Author Website: 3 Best Options for a Book-Selling Website

Building a website can be complex, but it's arguably one of the most important early marketing steps an author must take. In this digital age, every author needs an online platform to showcase their work, connect with readers, and cultivate a loyal following. But with so many options and skills to learn, how do you know what level of website marketing is right for you?

In this article, you'll learn:
  1. The three main types of author websites
  2. How to create a simple one-page website using drag-and-drop builders
  3. The benefits of a self-hosted content-driven “niche” website
  4. What it takes to set up an advanced direct sales website
  5. Why having your own author website is crucial
  6. Essential elements to include on your author website
  7. Whether to build your website yourself or hire a professional

Three Types of Author Websites

When it comes to author websites, there are three main options to consider: a simple one-page website, a content-driven “niche” website, and an advanced direct sales website. Each type has its own benefits and challenges, and the right choice for you will depend on your goals, skills, and resources.

Beginner: Simple One-Page Website

A simple one-page website is a great starting point for authors who want a basic online presence without spending too much time or effort on the finer details. This no-frills approach typically includes a sign-up form for your newsletter and links to your books on popular online retailers.

Who Should Choose This

  • Authors just starting out
  • Those with limited technical skills
  • Authors who want a basic online presence

How to Build

  1. Choose a drag-and-drop website builder (e.g., Squarespace, Wix, WordPress)
  2. Select a template that fits your genre and style
  3. Add your author bio, book information, and newsletter sign-up form
  4. Link to your social media profiles and online retailers


  • Easy to set up
  • Affordable
  • Requires minimal technical skills


  • Limited design and functionality options
  • May not support advanced features like blogging or e-commerce

Using Drag-and-Drop Website Builders

When it comes to creating a simple one-page website, drag-and-drop website builders are the way to go. These user-friendly platforms allow you to create a professional-looking website without needing to know how to code or design.

Top Drag-and-Drop Website Builders for Authors

Here's a comparison of some popular drag-and-drop website builders:

Squarespace Icon
  • Quick website creation
  • Easy page builder
  • No design experience needed
  • 14-day free trial
  • Stunning templates
  • Mobile optimization included
  • Free custom domain
  • Template constraints
  • Potential for similar-looking websites
Check it Out
Wix Icon
Free Plan or $16/month
  • User-friendly
  • Extensive integration options
  • Highly customizable
  • Free plan available
  • Abundance of third-party app integration
  • Complex drag-and-drop editor
  • Less sleek compared to Squarespace
  • Somewhat clunky
  • Manual mobile optimization required
Check it Out
Wordpress Icon
Free Plan or $4/month
  • User-friendly platform
  • Basic drag-and-drop builder
  • Access to WordPress themes
  • All-in-one solution
  • Built-in SEO tool
  • Higher cost for advanced features
  • Limited functionality in free version
  • Additional cost for email
Check it Out

These builders offer a wide range of templates that you can easily customize to fit your genre and personal style. They also make it simple to add essential elements like your author bio, book information, and newsletter sign-up form.

Getting Started with a Drag-and-Drop Website Builder

To get started with a drag-and-drop website builder:

  1. Choose a platform that suits your needs and budget
  2. Select a template that aligns with your author brand
  3. Customize your template with your own content and images
  4. Add a newsletter sign-up and email lead magnets to start building your email mailing list
  5. Link to your social media profiles and online retailers where readers can purchase your books

By using a drag-and-drop website builder, you can create a simple but effective one-page website that showcases your work and connects with your readers, all without getting bogged down in technical details or complex design decisions.

Learn More About Drag-and-Drop Builders

Intermediate: Content “Niche” Website

A content-driven “niche” website is a more advanced option for authors ready to take their online presence to the next level. These websites are typically self-hosted and use platforms like WordPress to create a more engaging and interactive experience for readers.

