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What features must a good author website have?

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What features must a good author website have?

Post by diamondlil » Thu October 23rd, 2008, 11:23 am

I had reason today to attempt to contact an author, so I tried to find their website. A search on google didn't bring up their website on the first page, so I tried the most obvious URL to see what it bought up, and yes I got a website, BUT, and it's a big but, the site was terrible!

I will say there was a cool widget that showed all the book covers, but other than that there was just one page that said a little bit about both books (linked to Amazon) and then that was it. No way to contact the author, no individual pages per book, no attempt at a nice looking layout.

It turns out that the book has it's own site, but there is not a link to that, and the book site is very pretty, but not full of info either.

I think that there are a lot of Aussie authors in particular who still haven't figured out online marketing, as many do not have any webpage at all, let alone good ones.

Looking at this site tonight has prompted me to ask, what features should a good author's website have? What features are optional?
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Post by pat » Thu October 23rd, 2008, 12:12 pm

I thought it was just me! I had looked up an author or two, only to find either they didnt have a website or if they did it held no info at all!

They should have
1) Author info
2) Book info: maybe snippets of them with front covers.
3) CONTACT page!

All tied up in a relevent to genre graphics!

Well, thats IMHO!
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Post by boswellbaxter » Thu October 23rd, 2008, 12:59 pm

Most of all, I want to see an up-to-date listing of the author's books, with descriptions and excerpts. If it's HF, it's nice to see something about the historical background of the books and perhaps a reading list. But to me the excerpts are the most important thing, especially if the books aren't widely available in brick-and-mortar bookstores for me to skim through.

What drives me crazy are author websites where you click on "news" and you get a list of signings from 2005. Or when authors give their websites a cutesy holiday theme, and they forget to change it once the holiday's passed.
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Post by Misfit » Thu October 23rd, 2008, 1:43 pm

3) CONTACT page!
All excellent suggestions, but I'd also add not only the contact page but someone who responds to the email contacts. FGS you would not believe how many times I've clicked on a webpage and sent an email off with an inquiry and no one ever responds. Darned irritating, let alone unprofessional. If nobody pays attention to the email, why the heck do you put it there? :mad:

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Post by Leyland » Thu October 23rd, 2008, 3:21 pm

[quote=""pat""]I1) Author info [/quote]

I'd like to know a bit about an author's educational and career background as it relates to their talent for successful storytelling. Some authors may have an extensive academic background related to literature and history or another discipline, while others may be thoroughly self-educated regarding historic and social events. A longtime career in an unrelated field may have preceded a writing career and adds to the experience that gives the writer a greater creative base.

I'm not nosy - I just like to get an idea about the extent to which intelligent creative people get prepared for a writing career, planned or not. Think Michael Crichton - medical background not really used, but what great stories!

Other author info I like to know might include other interests/hobbies and general region where they primarily live. Awards and other distinguishments are good to know about.
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Post by Ludmilla » Thu October 23rd, 2008, 3:37 pm

I like it when authors share what books or authors they've read and enjoyed over the years or were influences on them.

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Post by LCW » Thu October 23rd, 2008, 5:17 pm

I like a photo of the author, their pets, places they've travelled. One author, whose book I loved, put photo's of Wales and her travels during her research for the novel. That was really interesting. Also little tidbits of their lives, whatever they are willing to make public. Extra trivia or details about the periods they write about are also helpful. One historical romance author has an amazing section about life in the middle ages. It's really helpful background information. Also thier reading recommendations, books they love, etc. If I love an author's writing I'd also love to hear about what they love to read themselves.

The above are extra icing but the bare bones should be the bibliography, professional bio, tour details, etc. And, very important, make the information current!!! No 2, 3, 4, even five year old information! I hate that!

I have to say that a nicely done informative website gives me a very favorable impression of an author. As an example, a few weeks ago I checked out C. W. Gortner's site and it made me go out and buy his book on Juana la Loca. I'd been "meaning" to do it for months but checking out his website is what made me actually do it.
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Post by Margaret » Thu October 23rd, 2008, 6:02 pm

What a great question!

For me, the most important thing is a complete and up-to-date listing of all of the author's books with brief synopses. Some authors include a link to read the first chapter, which is a plus. Since I get very impatient reading anything of much length online, I don't usually read these, but if an author is self-published, it can give a snapshot of the writing style and tell me if the book is an obvious wallbanger or not.

Second is an attractive, professional-looking design. Really. It's probably unfair, but if the design is awkward, unattractive and sloppy, I'm not going to have much faith in the author's writing ability. An ugly, hard-to-navigate website just screams "amateur".

One of my favorite author websites is William Dietrich's. The color scheme looks really beautiful to me, and there are some fun features that are easy to use.

I don't care for the fancy front pages with a lot of animated bells and whistles, music, etc. I go to an author website for information, not a cute film clip, and these just impede my progress into the site.
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Post by michellemoran » Thu October 23rd, 2008, 7:22 pm

Darned irritating, let alone unprofessional. If nobody pays attention to the email, why the heck do you put it there?
I've had that happen several times. :confused: I'll email an author to thank them for blurbing my book - and nothing. Clearly, they have a personal address which my publishing house used (and would probably give me if I asked), but the one of their website is totally useless.

AS for what I like to see on other author's sites:

1. Professional design. It doesn't have to be the most awesome design in the world, but seriously... it shouldn't be something cobbled together by the author

2. A section for international books. I love seeing international covers!

3. A clear (and working ) contacts page

4. An intro page that loads quickly. If it has flash, the viewer should be able to click through to the rest of the site without waiting for the flash to end.

5. Photos - I LOVE photos (as you may be able to tell from my website - and much to my husband's dismay, who has to take all of them ;) )

6. Background info on how the author researched the book/came to write it.
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Post by Divia » Thu October 23rd, 2008, 8:57 pm

I'd also like to know what the author likes to read. What were their favs growing up. Who influenced them. I dont think it hurts to throw that info in.

Oh hello can we update our site? Christ on a cracker I am so sick of going to this one authors website and NEVER getting new information. Its been the same stuff for over a year. YAWN.

Upcoming releases are always nice. If I like the author I'll buy another book buy them. All they have to do is tell me. ;)
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