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WordPress themes for writers and authors

There are a lot of beautiful WordPress themes for writers and authors in the wild. Here’s a (constantly updated)  list to help you cut through the chaff. I’m confident you’ll find a theme for your book on this page.

Remember, we all want to sell books with our site. So choose a theme that shows off the cover, book excerpts and basic book info. Without distraction. I chose the themes below because they all do this well.

 

Click here to get the theme that I use…DIVI!

 

WordPress themes for writers and authors

 

1. Author Pro Theme ($99, with Genesis Framework) New!

 

Author-Pro-theme-for-Wordpress

 

Sometimes it’s easy to recommend a new WordPress theme for writers and authors. You see it and you just know that the designer is also an author and understands the challenges involved with having a good site. The Author Pro Theme is just such a theme.

The theme includes all of the fundamentals, such as mobile responsive functionality (to make it look good on mobile devices) and hefty customization. But it stands out on two fronts:

1) A Landing Page feature that comes in handy when you want a no-distractions page for selling your book.

2) The $100 also includes the Genesis framework, which is a series of WordPress-compatible features like SEO tools and security. You also get personal support. From experience, I can tell you that Studiopress’ hand-holding is the best I’ve ever come across. If you don’t like to spend hours messing with plug-ins and code then the premium price is worth it.

Oh, wait a third benefit is the Author Pro plug-in which allows authors to easily add books to their sites. The books can display custom information, such as ISBN, description, price, publisher, and editor. This helps give the site a cohesiveness that any author who wants to sell books directly to the reader will want to have.

 

Download Author Pro Theme

 


 

2. Brown ($44) New!

 

brown wordpress theme for writers and authors

 

This theme has the worst name of any theme ever created (ever-ever!) but it also enjoys serious breadth. It stands out for its focus on simple layout and fast navigation from book to book and the books’ content. Clicking on a cover gives the customer a chance to read some excerpts. Other benefits of the theme include:

  • Responsive (looks nice on all devices)
  • Good support
  • Speed! Just be sure to optimize your images. No 1 megabyte pics allowed… ;-)

 

Download the Brown theme here

 


 

3. BEBO Author Landing Page New!

 

screenshot-bebo.beautheme.com 2015-12-06 22-01-49

 

This WordPress theme for writers and authors stands out for its slick design and a couple of cool features that you don’t find everywhere.

  1. A timer widget. This lets you run a timed promotion on your site. These are available as a plug-in for your WordPress site, but it’s cool that the feature is built in.
  2. Three styles. All of them are nice looking too.

Other features include mobile-friendly design, video and an attractive master slider that will give you a chance to highlight your book cover.

 

Download the BEBO WordPress theme for authors here

 


 

4. Parallax Pro ($100) New!

 

Parallax-theme-for-writers-

 

Parallax sites are those sites where scrolling down adds nifty animations like sliding, fades, color changes, etc. It’s a cool trick and people still go nuts for a good Parallax site. The best one I’ve seen as far as simplicity and extension is Parallax Pro. It’s on the pricier side, but the hundred bucks includes the Genesis Framework, which allows for easier updating and editing when it’s time to make changes to the site.

Highlighted features (in addition to the Gensis Framework) are Landing Pages (necessary for your books and for promotions like newsletter sign-ups), HTML 5 markup and fully mobile-friendly.

 

Parallax Pro Theme

 


 

5. X | The Theme ($63) New!

 

X theme for authors and writers

 

X | The Theme is a catch-all kind of theme, promising a full suite of tools for everyone. This is especially true when you consider the fact that X is actually a suite of themes, not just one. Yup, the developer has crafted a single package with multiple designs, one of which will likely fit your needs. X also comes with a suite of free tools (like Mailchimp integration). This saves time and heartache caused by third-party plug-ins.

Here’s a list of features:

  • WooCommerce integration
  • Extensive styling options
  • SEO optimization with 2015 ideas
  • Shortcodes
  • Responsive
  • Disqus or Facebook comments extension
  • Free Soliloquy slider

 

Download X | The Theme here

 


 

6. Author Theme for Writers ($35)

 

Wordpress themes for writers and authors

 

 

 

If simplicity and focus is your thing (and it should be) then you’ll need to consider this WordPress theme for writers and authors. The layout is simple, the slider is an unbloated, straight-forward thing and the product pages have almost everything you need. The one missing feature is a way to read a sample.

