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45+ Author Websites with Stellar Designs

26 June 2019

From BookBub:

Many successful authors have websites that are the hub of their online marketing activity — they provide a central platform for everything from blogging to book sales and email newsletters. But what should you include in an author website?

We’ve compiled 45 stellar examples to give you some ideas. These sites can provide inspiration for any authors or publishers looking to launch or redesign an author website.

. . . .

To appear on this list of examples, sites had to meet most, if not all, of the following criteria:

  • Include a list of published books
  • Prominently display new or impending releases
  • Provide an obvious way to subscribe for updates
  • Provide a way to contact the author
  • Include links to the author’s social media profiles
  • Display a list of upcoming events
  • Include a blog to showcase the author’s personality and/or writing process
  • Be easy to navigate
  • Have a clean, unique design
  • Be mobile friendly

We’ve made sure to include both traditional and self-published authors, along with a variety of styles and genres, so everyone can find some inspiration.

1. Bella Andre

2. Brett Battles

. . . .

18. Kevin Hearne

. . . .

22. Rachel Howzell Hall

Link to the rest at BookBub

PG has to admit that he liked some of the designs, but others looked pretty generic and home-made (by people who do not have a design-centric person in their home).

Clean design is great, but (in PG’s immanently humble opinion), it’s easy to slip over the line from clean-cool to clean-generic.

Rectangular blocks of text against a contrasting plain background have been done before.

Arial, Helvetica and Times Roman (New, Old or in-between) have been done, done, done, done, before, before, before, before.

The combination of rectangular blocks of text and Arial/Helvetica/Times Roman can be used in original and impactful ways, but (in PG’s gracefully cultivated opinion) doing that is hard and rare and most people don’t succeed.

That said, PG thought Bookbub’s minimum standards bullet point list of criteria provided a good checklist against which an author might wish to compare her/his/zir/hir/eir/vis/tem/eir website to make certain the fundamentals are sound and complete.

For ideas on fonts, see Stop Using Arial & Helvetica in which Arial is described as “Microsoft’s bastard son (rip-off) of Helvetica. It’s just a bad copy of Helvetica – a really bad one. It’s just ugly.”

For more ideas on fonts, see Best Times New Roman Alternatives: Fonts to Avoid Default Fonts – “I had to believe there were other ways of presenting information that didn’t involve Times New Roman words endlessly written on a white freaking document.”

(Yes PG is aware that TPV could improve in the fonts department, but he likes the color, textures and mood of his current WordPress theme and whenever he looks for a good alternative that isn’t ten years behind the times, he can’t find one he likes as well or that he can make look like Ancient Faithful, the theme that (like this sentence) just won’t die. He’ll try out more alternative themes on TPV to gather comments at some time in the future.)

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16 Comments to “45+ Author Websites with Stellar Designs”

  1. Wow, I find a lot of those annoying to look at. Personal taste thing, I guess. >.>

    Completely aside from that, I will say that as with everything involving the book business, there are lots and lots of resources about how to handle every aspect of your early career, and very few resources about how to handle mature career issues. A website that works well for 1-5 books, and one series, will probably fail to scale for an author who has 40+ in multiple series.

    (Ask me how I know this. *sighs* )

    I wish there were more of those ‘mature career’ resources because fumbling through these things on my own is time-consuming and annoying. 😀

  2. I’m normally easy to please when it comes to author websites. However, the one thing that drives me crazy are sites that use a tiny light gray colored font against a white background. I find it unreadable.

  3. I know I should update my website (still using Front Page to edit) but I dislike most of the author websites I see, or else they wouldn’t work for me because I have a lot of books and also a lot of activity. In case it’s of interest to anyone else, I strongly believe that form follows function–a site should be easy to read, it should be easy to access information (no need to click here and there and everywhere for basic stuff) and that an author site shouldn’t look like a typical ad (Here’s my new book! Buy it!). But that’s just my personal take.

  4. One thing to do, on your website and in the actual books themselves: make sure to have a book card!

    A “book card” in a book is simply a list of the author’s books. It goes in a book’s front matter. If you have a “universe”, for example, the Vorkosigan Universe vs. the Song of Ice and Fire Universe, then the book card should deal with each universe. List the stand-alones, series, and trilogies that belong in that universe. Make sure to list them in the reading order, especially if the volume number isn’t part of the title.

    The book card concept scales well enough on websites; you simply divide the pages or sections on your site according to which universe / series you’re dealing with. Some authors, I notice, even create different websites for a particular series or universe. They should link to that separate site from their main site as well.

    Also, to Patrick W.’s point about readable text and background combinations, try and shoot for (AAA) on this site: http://jxnblk.com/colorable/demos/text/

    On the homepage for that odd series of letters (click on “colorable” when you get to the link above), that explains the W3C guidelines regarding the color contrast you’re aiming for, according to text size / font color / background. There are other sites that do this as well, but that’s the tab that I already had open 🙂

  5. Like Patrick I’m fairly easy to please but hate layouts of the kind he mentions where there is a very low contrast between text and background.

