These days, it is essential that authors have a web presence to promote themselves and their books. I have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of author web sites over the years. Some were built by professionals, while others were built by the authors themselves. There are some very good author web sites online. There are also some very bad ones.
This post isn't going to deal with the aesthetics of an author web site, but it should look good and like it was built by a professional, even if it wasn't. Instead, I'm going to cover the five things that every author should make sure they have on their web site from a marketing point of view.
1. Contact information. I'm surprised by the number of web sites I see that have no means of contacting the author. What if a member of the media, a book reviewer or a movie producer wanted to get in touch with the author? Without some kind of contact info, such as an email address or a contact form, authors could be missing out on some great opportunities.
2. Schedule of Events. Authors have a prime platform to promote their upcoming speaking engagements and book signing events: their own web site. Yet, many fail to have a schedule of upcoming events, or they don't keep it updated. How will your readers find your events?
3. Author Bio. Readers want to know something about the author. Every author web site should have an "About the Author" page which describes the author's background, their other writings, their education, etc. This page should include a photo of the author.
4. Excerpt. Give your readers a taste of the latest book you are promoting. Include a sample chapter or two. If readers like that, they will buy the rest of the book.
5. A Way to Purchase the Book! After all that promoting, you want your readers to be able to buy your book. You can either sell signed copies directly and accept payments via an online payment site such as Paypal, or you could just link to your book's listing on Amazon. However you decide to do it, give your web site readers a way to purchase the book, and make it easy to find.
There are plenty of other things you can put on your web site, of course, but make sure that you at least include these five things. Your readers will thank you!