Author Website Checklist 2020

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Why Do I need a Website?

When I was originally going through the process of designing and developing this site I searched online for some information about what an author website in 2020 actually needs. I couldn’t find much. So, what does and Author Site in 2020 actually need? This might seem like a very metatextual article for an author’s website, but it was a question I asked myself before I purchased my domain name and hosting package. I even went searching on Google for an answer to this question. What was I actually planning to do with the site? In order to get some ideas, I decided to have a look at what some of my favourite authors were doing on the web. Some of the results of this were quite surprising since the web presence of many famous authors is actually specularly bad. One of my favourite literary authors is Martin Amis. His early work had a great effect on me in my formative years and I still have a great deal of respect for Amis, although his output over the last few years hasn’t really maintained the quality of his formative work. So let’s have a look at his website shall we:

This fubar appears to be a good example of why it’s important to keep a website up to date. uses plugins so out of date that the site fails to render in any modern web browser. It’s like the last 20 years didn’t happen and were back in the world of dial-up modems, Alta Vista and Netscape. 

So what content does an Author Site really need? Firstly you need a storefront where people can find links to buy your book. For me, as a self-published KDP Select Author, all of my sales are processed by Jeff Bezos, so I just have links to my products on his website. However, you also need an email sign up system so you can contact your readers directly with information about your books. The underlying reason for your website, tacky as it may be, is to generate sales.  It provides a space on the web that you are in control of. Unlike Amazon, you have full control over the look and feel as well as the layout of your own website. Of course, this can be negative as well as a plus factor, as anyone that’s been online long enough to remember the user-created content nightmares of GeoCities and MySpace will testify.

Use your website as a hub for your social media presence. This is something that can be hard to understand in a world where we are all forced to become prosumers whether we like it or not. However, the best way to look at social media once you have a website is as a means of driving traffic to you own webpage. Your goal is to make social media platforms work for you, not the other way around. When you post to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, the objective is to get more visitors to your page so they can enter your “sales funnel”, which is marketing speak for getting people to actually buy your books.

Why do I need a blog?

A blog is like your online pulse. It needs to keep beating in order for your site to stay alive. The method I’ve used in the past with some success in article writing. Write a long article with meaningful content (a bit like this one for example). Then blog about the article. What this means is that you need to write a compelling precis of the article. Don’t just blog the whole thing. You can then tweet a link to your blog and post a link to it on Facebook.

Domain name

Buy your domain name through your hosting provider. Keep it all under the same roof and you’ll save your self some pain in the long term. I’ve been using for domains and hosting for the last decade I and would thoroughly recommend them. What sort of domain name do you need? Avoid buying a hyphenated domain name. These are much harder to type and remember and there is some evidence that Google penalises hyphenated domain names in the SERPS (Search Engine Results Page).


This is the webspace that your domain points to and it will be where your wordpress installation will live.


Basically, if you have a website in the 2020s then you have to have https. It makes your site secure and displays a reassuring padlock Icon next to your domain name in most web browsers. If you don’t have https then most web browsers will either block access to your site completely or display the word “Unsecure” next to your domain name. Since neither of these options is conducive to the level of visitor confidence you need foster in order to sell books, https is a must. If you need further convincing then check out the following site:

34sp provide free https with their hosting packages.


WordPress is really the only sensible option in 2020. It’s the defacto standard in content management systems and makes developing a website a breeze compared to doing it manually. There are billion and one WordPress plugins that enable you to customize your site as much as you want.

Responsive mobile friendly template

Once you have installed WordPress you need to install a responsive mobile friendly template. This will ensure that your website renders correctly on mobile phones. This is now how most people browse the internet, so it’s important that you provide a useable experience to website visitors using mobile devices.

Contact Form

A contact form is a web based form that allows website visitors to send you email. In most cases this will lead to an endless stream to people emailing you about SEO services, but it does at least mean that real people can contact you as well.

Mailing List 

A mailing list give vistors that really enjoy your content the chance to subcribe to your mailing list so they can be notifed when you have news or any additional content for them to read.

Subscribe Button

This is the physical button that you need to display in order for a website vistor to subscribe to your site. The method I use is to have my subcription button in a side bar that appears on nearly every page of my site so that the option is never too far away if a vistor wants to subrcribe.


Since you’ve installed WordPress, you’ve already got access to an industry standard blogging platform. If you start blogging you needed to keep blogging. Content goes stale very quickly and nothing speaks more clearly about a dead venture than a stale blog. Too put it simply, your blog is your websites pulse.

Cookie Acceptance

Cookie law is perhaps one of the most tedious well-intentioned things to ever happen to the internet. However, in order to be compliant with EU Law you need to display a Cookie Acceptance banner on your webpage if it is hosted within the EU.

Privacy Policy

Factors of trust.

Terms and Conditions

Factors of trust.


This is a page on your site where you provide your visitors with a direct and unambiguous opportunity to purchase your products. In many respects, it is the most important page on your site. However, it won’t work in isolation. It needs to be an integral part of the complete experience that you provide to your visitors. Which leads to…


Without compelling content, no one will have any reason to visit your site and more specifically, search engines won’t have any keywords for you to rank on. This in term will mean that no one can find your site on search engines. Therefore the content is likely to be your number one source of traffic generation.

Social media links to Facebook and Twitter 

Your website also needs to help develop you social media presence. If you tweet a lot or make lots of posts to your author page on Facebook then your website needs to have links to the social media channels that you use.

Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools

This is where you find out how well your content is doing, what keywords you are ranking for