Monday, October 12, 2015

Tips For Creating an Engaging Author Website

People's lives are basically entirely online now, right? (Is there such a thing as offline anymore?) When you're trying to get peoples attention, websites are the new billboards. Except instead of large, evenly spaced and easily readable billboards you glance at as you drive down the freeway, now imagine literally millions of billboards all of different sizes crowding yours 100 layers deep plus there's a gigantic, enormous FACEBOOK billboard blocking out all the others anyway.

That's kinda how it is trying to get your author website noticed.

*Please note, also, that I'm largely talking about static websites now. This can apply to your blog, too, if it is your author website, but blogging is another topic all together.

Here are a few things you might have on your author website to keep people engaged and coming back.

1. Be a curator of good content. Whether its cat videos or book recommendations, if people know they can get their entertainment fix by coming to your website, they'll come back again and again. You don't have to do everything for everyone, but if you're a connoisseur of, for example, Anime, don't be afraid to show visitors to your website that cool new Japanese art you found.

2. Music/Playlists. DO NOT--I repeat, DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES have music play as soon as someone enters your site. It is PURELY annoying. Nobody likes it. If I come to your website and it has music playing I will be gone faster than shampoo on Severus Snape's beautifully greasy head. That being said, people love music, and are no doubt inspired by it, as you are. So share the songs that secured that character in your head, or helped solve your voice problem. And change it up every once in a while too. People may come to appreciate your taste.

3. Book Club Info. You may do well to have a page on your website dedicated for book club organizers. This is where they can come to get answers to FAQs or even a handout made by you, the author. You may inspire someone to pick your book because you make it so friendly to do so.

4. Quizzes and Polls. Yeah, yeah, you may think all those Buzzfeed quizzes are annoying, but they sure get traction, don't they? You can use PlayBuzz or many other sites to create your own quiz. Let your readers know which character of yours they most resemble, or poll them to see which British Victorian novelist they like most. Whatever works for you.

5. Fan Slideshow. Its always great to see authors appreciating involvement from their fans. If you can, make a slideshow on your website of nice letters or fan art you receive. (With permission, of course.) That way fans feel like they are involved, and part of a community.

So what does this look like? For a beautifully designed author website, visit Meredith McCardle. (She has bios for all her characters too!) And for interactivity, Jody Hedlund has a website with many of the things listed here. She's a great lead to follow. (Her blog is great too!)

What makes you look twice at an author website? What makes you come back for more?

Write on!

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  1. Good ideas. I'm looking to switch up my website - it often gets neglected, and shouldn't. I dislike sites that have music playing too.

  2. Book club information. That's a good idea. Might need to add that to my blog. I guess under my bio as I am out of pages...

  3. I only have a blog and what I can do on it is limited. I don't have the skills required for building a site myself. But nice ideas here.

  4. My pet peeve is if the website isn't updated in sometime and if it exclusively concentrates on books, either theirs or mixtures of theirs and others. If the drumbeat is consistently books, books, books and nothing else, no matter how engaging the person may be elsewhere (say on Facebook), their website will remain unvisted by me.

    Father Nature's Corner

  5. I really do need to spruce up my website. Thanks for the ideas, especially the bookclub one.

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