Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Author Websites

I look at jillions of author websites in the course of my work. I see some great ones, some good ones and many that need overhauling.

Here's what every site should have:
  • Nav bar with tabs labeled along the lines of About Jane Author, Books, Events, Contact Jane Author, Press, Author Q&A, Links.
  • On first screen of the homepage, the cover image of author's newest book plus an enticing tagline & blurb, PUBLISHER'S NAME (amazing how many authors leave that out!) & a link to the Books page
  • Books page should have: cover image; snappy descriptive graf or 2 (such as in publisher's catalog); publisher's name; ISBN; a blurb or 2; at least a one-graf excerpt and a link to read more (another 5-7 grafs) if there's info about more than 1 book on the page.
  • If nonfiction, the excerpt should include a take-away: recipe, helpful advice, profound insight, etc.
  • Bio page must have a GOOD headshot, preferably shot by a pro. Simple background that doesn't distract from face; simple jewelry ditto; no funny reflections in eyeglasses. No posing with darling kids or pets--unless author writes about kids or pets; and even then leave out the kids.
  • Author Q&A: A self-interview with 10 questions that will 1) attract readers; 2) be a good cheat sheet for interviewers who haven't read the book (i.e., most interviewers).
  • Press page should have: excerpts from recent reviews with links to read more (don't run complete reviews without permission); links for downloadable high-res (at least 300 dpi) headshot and book jacket; links to author's print, radio & TV interviews.
  • Contact info should include author's publicist. Email addresses must be encrypted or spelled out (janeauthor at janeauthor dot com) so web spiders don't pick them up and send endless spam.
  • Keep personal information minimal. We don't need to know the names of partner/spouse (unless famous), kids, or pets. They're only of interest to stalkers.
  • On Events page, move "upcoming" gigs to "past" as soon as they've happened. (See below.)
  • No cutesy stuff. If it doesn't belong in a resume or news article, it doesn't belong on a website.
  • No flash animation; it's distracting and takes too long to download.
  • No background music; it annoys the people in surrounding cubicles.
One more thing:
UPDATE FREQUENTLY! I just looked at an author site that said "Coming in January 2007." A certain bestselling author I know has a Big Book coming out this fall, and his website/blog is all about his first book--and hasn't had a post since last September.

P.S. Said author just informed me that he emailed his web designer this morning about working on the site. Am I psychic, or what?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great list, Bella! The main thing I emphasize is the importance of having *A* web presence, even if it's via MySpace or Typepad or Blogger. With your content recommendations, coming up with something ideal that reaches an author's audience can be very cost-effective. Which is just good business!

-Lauren Cerand