There’s a lot of pressure on you to build a killer author website that promotes you and your books.
You see all the most successful authors have elaborate websites that seem to generate sales for them like clockwork, so you want to get yours right. But you aren’t sure which boxes to check (or even which “checklist” to use in the first place).
You need a trustworthy guide to help you sort through the chaos.
Fortunately, we’ve helped 1000s of authors build powerful brands and become bestsellers…
And I’ll reveal the biggest discoveries we’ve made over the years.
We’ll also take a look at five author website examples that—according to the standards we use for our clients—get it right.
Let’s find out how you can, too.
How to Create an Author Website That Generates Sales and Builds Your Brand
1. Identify Your Target Audience
First things first: you need to know who you’re talking to.
This means conducting market research on your target readership.
You’ll want to consider factors like:
- What pain points do your readers have?
- What are they motivated by?
- What platforms do they frequent?
- What does a reader stand to gain from your book?
- What type of reader is interested in your book?
The answers to these questions will determine what kind of information to include on your author website.
If you need a jumping-off point, try creating a reader profile to hone in on who you’re targeting.
You’ll also want to look into what the competitors in your genre are doing.
Looking at the top-rated books on sites like Amazon will help you determine what similar books have to offer—and what they don’t.
You can use this competitor research to help your book stand out amongst the crowd.
2. Tailor Your Website to Your Target Reader
Your author website should appeal to the target audience we identified in the first step.
Some authors misunderstand “audience” to mean their genre or category.
While both elements are important to sell a book, the real target of an author website is the problem your readers have.
Or, rather: the problem your readers will buy your book to solve.
Once you identify the problem—the reason why you wrote the book in the first place—you have a powerful foundation on which to build your author website.
Now the question is: how will you target your specific audience and showcase their main problem (with a promise of a solution) on your site?
To start, I’d recommend:
1. Well-written copy.
Your copy should:
a.Clearly identify the problem your book solves or the benefit it provides. This is called a hero section (we’ll talk about it more in step #3), and it sets your book up as the solution to the pain point your reader is experiencing.
b. Include social proof (such as five-star reviews from satisfied customers) to build your credibility.
c. Use an offer as a lead magnet. This could be anything from a free PDF download, a free trial, or a webinar—anything that serves as a free entry point to the rest of your high-ticket offers.
2. Examples of you speaking in the form of photos and/or video clips.
Or, if you’re a new author in need of an alternative to professional clips: create a mockup as a temporary placeholder while you work on the real thing.
3. Testimonials from previous clients.
These should be videos, if possible. Testimonials hold a lot of weight when it comes to getting hired for speaking engagements.
4. Social proof + social media links.
Social proof is a great way to showcase your expertise as a thought leader. I’d also recommend linking to your social media (if you have it) to further connect with your audience.
3. Use the “Reverse Home Page” Framework
A reverse homepage starts with the problem your readers are experiencing followed by the solution your book provides/what you do as an author.
This is called a hero section, and it goes in place of the traditional about section.
Why is a reverse homepage so effective?
1. It immediately entices your readers with a personalized offer
2. It sets up your website as a sales page for you as the author with your book as the byproduct
An effective author website knows that the book is not its main selling point.
Instead, it’s about what you can provide as a thought leader, entrepreneur, and expert in your field.
Our homepage on the Best Seller Publishing site rotates through a slideshow of our three main selling points—publish, promote, profit.
Then, we pose this question to authors:
Further down you’ll find a short blurb that serves as our about section.
Notice how my offer as an expert comes before any sort of introduction.
This kind of positioning will set you up for valuable upselling opportunities in the future.
4. Don’t Underestimate Simplicity
You’ve probably heard by now that less is more when it comes to author websites.
It’s a common turn-of-phrase, but a very important lesson authors often miss: don’t bog down your readers with whimsical website designs and blocks of text they won’t read.
Instead, keep your website clean, simple, and to the point.
It’s actually proven that consumers become overwhelmed and shut down when presented with too many options.
This phenomenon is called the “paradox of choice,” and it’s not good for business.
Engage readers from the get-go with simple copy that highlights their universal problem.
Leave plenty of white space to give your website a polished look.
Then, take advantage of basic color palettes, simple designs, and a straightforward layout that seamlessly guides your reader from one section to the next.
The goal is to strip your website down to the basic elements while maintaining its effectiveness.
For some authors, this might mean hiring a web designer. Others might take advantage of pre-designed templates on sites like WordPress.
I would encourage you to take the necessary steps to bring your website to its maximum potential.
5 Author Website Examples That Get It Right
Let’s take a look at five examples of author websites that, according to the three quantifiers we’ve listed above, get it right.
1. Taki Moore: Million Dollar Coach
Taki Moore’s website is the perfect example of a homepage selling more than just a book.
It opens with a simple but effective logline: “Become a Million Dollar Coach.”
Then, scrolling down, you’ll find a brief paragraph expanding on that copy that outlines the type of coach who might benefit from Moore’s products.
With only a few lines of copy, Moore has successfully identified his target audience (coaches looking to move from six to seven figures), stated their problem (breaking that threshold), and given them a solution: his Million Dollar Coach bestseller.
Simple, effective, successful.
Now let’s talk about the specific website features Moore uses to support his claims.
- Simple website design. Moore uses a basic color palette, leaves plenty of white space, and makes navigating the site an easy journey for customers.
- Video content. The very first piece of content to appear on the homepage is a high-quality video of Moore giving a speech on his book.
- Testimonials. Moore features an array of positive testimonials from other well-respected coaches in his field.