Who Should Choose This

How to Build

  1. Define your strategy and pick your niche/genre
  2. Choose a reliable web host (we recommend Siteground)
  3. Install WordPress
  4. Select a Wordpress theme that fits your genre and style
  5. Create content (blog posts, articles, etc.) related to your books and niche
  6. Optimize your site for search engines (SEO)


  • Greater flexibility in design and functionality
  • Ideal for content marketing and SEO
  • Allows for more reader engagement and interaction


  • Requires more technical skills
  • Hosting and security are your responsibility
  • Potential for hacks and security breaches
Learn More About Niche Sites

Why We Recommend WordPress for Self-Hosted Websites

When it comes to building a self-hosted author website, WordPress is the clear choice for most authors. Here are some of the key reasons why we recommend WordPress over other content management systems (CMS):

  1. User-friendly interface: WordPress has an intuitive, user-friendly interface that makes it easy for authors to create and manage their website content, even if they have limited technical skills.
  2. Extensive customization options: With WordPress, you have access to a vast library of themes and plugins that allow you to customize your website's appearance and functionality to suit your specific needs and preferences.
  3. Large community of users and developers: WordPress has a massive global community of users and developers who contribute to its ongoing development, provide support, and create new themes and plugins. This means you'll always have access to a wealth of resources and expertise when building and maintaining your website.
  4. Extensive template library: WordPress offers an extensive library of pre-designed templates (themes) that you can use as a starting point for your website design. These templates are designed for various niches and styles, making it easier for you to find a design that aligns with your author brand.
  5. SEO-friendly: WordPress is designed with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind, which means that your website will be more likely to rank well in search engine results pages (SERPs), helping readers discover your books and content more easily.

While there are other CMS options available, such as Squarespace, Wix, and Weebly, WordPress remains the most popular and versatile choice for self-hosted websites. Its combination of user-friendliness, customization options, and extensive resources make it the ideal platform for creating a professional, engaging author website.

Why We Recommend SiteGround for Self-Hosted Websites

When it comes to choosing a web host for your self-hosted author website, SiteGround is our top recommendation for most authors. Here's why:

  1. Affordable pricing: SiteGround offers competitive pricing plans that suit the needs and budgets of most authors.
  2. Excellent performance: With SiteGround, your website will load quickly and reliably, providing a smooth experience for your readers.
  3. Easy WordPress installation: SiteGround makes it simple to install WordPress with just a few clicks, so you can get your website up and running quickly.
  4. Automatic backups: SiteGround provides automatic daily backups of your website, ensuring that your content is always protected.
  5. Responsive customer support: If you ever need help with your website, SiteGround's knowledgeable support team is available 24/7 to assist you.

While there are many great web hosting options out there, we believe that SiteGround offers the best combination of features, performance, and value for most authors, especially those who expect to receive fewer than 50,000 page views per month.

However, if your website starts to receive a significant amount of traffic (like Kindlepreneur, for example), you may need to consider a more powerful hosting plan or provider to ensure optimal performance.

If you're unsure which web host is right for your specific needs, be sure to check out our in-depth comparison of the best website hosts for authors:

Best Hosts for Authors

Advanced: Direct Sales Website

An advanced direct sales website allows authors to sell their books directly to readers, bypassing traditional online retailers. This approach offers greater control over the sales process, customer data, and profit margins, but it also requires a more significant investment of time and resources.

In my recent article, “How to Sell Books Direct to Readers: The Complete Guide,” I took a deep dive into everything you need to know about direct selling as an author. If you're considering this advanced option, I highly recommend checking out that comprehensive guide.

We also recently shared some eye-opening results from our survey of 876 authors selling books directly to readers. The data revealed some fascinating insights about what it really takes to succeed with this increasingly popular strategy. I recommend reading through those results as well.

Who Should Choose This

  • Established authors with a strong readership
  • Those who want full control over their sales and customer data
  • Authors willing to invest time and money into e-commerce

Before Getting Started Selling Direct

  1. First, you'll want to learn the basics of selling direct
  2. Consider and explore the best courses for selling direct (you'll thank me later)
  3. Check out our author survey results that covers what it really takes to succeed in direct sales.

