Can You Design a Beautiful Book Site without Breaking the Bank?

I had this very question when I was launching my first book. The publisher said it was up to me, and I wanted full control of all the content on the book site, so I decided to go it alone.

A lot of authors think they need to invest $1000 (or more) to get a great-looking site for your book. The truth is if you know how to do it right, it can cost much, much less. Here’s how:

Step 1: Get on WordPress

Why WordPress? Because:

  • It’s free.
  • It’s easy.
  • You control the content (as opposed to paying someone).
  • It’s completely customizable.
  • It’s search engine friendly (which helps people discover you).

Note: This is different from signing up for a free blog on

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Get a host. I recommend using This will cost you about $5 per month, and it’s where your website will “live” online.
  2. Install WordPress. Bluehost has a one-click install process that is super-easy. If you use another service you will have to download the software at and then upload it via your FTP, which can get a little technical. That’s why I recommend just using Bluehost.
  3. Create your login ID and password.
  4. Login to make sure your credentials work.

Now that you’ve got WordPress up and running, it’s time to pick a “skin” for your website.

Step 2: Install Your Theme

With WordPress, you can use design templates (called “themes”) to do what a web designer used to have to spend hours coding. The result is you save a lot of money buying a premium theme and customizing it, instead of hiring someone for $100 an hour.

For this site, I use Genesis for the design framework (which is sort of like the basic architecture of the site), and then a “child theme” for all the snazzy customizations (much like the interior design to a house). All of this cost me less than $150 (I know friends who spend THOUSANDS of dollars on book sites that don’t look half as good).

Tribe Screenshot

If you want a book site to look like this, here’s what you’ll need to do next:

  1. Buy the Genesis Framework. Click this link and you’ll be taken to the StudioPress website, where you’ll be given an option to buy a bunch of different themes. Choose JUST the Genesis Framework (should be about $59.95).
  2. Buy the Tribe Theme. Click this link to preview the theme and then buy it. Note: you will be prompted to buy Genesis, but you’ve already done this so ignore that. This should be about $79.95.
  3. Install Genesis. You can do this by logging into your WordPress dashboard, going to Appearance, then Themes, and then click Upload and select the ZIP file for the Genesis Framework. Then click “ACTIVATE” to activate the theme.
  4. Install Tribe. Repeat the process in #3 for Tribe. (Note: Do NOT install Tribe without first installing Genesis, or you’ll crash your site.)

At this point, your site should be looking pretty similar to this one, except for that cool little header.

Step 3: Add Your Header

Part of what makes your site look so good (with this theme) is the header image. My publisher sent me the images from my book cover, so I just used that, but if you don’t have access to those images, you can

  • Hire someone. Some affordable options are 99 Designs or Crowdspring.
  • Ask a friend. I did this with another site, and they did it for free in exchange for some business referrals.
  • Do it yourself. If you have Photoshop or a similar program, open it up and figure it out.

The default width and height of the image is 965×231, but you can change that whatevever you want when you click the Genesis menu and then choose “Conversion.”

Once you’ve got the image, next you’ll need to upload it, which can be done by clicking Appearance, then Header, then Choose File, and then upload.

Step 4: Start Publishing!

At this point your site should be live and you can start creating pages to talk about your book.

Have fun!

More About Genesis + Tribe

This Genesis child theme is built around one central idea: The most important element of any website is how you capture attention.

In a world full of noise, it’s never been more important to build your list, earn subscribers, and continue building trust to communicate a message. This theme does just that — in a simple, intuitive way.

Here’s what you get with Tribe:

  • Awesome feature boxes and snazzy opt-in forms to maximize email signups. (Seriously, these are the best I’ve ever seen.)
  • Multiple color options (to change it up a bit).
  • Beautiful fonts and typography that bring help the reader focus on your content.
  • Unique “lava lamp” navigation bars (similar to, but cooler).
  • Custom header option (with easy-to-upload dashboard).
  • Quick loading and excellent search engine optimization (all built in!).
  • Four simple page templates, including clutter-free landing pages (like this one).
  • And a more…

Without a clean look and feel to your website, your audience will miss your content. Without good design and smart SEO, you can’t get your message heard. Without a way to capture people’s attention, your book will be forgotten before it can be remembered.

This theme helps you do all of that. Find out more here. (Note: You’ll need the Genesis framework for this to work.)

More About Bluehost

Bluehost is a service that allows you to host your own website. With its one-click WordPress installation, it makes it super easy to create a website and start publishing content in a matter of minutes.

Starting with packages as low as $4.95 per month, it’s one of the most affordable and best web hosting services out there. Find out more here.

Disclosure: Some of the above links are affiliate links, which means if you click them and buy something, I get a portion of the profits. However, this is at no cost to you.