How to write a compelling About page for your author website

Jennifer Pinkley cavingLearn how to write a compelling About page for your author website. Include interesting and unusual photos of yourself.
One of my favorite picture of me in a cave–I like to use this image to supplement my more formal photo.

Even though you may think your webpage is all about your books, many readers also want to know about YOU. Take some time to craft a really compelling About page for your website. Don’t just include a few lines that say “I’m an author and here are my books.” Let readers get a little glimpse of your personality, what you’re like as a person, and why you write the books you write. Here are some tips to create an About page that will draw readers in an make them want to learn more about your books.

Describe your books. 

Well, this one is obvious. Yes, you should share information about all of the the books you’ve published. Provide the names of all of your books if you only have a few, or your most popular ones if you have published several. If you’ve won awards or hit any bestseller lists, share them. This section doesn’t necessarily have to come first.

Learn how to write a compelling About page for your author website. Having  a photo of yourself in a Star Trek costume doesn't hurt!
Here’s a fun photo from the DragonCon science fiction convention. Photos like this can show readers your fun side.

Where are you from and where did you go to school?

Where did you grow up? Where did you go to grade school or college? What did you study in college or what were your favorite classes? For example, I studied history in college, so it makes sense that I like to write historic nonfiction. However, I’m also a huge fan of science fiction even though I had no aptitude for many science classes. I have encountered other writers who have degrees in astrophysics and now write romance novels. Readers will find your background interesting.

What jobs have you had?

People are often interested in the career path that led you into writing. Talk about your career path and how writing became a part of your life. This kind of information is especially interesting if you worked in fields completely unrelated to writing. Tell your readers how you made the transition from your field to an author. If you’re not a full-time author, you don’t have to tell us. Just describe how you integrate writing into your daily life.

What inspired you to become an author?

Was there something interesting in your life that inspired you to become an author? Share that story with your readers. People love learning what inspires you. For me, I was inspired to write science fiction by reading A Wrinkle in Time when I was 9 years old. I can still see the characters that appeared in my mind when I read that glorious book. I loved that book so much I wrote my very first book report about it when I was in the third grade. That book inspired me to seek out other science fiction and fantasy books, which then led me to the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, which remain in my top ten list of all-time favorite books.

What are some of your hobbies? 

Do you have an interesting or weird hobby? Are you a sports fanatic? Do you enjoy gardening or shopping? Share some of yourself and you’ll make a stronger personal connection with your readers. I like to go caving, and caves show up in many of my books. People find caving a weird hobby so I enjoy adding my love of caving to any “About Me” pages. It’s also helpful to add a photo of your interesting hobbies to your webpage.

Is there any other personal information you feel comfortable sharing?

Do you want to mention your family? Many authors mention that they live with a spouse, children, and pets. Think about describing your childhood, especially if you have some great stories about childhood events that inspired you to become a writer. If you don’t want to talk about your family, what about your pets? What about describing the house where you live or your town?

Photo

Provide a photo. People want to know what you look like. In addition, if you want to get some attention in the press about your book, reporters will often want your official headshot. It’s helpful to provide a high quality photo that anyone can download and use in an article. If you want to be all mysterious and protect a pen name or something, include a photo of your cat or a landscape photo from your last vacation. At least those photos will give people a better idea of what you like. In addition to a portrait-quality head shot, you can also include photos of your family, your home, your hobbies, your pets, or whatever else you think your readers might enjoy. Any additional information you feel like sharing will make your About page more interesting. The photos I’ve included in this post are two of my favorite photos of me. I often use them in addition to my more formal portrait photo. They are just more fun.

Learn how to write a compelling About page for your author website. Include photos of some of your favorite hobbies.
A photo of one of my solo camping trips in the New Mexico desert.

About Page examples

I just flipped through my Kindle and looked up some of the first authors in my “recently read” list who have About pages that are fun to read. Check them out for inspiration:

 

 

 

 

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Every author needs a good website

Over the last year, I’ve participated in many different Facebook groups dedicated to helping authors thrive and sell more books. I am always surprised when an author posts a question asking if they need a website. YES YOU NEED ONE.Over the last year, I’ve participated in many different Facebook groups dedicated to helping authors thrive and sell more books. I am always surprised when an author posts a question about why they are not selling more books when they have six, or seven, or eight books available on Amazon. Many times, when someone asks to look at their website for some clues, the answer is often “I don’t have a website.”

Do authors need a website? Yes. The answer is yes. End of post.

Just kidding about the end of this post. But I’m definitely not kidding that all authors need a great website. Here are just a few reasons why.

