Friday, July 10, 2009

Let's talk web sites!

Tip of the day: The best way to figure out what kind of web site you like is to look at lots and lots of author sites. Take notes of things you like – colors, layout, design elements, etc. and share sites and those specific likes with your designer when you start working on your own. Here’s my web site:

I’m in the process of working with my web designer on redesigning my site, so I thought I’d talk about author web sites today.

I find it interesting that in various interviews I’ve read with marketing “experts” they all say one of the most important things for an author to do marketing-wise is to have a web site. Everyone seems to agree that in this day and age, a web presence is vital for an author. And so, most authors, once the book deal is underway, begin the process of getting a web site up, either by doing it themselves or hiring a designer to help them.

First question I want to address: How fancy does the web site have to be?

I’m going to go out on a limb and say, it really doesn’t need to be very fancy. It needs to be easy to navigate, professional, and look nice. And no spelling errors or things like that! I understand some authors want really fun ones or really beautiful ones or whatever, and of course, each author can do whatever he or she desires and whatever the budget allows. Designer prices go from a few hundred to a few thousand, and even more. Personally, my goal is to stay as close to the lower part of the range as possible, and I do.

Currently, I’m averaging about 50-60 visits a day on my web site (this is different from my blog). People come to my web site from a variety of places. What do they want to know when they get there, regardless of how they find me? That can be the hard thing to determine.

So the next question to address: What’s the purpose of an author’s web site?

First, you need to give information about yourself. Yes, I know, the last thing you want to do is talk about yourself, but really, people do want to read about YOU, the author. So come up with a bio of some kind, serious or funny, whatever you want to do. Next, people want to read about your books. So you need to have a page designated for your books. Put covers on there, short summaries, and review quotes once you have them, at a minimum. If you give links for people to follow to purchase the books, I suggest linking to indiebound as well as Amazon, because we always need to be supporting our independent bookstores. Beyond that, the sky’s the limit. Think about your books and the kind of people who may be stopping by, and tailor pages to meet their needs. If your book is going to be have classroom tie-ins, you definitely need a page for teachers, with study guides to download or what have you.

I do think having a page that links to your blog is a good idea too. For people who want to come back for more, a blog is updated with new information frequently, whereas most parts of an author’s web site won’t change day to day or even month to month.

Personally, my favorite page is the “Contact Me” page. I get so many great notes from readers through this page. Yay for fan mail!!!

I’ll let you know in a month or two when the new site is unveiled!

In the meantime, is there anything you specifically like or don’t like when it comes to an author’s web site?

~Lisa, Miss Crafting a Career


Kat said...

I am an author with a web site. Please visit

I would love some honest feedback!


Kat~ : )

Christina Farley said...

I agree. Anytime I read a book I like, I go online and check out the author's web site.

I also like the pages that give fun facts on the author too.

Emily Marshall said...

Can't wait to see the new Web site!!!! And thanks for laying it all out there. I don't think a Web site has to be that fancy either (which I guess is different from looking nice/professional--which I do think it needs). Some of them are way too annoying with all the Flash and so slow, I just give up.

And that's awesome so many people are visiting your page and contacting you. How fun.