Jan 03

Author Website Must-Have Elements

Author Website

Most of my clients self-publish and I know they don’t realize they should have an author website.

Even if it’s simply a landing page, about page and book page, authors need a website.

And your landing page, as well as your entire site, should be focused on a specific keyword or couple of related keywords. This includes your domain name, the title, headlines, content, and so on. This allows for better search engine optimization and increases your online authority.

 Do You Have All 10 Author Website Elements in Place?

Your header should be relevant to your site’s brand (it's content and color scheme); and it needs to help visitors quickly grasp what the site is about.
Along with this, the header should be professionally done.

If you use a theme that doesn’t allow for a header or has a very small header, you might not be able to take advantage of a professional header. If this is the case, it'd be wise to choose a different theme.

An example of this is my site’s header. You can see it at the top of the page.

It tells exactly what the site is about and it conveys my brand’s color scheme. 

Interestingly, I’ve been wanting to change the look of my site, but I get clients who say they hired me because of it. So, for the time being I’m keeping it the way it is.
You need an effective, optimized title. Your title should be keyword effective and further cement the focus of your site to the visitor. As with any title, it should grab the reader and let him know what to expect.

Having an optimized title means to use words (keywords) that will tell the search engines and people what your site is about

The title can go in two places: in Settings in your WordPress dashboard, and in the Header Image you create or have created. 

I mentioned it can go in both places but it doesn’t have to.

The title of my site is Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi, but in my header, which I created, I have Karen Cioffi, Children’s Ghostwriter.

While I have a lot of helpful articles on writing for children on my site and I post weekly to it, the main purpose of my site is to offer services. The title in the header reflects this.
An effective subtitle is where you can embellish on the title and add more relevant site information.

My header subtitle is the same as it is in my Settings (the Tagline in the #2 above image).

It’s important to keep in mind that images have no SEO juice, meaning search engines can’t read the text in images. But you can add a title and description to the images in the Metadata area after you upload the image. 

Any place you can add keywords or description in WordPress or any other Content Management System do so.
This primarily pertains to your site’s menu. It’s what gets a visitor to your site from one page to another.
The navigation must be quick to see and easy to use. And, it must be above the fold. This means it must be immediately visible upon landing on the site. 

Most sites have the menu just below the header, but there are some that have it on the sidebar. If yours is on the sidebar, it should be above the fold.
Your menu needs to be quickly seen and functioning properly.
Every site needs this page. Visitors want to know who you are, what you’re offering, and why you’re qualified to offer it. Don’t make it a guessing game or make the visitor have to search to find out who runs the site.

To make the page friendly, keep the content on this page conversational. You can give some personal information, but not too much. The internet isn’t the safest place, so be careful.
You need easy to find contact information on the Landing Page and all the other pages. A potential customer or client doesn’t want to search for information on how to contact you with questions or a project. Have your contact information on every page (on the sidebar and/or at the bottom of each page works well).

This is especially important if you offer services. 
Aside from the Contact Page, I have my contact info on the sidebar right below my call-to-action (CTA).
I’ve used a contact form in the past, but it caused problems on my site (as told by Bluehost, my hosting service) so I removed it.

This is what I have on my contact page:
With all the devices your website can be seen on, you need a responsive theme that morphs (automatically adjusts) to all formats: websites, laptops, iPads, Smart Phones, etc. 

To check how your site looks on any device visit: http://ipadpeek.com. If your site doesn’t measure up, search for a theme that works.

Google actually frowns upon sites that aren’t responsive
You absolutely need an opt-in to your mailing list. The mailing list is considered ‘golden’ and is the marketing tool that will help you build a relationship with your visitors and readers. 

It’s this ongoing relationship that builds trust, authority, and conversion (having someone take action – buy your book or hire you).

While you should have an opt-in for your mailing list, it may also be to bring a visitor to a sales page for your books or services, or to sign up for a webinar or eclass. Whatever you’re offering and want your visitor to take action on, use an opt-in. 

The opt-in should be above the fold and in line with your color scheme. 

My opt-in is at the top of my sidebar:
The most effective tool to get a visitor to subscribe to your opt-in is the ‘ethical bribe.’ This offering should be something of perceived value to your target market that will entice visitors to sign up. The above image is an example of an opt-in freebie.

Your ethical bribe should have a clear call-to-action (CTA). You need to explicitly tell the visitors what you want them to do.

