and help your work stand out.
  • Easy step: Use a clean and simple design for your website that highlights your work and makes it easy to navigate and always use hi-res (but compressed) images of your illustrations or book covers for your website.
  • Advanced step: Use video content, such as author interviews or book trailers, to showcase your work and dynamically engage readers. If you don't have that type of content, you can add animations on the web pages to move images and text as visitors are scrolling through your site to increase the feeling of modernity and engagement.

Optimize for SEO

Optimize your website for search engines by using relevant keywords in your content and metadata.
  • Easy step: Research and use keywords related to your genre, books, and author name throughout your website content, including titles, headers, and descriptions.
  • Advanced step: Use tools like Google Search Console to analyze your website's performance and identify opportunities for improvement, such as broken links or slow-loading pages.

Offer exclusive content

Provide exclusive content, such as bonus chapters, artwork, or behind-the-scenes information, to readers who sign up for your newsletter.
  • Easy step: Create a free downloadable e-book or short story related to your books and offer it as a sign-up incentive for your email newsletter or host a virtual book club or Q&A session exclusively for your newsletter subscribers.
  • Advanced step: Develop a premium membership program that offers access to exclusive content, discounts on merchandise, and other perks.

Provide resources for educators and librarians

Showcasing how your book can be used in multiple ways, not just for entertainment and enjoyment but for educational purposes as well, helps introduce it to new audiences.
  • Easy step: Create a dedicated page on your website that showcases your books and provides discussion questions and other resources for educators and librarians.
  • Advanced step: Partner with a literacy nonprofit or organization to donate copies of your books or offer free virtual author visits to under-resourced schools or libraries.

Having a website as a children's book writer or illustrator is crucial for connecting with your audience and growing your brand. However, it's not enough to simply have a website; it needs to be engaging, organized, and optimized. By starting with the easy steps and moving on to the advanced steps mentioned above, you can gradually uplevel your site to better connect with and impact your readers and those who care for them.

Ayanna Coleman is a high-level marketing and creative concept strategist. As founder of Quill Shift, a boutique marketing agency, she helps thought leaders, experts, and creative thinkers expand on, clarify, and crystalize their next big ideas so they (and their team) can make them a reality. Trained as a youth services librarian, she started her career at Hachette Book Group in digital marketing, moved into the nonprofit space and led programming and diversity initiatives at the Children’s Book Council, and over the last eight years has partnered with and led marketing initiatives on behalf of publishers, distributors, literary agencies, and startups across three continents. Need a new site and like the look of the website homepage above? Spoiler: it's a template made with you in mind. Get in touch to find out how this template can be yours.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

What Courage Looks Like: Maggie Tokuda-Hall Calls Out Scholastic's Offer To License Her Picture Book "Love in the Library" But Only If Maggie Would Edit Out the Reference to Racism in the Author's Note

Maggie Tokuda-Hall, photo by Red Scott

So here's the scoop: Maggie Tokuda-Hall wrote a picture book (published in 2022 by Candlewick) telling the story of her grandparents meeting and falling in love while imprisoned in the US Internment Camps during WWII -- Love in the Library is beautifully told, and the author's note puts it in the context of America's historic and current racism.

the cover of "Love in the Library" by Maggie Tokuda-Hall, illustrated by Yas Imamura

This month, Maggie got an offer that Scholastic wanted to license her book for their educational division, but the offer was contingent on Maggie editing out the references to racism in her author's note.

Maggie said no, and even more powerfully, went public on April 11, 2023 with what happened in a blog post, Scholastic, and a Faustian Bargain.

In that piece, Maggie explained:

“They wanted to take this book and repackage it so that it was just a simple love story. Nothing more. Not anything that might offend those book banners in what they called this “politically sensitive” moment. The irony of curating a collection tentatively titled Rising Voices: Amplifying AANHPI Narratives with one hand while demanding that I strangle my own voice with the other was, to me, the perfect encapsulation of what publishing, our dubious white ally, does so often to marginalized creators. They want the credibility of our identities, want to market our biographies. They want to sell our suffering, smoothed down and made palatable to the white readers they prioritize. To assuage white guilt with stories that promise to make them better people, while never threatening them, not even with discomfort. They have no investment in our voices. Always, our voices are  the first sacrifice at the altar of marketability.”

