Why do I need a website…

Keeping with the website theme, some authors, either published or aspiring, want to know why they have a website.  I’ve talked with a couple who just didn’t see the point.

There are many reasons, but one of the main reasons is this…. READERS!!!!

More and more avid readers are using the web to find out about upcoming books, new authors, author backlists and more.   I’ve bought many many books because I read an excerpt on somebody’s site and that excerpt made one thing clear… I had to have that book.

Websites can give the reader an idea what is coming, what books belong in what series and what order the series books should be read in.

Websites can be as simple or as elaborate as you want.  My site is pretty extensive, but I also have like four or five ongoing series, I write in like five subgenres so I break the books down into several pages.  I have a page titled books and from there you can pick from:

Yes, some of the books do appear on several pages.  But I kept having readers email me, I thought the Hunters were the only paranormal or I didn’t realize you wrote fantasy as well contemporary or I didn’t know you had another series going.  So I broke them down as comprehensively as I could.

A printable backlist is a wonderful thing for readers.  Mine is a text file but if you don’t want to do text files, just make a page where the only thing listed is your books, in order of publication.  No covers, nothing fancy, just the list.

Some things all websites should have:

  • A complete list of your books (readers like to know…)
  • A coming soon page (again, readers like to know these things)
  • contact info  Readers like to be able to contact somebody if they have questions, or even if a link is broken.  Put some sort of contact info somewhere.  If I have questions and can’t find answers, I get frustrated and may not come back.
  • Printable list of books in order of publication

Some things that are nice but not necessary:

  • A bio~ Not necessary, but readers sometimes like to know about their authors.  I’ve picked up readers just because I’m a nurse and they were also nurses. 
  • Fun stuff~pictures readers have drawn or created of your characters, puzzles, jokes, recipes, etc.
  • A blog~  More and more readers are getting into blog hopping.
  • A message board~  Message boards can be a lot of work, though.  If you want it to be popular, you will have to put a lot work into it.
  • Freebie reads~  I’ve never gotten around to writing a free short story, although I’ve thought it.  Readers love free reads, though.

 Some things I don’t really care for: bear in the mind, this list is made of my personal likes & dislikes.  If you don’t agree, that’s cool, but make sure you understand the reasoning behind them.  Chances are if I feel this way wearing my reader hat, a lot of readers do, too.

  • Awards. As important as awards are to authors, they may not be as important to readers.  Especially if there are a cajillion of them between the top of the page and the one piece of info they are looking for.  This is one of the reasons I don’t list every last one I’ve gotten.  If the awards seem more important to the author than her books, I may not sift through all of them to find the info I’m looking for. I don’t have the time or the patience.  Plus all those pretty graphics can slow down the page.
  • Personal stuff~ Too much personal info about the author.  When I’m wearing my reader hat, I don’t personally want to know about your daily battle with getting out of bed, or the ways your suffer for your craft.  Okay, even as a writer I don’t really care to know.  If you make yourself out to be this martyr suffering for your art, I’m not going to hang around.  Not because whatever your issues aren’t valid, they may very well be.   But I have my own issues.  I read to relax.  Knowing that the author of the book bled sweat and blood and tears trying to force those words on to paper isn’t going to matter to me.  I don’t care.  I just want the book.  (Does that sound mean?)  I’ve seen some sites where the interactive part, on the author’s side, got so detailed about the personal life, it was like watching a train wreck.  Or worse… the Jerry Springer show.
  • Reviews~  Hey, I like a good review as much as any author, although glowing ones that offer little reason for being so glowing don’t appeal too much.  But when I’m wearing my reader hat and looking for info on your book, I don’t want to have to wade thru how many 5 stars or gold penguins or yellow crocodiles your book received.  A short, concise quote from a review is fine, but I’d rather not read entire pages on it.  I want to read the book instead.
  • Hot spots~ As things regarding a political or religious nature.  Not everybody shares the same views as I do and that’s fine.  But if you state your views in a way that insults my personal beliefs, don’t be surprised if I don’t linger on your site long enough to find out if your book appeals to me.  Nobody likes to be insulted, especially about as something as personal and important as politcal or religious views.

Okay, so I rambled a little and didn’t stick close to the ideas of WHY you need a website, but there is a little more to think about when you’re working on yours.