This post comes from recently chatting to readers and hearing their frustrations with their favourite author websites and how they aren’t finding the information they want.
You see, readers will frequent the websites of authors to get the latest updates or they arrive at a new author’s website from seeing their book at a retailer and because they are seeking more information about the author and the book before buying.
So I set out to find additional information to accompany my own tips and advice I give to authors, about what readers want from author websites. Rather than listing a bunch of forums threads, websites and anecdotes from individuals, I’ve summed up the main features readers are looking for from author websites they visit.
These features below should be included on author websites which are important to help establish credibility, pre-eminence and trust with your audience while building the book marketing footprint and author platform.
Here they are:
1. Author book news and updates
Updates on the new book coming out soon, perhaps with snippets and teasers. The author website should be the first place readers think to look for the latest news. Your coming soon page should be readily accessible from the home page. Update it often as it’s a big ticket piece that keeps readers coming back. This also helps for search engines like Google and Yahoo as they love to favour websites that update regularly.
2. Events and appearances
Readers want to know times and dates of author tours, book signings and appearances. This is a big one. People want to know they can meet you, see that you’re real and connecting with readers. It also allows publishing professionals to see you’re active and this may spark interest to have you appear at their next event.
You could do a post after your event covering the highlights and be sure to include images and photos. Decide which are the main events or expos in your niche or genre and BE THERE!
This sorely lacks in the author websites I see. People connect to those they see and it plays a large part in forming a preconception of the author for readers. Make sure to include professional photos of yourself and your big events, not the ones your 7 year old nephew took either. You’re an author in the business of selling books to one day become a best-selling author so you want to look like one!
Find someone who can take professional photos for you. These can also be used in your online and offline press releases as well. Make a deal with a family friend or your local photographer. Get creative with this. I’ve bartered with photographers in the past, if they shoot my event, I’ll return the favour and help them with something.
4. Freebies and exclusive content
This is now a large part of any website and sales funnel and readers now expect it. Down-loadable extras like sample chapters, upcoming books, interviews, competitions, give-aways, puzzles and games. The idea here is to keep readers interested and make it an entertaining destination to come back to. These suggestions will of course depend on your target audience. Decide what features will interest your readership, pick one and implement it.
5. Author contact information
One thing that I found common among the frustration of readers was the surprising lack of contact information on author websites. Surprising because it’s so easy for authors to set-up a contact information page. Get a contact form installed or write your email address on the contact page. Just be sure to replace the ‘@’ symbol in your email address and instead type ‘[at]’. This will prevent spammer bots cherry picking your address. It will look like this ‘yourname[at]mywebsite.com‘.
If you don’t have contact information decide what info you’re comfortable to make available. If you do have a contact page, make sure it’s up-to-date and easy to find.
6. Authors recommended books
The author’s recommended books. What the author is reading now and favourite books in specific genres. Write a review of a book, don’t make it too long, about 300 words is a good length. Your readers want to know what their favourite authors are reading themselves. It’s another way for them to connect with you.
7. Social media connect profiles
Social media is here to stay and is becoming the norm as a daily means for people to connect. It’s bringing best-selling authors such as Sherrilyn Kenyon, Tim Ferris and John Locke closer to readers. Make sure your active, connecting and accessible to readers and publishing professionals. Be consistent, that’s the second important tip. Two or three updates a day is ideal.
Remember these are what ‘readers’ are looking for from their favourite or newly discovered author websites. This is not for writers blogs appealing to other writers as they are not your primary buyers. These are the things general public readers want, who are not interested in how an author writes, but rather when they can meet them in person, when the next book is out, a little about them personally and freebies.
If you’re an author it’s now time for you to make sure your author website is catering for your readers and future readers, who are the ones buying your books. For those who have a writing blog keep it, but also have a second author website when you’ve published your first book.
Do you have all these features on your website?