What happened got a lot of traction on social media, and an article in Publishers Weekly, and three days after being publicly called out on their cowardice, Scholastic President and CEO Peter Warwick issued this apology.

I want to acknowledge the incredible courage it took for Maggie to say no, and to speak up. To raise her voice and say with such eloquence that this isn't okay. Read her full account of what happened, and the risk she felt speaking up, here.

This is how change happens, when people take the risk to call out injustice. 

I'm inspired, and I hope Love in the Library sells a million more copies -- with Maggie's author's note intact.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Creating an Engaging Author Website: Insights from Reader Surveys and Website Design Practices

Welcome to the world of author websites, where the competition is fierce, and readers are just a click away from discovering their next favorite book. With the ever-increasing popularity of the internet, having a well-designed author website is no longer an option, but a necessity.

As a seasoned marketer, I've worked with designers and created numerous websites for authors, publishers, nonprofit organizations, universities, and small businesses. However, in my quest to discover what truly makes for an effective author website, I turned to the readers themselves. In late 2022, I conducted a survey, asking readers what they liked most when it came to author website design.

The results were eye-opening, to say the least. While good-looking, smooth websites designed by professionals can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $20,000, it's important to focus on the features that matter most to readers, rather than those that seem most dazzling. After all, a website that doesn't meet the needs of its intended audience is like a book with a poorly written blurb - it’s a tough sell.

That's why I'm excited to share my findings with you. By combining quantitative research with best practices in website design and marketing, like what was shared in an earlier post, we can create an author website that not only looks good but is functional and interesting for readers. So let's dive into what readers like most and want to see more of, and how we can use this knowledge to design an effective author website for you.

The Survey Methodology

  • Anonymous Google survey with seven questions asking respondents to choose via multiple choice between different author websites in various categories.
  • The categories were contemporary fiction, literary fiction, nonfiction, young adult, and children’s books
  • Each category shared the live website URL for respondents to look at (if they wished) plus a screenshot of the homepage of each website within the survey for respondents to have a quick look at the design/feel of the website
  • The survey was open from November 2022 to January 2023
  • 103 respondents across Japan, the USA, Europe, and Australia picked their favorite websites in each category
  • The survey was shared through my email list, friends and family, Facebook groups, and survey swap websites
  • Respondents were told that I had no affiliation with the authors or their websites and only singled them out of 100+ sites reviewed as some of the best out there for respondents to choose from

Choosing the Websites

The websites that were scoured and ultimately chosen came from listicles of best author website designs from around the internet, including, but not limited to:

I selected websites that were frequently mentioned on the lists and also considered my knowledge of website design to choose sites that were not too complex or expensive to create. These are the websites that I included in the survey for readers to choose from - they look great, were highly rated by others, and can be designed affordably.

The Results

As this is a children’s book writer and illustrator blog, I’ll focus on the outcomes of the YA and children’s book categories.

In YA, I asked survey takers to pick between the following four sites:

All the sites were clean, but some used more color than others, some had more dynamic design than others, and all had different placements of the author photos and the book images.

Which website was loved most by respondents? Angie Thomas came out with 38.8% of the votes with Jennifer coming in second with 25.2% of votes.

Why did these two websites reign supreme in the YA category? Here are my thoughts:

  • Very clear navigation at the top of the page
  • Clean color palette with a light background and darker fonts
  • The homepage length (and on all other pages) is a quick scroll
  • Pretty good mobile accessibility
  • For Angie, you see the author photo right away and she looks inviting
  • For Jennifer, you see her latest book right away with bold information about it
  • Both authors have at least one book + further info and buy links on their homepage

The Best Practices to Back Up Readers’ Opinions

💥Mobile-Friendly Design is Important

With many readers accessing websites on their mobile devices, it's important for an author's website to be optimized for mobile viewing. This means using a responsive design that adjusts to different screen sizes and making sure the website is easy to navigate on a smaller screen. A mobile-friendly website can also improve the user experience and increase the likelihood that readers will return to the site.

💥Book Information Should be Easily Accessible

Readers want to be able to easily find information about an author's books, including covers, descriptions, and purchase links. Having this information clearly displayed on the website can make it easier for readers to make a purchase decision. This can include a dedicated page for each book that includes all the necessary information, such as links to online retailers, reviews, and book trailers.