Highlights from the features list are:

  • Easy to use Options Panel
  • Premium Documentation & Support
  • Built in Slider
  • Custom Background Image/Color
  • Custom Button & Link Colors
  • Custom Logo Upload
  • Custom Reviews Shortcode (I like this idea!)
  • Book Page Templates (YAY!)
  • Google Font Integration

 

Get Author Theme for WordPress here

 


 

7. Preface: A WordPress Theme for Writers and Authors ($48) 

 

Wordpress Theme for Authors

 

 

 

The thing I love the most about this theme is its simplicity. One of my main rules for a good book site is an elegant, FAST first impression. Preface does that well. Moving between pages is like lightning. And each page shares a look and feel that makes it easy for me to see what the author wants me to see. If I had to guess which theme was written by an actual author, it’s Preface. The list of features bears that out:

  • Book categorization
  • Book Launch Landing template! (FINALLY!)
  • Book Filter template (Useful for large libraries)
  • Showcase your books from your 404 Page (Clever. Essential.)

Get Preface: A WordPress Theme for Authors here

 


 

8. Bookish ($40) 

 

Bookish WordPress theme for writers and authors

 

One of the details that set this theme apart is the parallax design. “Parallax” is the style that you see on some sites where the background image scrolls at a different speed than the image in the foreground. It’s a fun effect that can be used to guide the customer through your content.

The theme also touts the following features:

  • Works on mobile devices
  • WooCommerce compatible (to sell your own books)
  • Google fonts
  • Dark & White Layouts
  • Infinite Color Schemes
  • jQuery enhanced slider and effects.
  • Well commented code.

I read through the comments by users. There have been several bugs that have taken a while to fix. Bugs are common, but watch the discussion to see if the response time improves. Devs must support their themes, no matter how noisy (and annoying) customers get! If the outstanding bugs don’t appear to impact your goals, then consider the Bookish theme.

 

Get Bookish here

 


 

9. The Novelist: Responsive WordPress Theme for Writers and Authors ($53) 

 

The-Novelist-Wordpress-Them

 

 

This theme is for those of you who lean heavily on excerpts to sell books. There aren’t a lot of page types (like in the Preface theme above) but it is a theme that lets you hone in on the work you do. Stumbling on a site that looks like an open book immediately tells the reader that they’re in the right place.

Among the features that the theme touts (beyond the bookish design) are Responsive design (to look good on mobile devices), support for the beautiful Google Fonts library and customized backdrops.

The theme has great ratings and folks seem happy with the FREE support.

 

The Novelist: Responsive WordPress Theme for Writers

 


 

10. Minimum Pro ($100, with Genesis Framework)

 

Minimum Pro theme for writers

 

This theme offers:

  • Custom backgrounds and headers
  • Mobile-readiness
  • Threaded comments.

The $100 includes Copyblogger’s Genesis framework. Genesis is a toolset that makes the site easier to customize. It’s a good thing to have when you’re building a new website and still in design/self-education mode. Genesis adds features like:

  • One/two/three column pages.
  • Left/right sidebars.
  • Fixed-width, for when you don’t want tech messing with your content.
  • Custom headers/menus.

Why could this theme steal my business away from Cleanspace? It’s good looking, expandable, updated often, and it’s made by the Copyblogger folks who simply make excellent products with fast support. As I add more book series to my roster I’m positive that my website needs will change. If they do, I have my eyes on Minimum Pro.

 

Check out the Minimum Pro WordPress theme here

 


 

11. Cleanspace Business Theme. ($55)

 

cleanspace theme for writers

 

 

 

I used this theme for years. It does a number of things well.

First, it looks great out of the box. I’d have to work really hard to make it ugly. And, believe me, I’ve tried.

Second, it includes a number of visual features that I like, including a huge slider that displays large images across the width of my site. The sliding animations that I’ve made with the tool are incredible. You can check out the slider on my homepage (note that I do turn it off sometimes, so I can’t promise it’ll be there).

Third, I chose my theme because it’s a premium theme. I want the support that comes with premium purchases. I’m not too happy with the help I’ve received from the developer, but the community is helpful. I’ve run with Cleanspace for several months without a hitch. Fingers crossed, but I think I chose a winner.

But one theme that always threatened to steal me away from Cleanspace is the next one on the list…

 

Download Cleanspace here

 


 

12. Rain WordPress Theme for Writers and Authors ($45)

 

Rain WordPress theme for writers

 

If you’re looking for a WordPress theme for writers and authors that presents your content elegantly, check out Rain. It’s perfect for a site that is just for one book. You can upload an image of your choice and it appears fogged on the left side of the screen. You could put an image on the site that hints at a place or event in your story. Cool! The writing is presented in a simple, clean way (with Google Font support) and scrolling up/down from one page  to another is lovely.

I could do without the ability to play an ambient audio file, but to each his own. The site owner can turn the audio off.

Benefits of the theme include:

  • Designed and built by Elite developer. The boards have happy people and a load of comments by the creator.
  • Responsive (for mobile devices)
  • Table of Contents screen allows you to string together your content in a way that’s familiar to readers.

Beware of one thing. Widgets are not supported, which makes sense. You wouldn’t want to soil the sweet design with widgets, right?

 

Get Rain

 


 

13. Best (Free)

 

The simple Best theme includes:

 

  • Responsive design (meaning it will look good on mobile devices).
  • 3 page templates.
  • Multiple menu types.
  • Multiple page layout options.
  • Header/logo uploader.
  • Color options.
  • Change site background.
  • Shortcodes.

 

Best WordPress theme for writers and authors

 

Best is a simple theme, with a simple blog-like layout. It would work nicely for writers who plan to do more blogging than selling. If selling is important to you, though, you can skip to the next one.

 

Download Best here

 


 

14. Blackbird ($45)

 

This is one of those solid themes that just look professional. Its features are pretty impressive, too.

 

Blackbird theme for writers and authors

 

Includes (from their site):

  • 10 Different Color Skins, WordPress Themes to get Site Ready in 1 Click.
  • Individual Page/Post Customization – Change various layout options on each individual page (or globally if you want).
  • Dropdown Menus – Unlimited levels.
  • Mobile-ready.
  • Extensive documentation.

I do love the colors they make available. And you can switch between colors with a single click. When I used this theme I considered making a contest where I’d change the color once per week on Sunday; anyone who could tell me what the colors had been on my site the previous week would win a prize. I didn’t get around to doing it. But you could ;-)

 

Download Blackbird theme here

 


 

15. Evolve($55)

 

I used this theme for about six months and was very happy with it. I somehow corrupted the site install one fateful evening, which made me look around for new themes. That’s when I ran into Cleanspace and we fell in love. But Evolve is a very competent free theme that I recommend to anyone who’s building an author site.

Benefits of the theme include:

  • Ready for mobile technologies.
  • Single blog post or blog grid layouts on the home page.
  • Slideshows.
  • Unlimited colors.
  • Over 500 Google Web Fonts.

 

Evolve WordPress theme for writers and authors

 

That last feature is a beauty. Google web fonts allow you to play around with type design on your site, which can be important to standing out in a crowded field and getting the important points across. Make sure you get a second opinion on how the site looks before you play around with fonts too much. It’s easy to get carried away and make your page look blechy.

 

Download the Evolve WordPress theme here


 

 

16. Themia ($59)

 

Themia theme for writers and authors

 

This theme is similar to my own in that it offers a wide slider at the top that can dominate the screen. I like that look because it lets me highlight what I want without having to think too hard. All I have to do is upload an image, make a call to action and I KNOW that everyone will see it, because they literally cannot miss it.

I also like Themia for its full width/product pages and easy-to-read buttons.

Here’s a useful tutorial that will help you decide if it’s the theme for you:

 

 

Download the Themia WordPress theme here

 


 

17. Responsive (Free)

 

Responsive is another simple, free theme that I used for several months. It has a good rep for support even though it’s free. Nothing is more valuable to someone just starting out, with limited time to futz around with webbie doohickeys.

