Because I frequently work on author & book websites, I often spend time looking at examples of all different kinds of websites so that I know what creative & effective things are being done that can translate into a successful author site. Author, publisher & book websites have specific needs and require a familiarity with the lifecycle of a book, bibliography or series, and how an author can communicate with their audience in a way that works for them.
And while there are unique solutions that are put in place depending on the specific needs and goals of each site, there are some common elements that the best author websites should have.
But before I jump in and talk specifics, I want to talk about the single most important thing you can do with your author or book website: make sure it’s up-to-date.
Part of the process of designing a successful website is making sure that it’s helping you meet your goals. And to determine those goals you need to think about the people who you want to visit your author/book website and what you want them to do. Beyond that, you need to think about the skill set of the person/people updating the website and how much time, realistically, they want to put into it and what they can actually do.
I completely understand the desire to have a visually compelling website, but if your visually compelling website is so difficult to update that it doesn’t actually get updated (for time or financial reasons), it’s not working for you. In reality, anything that would prevent you from keeping your website up-to-date should be removed. And remember, there’s no reason you can’t have a beautiful website that isn’t also easy to use.
If you’ll be updating your site yourself, and you’re not really comfortable with the internet and don’t want to spend much time updating your site, then don’t have a website where the information will quickly become irrelevant (such as appearance dates). And if you’re going to have a blog, but aren’t going to update it frequently, don’t list the post dates on it and don’t blog about time-sensitive topics — consider, instead, topics that have a long shelf life.
Realistically, think about keeping your site very, very simple. Put an image of your book(s), a brief description, purchase option(s), and a way to get in touch with you. If you just need your site to act like a business card, then present it that way. The important thing to keep in mind when it comes to thinking about what your website should be is what is best for you. What’s best for someone else might not be right for you, not matter what I or any other website that covers these topics tells you — so take advice like “make sure you have a blog” with a grain of salt. Maybe it’s right for you, but maybe it’s not. Talk with an experienced web designer who can guide you towards what’s best for YOU.
If you love Facebook, but hate Twitter, don’t have a Twitter account that’ll just sit there empty. If your publisher tells you that you won’t succeed unless you have a Twitter profile, they’re not telling you the whole truth. If you have a Twitter profile but aren’t engaging with anyone there and updating it regularly, it’s not doing ANYTHING for you and may, in fact, make you look like you don’t care about your publicity — you could be putting your energy into something that would work better for you, and that’s the right thing to do. Even if your publisher will be creating social media entries on your behalf, have a plan in place for what happens to those profiles when they stop. And this is just one example, the same might be true for an email newsletter, or a blog, etc..
So, with all that said, what do the best book and author websites have in common? Here’s a short list… Click here to read more »