In the image above, the opt-in is for my mailing list and the ethical bribe is “How Do You Plan a Children’s Story?” The clear CTA is “Get Free EBook.”
I mentioned focus earlier. Your site needs to be focused. 

If your site is about writing for children, you wouldn’t write about romance novels or offer them for sale on the site.

Google pays attention to the focus of your site. If you dilute that focus with unrelated content and offerings, Google will most likely avoid using your site as the results for search results.

Notice how my site’s keywords are specific to children’s ghostwriting and writing for children. 
This focus helps search engine spiders and visitors quickly realize the focus of the site.

The next thing is simplicity. People have super-short attention spans. You need to make things as simple as possible for the visitor to quickly know what you’re offering and how they can get it.
Whether you’re an author or freelance writer, Build Your Author Online Platform in 4-Weeks is something you should think about. I instruct this eclass through WOW! Women on Writing and has amazing testimonials. Check for upcoming classes.

You can find all the details at: https://wow-womenonwriting.com/classroom/KarenCioffi_AuthorOnlinePresence.php


Get Your Self-Published Books Into Libraries – 6 Must Know Tips

Selling Middle Grade

6 Must-Know Book Marketing Basics

Social media sharing

Jan 14

Your Author Platform – Is it Ever Too Soon to Start?

Newbies to the writing arena have many questions about creating an author platform. And, the most puzzling one is whether they need a website before they have a book published or in contract.

In fact, I’ve recently been questioned twice about whether a newbie with NO book on the publishing horizon should bother to start working on a platform and more specifically on an author website.

Both individuals felt it would be like putting the cart before the horse.

It’s important to know that this though is far from the case.

Creating a website at the get-go is putting the horse before the cart. It’s one of the forces that will pull you forward and help you establish your online platform, your presence and visibility.

So, the answer to the title question is NO. It’s never too soon to begin your author platform or your author website:

– If you want to be a writer or an author,
– If you intend to submit manuscripts to agents and/or publishers,
– If you intend to self-publish a book, the answer is still the same.

The time to get your online platform started is RIGHT NOW. And, the foundation of your platform is a website.

Keeping up with Marketing Trends

When one author mentioned she was writing a children’s middle grade book and didn’t have a website, I responded that it was a mistake. I told her websites are an essential part of an author’s online platform.

Her reply caught me by surprise. She was advised by a well-known and respected educational site for children’s writing that she should wait until she received a book contract before creating a website.

If this were 10 or 15 years ago that advice would make sense. But, today, agents and publishers want to know what the potential new author’s platform is beforehand.

Please note that this revised article was originally written in 2013, hopefully the views of this site has changed.

The size or lack-of-size of an online platform can make or break a contract.

The powers-that-be expect you to have a website in place and be involved in social networks before you even submit a manuscript. They expect you to be a big part of the marketing involved in selling the book.

Jane Friedman, Media Studies instructor at the University of Virginia and former publisher of Writer’s Digest, says, “You must cultivate a readership every day of your life, and you start TODAY.” (1)

Why do you need to start your online platform TODAY?

In a single word, the answer to that question is TIME. Establishing an online platform takes time.

It takes time to establish yourself as an authority in your niche. It takes time to develop a relationship with your readers. It takes time to develop trust. And, it takes time to broaden your reach.

Real life example:

One of my former clients created a website. And, she created pages on two of the major social networks. She did all this way before she started to get her book written.

The results? She has thousands and thousands and thousands of followers on both social networks. I’m talking about well over 30,000 followers.

You can be sure I added this information when writing the query letter for her.

Do you think this will make a difference in a publisher or agent’s view of this new author?

You bet it will.

They’ll know she’s able and willing to help sell her books.

Since your website is the foundation of your author platform, it’s absolutely, positively necessary to get a website setup and optimized as soon as possible.

It’s from this focal point, your hub of information, that you will draw the attention of the search engines and readers. You may even catch the attention of a visiting editor, publisher, or literary agent.

Your website is also the place you will get readers to sign-up for your mailing list – further building your marketing reach. It’s the place you will begin a long-term writer-reader relationship.

Think of your author website as the launching pad of your book marketing platform.

(1) http://janefriedman.com
(Sorry, this was revised from a 2013 article and I can’t find the URL to the article.)


