Throughout my career I’ve been lucky enough to create author websites for some well-known folks. In some cases, I’ve worked directly with the celebrity author and, in other cases, I’ve created a site for a new book release or specific writing project via their publisher. Regardless of who I’m working with, there are some elements that remain the same across all author website projects, but some things are different about working with celebrity authors that all authors can learn from:
- Like everyone else, their time is limited & valuable. Just because someone may have a large budget doesn’t mean that they have lots of available time to go along with it. Most successful authors have their fingers in lots of different pies, so during the time they make available to work on their website, communication needs to be focused, and oriented towards getting the most out of every conversation. For the most part, they’re prepared with a list of their goals & priorities so that everyone is on the same page from the outset.
- They rely on experts to make recommendations & give advice. Just because someone might be at the top of their game in their chosen field, doesn’t mean that they know everything about everything. I’ve found that celebrities are most often the clients who identify that they’re *not* an expert in my field and rely on me to do my job well to make them look good. You may not have the budget to hire an arsenal of experts to handle everything for you in a professional way, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t find experts within your budget to handle the things you know least about.
- They have lots of great photos. If you took the same website design and used mediocre photos as opposed to great, professional photos, you would be astonished at the difference. I’ve written before about the power of great headshots on author websites, and while you don’t have to be a celebrity to have great headshots, it does seem to come with the territory. Beyond headshots, if there are photos of locations or objects that would help set the mood for your website project, make sure those are of good quality too. There are some wonderful, free stock photo resources online (eg: pexels.com) these days so there’s no excuse any longer to use lackluster photos.
- They understand the power of social media. I’m sure you follow famous people on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. I regularly spend time analyzing what makes some celebrity profiles stand out above the rest, and it often comes down to the power of storytelling. Whether it’s with photos or text, they (generally) do a great job of sharing enough — but not too much — about themselves in the context of why they became a celebrity to begin with (humor, acting, writing, etc.). You want to follow their feed not only so that you can see what they’re up to (Meeting other celebrities!), but also because it helps you feel as if you’re seeing behind the scenes. It’s compelling to feel like you’re in on something other people might not know about, and it makes you want to tell your friends about it. This is true even if you’re relatively unknown!
- They exploit their brand in a variety of ways. If you take book marketing seriously, you know that once your book is written, a new kind of hard work begins: getting the word out about it. Just as when a movie is released, its stars participate in an endless variety of interviews, panels, and talk shows about it, authors should be trying to get as much coverage of their book as possible. If you’re just starting out, it might be by submitting it for reviews for debut books, or awards for new authors, or contacting bloggers for whom your book might be interesting to their audience. If you’re more well known, then you might go on The Late Show to spar with Stephen Colbert about your project. Regardless, there is more to the celebrity author than just their book. There are often videos available of them talking about it, or audio excerpts, or podcast interviews, or t-shirts, or giveaways on Facebook. Even if all of those options aren’t available to you, for longevity in the marketplace, I encourage you to think creatively about how what you are marketing, as much (if not more than) your book, is your brand, and how you can share that with the world.
Example celebrity author websites: