Author Business

How to design an author website (or lesson 2 in setting up my site)

After I figured out that I needed a new domain name (leading to a pen name) and needed to set up my website on wordpress.org not .com (because they are not the same thing), I needed to put stuff in my website. And learned my first lesson in designing an author website.

Don’t.

I learned that I am NOT a web designer. And I probably have a step up on some folks when I tried to set up a site, since I work with graphics and layout as part of my day job. But this is different. This is creative. This is my baby.

So how do you design a website when you’re not a web designer?

Well, do you know a teenager who can do it for you? Do you know a teenager who can do it for ME?

Seriously, if you really want it swank, hire someone. That being said, I’m not going to do that (yet) for this fiction author gambit that is so far costing me money rather than making me any (of course, it would help if I had a book published, but that’s a whole other post).

It’s a bit chicken-egg: to support this endeavour, you need to sell books; to see books, you need to market them. So here’s what I am trying.

Start small, keep it simple

One of the reasons I chose WordPress is that I’m not a designer and it has a s&*%load of free, basic templates you can use. I trawled through the templates on WordPress (dot org), installing and previewing many of them before I found a handful that I liked. Then I tried to customize those to a colour scheme in keeping with my tastes and genre and fonts that didn’t offend me, which whittled it done to a few.

One of the benefits of using WordPress templates is that you’re almost forced to keep the design simple. I think you’d have to really word hard to end up with an overwrought website. Many of the templates support plugins for your mailing lists and ecommerce. I looked for templates that would support these, but have not gone down that rabbit hole yet: what’s the point of having ecommerce set up when you don’t have your book ready to sell?

Be graphic

I wanted graphics to add visual interest. Surprisingly, finding graphics to add some zing was more challenging than finding a website design that I like. Again, I’m not at that stage where I want to spend a great deal of money setting up the website, but I understand the value of visuals. Honestly, I’m still struggling with this one. If anyone knows a good source of cheap, royalty-free images, I’d love to hear about it.

So far, I’ve found a few images off pexels.com and pixabay.com that fit my colour scheme and the mood of my first series of books (shameless plug: first book in the Bloodborne Pathogens series is coming soon). At some point, I should sort through my own photos to see if there’s anything I can use, but I am also not a photographer.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

I’ve started to bookmark sites of other authors that I might what to emulate, when I have more time or more money.

What’s next

Now that I have my domain and my engine plus a basic design, I need to delve into the nitty gritty. Eep! If you don’t see my for a while, send out a St. Bernard with some brandy. Or sangria.

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