A Closer Look at Author Websites
Although social media has made it super easy to connect with readers and build our author brands, an author website is still a must have accessory for all authors. Most authors know this and so have claimed their little angle on the web (if you haven't add that to your to do list now).
With millions of books beginning published daily, that means that competition for clicks to your website is high. Just as we face the issue of "how do you make your book stand out from the crowd?", we also have the issue of "how do you make your website stand out from the crowd?"
Today I thought we could take a closer look at some author websites to give you an few ideas for elements to consider for your own author websites.
The website of author John le Carré is a good example of author branding as he uses terms like "intercepted" when pulling Tweets. This fits perfectly with his author brand as he write spy novels. Social media is well integrated throughout the site (he clearly has a preference for Twitter). One thing I did notice though is that although his home page has one of his book covers and an photo of him on it they are both tiny and hidden away at the bottom. I did like the idea of a page for "sound and vision" for highlighting multi-media content.
Under you've been in hibernation for the past couple of years you no doubt have heard of author E.L. James (hint: she wrote the Fifty Shades of Grey series). I have to say I was a little surprised by her author website. Although you get a 17+ warning before entering the site, I guess I was expecting something a little more... I don't know, maybe some handcuffs of something. The site is in fact very simple (in a good way). Well laid out and clutter free. Social media is in the forefront here too with her Twitter feed being featured on the homepage. Links to her other social media profiles are also clearly placed at the top of the screen. One thing I really liked about her site for the "Community" tab. Not only does she provide a one page stop for following the action on all her social media profiles, and another for info about events, she also has a page for fan sites. Whilst not all authors have fan sites, I liked the idea of having a special place to showcase fans. I also liked the FAQ's page.
The website of J.K. Rowling also surprised me. I'm not sure what I was expecting but this wasn't it. Given the global impact of the Harry Potter series I could see why she opted for a language selection as the landing page of the website. I personally don't like having to click anything before I get to see a website but it did make me think about having language options. Unfortunately the click before you see anything didn't stop there though. Once you select your language you then get an overlay with directions about how to use the website. Big turn off. Whilst the information might be useful, it left me with a feeling that if directions for use are needed, the site needs to be improved. Could be just me but I didn't like this feature one bit. Just made me think the website would be too much hard work to navigate and, had I not been visiting for the specific purpose of writing this article, I would have left without ever seeing the actual website. I stayed but still wasn't very impressed. Although I liked the timeline idea and there were various ways to search for content, I didn't find it very user friendly.
I also visited the website of Bernard Cornwell. One thing I really liked about this website was the "Your Questions" and "Your Comments" tabs. The site was easy to navigate and interaction with the author is made easy. His Facebook page is obviously where he connects most of social media and the link is given priority placing throughout the website. He also features a YouTube video on his homepage and provides a link for more video content.
These examples are all famous authors. I picked them for that reason. As you can see though each website has pros and cons. I hope this has given you a few ideas for your own author websites. It's made me think about my own (which is www.JoLinsdell.com in case any of you fancy a visit ;)).
Feel free to share the link to your own author website in the comments section below so we can all pull together some more ideas.
Also, what are your pet peeves when visiting websites? What are the must-have features of an author website?