Author Websites: What to Include?
I recently did a list of 10 Indian author websites that I like [link]. I was even alleged by few close friends that the list was biased.I don’t deny this allegation totally considering the wide gamut of authors are there in India and it’s not possible to cover all of them in one list. Not all authors mentioned in the list were using their sites to their full potential. So, I decided to write an article on what I believe should be included in an author website and I included the websites based on these pointers that I had on my mind.
Since authors are very not technical persons, you should make it clear to your website designer that maintenance of the website should be as easy as writing a Word document. For that, you can use a flexible content management systems (CMS) like WordPress and ask the designer to customize it to your needs. You should also chose a look for your website with a long time vision in mind. It helps if it complements with your latest work but unless you are already a successful writer it will prove to be an extra headache to explain your tech team what you want over and over. Having said that, here is the list of elements you should have in your website:
- Featured Project: Whether you are a first time author or have many titles under your belt, there is often a book that was either recently published, or is about to be published. In the case that the book was recently published, promote it front-and-center with a large 3d bookshot and/or youtube/vimeo video generating curiosity, an enticing blurb, and featured purchase options. Include a link here to a dedicated page where someone can read more about the book, or get some behind-the-scenes information or other promotional materials (such as an excerpt or resources). And if you have a great review excerpt or testimonial – include it!You can also include general public reviews from websites like goodreads.com
- Other Titles: If you’ve many books under your belt, this can be the latest (or most popular) three titles, but if you’ve got a handful of books in your biblography, a short list of these titles with smaller cover shots will let people know they’re in the right place if they’ve read you previously, and also let them know about books they may not yet have read. If your books are a series, be sure to include where the books fall in order as your readers will likely want to know. Writing is your primary strength, so use it to your best advantage. Be sure to write something to introduce visitors to the world of your books.
- Bio Blurb: As an author site, people will want to know about the author! This is no time to be shy! Include a professional headshot and a blurb about you that will lead off (via link) to a page dedicated to information about you. On that page, frame the content around what lead you to writing, and why you write the kinds of books that you do and what you love about it. Your readers want to relate to you and in your website trying to find more about you than in the bio blurb in your books. Try giving a personal touch but don’t give out too much personal information. If you’re also promoting yourself for speaking engagements, or if your book is one aspect of your larger professional career, consider making your photo larger or putting it in a more prominent position on the page.
- Latest News/Events: Writing is the easiest of all tasks of being an author. After you get published, you need to promote it bydoing interviews, getting blog mentions, reviews and other media coverage items you’ll want to share with your audience. There should be a full list somewhere on your site that archives everything, but the Home page should feature the latest (or most important) items so that site visitors can easily learn more about what you’ve been up to recently.
- Appearances: If you are an author, you definitely make appearances for book readings or signings, interviews, or at conferences/professional events like literary festivals, and you’ll want your audience can easily find out the details of events they need to attend. Consider including photos and videos of your past appearances.
- Most Recent Blog Post: If your site has a blog, which I believe that all authors should maintain as it allows the readers to get a close insight to their personality.An excerpt of the most recent blog post on the Home page that is dynamically updated every time a post gets published can be included. This encourages people to explore the blog further & engage with your content.
- Social Media/Affiliation Links: Social Media is an important factor in our lives nowadays. It is here to stay and whether you like it or not you have to engage yourself in social media if you want a sustained readership. You can provide links to your Facebook Page, Google Plus profile, Twitter account, Instagram account or any other site that you are active in. You should add only the links of the sites where you are active.
- Social Media Sharing: Different than the links to your social media profiles, you should make it super easy for your visitors to spread the word around of your website through various social services like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Email, etc.
- Newsletter Signup: Although, not a compulsory element but if you can commit to it, there is nothing like that. Newsletter should be used for providing exclusive materials not available in your site. You should try including a personal letter to your readers and telling them what you were doing in the past month and what’s in store in the upcoming days. If used properly, it can generate a cult following for you.
- Bonus Materials: Both you and your website designer are creative professionals in their own rights. You should have a space for providing bonus materials for promoting your book. It can be YouTube/vimeo video, SoundCloud audio stream, Quizzes, Book Covers shortlisted before release, autographed copies, merchandise. It can be anything. It only depends on your creativity as what you can think of.
- Contact Information: You should prominently feature the link for contacting you. If you are represented by reputed agents, you can also add their links in your contact page. You can also have a separate phone number for your professional contacts.
The above ideas look like a lot and at first thought look to make a cluttered website difficult to maintain. However, a professional web-designer can help you organize it in a well-mannered layout. I hope the above article helps you.
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