I know this is a topic that’s been discussed before, by a number of different people.
I’m doing it again, because I was procrastinating and playing online, ended up on Ann Aguirre’s website, reading this post. She’s discussing author websites. Since I needed something to blog about, I figure I might as well do this, too. 😉
So do authors really need a website?
In my opinion, yes. Here is why: readers like them.
Readers are always looking for what’s coming next. We finish a book, we hit the web, try to find a website, because we want to know what’s coming next. Now if we really liked that book, and we find what’s coming next, many of us will go ahead and pre-order. Which is good-that’s a sale for the author.
You don’t even have to spend a ton of money on a website. You can get them for free, and not those annoying ‘pop-up ad’ free, either. My website, www.shilohwalker.com, isn’t a free site, but this blog is. WordPress blogs are awesome. You can set them up like a website with different pages, and many of them. You can customize some with different background colors, you can even add your own header. See mine up top?
The website doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t need flashy graphics, it doesn’t need music, it doesn’t need to cost $2000, the Earth and the sun. That’s not what readers care about. Readers care about readability, they care about being able to find a website, they care about finding the info they need on a site and that’s about it.
As long as you have the basic information on your website, most readers are gonna be happy. What are the basics?
- An updated website
- a current list of your books.
- what’s coming soon?
- Some excerpts-me personally, if it’s a new-to-me author, I want an excerpt.
- Some sort of contact. I don’t care if it’s through a message board, a blog, an e-mail address, etc. I like being able to contact authors, especially if I’ve enjoyed their books.
- If you’ve got a series, series reading order is nice.
What don’t you need?
- Music. I’ll be honest, unless I’m really really interested, if I hear music on a website, very often I leave it.
- Sparkly stuff. Save the sparkly graphics for myspace. They take attention away from the books and books are what you want the readers paying attention to, anyway.
- A black background with red or blue font on top of it. This is a recipe for a migraine.
- A red or blue background with black font on top of it. See above.
- The same goes for teal green/jade/magenta, etc. vivid colors on a black website? Not good. Why? See above.
- Day-Glo. Any sort of Day-Glo. But pink is the worst. This isn’t just a recipe for a migraine, it’s also a recipe for singed retinas. Unless the reader is really really interested, you may have lost them before you even get them. That’s bad.
- Pop-ups. These are annoying, and this is why WordPress blogs would work much better than a lot of the freebie sites. And they are just as easy.
These, of course, are just my personal pet peeves. But in all seriousness, websites are useful tools for authors. You want a reader to be able to find your books while your name is still fresh in the brain. If they can’t find info on upcoming books, they may forget about them by the time you do have a new book.