How to Build

  1. Choose an e-commerce platform (e.g., Shopify, WooCommerce)
  2. Design your store and add your products
  3. Set up payment processing and shipping options
  4. Create marketing funnels and campaigns to drive traffic to your store


  • Full control over the sales process and customer data
  • Higher profit margins (you keep all the revenue)
  • Ability to use advanced marketing strategies


  • Can be complex setup and maintenance
  • Requires significant time and financial investment
  • Need to handle payment processing, shipping, and customer service
Learn More About Direct Sales

Why Have Your Own Author Website?

What do Stephen King, James Patterson, Danielle Steele, and Nora Roberts all have in common?

In addition to being highly successful authors, they all have their own websites. In fact, it is difficult to find a bestselling author that doesn’t have their own website.

Let’s consider a few reasons why authors of all levels of success choose to have their own website.

1. Professionalism: It’s only natural as humans to make judgements based on appearance. For example, if you meet with an attorney for the first time and he struts in wearing a stained and torn hoodie and greets you with a dispassionate, “‘Sup?”, your confidence in him might wane. Instead, lawyers typically dress in finely tailored suits because they know that a polished appearance is more likely to engender trust. Similarly, when an author has a professional-looking website, it gives the appearance to readers that they take their work seriously and have produced a quality book. This imparts a level of trust between the reader and the author, and may lead more readers to purchase from that author.

2. Marketing: Many independent authors that have been able to turn their writing into a career have found that developing a database of readers is an invaluable key to their success. Having your own author website enables you to allow readers to sign up for your newsletter, giving you an avenue to market to them as your new books become available.

3. Brand control: Some self-published authors rely exclusively on Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and the like to present their works. While online retailers and social media may be necessary outlets to reach customers, they place limits on their appearance and functionality. For example, while you can add custom photos and text to a Facebook page, at a glance they all really just look the same. Everything from the size of the images to the formatting of the page and the color scheme is ultimately determined by Facebook. And the world’s largest book retailer Amazon fills your book’s page with products and ads that can easily divert customers away from your book… the very opposite of where you want customers to go! Your website, however, is controlled entirely by you, giving you the opportunity to really let your personality shine and ensure that your books are the focus.

4. Direct sales: That’s right, despite what you may have been led to believe, Amazon isn’t the only place where customers buy books. And, as this article points out, you can increase your profit margins by selling books from your own website.

5. Discoverability: When someone searches your name or book on Google (or any major search engine), what results do they get? It could be that in addition to a few accurate search results, similar but competing websites are listed. You would certainly benefit by having your official site show up high in the results, and a well-designed website can do just that. Additionally, if you choose to blog regularly, this can direct more traffic (i.e. more potential readers) to your site from an even greater variety of search engine keywords.

Need Help with Your Keywords?

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Website Terminology 

If you’re new to the idea of having a website, there may be some terms that you’ve heard (or not), but don’t really know exactly what they are. Here are a few basic ones that I’ll be mentioning throughout this and other articles on the subject.

  • Domain: A website’s domain is it’s .com (or .net, .org, etc.) name, and it can be likened to an address. For example, while you might just call this site Kindlepreneur, it’s domain is actually And just as a physical address like 123 Main St. might be the location of a storefront, the domain is a virtual address where this site can be located.
  • Subdomain: A subdomain is also a name that could be likened to an address. However, subdomains don’t have their own exclusive .com (or .net, .org, etc.) name. An example of a subdomain would be, which would take you to Google’s technical support center instead of their more popular search engine. Think of it like an office that is found at 123 Main St. Suite 142, rather than just at 123 Main St. It’s still there, but it may be a little harder to find.
  • Hosting: Simply having a domain doesn’t cause you to have a website any more than registering a retail business in your state means that you necessarily have your own shop. Instead, you would have to rent a storefront where you can stock your wares. Similarly, for a website you need a hosting provider to rent you space where your website content can be held. Some website options are self-hosted, meaning that they take care of hosting for you, while others require you to purchase hosting separately.
  • SEO: Short for Search Engine Optimization, SEO refers to a site’s ability to rank highly on Google, Bing, and other search engines. SEO is very important to a website’s quality and amount of traffic. It could be likened to the difference between a lot of vehicles passing by a business on Main St. downtown and the same traffic being diverted away from the business district to other more popular locations. And for more on SEO for authors, check out Publisher Rocket.
  • Responsive: A responsive website is one that changes dynamically based on the device being used. For example, when viewing a responsive website on a computer you might see a list of menu items and a couple of columns of content, but when viewing that same site on a smartphone, the menu may be reduced to a simple three line menu button, and the columns may condense into a single scrollable column. (Sorry… no storefront comparison on this term. But don’t think I didn’t try to think of one!)

