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.
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?