Sunday, September 8, 2013

What's in a Website?

Lately I’ve found myself a little irritated with some author’s websites. So I thought I’d do just a quick list of author website requirements. I know many of these rules have already been spelled out in a million other blogs, but I figured there’s no harm in mentioning it again.

These rules come more from my experience as a reader than a writer. I am definitely not an expert in website creation. I even get frustrated with how my own website is set up sometimes. These are just a few thoughts I’ve had on what I like to see when I’m searching on my favorite author’s websites.

1.       You must have a website. Every author needs to have a website. Period. As a reader a website is essential. I want to be able to see all your books, laid out for me in one easy to find place.

2.       Your website needs to be easy to find. Make it something easy to just type in. Like your first name last name dot com, or whatever ending you need.

3.       Make your books easy to find on that website. You need to have your books laid out in an easy to navigate layout. As a reader, when I’ve been recommended one of your books, I don’t know if I’m looking for your first book or your last book, but if I can’t find what I’m looking for I might just walk away entirely.

4.       Make your series easy to find. Just like your books, if I know the story I stumbled upon is book four in a series, I’ll be much more likely to pick up books one through three, then if I had no idea. Conversely, if I’ve started a series with you I want to be able to easily see the other books in the series so I can pick them up when I ready for the next.

5.       Have a coming soon page. I know as a reader I like to know what you have planned. If you don’t want to tell your readers every work you have in progress that’s fine, but at least let us know about the ones that have been contracted, so we can start preparing to buy them.

6.       Every published book on your list should include a blurb, a buy link and an excerpt.

7.       Add cover art for all your books. Buying a book by its cover, doesn’t just apply to bookstores. It true on author’s websites too.

8.       Offer easy to follow links to all our social media avenues, so I can easily follow or friend you as I’d like.

9.       Keep it up to day. It’s understandable if you don’t have a release from yesterday up yet. But if your website isn’t updated for a year you’ll give readers the wrong impression, and lose the opportunity to sell even more books.

10.   This goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Check your facts, proofread and revise your website. Nothing is more embarrassing that having a spelling error in your entry page, or mislabeling your own work. Believe me. I’ve done both.

Of course I love when authors add any little extras for readers. Personally I added FAQs about my stories to give readers even more information about my books and characters, where the idea came from. Almost all my books have a soundtrack of the songs I was listening to or inspired this novel. I’d love to add more graphics but I’m not that advanced with photoshop yet.

So how about all you readers out there. What other must haves do you think should be included in an author’s website? Anything you like to see? Anything you find fun or exciting?


Tina Donahue said...

Good advice, Willa.

However, I do have to say that if I'm looking for a title, I'd probably go to the publisher's site or Amazon w/o even considering going to the author's website (unless I'm a return reader for that author's work).

Fiona McGier said...

You're right, Tina, which is a shame. The convenience of Amazon is what makes them so rich. But you get books at a cheaper price usually on the publisher's website...and the author gets a bigger cut of the profits. The links on my book pages on my website always take you to my publisher's page.