What to Include on Your Author Website

There are a few factors to keep in mind when designing your author website

  • Make sure that your design fits your genre. Images, titles, and even the site’s color scheme all give visitors an impression about you and your books before they ever begin reading anything on your site. And if your visitors get the wrong impression, they may leave before giving you a chance.
  • Author bio. Readers feel more connected with an author when they know something about them. A professional quality photo of yourself, along with a few personal details can go a long way in allowing readers to feel like they have a bond with you. More details about what makes a bio effective can be found here.
  • Include your books. This suggestion is kind of obvious. Just make sure that you remember to either allow readers to purchase your books directly from your site or link to Amazon or another retailer where they can purchase them.
  • Reviews and accolades. Is your book an award winner? Did it receive a positive editorial review (such as an Indies Today review) or a prominent endorsement? Then make sure that you share that type of information with your website visitors.
  • Newsletter sign-up form. As mentioned earlier, a newsletter can be a very valuable marketing tool for authors. View this article to learn more about which newsletter service might be your best option. Similarly, providing links to your social media can help your readers to keep in touch with you.
  • And more… It’s your website, so it’s really up to you what you decide to include. Do you want a blog, which can be good for your SEO? Or how about a contact form so that readers can send you messages? What about giveaways? Perhaps a press kit? Your options are as limitless as your imagination (well, unless you’re a fantasy writer!).

Need Help Building Your Author Website?

As an author building your online presence, one of the biggest choices you'll face is whether to create your website yourself or hire someone to do it for you. There's no one-size-fits-all answer, but I'm here to help you weigh the pros and cons and make the best decision for your needs.

The DIY Approach

Going the DIY route is great because it can save you a ton of time and give you full control over your website. However, it does require a lot of learning, which could take you away from writing or marketing in other ways.

If you're looking to dive deeper into the world of direct book sales, I highly recommend investing in a comprehensive course. My top pick is the Author Marketing Mastery through Optimization (AMMO) course by USA Today best-selling author Steve Pieper.

Author Marketing Mastery through Optimization (AMMO) course by USA Today best-selling author Steve Pieper

Pros of DIY

  1. Save money on website development costs
  2. Gain valuable skills in website design and management
  3. Maintain full control over your website's look and functionality

Cons of DIY

  1. Steep learning curve for beginners
  2. Time-consuming, especially when you're just starting out
  3. Potential for mistakes and frustration

Hiring a Professional

While hiring someone to create your author website can be expensive, it could save you a big headache by ensuring your site is professionally designed and functional.Here's what to think about:

Pros of Hiring a Pro

  1. Expertise in web design and functionality
  2. Saves time and allows you to focus on writing and marketing
  3. Minimizes the risk of mistakes and technical issues

Cons of Hiring a Pro

  1. Expensive, especially for custom designs
  2. Potential loss of control over your site's look and functionality
  3. Ongoing costs for updates and maintenance

My Recommendations and Final Thoughts

For most authors, I recommend starting with a simple one-page website to establish your online presence. As you grow your readership and become more comfortable with web design, you can gradually upgrade to a more advanced content-driven or direct sales website.

Remember, your author website is a crucial tool for connecting with readers, promoting your work, and ultimately, selling more books. By choosing the right type of website and investing in its development, you'll be well on your way to building a successful and sustainable author career.

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