For the Children’s Book Websites, the four contenders survey takers were asked to review were:

These websites were chosen because some were loud and bright, while others were more calm and quiet. Some focused on picture books while others were more middle grade. Last, some of these websites seemed to focus more on the author while others had the books front and center.

Which website was loved most by respondents? Roald Dahl came out with a whopping 53.4% of the votes with Fiona coming in second with 16.5% of votes.

Why did Roald Dahl’s website capture the most attention in the children’s book category? Here are my thoughts:

  • Bright colors that invite the users to explore more, but focused on a specific color palette and contained to certain areas of the site
  • Image of most popular character above the fold (before you need to scroll to see more of the homepage)
  • Easy navigation on the homepage to the other pages of the website and easy button navigation to click on links across all pages of the website
  • Along with easy navigation, only five main pages to explore so visitor overwhelm doesn’t settle in

The Best Practices to Back Up Readers’ Opinions

💥Simple Design is Key

Many readers appreciate a clean, easy-to-navigate website design that makes it simple to find information about the author and their work. This means avoiding cluttered pages, excessive use of colors and fonts, and difficult-to-find menus. A simple design allows readers to focus on the content and easily find what they are looking for.

💥A Clear Call-to-Action can be Effective

Including a call-to-action on an author's website, such as See All Books or Discover More Resources, can encourage readers to take action and engage with the author's work. A well-placed call-to-action can provide a clear path for readers to follow, helping them to become more engaged with the author's brand and dive deeper into their digital world, potentially leading to further connection and possibly book sales.

There you have it, eight websites, two clear favorites. And of the favorites, the features that were clearly prevalent were:

  • Clean navigation and design with lots of white space
  • Simple and focused color palette
  • Calls to action
  • Book information is clearly available
  • Standout pictures/imagery

I'm curious to know, what are your thoughts on the survey results? Are there any winners that you think should have been different?

Ultimately, the goal of an author's website is to captivate the attention of the visitor and lead them to take the action that you want them to take. This includes getting to know you and your work better and stepping deeper into your world. Whether that be by attending an event, signing up for your newsletter, or purchasing your latest book. But to get them to take any of these actions, they first need to be drawn into your website and want to stay awhile.

Using the examples and tips we've explored, I hope you feel inspired and excited to enhance your website and engage your readers in a more meaningful way. Remember, your website is the face of your brand, so make sure it represents you and your work in the best possible way!

Ayanna Coleman is a high-level marketing and creative concept strategist. As founder of Quill Shift, a boutique marketing agency, she helps thought leaders, experts, and creative thinkers expand on, clarify, and crystalize their next big ideas for programs, movements, or life-changing experiences so they (and their team) can make them a reality. Trained as a youth services librarian, she started her career at Hachette Book Group in digital marketing, moved into the nonprofit space and led programming and diversity initiatives at the Children’s Book Council, and over the last eight years has partnered with and led marketing initiatives on behalf of publishers, distributors, literary agencies, and startups across three continents. Snag a helpful author website checklist and gain access to more of Ayanna’s marketing tips and tutorials here.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Do You Have a Picture Book Manuscript You've Been Crafting? Submissions are open for the Ann Whitford Paul – Writer’s Digest Manuscript Award

There are two categories - Fiction and Nonfiction!! They're looking for "the most promising manuscripts" and the two winners will each receive a $1,000 grant to "encourage the development of an excellent picture book manuscript." 

It's certainly a springboard on the road to publication!

Submit your picture book manuscript by April 30, 2023 - get all the details here.

Ann Whitford Paul
Ann Whitford Paul

Ann is the author of many picture books, including the bestselling If Animals series, including If Animals Kissed Good Night, which School Library Journal called "charming". She's also the author of the excellent WRITING PICTURE BOOKS: A Hands-On Guide From Story Creation to Publication.

Want some free tips from Ann herself? Check out the "for writers" section of Ann's website and download Ann's "Five Tips to Keep in Mind When Writing Picture Books" - and in classic internet click-bait fashion, I'll just say that #1 is advice I wish I'd learned much earlier in my author journey.

Submit your best work, and good luck!

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

The Essential Elements of an Author Website: A Guide for Writers

In today's digital age, having an author website is essential for writers who want to establish their brand, connect with readers, and promote their work. But don't worry, you don't need to be a tech wizard to make it happen. With a little guidance, you can create a website that showcases your unique style AND connects with your audience.

In this post, I'll walk you through the essential elements that every author's website should include. From the home page to the contact page, I've got you covered. 

And don't worry, I promise to keep things interesting and maybe even a little humorous. So, put on your website-building hat, grab a refreshing drink, and let's get started!


Home Page

The home page is the first thing visitors see when they arrive on your website. It's your chance to make a great first impression and show readers who you are and what you're all about. To make the most of this opportunity, your home page should be well-designed, visually appealing, and easy to navigate.

  • Visual appeal: Your homepage should be visually appealing and professional-looking. Use high-quality images and a consistent color scheme to make a good first impression on visitors.

  • Introduction: Your homepage should include a brief introduction to who you are and what you do. This could include your name, your genre, and a tagline that encapsulates your writing style.

  • Professional headshot: Including a professional headshot can add a personal touch to your homepage and help readers connect with you on a personal level.

  • Call to action: You can include a call to action on your homepage, such as signing up for your newsletter or following you on social media. This can help you build a loyal fan base and keep readers engaged with your work.

Finally, don't forget to keep your home page updated. Your website is a reflection of you and your work, so make sure it's always fresh and relevant. Consider including a section for news or updates, where you can share information about upcoming releases, appearances, or other exciting events.

About Page

About Page example from the website of
Young Adult Author Leza Lowitz

Ah, the dreaded "About" page. It's the one place on your author website where you're supposed to talk about yourself. No pressure, right? Well, fear not. I'm here to help you craft an About page that's both informative and entertaining. Here are a few pointers on what to include to get your creative juices going:

  • It all starts with a bio: Share your author bio and headshot.

  • Then, get a little personal: Include information about your writing style and genre, as well as any awards or accolades you've received. Personal details such as hobbies and interests can help readers connect with you on a personal level.

  • Life’s a journey, and so is writing a book: Share your writing journey, including how you got started, any challenges you've faced, and what motivates you.

  • Quirks - we’ve all got them: Share your quirks and idiosyncrasies - your readers will love them!

  • Writing habits are super interesting: Share your writing habits - do you have a particular routine, or do you write when inspiration strikes?

  • What inspires you?: Share what inspires you and where you find inspiration for your writing.

  • What’s cookin’?: Share any upcoming projects or books in the works - your readers will love getting a sneak peek!

Remember, your About page is a chance to connect with your readers on a personal level. So, it’s okay to be funky (if that’s your style) and have fun with it!

Books Page

The books page is a crucial section of your author website, as it's where you can showcase your work and encourage readers to purchase your books. Here are some essential elements to include:

  • Book covers: Display high-quality images of your book covers, as they serve as a visual representation of your work.

  • Single Book Page example from
    the website of 
    Young Adult Author 
    Leza Lowitz
    Book descriptions: Write compelling descriptions for each book that highlight its unique features and themes. Be sure to include keywords to help with search engine optimization (SEO).

  • Purchase links: Include links to online retailers where readers can purchase your books, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent bookstores.

  • Reviews: Display positive book reviews from readers, book bloggers, or reputable publications to build credibility and encourage potential readers.

  • Awards and honors: If your books have received any awards or honors, include them on this page to further establish your credibility as an author.

  • Series organization: If you have written multiple series or have books in different genres, consider organizing your books by series or category to make it easier for readers to find what they're looking for.

Your books page is your chance to sell your work to potential readers, so make it engaging and visually appealing. Consider including book trailers, author videos, or other multimedia elements to showcase your work in a unique way.


Starting a blog is an excellent way for authors to engage with their readers, share their thoughts, and promote their work. You don’t need to post all the time, we don’t want you to burn out, but it’s a great way to share your process and get closer to your audience. Here are some quick tips:

  • The content: Share your thoughts on writing, your writing process, or anything that your readers might find interesting. You can also share book reviews, interviews with other authors, or industry news.

  • The media: Including images and videos in your blog posts can make them more visually appealing and engaging. You can use free stock photo websites like Unsplash or Pexels to find high-quality images for your blog.

  • The calls to action: Engage with your readers by responding to their comments and questions. You can also ask for their feedback or opinions on your blog post topics.

  • Yes, you should promote this, too: Share your blog posts on social media and encourage your followers to visit your author website. You can also include links to your blog in your email signature or newsletter.

  • The collab opportunities: Collaborating with other authors on blog posts or guest posts can help you reach a wider audience and bring new readers to your website.

Remember to be authentic and true to your writing style when creating blog content - it’s there to showcase your personality even more and nurture your loyal fanbase. It’s also a wonderful excuse to email your newsletter subscribers when you’ve posted something new they should know about.

Contact Page

The contact page is where you can provide a way for readers to get in touch with you. Why would you want this? 

    Contact Page example from the website of 
    Young Adult Author Leza Lowitz
  • To create a deeper connection with your readers

  • To take requests/coordinate media events or partnerships

  • To get fan mail from teachers, librarians, and students

  • To show that you’re a real human being

  • To support hosting a pre-sell campaign (to send you results)

You can include a contact form or email address where readers can send you messages or get in touch with your agent or publisher. It’s also a great spot - if you only have one area where you promote this, but it should be on every page of your website (preferably in the footer or header) - to add a sign-up form for your email newsletter. 

Social Media Links

In this day in age, it’s more common for people to have social media and NOT have a website than have a website and not have social media. 

That said, it’s important to note that your website is your digital home base. You own that space. You don’t own your space on any social media platform. Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, etc. could disappear tomorrow and so would all those fans and connections. The best thing to do is establish your website as the home base and link to all your social media from there, and also consistently post on your social channels that you do - in fact - have a website.

Where should those social media links live on your author website? Here are a few areas:

  • In the header

  • In the footer

  • On the contact page

  • On your bio page

Feel free to mix and match the above locations so that your readers won’t miss where else they can find you on the internet.


Testimonials from readers, book reviewers, or other industry professionals can add credibility to your work and increase your chances of gaining new readers. You can include testimonials on your home page or books page, or create a separate page for them. Be sure to get permission from the person giving the testimonial before including it on your website. Here are a few other tips:

  • Ask for testimonials: Don't be afraid to reach out to readers or other industry professionals and ask them to provide a testimonial for your website, especially if they shared privately with you that they liked your book.

  • Showcase your best reviews: Highlight your most glowing reviews on your website to draw in new readers. Consider featuring quotes or snippets from reviews on your home page or books page.

When incorporating testimonials on your author website, remember that less is often more. Aim to showcase a few high-quality testimonials rather than overwhelming your audience with too many.


Phew! You've made it to the end! Websites can be complicated, but with this quick guide, now you have the essentials to ensure your website showcases your writing style and connects with your audience. But before I go, here are some final words of wisdom:

  • Remember to keep your website updated regularly with new content and engage with your readers to build a loyal fan base that will support your writing career for years to come.

  • Don't be afraid to let your personality shine through on your website. Readers want to connect with the real you, so be yourself and have fun with it!

  • Unlike social media channels, a newsletter list is yours. You own that information and that way of always being able to interact with your fans. Have a way for people to sign up to hear more from you via email you if they wish.

  • Finally, always remember that writing is a journey, and your website is just one stop along the way. So enjoy the ride, stay true to yourself and your writing, and never forget why you started in the first place.

I hope you've found this primer helpful because next week I’ll be diving into the actual research I conducted at the end of 2022 to discover what actual readers liked when it comes to author websites. 

All the winning sites had the above basic elements but, just like a book, readers care about function AND design. Next week, we’ll look at the design characteristics that won readers' hearts all over the world.

Until then, may your words flow like a river, your characters come alive on the page, and your stories capture the hearts and minds of readers everywhere. 

Happy writing!

Ayanna Coleman is a high-level marketing and creative concept strategist. As founder of Quill Shift, a boutique marketing agency, she helps thought leaders, experts, and creative thinkers expand on, clarify, and crystalize their next big ideas for programs, movements, or life-changing experiences so they (and their team) can make them a reality. Trained as a youth services librarian, she started her career at Hachette Book Group in digital marketing, moved into the nonprofit space and led programming and diversity initiatives at the Children’s Book Council, and over the last eight years has partnered with and led marketing initiatives on behalf of publishers, distributors, literary agencies, and startups across three continents. Snag a helpful author website checklist and gain access to more of Ayanna’s marketing tips and tutorials here.