Chip MacGregor

July 12, 2012

Thursdays with Amanda: Creating a Website as an Unpublished Author – Linking to Social Media


Amanda Luedeke Literary AgentAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

As we’ve been discussing growing your platform, one of my rules has been Don’t start too big. Start small. Give Facebook a try and when you feel you have that under control, then move on to Twitter. You’ll shoot yourself in the foot if you launch author versions of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube all at once. Trust me, you’ll want to die. So focus on one thing. But along with that one thing, you should also have a website.

Last week, we discussed what type of content unpublished authors should include in their websites, and the week before we discussed why an unpublished author needs a website in the first place. If you haven’t read those, take the time to catch up. I really believe it’s valuable content not only for unpublished authors, but new authors.

As a quick recap, an unpublished author’s website should have two goals: The first goal would be to provide editors, agents and the publishing world with a better picture of who you are and what you’re about. The second goal would be to utilize your website as a central hub for all of your social media ventures.

Since last week we discussed Goal #1, this week, we’re looking at Goal #2.

When you’re just starting out, it can be so great when a stranger or acquaintance takes a serious interest in your writing. Maybe they overheard you say that you’re writing a book, or maybe they saw you typing away at Starbucks and had to say something. Maybe they met you on a message board that focuses on your genre or maybe you buddied up at a writer’s conference. When these connections happen, it’s probably one of the most encouraging, exciting things for an unpublished author.

So you want to do everything in your power not to lose that potential reader.

When someone asks about your writing, you need a one-stop place to direct them. The last thing you want is to list out your Twitter handle, Facebook url, blog url, email address, and YouTube username. Chances are, the person is going to feel overwhelmed, not know where to go, and they’ll fall off the grid. But what if you had a website that could direct the user to each of these applications? That way, when they ask for more info, you just give them your website URL and let them decide how they want to interact with you.

How to turn your website into a social media hub…

1. Put your social media buttons at or near the top of the home page. Last week, I share the example of Susan Sleeman’s masthead. It’s designed in such a way that all of her social media buttons are impossible to miss. So, readers who want to interact with her on Facebook can easily get that set up. Same goes for Twitter and with RSS feeds. This same strategy should go for your website. And as you add more social media channels, you can add more buttons.

Also, check out Jennifer Murgia’s site. She includes Goodreads!

2. Link your blog directly to your website. It doesn’t matter if it’s hosted live on your site (like Susan’s is), or by clicking on “blog” in the navigation menu, the user is directed to a new site. Just make sure your blog is easily accessible.

3. Make sure your blog has RSS capabilities or some sort of subscription service. For those of you in the dark, RSS is a program (for lack of a better term) that will notify users when a website or webpage has updated its content. Bloggers use this a lot. Their readers can subscribe to their blog via RSS, and in turn they’ll get an email notice every time the blog has a new post. Pretty cool.

The RSS service that I highly recommend is Google’s Feedburner.

4. Have your blog or home page stream your Twitter feed. Sometimes, all readers need in order to follow you on Twitter, is proof that you actually Tweet! (A second qualification would be humorous Tweets …no pressure). If you scroll down on Laura Smith’s blog, you can see an example of what it looks like for Tweets to show up on a website. Most blog providers (WordPress, Blogger, etc) have widgets or apps that you can add to your blog or website to enable this feature. Here are some posts on Twitter:

I believe Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube can also be linked to your website. Not sure on the specifics of those, but it would be worth pursuing. Here are more posts on Facebook:

5. Beware of the break. Ok, this is where my background as a social media marketer for a not-too-shabby marketing firm comes into play… Go to our agency website. Don’t click or do anything. Just let it be. What do you see? You see some books that we represented. You see a picture of all of us (one in which we look like a happy family). You see a button for Chip’s blog. And you see various tabs. So tell me, what is your next action? Go ahead. Do something. Leave the site. Click on something. Or do what a very small percentage of readers will do…scroll down.

You see, there’s a bunch more information on the page. There are author recommendations, links to sample book proposals, and our list of guiding principles. But they all involve scrolling down. Within 3 seconds of visiting our page, you decided what you’re going to do next. And it probably didn’t involve scrolling down.

That bottom part of the screen…that’s called “the break.” And any content that comes after “the break” usually goes unnoticed.