Check out my e-class through WOW! Women on Writing:

Build Your Author/Writer Platform
More Readers, More Authority, More Sales

It’s a 4-week in-depth and interactive e-class through WOW! Women on Writing and covers all the tools you’ll need to build visibility and traffic, and boost sales.

Build your author-writer eclass

Apr 23

6 Book Marketing Tips Sure to Boost Your Author Online Platform

Book PromotionSo, you’re an author. That’s great. But, just writing books isn’t enough – you’ve got to promote you and your books.

The first step to doing this is to have yearly, monthly, and weekly book marketing goals. With goals, you know where you’re heading and can work toward that end.
Marketing goals can be considered a marketing plan and it will have a number of steps or objectives that must be set in motion and accomplished.

To market your book, you need to generate visibility for you and your platform. Six of the bare basic online marketing strategies to increase you visibility are:

1. Create a presence and platform.

Creating an online author presence and platform is initiated by creating a website. First though, you’ll need to be sure of your niche because the domain name, site title, and content should reflect your niche and/or your area of expertise.

Remember, plan first. Choose a domain name and title that will grow with you. As an example, if you choose a site name, Picture Books with [Your Name], you’ve limited yourself. What if your next book is a chapter book or young adult, or other?

As part of your book marketing strategy, you should also create a ‘hub’ site that will act as the center to your offshoot sites, such as the individual sites for each of your books.

Leave room to grow; it’s always advisable to use your name as the hub site’s title, or part of it.

In addition, with today’s gone-in-a-second attention span, it’s a good idea to keep your site simple. Marketing expert Mike Volpe of Hubspot.com points out that it’s more important to spend time, and money if necessary, on content rather than a flashy website design; simple works.

Google verifies this ‘simple is better’ strategy and notes that milliseconds count in regard to your page load time. In fact, Google gives a ‘poorer’ score to pages that are slow to load.

Sites that take a few seconds or more to load may also cause you to lose potential subscribers and buyers.

TIP: You should have an author website up and running before you start submitting you manuscript to publishers or before you self-publish.

2. Increase visibility.

Writing content, blog posts, for your readers/visitors is the way to increase visibility – content is definitely still King. Provide interesting, informative, and/or entertaining content that will prompt the reader to come back and, just as important, to share your article.

Also, be sure your content is pertinent to your site, and keep your site and content focused on your platform.

3. Draw traffic to your site with blogging.

To draw traffic to your site, promote your posts by using social media. You should also include guest blogging. This will increase your visibility reach.

This is considered organic marketing; it funnels traffic back to your site with valuable content and free offers.

TIP: When using social media, choose two or three networks and ‘work’ them. It’s important to be active on the networks you promote your books on.

For more on using social media as part of your book marketing strategy check out:
The Social Media Marketing Smorgasborg

4. Create effective call-to-actions.

Your site must have call-to-action keywords that will motivate readers to visit and click on your links. Keywords and phrases to use include:

– Get your Free gift now for subscribing
– Free e-book to offer on your own site
– Buy Now
– Get Access Now
– Get Started Today
– Join for Free
– Don’t hesitate, take advantage of our expert services
– Be sure to Bookmark this site
– Become a better writer – tips right to your inbox
– Are you blogging wrong? Find out how to do it right!
– Know what email marketing is? Find out here!

You get the idea, motivate the reader to want what you’re offering and give him/her a CLEAR and VISIBLE call-to-action. Make it as simple as possible for the visitor to buy what you’re offering.

You can also check out this article from Hubspot for more ideas on CTAs:
Great Call-to-Action Examples

5. Develop a relationship with your readers.

It’s been noted that only 1% of first time visitors will buy a product. Usually, only after developing a relationship through your newsletter, information, and offers will your potential customer or client click on the BUY NOW button or other call-to-action you have in place.

While it will take some time and effort to implement and maintain these strategies, it will be worth it in the long run. Think of it as a long-term investment.

6. Create an ebook for increased visibility and opt-in enticement.

Another strategy is to offer your readers an ebook relevant to your niche. This will help to increase your usefulness to the reader and help establish your authority.

As an author, you might offer a chapter of your book in ebook format.

So there you have it – six tips that will help you generate visibility and boost your book marketing results.

Articles on writing for children

The Front Matter – Before the Story Text Begins
Building a Writing Career Takes Practice and Focus
The Author Platform – You Definitely Need One and It Should Have Been Started Yesterday


Along with being a children’s author and ghostwriter, I’m an author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

Build Your Author/Writer Platform

Karen Cioffi will show you how to build your author platform

This e-class is 4-weeks, in-depth, and interactive. It covers all the tools you’ll need to build visibility and traffic, and boost sales.
CLICK THE LINK BELOW to check out all it includes!

