I wrote recently about why you should use WordPress for your author website. Now allow me to recommend some themes that might work for you. But first, let me make sure you’re in the right place:
#1. You are not a celebrity
If you are, then you can make a totally personalized expensive website with bells and whistles, because your website doesn’t need to do anything. It can just sit there and be pretty, because you have millions of eager fans typing in your name, hoping for the chance to find you and buy your books.
#2. You don’t want a landing page
A landing page is a one-page “sales-letter” meant to motivate people to take action. They are great – if you are getting traffic. But you have to be advertising, networking, guest posting, handing out business cards or otherwise driving people straight to your site before it does anything. That’s probably too much work.
#3. You DO want a website that sells books for you
That means, you write interesting and useful content for your target readers, and they find it, accidentally, searching for some stuff, because they’ve never heard of you or your book, but they end up on your page and like your writing and see your book for sale in the sidebar. And if you’ve done everything right, they buy the book, love it, and then join your mailing list.
With a website like that, you don’t really have to worry about book marketing. You just keep writing great content.
I also made a free video series about setting up an author website in WordPress – I’ll make a new one soon; and I have a dummy site up at www.authoridentity.com. You may want to check out my fiction site also, to see the choices I made (clean, simple, functional).
UPDATE: For most authors, I recommend Divi theme by Elegant Themes. It’s a WordPress theme with a drag and drop interface and tons of customization options. Someday soon I’ll create a default Divi theme setup for authors.
The main thing is to get SOMETHING up quickly that looks good. After that, don’t screw it up by adding tons of crap. You need to structure your visitor’s experience and get them to take action (sign up for a content upgrade). Here’s a video of me critiquing 15 authors websites – if you watch the whole thing you’ll learn dozens of things that will help you sell more books.
OK, ready? Here are the sites.
Vivid Responsive Personal Blog
PaulBlack – Personal Blog WordPress Theme
Hooray – Premium WordPress Blog Theme
John Doe’s Blog
Beautiful Pro Theme
Lifestyle Pro Theme
Ostrich – A Classic Minimal WordPress Blog Theme
NAMO – Creative Multi-Purpose WordPress Theme
Since you’re here, let me repeat the qualifiers under consideration.
1. Simple and minimal is better than busy and ugly.
2. Avoid non-intuitive themes that are “neat” or “different.” Users won’t stick around if they can’t find the menu exactly where they expect
3. You don’t need to brand every part of your site with art that matches the book cover. Keep your site simple and white (or black). Let your book cover be the most beautiful thing on your blog, or it won’t impress anyone or stand out.
4. Look at the “blog” page, not the home page; most themes are set up “magazine-style” so they can display a bunch of content on the homepage at once, hoping that something catches somebody’s interest. But you don’t want a bit of everything: you want them to find your page, know exactly what you’re all about, and find some great writing immediately.
5. Fonts are easy to change, so if you like everything else, but not the fonts, no problem – you can change them to match the style of your book or genre later. (Colors are usually easy to change too).
6. Brand-building is almost entirely about the fonts and the logo / header. Choose a font for your blog title that matches your genre. That’s your brand. Use the same author photo everywhere. That’s your brand. Don’t try to reinvent web design and turn your website into your own little personal universe (you’ll be the only one who ever visits!)
7. Sliders – don’t use them. Use pictures to make people feel how you want them to; or to make yourself look awesome with big, full, professional author photos. Sliders are to show lots of different content. You don’t have that much content – just “My Book” / “About Me” … unless you are doing a lot of speaking events or something, you don’t need to catch their attention with a big moving slider. Get them with a great headline instead.
8. Don’t give them any choices. Don’t let them get lost, or offer 100 ways to share on social media, or 100 ways to follow you (Sign up for my email! Join my Facebook group, or Like my page! Follow me on Twitter! Oh yeah – and go buy my book! And leave a review!) Nobody will do any of those things, without motivation. The motivation is in the great writing. Get their attention first. Give them something first. Then steer them in the direction you want them to go. Try and get them to do ONE thing, and make it prominent and easy. Don’t make all the choices compete.
9. Everytime you post, ask yourself, “How am I providing value/making their day a little better?”
10. Most of these are “personal blog” style – often with an author photo in the top right. That’s to help build your brand awareness; it makes it easier for people to know and like you. You don’t want to be faceless. You need to build trust. Embrace these proven methods, because they work.
Looking for FREE wordpress themes? Try these:
Preface – A WordPress Theme for Authors
Ethority – One Page eBook Landing
Bookish – WP Theme for Book Authors & Marketers
MagicBook – A 3D Flip Book WordPress Theme
Typist – WordPress Theme for Serious Writers
Arwyn – A Charming Personal WordPress Blog Theme
Simple Article – WordPress Theme For Personal Blog
Brown – Responsive WordPress Theme for eBook
WordPress For Writers
Ravage – Big & Bold WordPress Theme
Minimalista – Genesis 2.0Child Theme
Wintersong Pro Theme
Themify Base (Free)
Author Theme for WordPress
Published – Responsive Author Theme
Esperanza Lite (Free)
Twenty Twelve (Free)
Rustik – Minimalist WooCommerce Theme
Manifest WordPress Theme (Free)
Readme – A Readable WordPress Theme
DW Minion (Free)
Cudazi Mono (Free)
Hellish Simplicity (Free)
MH Elegance lite
Blank – Elegant and Minimalist WordPress Blog
Yin & Yang
Personal – Best Blog, CV and Video WordPress Them
Blogex – Minimal Responsive WordPress Blog Theme
Literatum – Just Write
Melville Theme for Poetry Blogs
GoBlog – Responsive WordPress Blog Theme
MinBlog – Personal Minimalist Blog Theme
Respo Theme (Free)
How to use them
First you need to get some hosting somewhere. I recommend GoDaddy’s managed WordPress hosting (managed hosting will make your site more secure and update automatically). Then you can buy a theme and upload it into your WordPress panel.
There are lots of videos and guides to start using WordPress.
You can also hire someone cheap on Fiverr.com to set up you site for you.