Naming and claiming your author website

author website

You need an author website. (No, you can’t use a Facebook Page in place of an author website.)

So the question isn’t the one I hear from so many authors — “Should I create a website?”

The question is: “What should I use for my author website address?”

Options include your:

  • Author name
  • Book title
  • Book topic
  • Company name
  • Memorable phrase related to your book

For some, the answer is obvious. For others, it isn’t.

And the whole situation can be somewhat confusing, especially if you introduce landing pages into the conversation. (Landing pages are single page sites designed to get people to take a specific action, such as provide an email address to receive a free digital download, enter a contest, purchase a product, register for an event, subscribe to a newsletter, and so on. There are no toolbars or menus because all of the content is contained on that single page.)

In general (but definitely not always . . .), the safest option for many for your site address/URL/domain name is your own name. It helps build your author brand while offering the most content flexibility.

In fact, Theresa Geraghty, vice president of product marketing at the world’s largest domain registration company, GoDaddy, recommends reserving your name even if you don’t plan to use it.

“You want to own your identity, especially while you’re building your brand,” she says.

11 questions to ask about your author website name

It helps to have a process to follow as you examine your website naming options so you know what makes the most sense for your situation — not mine, or anyone else’s.

Here are 11 typical questions along with suggestions that work for each situation. Skim this list for your situation. Not all of these will relate to you.

1. Will this be your only book? If it’s a one-off and you have other reasons not to use your author name (it’s too hard to spell or too common), consider using the book title or a shortened version of it.

2. Do you expect to write more than one book? Reserve your author name.

3. If you write nonfiction and you’re going to write several books, will they be on the same topic? If they are, either your author name or a memorable address related to the topic make sense.

If you’ll be writing on disparate topics, there’s no quick answer. You can use your name and allocate site real estate to each book, buy the book title domain name for each book, or set up topic sites. If it were me, I’d probably use my author name and subdivide the site for SEO (search engine optimization) and simplicity reasons.

4. If you write fiction and plan to write several books, will they be in the same genre or several genres? If they’re the same genre, use your author name.

If you’ll write under different genres, you’re still better off for SEO reasons to keep everything on one site. Use your name as the URL and divide the content according to genre. Design the site home page so those content “buckets” are clear.

5. Do you plan to write a mix of fiction and nonfiction, in several genres, or about a range of topics? For example, if you write in several genres, your author name can act as your umbrella site URL. The home page and toolbar or menu can direct visitors to the right book category. Each category can have its own section on the site.

You can use that approach if you write both fiction and nonfiction, too. Divide your site content by type.

On the other hand, if your fiction could alienate or offend your nonfiction audience (or vice versa) or it’s not wise to house both under one roof for other reasons, consider using your name plus the type — authornamefiction.com and authornamenonfiction.com.

6. If you’re a business owner, does the book support or relate to your business? You can showcase the book on your existing site.

Another approach is to have two online homes for your book — add information about it to the existing website, but give the book its own website, too. Use the title or a shortened version of it for that URL. Then, link the book content on the business site to the book website, and add information about the business to the book’s website, and link it to the business site.

7. Is your name hard to spell or remember? Geraghty advises purchasing your name, but then considering variations of it, too. Grab common misspellings plus your first name and last initial or that option with the word “author,” she says.

“Experiment by searching for several options to see which ones you like,” she says.

8. Do you already have a website with your name as the address (yourname.com) but it’s not an author site? If your book is compatible with the site’s content, expand it to include book information. If it isn’t — if the two can’t coexist peacefully — consider buying your name plus “author” — yournameauthor.com.

9. Is the domain name (URL, web address) for your name or topic already claimed by someone else? This, Geraghty says, is exactly why she encourages people to buy their own name as soon as possible. When it’s too late for that, she recommends adding your middle name or initial, using your name plus “author,” “fiction,” “nonfiction,” or your genre (jenniferjonesromanceauthor.com).

Is the .net. .biz, or another extension option available? Grab it.

You can also try to buy your name from the current owner.

“GoDaddy can broker that,” she says.

10. Are you planning to build a business around your book? Consider buying a memorable or clever domain name for the topic. For example, consider an entrepreneur with a gluten free cookbook who is planning to create online training programs or other products — an app or laminated cards travelers can use to request gluten-free meals in a wide range of languages. She should consider claiming an umbrella URL such as glutenfreegurl.com. The domain name will be the brand; the book and other products are part of that brand.

