In the lead-up to starting Wangaratta Website Design Services, I did an online survey of writers/authors asking what they wanted in an author website. Twenty-three people responded, which isn’t a lot, but I still found their responses informative.
Advantages of Having an Author Website
When asked about the advantages of having an author website they said a website:
- Is a point of contact where readers can find you (6)
- Is a place to sell books (6)
- Can be used for marketing and advertising (5)
- Is a place where readers can get to know the author (4)
- Helps authors control the information given out to the public (3)
- Can be used to inform readers of upcoming news and events (2).
What Should an Author Website do?
The survey then asked authors/writers to tick which functions they thought a website should have.
- Advertise their latest releases (21)
- Inform readers who the author is and what they write (19)
- Include links to where readers can buy the author’s books (18)
- Include a back catalogue of the author’s publications (18)
- List upcoming events, such as book readings and writer’s festivals, that the author with be participating in (18)
- Create a brand for the author (16)
- Direct readers to the author’s social media (15)
- Include a blog so readers can interact with the author (11)
- Include a newsletter sign-up form or subscription to a mailing list form so the author can advertise their books (11)
- Sell books direct to readers (11).
One item that should have been on that list is that a website can be a very convenient first port-of-call that an author can direct the media, an agent or a publisher too.
Important Functions of an Author Website
Based on the author responses, a website should be/include:
- A place for readers to find out who an author is and what they write
- Updatable so it can advertise an author’s latest release
- Show what books an author has for sale (half the authors wanted an ecommerce site that sells directly to the customer, most of the rest just wanted links to where a reader could buy the books)
- List up-coming events an author is involved in (for some this could take the form of a blog)
- Links to social media.
A Basic Author Website
Based on the author responses, a basic author website must do/contain the following:
- Tell a reader who the author is and their writing genre (it is amazing how many author websites don’t immediate inform, through image, text or style, what genre the author writes)
- List the author’s books and have links to where they can be bought
- Be easily updatable to plug the authors latest release – most probably on the homepage.
- A news section that is easily updated with the latest author news (this could take the form of a blog that just details upcoming events)
- Contact details for customers, as well as the media, agents or publishers
- Links to social media.
A More Complex Author Website
- If an author wants to avoid paying Amazon and iBooks a commission, or they want to make it easier for the customer, they could choose to sell directly from their website.
- If an author enjoys blogging and interacting with readers, a blog could be included (new content like blog posts help with SEO)
- I would also suggest authors have a newsletter or a subscription form so readers can be emailed information about new releases or upcoming events.
If you can think of any other functions that should be included on a website, please leave them in the comments section.