  1. Your website should be your main hub of information. One of the reasons many authors cite for not needing a website is that they use Facebook to get the word out about their books. Although Facebook and social media in general can be good marketing tools, relying on social media alone is not a good marketing strategy. To ensure that you have a place where readers and potential readers can go and easily look up all of your books, find links to all of your social media sites, find out more information about you, and access all of your contact information, you need a website. When correctly designed, your website should serve as a vital and central hub of information for readers.
  2. Your social media sites don’t really belong to you. When you pay for your own website domain and set up your website, you own and completely control all of the information. You control what to post, what the public can see, and what the site looks like. That’s not the case with social media sites. Social media sites could completely change the way they work overnight, creating massive problems for people who use the sites for marketing. Just think about Facebook’s recent changes to Pages. A few years ago, when an author shared something on their page, everyone who likes the page would see the post. That’s no longer true. Now, you’re lucky if 5% of your fans see your post unless you pay to boost it. Social media sites can change their rules overnight, leaving you with no good ways to share information about your books if you don’t have a good website.
  3. You can’t easily find old information on social media. So you shared information about your newest book on Twitter two months ago. Great! Can people who like saw that post easily it find it again? Nope. Social media is great for immediate engagement and meeting other people online. However, it should be just one part of your marketing strategy. If you have a great website, it’s easy to frequently share content from your website on social media to drive traffic to your site where readers can then find nicely organized information about all of your books.
  4. Your website can easily and elegantly display all of your books. If you set up your website effectively, your books will all display in a nice, organized way with your book covers, a book summary, and online ordering information right at your reader’s fingertips. Your website will make it much easier for your readers to learn about all of your books, your book series, and read a blurb or book excerpt. Social media sites are not as effective at this as your own website.
  5. After you set up your website, you don’t have to worry about it every day. Your website is a great central hub of information, but after you spend time writing all of the content, you don’t have to worry about updating the content very often (unless you have a blog, and then you still only need to post once a week or less). If you write crisp and compelling book blurbs, provide book excerpts, and provide great information about you, the only thing you’ll need to do with your website is add new books, update your event calendar, and fix any errors you find. Unlike social media, you don’t need to post every day, making it a great static tool for your marketing efforts.

 

If you are serious about selling books, build a website. If you already have a website, take a close look at it and make sure it’s a beautiful and effective showcase for your books.

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Steampunk coloring book almost ready!

We’ve been working hard on two new adult coloring books, one with a mandala/symmetrical art theme and one with a mechanical/steampunk theme. We’re really pleased with how they turned out! Here’s the cover for the new book to give you an idea of what the images in the book are like.

Here’s the front cover:

steampunkcover

Here’s the back cover. We had a good time coloring the images to create the covers! back

Here are a couple of examples of images inside the book. We’ll share more with you as we get closer to the publication date. inside1  inside2

Launching new science fiction and steampunk coloring book series

Adult coloring books are all the rage, and we’re getting in on the act with an offering that is a little different. We’re working with the amazing artist Steve Pitts to publish a coloring books of his intricately detailed drawings of mandalas and Celtic designs, but also steampunk and mechanical drawings.

Zororaster symmetrical universe adult coloring book
Scan of the original pen and ink drawing Zororaster

Steve has created his amazing drawings for many decades, entirely freehand with only pen and ink. Everyone who sees an original is blown away by the skill and creativity it obviously takes to draw something so beautiful and so detailed.

When people started to mention that his drawings would make great coloring books, we were intrigued. We took a look, and with some work we were able to put together two lovely books based on his artwork. Because his original drawings are all a fairly large format (14×17 in most cases) we included each original drawing, but then broke the book down into detailed views of many of his most complex drawings. We believe this will give you a great opportunity to use your creativity to design your own colors and interpretations of the drawings.

Steve’s mechanical drawings are also unique in the world of coloring books. Many of his drawings are inspired by spaceships, electronics, and machines, so his drawing will be attractive for people who enjoy the world of steampunk and science fiction.

symmetrical universse mandala adult coloring book steve pitts

 

The coloring books will be available on Amazon on April 20. Get a copy and share your coloring inspirations with us and we’ll publish them here!

symmetrical universe science fiction art steve pitts

 

Bookstore sales rise in 2015

A new article in Publishers Weekly reveals bookstore sales numbers for 2015, and they’re great. For the first time since the 2007, bookstore sales went up 2.5% for the year. That’s excellent news for writers and for readers! However, the reasons why print sales are rising and ebook sales are falling might not be so great for readers and writers.

The rebounding of print–a number of major publishers have reported that their print sales rose in 2015, while their e-book sales declined–no doubt helped bricks and mortar outlets last year. The rise in print sales comes after a period of marked decline, when e-book sales were surging from 2009-2010.

So why do you think ebook sales are down while print sales are up? I can only speculate based on my own experience, but I think I may be like many other readers. I am personally a book junkie, reading a couple books every week. When ebooks first hit the scene, I got a Kindle and loved the ease of browsing and purchasing new books. However, in the last few years, I’ve noticed that the price of ebooks for new releases has slowly started to creep up. Now, a new release ebook from one of the big five publishers often costs over $13.

Here’s a good example. All the Light We Cannot See won a Pulitzer prize and is on my to-read list. Let’s say I want to get the ebook so I bop over to Amazon and look it up. The ebook price is $13.99 (seriously?). I can get a paperback for $6.93 or a hardback for $15.99. Um, I’m getting the paperback. If it’s a book I really want, I’ll just get a hardcopy at my local bookstore.

For me, high ebook prices have shifted my book buying habits back towards print. I think this is one of the main reasons bookstore sales have bumped up in recent years. It’s cheaper to just drive over to your bookstore and buy a real book. That is good for bookstores, so I am happy about that. However it’s not so great for authors. Publishers that set ebook sales so high that they turn off readers like me are not doing their authors any favors. If you are an author looking for a book deal, be sure to set a maximum ebook price for your book, something that you think average readers are willing to pay to discover your fantastic book.

bookstore
One of my favorite indie bookstore, the Old Curiosity Book Shop in Columbia, TN