11. Do you write under a pen name? Reserve your pen name domain name so that you’re easily found. You can also house your pen name writing on a website that uses your real name, but many authors use a pen name to keep the two separate and distinct, so keep that in mind as you make your decision.

Claiming your author website domain name

Reserving your domain name is often easier than determining the right name to use.

Because I use GoDaddy.com for all of my domain names, I became a GoDaddy affiliate. (That means I means I earn a small commission from any addresses purchased with links in this article.) You can’t beat the price — you can get your website address for as little as 99 cents! — and I love the customer service. (Tip: Geraghty says the customer service agents will even help you figure out what name to use!)

author website 2

Start at the GoDaddy $.99 domain name page or your favorite domain name registration site and type a few options in the search bar.

After you’ve added your author name (and any range of options — .com, .net, and so on) to your cart, play around with a few other options. Knowing that romance is one of the most popular genres today, I just searched for “bestromancebooksoutthere” — (best romance books out there) — and discovered it’s available! If I wrote romance books, I’d grab that for sure.

Don’t stop at one domain name

author website 3In fact, I’d recommend that you buy a few URLs so that you have choices. Here’s why: You can “redirect” all of those URLs to just one address. “Redirect” is another word for forward or “point it to.” As a result, pretending I’m a romance author, I can claim — purchase — sandrabeckwith.com, sandrabeckwithromanceauthor.com, and bestromancebooksoutthere.com. I might even purchase the .net addresses for those, too.

Then, I can use sandrabeckwith.com for my website URL, and redirect the other domain names to that address.

Here’s an example from real life: I offer authors a daily book marketing tips series, “365 Daily Book Marketing Tips.” I purchased dailybookmarketingtips.com because it’s memorable and relevant.

Click on that link, and look at the address at the top of the page. It’s not dailybookmarketingtips.com, is it? That’s because my webmaster redirected it to buildbookbuzz.com/365-daily-book-marketing-tips/.

I realize that naming your author website and then snagging the right domain name isn’t always as simple as just purchasing the URL for your name, though. If you still have questions and would like feedback on your options, jump on over to the Build Book Buzz Facebook group and post your question there. We’ve got a great group of smart and generous authors who are always willing to share their experiences.

What’s your author website domain name and why did you select that one? Tell us in a comment.


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Sandra Beckwith is an award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to market their books. Three groups have recognized her BuildBookBuzz.com site as an outstanding resource for authors, so you know her advice is author-tested.

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4 Responses to Naming and claiming your author website
  1. Jeanne Ainslie
    July 12, 2017 | 9:10 pm

    Hi Sandra,

    Loved your article and since I’m planning on using GoDaddy, I clicked on your link.

    My name was available, but not really, since they added an “s” to my last name. That’s not what I want. Also, the charge was C 14.99, not .99 cents. Can you explain? I know that they are a good site, but my first experience with them (wrong name) is anything but satisfying.

    Best,
    Jeanne

    • Sandra Beckwith
      July 12, 2017 | 9:19 pm

      Jeanne, as for the “s,” it works off what you type in to the search box. Is it possible you made a mistake? I just typed in jeanneainslie.com by copying and pasting from your name on this post and it’s available. Is that the correct name?

      It’s available for $.99. Fees get attached to it — check out the asterisk next to $.99* on the site.

      Sandy

  2. Fern Phillips
    July 25, 2017 | 9:16 am

    I use both dreamweaver and WordPress to build my sites. I use GoDaddy as the host. I recently bought two more domain names. Should I prefer a certain site builder over another? Neither makes good art portfolio pages, but at least I am familiar with them. I find that I’d like to include a lot more content than the webpages make practical. Any suggestions? For example my content for editing fiction is enough for a small book!!

    I find that few people look at my webpages. What can I do?

    I find it useful to read your suggestions for multiple types of writing, and will try incorporating them.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      July 25, 2017 | 9:20 am

      Fern, from what little I know about the tech side of this, if you use the right theme for your purposes with WordPress, you should be able to accomplish your goals. You might want to join the Build Book Buzz Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/BuildBookBuzz/) if you’re not a member already and ask this question. A group member might have similar experiences.

      Sandy

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