Some highlights of the theme include:

  • Adapts your website to mobile devices and the desktop or any other viewing environment.
  • 9 Page Templates, 11 Widget Areas, 6 Template Layout.
  • Easy Logo Upload, Social Networking and Webmaster Tools (we’ll discuss this in the plug-ins post later).
  • Responsive is WooCommerce Compatible (important if you want to sell books directly, we’ll also discuss this in the plug-ins post).
  • Multilingual Ready.
  • Search Engine Friendly.

 

Responsive WordPress theme for writers and authors

 

A great starter theme! It’s where I started ;-)

 

Download Responsive here

 


 

I’ll add more info to this page as I test more themes.

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NOTE: Some links are affiliate links. The themes I’ve tried before are noted and highly recommended. The rest of the themes look fantastic and have shining support according to the theme comments.

You might also like:

WordPress for authors and writers (part three)

WordPress for authors and writers (part two)

WordPress for authors and writers (part one)

Top 5 writing contests

 


Ben Zackheim

 

WordPress themes for writers: Build an author website with WordPress (Part Three)

WordPress themes for writers: Build an author website with WordPress (Part Three)

Our sordid story so far…

In the previous installments of WordPress for authors and writers, I’ve talked at you incessantly about the need for authors to focus. A good summary would be, “Define what you want out of your website and find the tools to make it so.”

But what does that mean? Well, if you’re looking to sell books then, in my opinion, it means apply BaB to every aspect of your site.

Bab? Isn’t that short for Barbara? No, that’s Babs.

My BaB is a design mantra that I think all authors should apply to their sites:

Books – show us your books!

action – give us an easy action to take now!

Blog – keep them coming back for more!

Why is the “a” lowercase? Because it should be right in the middle of everything you do, but not in an obvious way. The action should be obvious, logical and clear in its messaging. Does the action need to be a Buy button? Nope. It could be a sign up button, a follow me button or a play video button. But whatever action you want from the visitor it should be a central part of all design decisions.

Much of this theory is based on how people sell web services or non-fiction books (think weight loss programs and cloud services). But fiction writers need to start thinking the same way. We have something to offer and, if we band together, we can come up with standards that will help everyone sell their books from their site!

Someone asked me why they should even bother making a site that tries to sell their book. Their point was that Amazon spends millions on designing product pages that work, so why not just lean on the Amazon page. It’s a good point! Amazon makes great product pages. But they need to follow a one-size-fits-all road. They can’t design a page that’s meant to see your book. They can only design a page that’s mean to sell “books”. As in “all books”. However, I do lean heavily on Amazon. When I point my visitor to my buy button, they DO go off to Amazon. But I’m not willing to depend on their site to sell my book. I think I can do a better job.

The problem with how authors sell books today

As I researched this post, I ran into author site after author site where I had no idea I was even on an author’s site. I’d see blogposts, images, links, all jumbled together. Some of the sites are really beautiful, but they don’t scream “BOOKS ARE HERE!” which they should if they want visitors to know that, well, books are there. One of the things I’ve learned after selling things online for 15 years is that your site is your business card. It needs to state what you do up front. It’s likely that you list “Writer” or “Author” in plain English on your card. You need to give your site the same focus.

Bottom line: Every page of your site should have one purpose, and you should focus on it like an ion cannon clearing the way for the Rebel envoys. This way your visitors will have all the information they need to decide whether or not you should get their money.

Tell the story of your site before you design it

I spent many months, working hard to craft a flow through my site that is enjoyable for the visitor and maximizes my chances at converting them into a paying customer.

I started by telling the story of my site. What does a site’s story look like? Mine was simple. I want visitors to notice my books. I want visitors to consider buying my books. I want my site to be entertaining and useful to people.

With those three thoughts in mind, I started to focus on how to make a site that makes these dreams come true.

Here’s the flow I wanted to create for my audience:

  1. With good, quality blog content, search engine optimization and clean code I’d bring the person to my site. I knew that a huge majority of them would know nothing about me, or my books.
  2. The visitor quickly notices she’s on a site where I have books to sell.
  3. She reads my blog post and sees the browse and buy options for my books.
  4. The curious visitor exits to where I want them — namely, Amazon — where I cross my fingers and hope that Amazon (and my book copy on Amazon) converts them to a sale.