When designing your author website, place the most important, catching, and inviting information above the break. Otherwise, no one will know it’s there.

Now, you can do a sneaky thing, where you have some information that spills past “the break,” thus requiring an interested visitor to scroll down. But take a look at our “Latest News” section. If you’re not a fan of Susan Page Davis, you’re not going to scroll down.

So be very intentional about where you place your content. You have anywhere between 2 and 10 seconds to capture attention. Don’t waste it!


That’s all for today! Any thoughts? Questions? Or maybe you want to share whether you actually scrolled down.



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  • James Tilton says:

    Thanks so much for this post, Amanda! I used some of your suggestions while creating my website: I’d love for your to check it out and let me know what you think. Either way, thank you for the helpful tips!

  • Martha Ramirez says:

    What a great post! Good website examples too. I’ve emailed Feedburner weeks ago about my concern regarding my subscribers are not receiving email notifications  on my blog posts. They said they would investigate but haven’t heard back.

    Do you have any idea why my blog posts are not being delivered by Feedburner? I hope you can help. I really would like for my loyal readers to receive the email notifications they signed up for.

    Thank you, Amanda!

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Without looking at your Feedburner page, it’s hard to know. Maybe you have something off in the settings? Or maybe your subscribers aren’t subscribing properly? Not sure. Hope you get it figured out!

  • Mary Weber says:

    Fabulous post as always!!! And I love that you mentioned the page break. Early on I didn’t recognize how important this was, and even though my website was designed with it in mind, it took me a while to realize that the same applies to blog posts. Having a picture (or other type of action / interest prompter) near the top of a blog post grabs the reader’s attention more immediately than simply a whole chunk of overwhelming (and time-requiring) words. I always appreciate this about your posts…your photo appears right at the top, and we see it and are like “Hey it’s Amanda!” and we want to read more.

    Kinda makes me wonder what other things that in a year from now I’ll be like, “Ack! I wish I’d known sooner!”

    Ah life…we live and learn and play.

    (Also, for hooking Pinterest up to your webpage or blog, one can just hop onto the Pinterest HELP page and scroll down to the section on Linking Pinterest to Your Website. Super easy. And I agree–totally a good idea.)

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Yep! My picture is really the only branding my posts get, but it works, I think. 

      Thanks for sharing the Pinterest stuff!

  • Great suggestions. Quality content is missing in many blogs. People will keep coming back if you tell them something they want to know. If we write to entertain ourselves, we will be our only fans.

  • Tiffany Amber Stockton says:

    Fantastic tips and suggestions, Amanda. You’ve got an awesome series going here. As a web designer who’s done dozens of author sites, I love what you’ve had to say about getting a site set up. Plus, the methods for utilizing a blog to also give folks a one-stop source are excellent. Thank you for sharing your expertise!

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Glad my advice resonates with designers! Thanks for reading, Tiffany 🙂

    • Tiffany Amber Stockton says:

      Of course! Designers must have a marketing concept in mind to make a site worthwhile, and you’ve got the marketing firm experience. Makes sense that what you’re sharing would line up with what authors/writers need for their site. You’re equipping them to be informed so if they hire someone, they know exactly what they need. 🙂

  • Connie Almony says:

    Taking notes. Applying. Little-by-little … I’m gettin’ there. Thanks for taking the time to walk us through this stuff.

  • Cherry Odelberg says:

    “The break,”  that’s what I needed to learn today.

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

       It will change your life!

    • Tiffany Amber Stockton says:

      Before web sites, it was a term known as “above the fold” in regard to newspapers. The eye-catching, key news was above the fold of the paper to entice readers/buyers to pick up the paper and keep reading. Same concept, only adapted for the Web.

  • Tessa says:

    I still use, so I am not able to put the little buttons at the top. I have two widgets (my FB page and Twitter feed) to the right of my writing that serve that purpose for right now. I am going to try to keep my blog ( as my home base.

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Yep, if you can get your “follow buttons” at close to the top as possible, then you’ve won. Most bloggers have them at the top of their left- or right-hand navigation. So you’re right on track.

  • Olivia O'Bryon says:

    Great points again Amanda!  For anyone using a WordPress template that will not allow you to put follow widgets at the top of your page, I just solved this problem by creating a follow page among the choices at the top of my blog:  …Still a work in progress, but these little weekly changes aren’t so overwhelming and are making quite a difference!

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