If you want to check out other classes I offer, check out:



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Jun 12

Book Marketing – You’ve Gotta Have a Blog

You've got to have a blog!

The time and effort you put into writing your book paid off – you got a publishing contract. And, now you’re book will be out in a few months.

Or, maybe you self-published your book . . . or are just about to.

Whichever route you’ve taken, it’s time to get your visibility and platform in place. And, the very first book marketing step to take is to create a website or blog.

Sorry, there’s no way around this one – you must create a web presence. The first tool in your visibility toolbox is a website, and it should be created before your book is published. You can do this for free through sites such as WordPress.com or Blogger.com.

Website vs. blog.

Yes, there is a difference between the two. A blog is simply a weblog. You post information (blog posts) and they’re saved in chronological order. The blog posts are archived for future reading purposes.

A website on the other hand is much more dynamic. It’s designed to be a portal into your online business. It can have multiple webpages and it can include a blog (and it should).

So, depending on your purposes, you need to decide whether you want a blog or a website.

My suggestion is to go with a website that has a blog because you’ll need the blogging feature to provide quality content on a regular basis. This will be your information funnel to bring visitors back to your site.

If you find the thought of having to create a website daunting, go for Blogger.com or a hosting service like Weeby. They’re very user friendly and good for beginners. And they have a number of features much like a website.

Blog drawbacks.

There are some drawbacks to having just a blog – here are two of the biggies:

1. They may lack dynamic media files where you can upload PDFs. This allows you to upload your opt-in freebies for your subscriber list building. Or, to upload a PDF for sale as an ebook. So, if this is something you’ll be doing (and it should be), you will have to use a website.

If you think you need the user-friendly ease of Blogger, you can create a free website in addition just for the purpose of uploading PDFs and linking to them from your Blogger site.

2. If your site is ONLY a blog, you won’t be able to create a landing page; a sales page; a contact page; and about page; a book reviews page; you get the idea.

A blog is limiting.

Whichever it is.

Whichever you choose as your visibility site, be sure to carefully think about the domain name you use. Allow it to be easily searchable and relevant to the content you will be offering on the site.

It’s often a good idea to have a least one site with ‘your name’ as the title of a website. This site will be your hub and have information about you as the author: a Media Page, an About You Page, and a page that lists all your books.

Simple is a Better Strategy

Simple sites work best.

Marketing expert Mike Volpe of Hubspot.com points out that it’s more important to spend time, and money if necessary, on content rather than a flashy website design; simple works. In fact, simpler usually leads to a higher conversion rate. The conversion rate is the ratio of visitors who buy your book, product, or service.

Volpe also stresses that you should have control over your site. This means you should be able to manage it. You don’t want to run to a web designer for every little change you want to make to your site, or to do something as simple as adding content.

To reinforce this ‘simple is better strategy,’ Google says that milliseconds count in regard to your page load time. If your page is slow to load, you’ll get a poorer score with Google.

Tip: Should you decide you do need help to create a site, don’t hire an expensive web designer. Look for someone who wants to establish themselves as a website creator, or someone who does it in his spare time, you will pay much less. And, try to make arrangements that will include the designer teach you how to manage your own site. This will make updates, changes, and posting much easier, and less expensive.

Make Your Site Optimized for the Search Engines

No matter what site you use, you’ll need to take advantage of any and all of the optimization features it offers.

If you choose a WordPress site, go through the dashboard and sections carefully, and fill in how you want your site to work. There are also a number of plugins for WordPress that will help your site get noticed and indexed by the search engines.

If you’re not sure how to do this, it would probably be worth the investment to hire someone to do basic search engine optimization (SEO) for your site. Or, you can take a workshop or class.

It’s not uncommon for writers to need help with websites and SEO, it’s impossible to be proficient at everything. Thankfully, there are those who know the ins and outs of optimizing websites, if needed take advantage of them.

WOW! Women on Writing has a great e-class that covers all this stuff:

Simple Steps to Building Your Online Platform and Authority (I’m the instructor)

Blogging Easy

CLICK HERE for all the details!


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Had a Children’s Book Ghostwritten? Now What?
Writing for Children – Character Believability and Conflict