And this is exactly the flow I got! Google Analytics shows me it’s the path that a plurality of my visitors take.

But it wasn’t easy to get there. I worked with every web service and piece of software under the sun (from Dreamweaver to Kompozer to Blogger to Tumblr) I found the one-tool-to-bind-them-all.

WordPress.

It’s almost as if they created WordPress themes for writers and authors!

Read part four of my series of WordPress for authors and writers.

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You may also like:

WordPress for authors and writers (part two)

WordPress for authors and writers (part one)

WordPress for authors and writers (part four)

by Ben Zackheim

WordPress for writers: Build an author website with WordPress (Part Two)

WordPress for writers: Build an author website with WordPress (Part Two)

 

To read about how WordPress can help writers,  see Part One!

In my experience, authors are hesitant to sell. That’s okay, as long as they do it anyway. (Tweet this instantly!)

I’m not going to tell anyone what their site should be. Only you know what you want to get out of it. You may just want to tell stories. Blog. Podcast. Post pics of cats. But if you want to use your site to highlight you and your books then I have some pretty strong, and well-tested, opinions. After years at Viacom, Sony, ESPN and AOL, building games and game sites, I can tell you that selling something requires focus.

With focus in mind, here’s what every fiction author website must do:

Highlight the books

Have one or two strong calls to action (sign-up for newsletter, buy, download)

Include blogging, video, illustrations, SOMETHING to keep folks coming back twice a month.

 

What does an author website need to have? BaB!

I call these fundamentals, BaB, which stands for Books/action/Blog.

Why BaB? Because it wraps up what your book site is all about. Selling yourself and your books.

Think about it for a moment. If you stumble on a site that’s selling something, you’ll visually scan it and, whether you know it or not, you’re making a lot of judgments in a split second.

  1. Is it pretty? Assuming you don’t go with a puke pink palette, Wordpress will help make that first impression go well. That’s one of WordPress’ biggest advantages. You need to work hard to make it look bad.
  2. What is being sold and does it look good? Get the best book cover you can afford and highlight it with a WordPress product page. I’ll cover the top themes with product pages in a later post.
  3. What else is here for me? News? Advice? Videos? Contests? Podcasts? Ways to share? Which social network is important to this writer? Is the site worthy of bookmarking?

By executing on the above three points, your site will do the most important thing it can do for you …

…show the reader what your priorities are…

You know how biz folks are always talking about how smart people remove all obstacles to buying a product? The same holds true of site design. Don’t make me think! Do not assume that I found your site because I wanted to see your book, or you. Odds are I did a search and stumbled on you. Now it’s up to you to convert me. Yeah, it’s like sprinting from a standstill. It’s hard, but you have to try.

Want to see what I mean? Okay, go to Jay Asher’s author page.

I’m not nuts about the overall design, but all the elements of BaB are there, and they’re in the right place. Notice the big honkin’ Buy Button in the upper left, which is where most eyes land when they first look at a page. I’m asked to buy before I even know what the product is! But that’s okay because, lo and behold, there’s the pic of the book. Now I know I’m on an author’s site. Jay gives more prominence to News than to Reader Reviews, which is odd, but they’re both really obvious from the get-go.

In the top menu I see there are a whole bunch of reasons for me to come back to the site if I like the book. There are links to his blog and to videos that tie in with his books. The site is bookmarkable. I would also follow the site, which I’ll explain in a later post.

So, yes, Jay Asher’s site has BaB! The books and buy action are tied at the hip on the top of the page, which is how it should be. And there’s content to keep the reader coming back to see what he and his characters are up to next.

Maggie Stiefvater‘s site tackles things in a different way. But let’s check out what she does and (maybe) why. Does Maggie have BaB?

It’s a design-heavy site, with a long load time, but when it does load it intrigues (just like her writing). She knows her audience (young adults) and her pub has made a judgment that the design of the site must capture her audience’s eye and let them know they are definitely in the right place. Since Maggie is busy building a very potent brand, where she is the product, she’s very prominent. Still, notice the biggest words on the page? “Welcome Reader”. She knows that she needs to let folks who don’t know her well that they’re on a writer’s site. Books are here. If you navigate to the books, you’ll find a very succinct and pretty presentation. You can also get fresh content if you come back to the site for her blog.

