Salutations, fellow scribblers of words. Let’s talk about how to design your author page to highlight your talents. Believe it or not, bad aesthetic choices turn people away faster than bad content. So, let’s dive in. (No services sold. Not sponsored.)
1. THE GOAL
The first step is to figure out why you want an author page. My main purposes are to showcase my novels for possible sales and to interact with readers/fans. For you, it might be to display your poetry or short stories. You may want a blog or newsletter to reach a broader audience. Admittedly, I like having a website because it makes me feel more professional. Whatever your goals, write them down and pick the top two or three so you know what to highlight.
2. SHOWCASE YOUR WORK
I’m going to go out on a limb and assume one of your goals is to display your writing, in one form or another, whether it be books, poems, blog posts, graphic stories, or any written art. You want to place these crown jewels in the grand hall, the space with the first and most visibility near the top of your home page. Create a visually enticing display with cover images, titles, and succinct descriptions.
NOTE: I’ve read that presenting any text from your written work means it won't be suitable for throwing into the querying trenches because of...legal reasons. (But don’t take my word for it.)
This may seem obvious, but you have no idea how many author pages I’ve visited where I struggle to decipher the words from scrawled cursive fonts. Your words are your passion, so let them shine. As someone who struggles with vision (for reasons…), I appreciate medium and large font sizes. Just as importantly, make sure the color of your words contrasts strongly with the background color, meaning black text on a light background or white text on a dark background.
4. IMAGE SIZES
Size matters. It’s important for two reasons (get your mind out of the gutter). If an image doesn’t take up enough real estate, it will detract from your storytelling, not add to it. If you present a book cover, the title should be readable. Similarly, seeing the whites of your eyes helps readers connect with you as an author.
The digital size of your images also matters. If they don’t have enough pixels (the dots that make up a picture), they will look blurry. Wix and other web page builders usually have image editors that include smart “upscaling” options. They also have cropping options to make them square or rectangular.
5. COLOR SCHEME
The color scheme of your author's page is one of the themes in your website storytelling. Choose a pallet that reflects you and your genre(s). Beige tones for fireside reads. Cool tones for a calming effect. Vibrant purple for excitement. Red and black for horror. Black and white for timeless or modern. Remember, your webpage should showcase your written words, so text colors need to pop off the background.
6. TOP LEFT TO BOTTOM RIGHT
Not surprisingly, people read websites the same way they read books, from top left to bottom right. The most important messages should go near the top of your page. Priority should go from left to right. In most cases, the first thing you want fans to see is the page title so they know they’re in the right place. My title is way up top, saying “Books By J.F. Lawrence.” My first goal (stated above) is to interest visitors in my novels, so I tucked the covers and links right under the page title. My next goal is to engage my viewers, so I follow up with a short bio, pics of my animals, blog posts, and more about me. Subscribers are at the bottom of my priorities, so my subscription form sits at the bottom. Your priorities should be reflected in your top-to-bottom order.
For an author page, simplicity is your ally, especially in the initial stages. Begin with a clean, straightforward layout that introduces visitors to you with the greatest focus on your story. Fancy animations usually slow the guest down. Unique layouts that make sense to you can be confusing for your fans. As your writing empire expands, you can gradually add layers of complexity. Think of it as building chapters in a novel; each addition must enhance the narrative, not distract from the plot and characters.
The term “responsive” means you can view the content on a phone, tablet, or computer without squinting your eyes. This means different layouts for each. On a computer screen, what looks good as a side-by-side trio will look best on your phone as individual items, one on top of the next. Your website builder should do this automatically for you. But it is always good practice to check and sometimes tweak designs in your builder’s phone view.
9. LESS IS MORE
This may sound like my prior advice of “simplicity” but it is more than that. If you add too many sections and text to your site, it will distract your guests from your primary goals. Writing a concise story is important, so decluttering unnecessary elements improves your author story. Save your longer pros and extended expositions for your works and blog/poetry collection/books.
In this vein, your text should be broken into short "paragraphs." For webpages, you typically want more than 2 short sentences per paragraph or one long one. I describe each of my novels with only two to four words. I don’t add separate text links or buttons, instead choosing to use my book covers the links to their Amazon pages.
10. DIVIDE SECTIONS
As readers navigate your author page, guide their journey like you would via chapters. Here are a few simple visual cues you can use as section dividers. Try using alternating background colors for each scene. Maybe add gaps at the start and end of each segment. This can seem like a waste of space, but it actually pays off. Horizontal lines can be used judiciously, but can scream early 2000s if you're not careful. Large headings quickly tell the visitor it’s time to jump to the next scene.
Within a section, try dividing text and images into subsections. Think of these as paragraphs or stanzas. Even your short bio can be broken into two sentence points divided with extra room between them.
A FINAL NOTE
Your author page is your story to tell. Just because some blowhard named J.F. Lawrence says something doesn’t mean it’s gospel. Your uniqueness is what makes you shine, so experiment and have fun. Just remember that we authors tend to weave our stories for ourselves, then edit and revise endlessly so others can enjoy them. To this end, pretty please with a book on top, have your writing circle or beta readers check your page and provide feedback.
As always, I appreciate your support of self-publishing and indie authors. In the name of putting myself out there, here are a few of my works.