websiteEvery author needs a webpage, and yet as gifted as authors are with words, they often find it remarkably difficult to decide what to include on their website. If you find yourself in this group, don't despair. You are most definitely not alone. And we are here to help.

Your website can be as fancy or as simple as you want it to be. But there are a few things that every good author website will have:

A substantial author bio.

Talk about your career as a writer. Do you have a "day" job? Talk about that and how it influences your work. Include some personal details as you feel comfortable, such as family, your hometown, and hobbies. Have certain authors or books influenced your path as a writer? Give them a shout out, too. The point of the author bio is to make you appear approachable. You want readers to connect with you as a person. And remember, you want your bio to be easily quotable, so write it in the third person. It's not as weird as referring to yourself in the third person at the neighborhood cocktail party. We promise.

A good headshot of the author.

Include a simple, flattering image of yourself. Keep it clean and fairly professional. No drunken party photos or images of you in head-to-toe snow gear. Bikini and speedo images should probably be avoided, too.

A sample of your work.

If you've already published, then include an excerpt of your work. And if you haven't, then include samples. These can be a part of the website or available as pdf downloads. If you want to go super fancy, make them epub format for people's electronic readers.

Positive reviews.

Have you had great feedback on your published work? What about your writing style in general? Include a few of the top reviews. If you don't have any yet, now's a good time to seek some out. Ask fellow writers. As a professional courtesy, most writers are willing to write a review. Plus, it beefs up their image, too, since that means their opinion is important.

Contact information.

Include a way for people to contact you. Offer a snail mail address if appropriate. But definitely include an email address. This can be a "mail to" link, a form, or your email address written out in long form. To avoid spam bots, if you write out the address, do it in a format similar to "yourname at email dot com."

What about a blog?

If you want to go more in-depth and have the time to dedicate to it, then a blog is an excellent addition to any author website. But a blog poorly done won't help, and it could hurt. So be sure you are committed to the idea and put in the time to write well.

At Light Messages, we recognize that many of our authors don't have the time or resources to build out their own author website, so we have started building an author page for each of one our authors. Sometimes the author chooses to go with their name in the address (dhining.lightmessages.com) and other times they choose to go with their main book (whiteraven.lightmessages.com). While there are exceptions, as is the case with our new series, White Raven, we typically recommend using your author name so that your site can grow with your list of published works.

So tell us, are there details you think we left out for a good author page? Is there a particular author who you think has an excellent website? Do share, please.