- Well-written copy. Every word on the homepage serves a purpose. It’s direct, specific, and drives home the philosophy of the Million Dollar Coach products.
Taki Moore’s author website is a fantastic case study on how to get to the point through well-purposed copy.
(And it just so happens to be one of Best Seller Publishing’s success stories, too.)
2. Shanda Sumpter: Heartcore
Shanda Sumpter’s website is chalked full of personality and engaging selling points.
First, she leads with a remarkable line of copy above the fold: “#1 Resource for Producing a Better Entrepreneur.”
This is more than just establishing need—the “#1 Resource” claim goes to bat for Sumpter’s credibility as a thought leader.
Then, to support the assertion, Sumpter lists three offers for interested entrepreneurs: consultations, her book, and a free virtual workshop designed to launch businesses effectively.
This is another great example of a homepage that knows its audience and hooks them above told fold.
Let’s take a closer look at what Sumpter does well:
- Simple website design. Sumpter’s layout is all-encompassing of her brand and what she stands for as an entrepreneur. It’s distinct, fun, and simple.
- Engaging video content. The video content on the homepage further answers the customer’s need and expands on Sumpter’s brand as a whole.
- Social media links. Located in the blog section of the website is an array of links to Sumpter’s socials.
- Success stories. This is an example of the social proof we touched on earlier; Sumpter lists videos and tweets from her customers’ best success stories.
3. Krister Ungerböck: 22 TalkSHIFTS™
Krister Ungerböck is bestselling author of 22 TalkSHIFTS™ – Tools to Transform Leadership.
His website sells more than just business solutions—it’s a methodology for life, for elevating an organization’s culture at its foundations.
Ungerböck understands that he’s not just pushing book copies. He’s selling his customers on real solutions to real, universal communication problems.
This is evident from the first line of copy on the homepage: “Change your words, change your [leadership, business, culture, world, career, etc.].” The words flash across the screen one at a time, culminating in an offer that combines all of them.
Then, to hit home, Ungerböck lists his qualifications as a keynote speaker to position himself as a credible thought leader (speech video included).
- Well-written copy. The website copy is succinct, efficient, and purposefully driven toward business leaders with a need for communication tools.
- Speaking videos. At the bottom of the homepage, Ungerböck includes a link to a keynote teaser trailer.
- Media links. Instead of social media links, Ungerböck links instead to his appearances in the press—a combination of social proof and brand awareness.
- Simple website design. This author website utilizes a simple color palette and a straightforward layout to guide readers from visit to purchase.
4. Mark Herschberg: The Career Toolkit
This homepage doesn’t even feature its author at all: Herschberg lets his bestselling book, The Career Toolkit, take the spotlight.
The above-the-fold copy asks: “Did anyone ever teach these [essential] skills to you?”
Herschberg’s use of a question here is important. It immediately identifies the problem, pushes potential customers to think critically about their situation, and personalizes the solution.
It also encompasses a multitude of content. The Career Toolkit isn’t focused on just one skill—rather, it aims to improve basic career skills across the board.
A broad product like this requires a broad problem, and more importantly, a broad solution conveyed with strategic copy: “It’s a multivitamin for your career!”
Herschberg’s copy is tailored precisely to the scope of his book and the wide range of problems his readers experience.
Let’s take a closer look at what Herschberg does well:
- Simple website design. The Career Toolkit website is a masterclass in simplicity. The basic color scheme, fonts, graphics, and logo bring attention to the real purpose of the website: the book.
- Well-written copy. Herschberg’s copy is concise, strategic, and accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do. Every line of copy is designed to check multiple boxes to push readers toward a purchase.
- Media links. Just like the 22 TalkSHIFTS™ website, Herschberg includes multiple links to his media features including podcasts, press releases, and even tweets.
- Lead magnets. Readers can download free PDFs from the “Resources” tab pulled directly from The Career Toolkit. This is a great example of a low-ticket offer that invests customers in your long-term funnel.
5. Terrance Lee: The Introvert Leader
Terrance Lee’s Quiet Voice Fearless Leader website is a first-rate case study on how to target a niche audience successfully.
How does he do it? After all, “introvert” and “leader” aren’t often combined in a positive light. Lee will have to sell his audience on the sentiment before he can sell them on his product.
Incidentally, this cognitive dissonance is exactly how Lee builds a case for his book: he capitalizes on it through compelling copy.
His homepage asks, “What if society has it all wrong?” Lee pushes his audience to consider that introverts may be the best leaders—and his book will show them how.
This is an incredibly persuasive selling point. It solves a universal problem for introverted leaders, and challenges extroverted leaders to rethink their current tactics.
Here’s a breakdown of the additional strategies Lee’s website employs:
- Testimonials. This homepage is filled with quote testimonials that further support the unusual concepts Quiet Voice Fearless Leader covers.
- Media links. Lee includes his media coverage (including podcasts and interviews), and several opportunities to connect with him on social media.
- Well-written copy. The copy for this kind of niche topic must be specific and strategic—Lee nails both elements while selling his audience on an unfamiliar content combination.
- Simple website design. Like the other websites on this list, Lee’s website is simple, bold, and easy to navigate.
Use These Tips to Build Your Own Successful Author Website
We use these tips at Best Seller Publishing to guarantee our clients get solid author websites and best-selling books.
Now you have the knowledge you need to build an author website that gets it right, too.
But I have one more tool for you before you go…
You can click here to purchase my free plus shipping bestseller, Publish. Promote. Profit.
It includes valuable insights from dozens of authors to help you become a sought-after expert in your industry.