Building My Author Site: A Step by Step Guide

I have a new website. It’s pdjeliclark.com I thought I should let people know.

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Behold. I have a new website. A nice and fancy professional author website. I’ve been holding onto this blog spot at WordPress.com for a minute. And it’s been a great place to wax philosophically on various things, get embroiled in heated discussions on race and diversity in SFF, receive the requisite number of troll posts (I save those–they’re a doozy), and from time to time talk about my writing life.

So that writing life has taken a turn for the better, as I’ve expressed lately. And my posts have increasingly been in the vein of–“Hey, I Wrote a Thing!” and “Oh Look, I Wrote Another Thing!” and “Wanna Know What Inspired Me to Write the Thing?” Basically this spot has turned mostly from an obscure rambling blog to my unofficial author page.

Only, it’s not an author page.

It’s not even a very good author page.

And ya’ll, if you’re gonna write and publish stuff, you need an actual author page. As I’ve learned, readers might end up actually liking your stuff (yaaay!). Then they’re going to seek out more stuff by you. Some will go immediately to Amazon. Or maybe they’ll look you up on a social media platform like Twitter. But nothing brings all of that stuff together like an author page. It’s simple. To the point. And it’s all about you, and perhaps more important, the stuff you’ve done.

While I love this blog–that ain’t that. This blog is me jabbering my gibs–either long posts about anti-fascism in dieselpunk or on the travails of a SFF writer. But it’s not the simple and easily manageable author site. You know how when you look up a recipe and you’re forced to scroll and read through the author’s story about how their kids wouldn’t ever eat a certain thing and how they tried everything but then arrived at this simple plan and now their friends and family all love it, blah, blah, blah. And you’re getting frustrated because you’re yelling: ALL I WANNA KNOW IS WHAT DO I NEED TO PICK UP AT THE GROCERY STORE AND HOW LONG TO COOK IT! That’s what making this spot an author page would be like. And since I like my readers and don’t wanna frustrate them, I realized I needed something more tight and to the point.

How do you go about building an author page? Here–follow these handy steps.

Step 1: Find author pages that you really like. If you’re high end, you can go looking at the top mega-authors like Neil Gaiman. Of course, I don’t have the volume of Neil Gaiman’s work so I don’t need a page anywhere near that complicated. Instead, I looked at published authors who are established or up and coming that I might want to emulate. One of those for me was Justina Ireland, author of the multi-nominated and award winning Dread Nation. I love Justina’s page–professional, well put together, a minimalist quality, very straightforward with all her books (and she has a lot!) listed right on the front and easy for readers to navigate. Could say much the same for sites by S.A. Chakraborty or Intisar Khanani.

Step 2: Looking at these examples, try to get a feel for the must-haves for your author site. You’ll notice all of them have a menu. That menu will usually consist of links to pages with headings like About, Books, Events: the main things readers are looking for, and whatever you want readers to easily find. Of course, customize as you want. Maybe include a menu item with the map of your secondary world. Or another to Fan Art or your Newsletter. You get the idea. Still not sure? Look it up. Google has lots of advice on the essentials of author page building. Here’s one. And here’s another. Getting the idea?

Step 3: Choose a platform and get that domain name. It’s going to cost you money, so figure out what you’re willing to pay and how much. You’re going to need a place to host your site. And you’re going to need a domain name. Lots of spots to do that all in one–SquareSpace, Bluehost, etc. I ended up going with Bluehost who lets you build a page with WordPress.org. I already had a domain name through GoDaddy. I’d chosen pdjeliclark.com a while back. Yes, snatch up your author domain name now if you can–because never know when its already taken. Plus, if you’re serious about this writing life, you don’t have to wait to be published to build your author site. I was using the domain for this blog page. Was simple enough to migrate it over to Bluehost and to my new WordPress.org site. Easy peasy, as Diana Hyde might say.

*Caveat: You don’t have to get this fancy if you don’t want to. Some authors like to maintain a free WordPress.com site (you can pay to get rid of ads) as their author page–and that’s FINE. My personal preference was for something a bit more upscale. So I put in the fuss and work (and money) to get it. That’s ME. But I know lots of well-established authors who keep it simple and neat and are doing JUST FINE. Also probably costs them a whole lot less. So do what works for YOU. Aight? BUT, get your domain name. That one you’re gonna need.

Step 4: Build your page. Now that you’ve got everything in order, all you have to do is build your page. There are endless resources at your disposal. WordPress.org lets you choose free themes; there are plug-ins; there are themes and building tools you can purchase to customize your spot; and on and on. Really, if you can handle some moderate level coding and you have the time and patience, you can make the site you want all on your own.

Step 5: FOH with Step 4! That sh*t was hard! Last time I was building websites was the early aughts. This stuff has come a long ass way since friggin’ Dreamweaver. My simple HTML skills were not cutting it. CSS was kicking my ass! I was spending hours trying to get the basics down and going nowhere. The site just wasn’t looking like how I wanted it to. At all. And I may be hardheaded, but I ain’t that hardheaded. After about a week and a half I threw in the towel. Time to call in a professional.

Step 6: Hire a professional if you need one, and be ready to admit when you do. There are lots of people who have the necessary skill sets to do this thing. And they’ll gladly take your money in a fair exchange. I began reaching out to some. How did I find them? Sometimes by figuring out who built the sites I liked. Other times, I just straight up asked authors. For both Squarespace and WordPress.org you can even hire random people online who understand the platforms and will bid to build your site. No joke. Ended up going with someone suggested by word of mouth–Catherine Hnatov, who is also a children’s author. Cost some money. Yes, you have to pay people if you want them to work for you. It’s a basic concept, Karen. Respect it. But, I felt the price was reasonable. Took about two weeks of communication back and forth, and in the end I had my site.

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Snazzy ain’t it? Money well spent in my estimation. And Catherine was great & easy to work with.

So am I giving up this blog spot?

Not a chance. I’ll still be rambling and jabbering on here from time to time. Look at me now? In fact, I’ll probably do most of that on here. My author site is really meant to showcase my writing, keep readers abreast on current events in my author life (book signings, etc.). I’ll keep it updated. But this is where I’ll write my more meandering posts.

There’s even a link to this spot on the author site–a heading titled, Disgruntled Haradrim.

Of course.

 

 

 

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