    As for fonts, I accept that concern for these is a matter of passionate intensity for some but I really don’t care as long as it is easily read. Arial is absolutely fine by me and, unlike PG, I have no problem with clean-generic if the information I want is there and navigation is easy. (I always worry when PG talks about alternative themes for TPV as the current one is more than good enough, and better than nearly all the blogs I read.)

    As for the websites themselves, 45 is rather too many for me to look at them all, but I did sample a subset looking to see how easy it was to find books and then buy them from Amazon.uk. I realise that they do much more than this but when I visit an author site it is almost always to find a book and a buy link.

    I found my sample were a mixed bunch and overall did not justify Bookbub’s “Stellar Design” description. Clicking on the “Books” link – fortunately almost all of my sample did have such a link at the top of the page – often resulted in a disappointing presentation. Funnily enough, the first member of my sample was the first site on the list (Bella Andre) and her presentation of her books was excellent. This raised my expectations for the other sites and pretty much all of them were disappointing (some rose to not too bad, others did not make it that far).

    As for buying a book, the result was much as I’ve come to expect: the authors basically don’t plan to sell to the UK market and assume that Amazon only sells e-books in the USA. The one exception was Marie Force whose’s Amazon link was clever enough to deduce my location, for which I’m grateful, though I think that she’d do better to have a separate “Amazon UK” buy button as the generality of authors have trained UK readers to assume any Amazon link will be simple minded.

    When I can I’ll no doubt continue to use the excellent fantasticfiction.com site instead of using authors’ websites, though this does not cover all Indie authors.

  6. I’m not sure they know what a “stellar” design is.

    I checked the first dozen or so and I have to say those are mostly pretty ordinary design with decent graphics. They look pretty but there’s nothing amazing about them.

    That was on a desktop; then I checked them on a smartphone and my iPad, and I discovered that the first five sites are actually pretty ugly when viewed on a mobile device. They were not designed to look good on anything other than a large desktop screen, and it is pretty clear no one tested the sites on either a tablet or a smartphone.

    I would look at more of the sites except I find the experience very frustrating, and I am going to pass.

    • I can well imagine that they don’t work well on a smartphone but you made me feel guilty enough about only having done my sampling on a desktop that I’ve just repeated the exercise on a 10″ android tablet where the results were absolutely fine. They looked exactly the same as on the desktop – just a bit smaller – and turning on “desktop site” in settings had no affect on their appearance, so you are no doubt right that no effort had me made – at least for my sample – to optimise for mobile devices.

      I do concur with your view that Bookbub do not know what “stellar” means.

  7. As for fonts, if anyone is completely lost, just go to Google fonts and arrange the list to show you what’s popular. For sans-serif alternatives to Helvetica, try the ever-popular Lato, Open Sans, Montserrat, and Roboto.

    For Times New Roman — which is absolutely awful in Corel WordPerfect, I notice — a perfectly good alternative is Georgia, which was designed for screen-reading. I believe that it’s even a system font now. If not, just get it from Google. They also have Gentium Basic, which is another that’s easier on the eyes that TNR.

    Other serif fonts I keep seeing on the web: Vollkorn, Sorts Mill Goudy (Goudy Old Style, apparently updated), Crimson Text, Roboto Slab, variants of Garamond (particularly Cormorant Garamand), Alegreya, and sometimes Cinzel.

    It’s common to combine a serif with a sans-serif. Usually the fonts I listed above are combined with each other, for example, Alegreya with Lato or Montserrat. Google will actually show you examples of font combinations, and let you test them for yourself.

  8. BTW, did you see my post about “Author Website in a Box”, PG?

  9. One of the sites has half the logo chopped off: https://kevinhearne.com/

    this was in Chrome on Win7

    • Its just the same in Win10 in both Chrome and Opera. Presumably an odd design decision (or incompetent coding)?

      The presentation of the data is not much better. The books are in a number of series but the “Stories” section that lists them gives no idea of which is in which series or of the order, though for one series this information is under a “Goodies” link. Not a good example for Bookbub’s list.

      • Plus, there’s a line of text at the top:

        You can navigate around the site using the spiffy link (illegible).

        The illegible text alone is a disqualification for the title of “stellar”

        And I should not have to say this but if you have to explain where then menu is THEN THE DESIGN SUCKS.

    • You’re right, Nate.

      I noticed that the top was not showing when I breezed through all the sites, but unconsciously thought I had bumped the site up when I opened it or was looking at it.

  10. PG says at the end:

    (Yes PG is aware that TPV could improve in the fonts department, but he likes the color, textures and mood of his current WordPress theme and whenever he looks for a good alternative that isn’t ten years behind the times, he can’t find one he likes as well or that he can make look like Ancient Faithful, the theme that (like this sentence) just won’t die. He’ll try out more alternative themes on TPV to gather comments at some time in the future.)

    I like it here, too. One thing to consider though: TPV is not responsive (i.e., does seem to scale to small screens). Doesn’t bother me as I’m on a huge desktop when visiting, but could be an issue for some folks. Something to consider for the future. Back to your regular programming…

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