But this is where things fall apart. Where can I buy her books? Nowhere. I need to either search for the books manually on my site of preference, or go to one of the books’ official sites. From there I can find a Where to Buy section waaaay down on the page. Maybe the publishers figure she has a big enough name so they don’t need to worry about losing sales. But even the slightest bump in the road to purchase is lost money.

I’ve noticed this weakness in a lot of big publishers’ author pages. Maybe they know something I don’t know, but I’d say a design that hides the buy button isn’t doing anyone any favors. Including the readers.

So enough with the studies. How can you take this simple concept of BaB and apply it to your site with WordPress? We’ll explore the answer in the next post.

 

See what a good landing page needs to have to get the job done. And read part three of my series on WordPress for authors and writers.

 

You may also like:

WordPress for authors and writers (part one)

WordPress for authors and writers (part three)

WordPress for authors and writers (part four)

by Ben Zackheim

WordPress for writers: Build an author website with WordPress (Part One)

WordPress for writers: Build an author website with WordPress (Part One)

This is Part One of an ongoing series that will look into WordPress tools that do specific things we fiction writers must do.

With as little effort as possible, of course. We have writing to do!

One of the toughest, and most satisfying, tasks that I’ve had to tackle as a writer of fiction is my website. When I decided to follow my dream of yarning-it-up for a living, I knew that a site would be one of those dreaded (scary cello music) THINGS YOU MUST DO!

After all, how can anyone get by without their digital stamp on our collective Web brain? Sure, it’s possible, even likely, that no one will show up, but, hey, what if they do?

I was slow to get mine up and running. Writing, after all, is my focus. Who has time to go beyond securing the domain before the other guy with your name snags it?

With my background in corporate America, I tried very hard to make my site’s creation as difficult as possible. Surely there was no such thing as a one-size-fits-all platform for me to leverage. Surely, it would be tougher than simply finding one web service. Nonono, I’d have to find one service to enable sharing, another service to pretty the site up, another to build the foundation, another to place ads, blahblahblah.

Oh, and I’d have to pay for all of it. One way or another.

Then I followed the advice of a friend, and tried WordPress.

1. WordPress is mind-blowingly stupendous for writers.

(yes, i’m a fan)

For newbies out there, WordPress lets you create a site that can do absolutely anything. Blog thoughts, sell books, run ads, launch contests, evaluate traffic, quantify your hard work against a million criteria.

In a word, WordPress is the single best web product and service ever built. Yes, that’s hard to quantify, but damned if I’m even going to try. WordPress speaks for itself.

It is the one-stop shop I never thought could be built. It has everything I need. Awesome designs (called themes), social network sharing tools, SEO plug-ins, ad widgets, html boxes, A/B testing, cheap gasoline. All drag-and-drop-easy. And most are as free as air currently is.

2. WordPress is gut-wrenchingly distracting to writers.

My favorite built-in feature is the theme switching. I can download a new theme, preview it, and even push it into the world without losing any aspect of the hard work I’ve done on my real site. In all, I’ve only switched designs permanently once (it took about 15 minutes to make it work like I wanted). But I’ve tested a couple of hundred themes, which is great fun.

And a huge distraction.

With all of the themes available, I found it tough to settle on one for a couple of reasons:

  • There were too many options.
  • My needs are, shall we say, “fluid”.

Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so. I’ve spoken to dozens of writers who tell me they suffered through their own lack of focus when building their corner of the WWW. Some got caught up in the cool plug-ins. Some were wandering the massive catacombs of drag-n-drop widgets. Most were in my boat, ogling themes until the morning coffee brewed.

After months of grappling with the immense toolset like a supervillain with all the power in the world, I realized something that I hope will save you tons of time, and free you up to write a novel that sells better than mine.

What is that thing?

Focus.

In the next post, I’ll give my opinion of what makes a good WordPress writer site. It starts with a focused author, who doesn’t mind getting into the weeds just a little. Read part two now.

by Ben Zackheim