This Saturday I bring you top seven things that authors should put on their websites.
7. Links to Facebook and Twitter
This should be obvious by now, I would think. Not everyone has a Twitter account and I think a lot of people are jumping on the bandwagon just because everyone else seems to be. Twitter is useful for bringing in traffic to your blog or website by posting a tiny excerpt from your new content for your followers to see. If it’s appealing enough, people will click through and read the rest on your website. Similarly, if someone has Twitter, and likes the content on your website, they’ll follow you.
6. A strong URL
This isn’t technically *on* your website, but it’s just as important. Lots of authors use their name, and that’s generally a good idea because, well, it’s you! Always try and get the dot com version of that URL, and if that’s not available, try dot net, and then dot whatever country you’re from. If your target audience is primarily in the country that you’re from, then you may want that URL as your first choice.
You have to think: if someone was looking for me, what keywords would they type into Google? A good example of a strong URL that isn’t an author name is Robert J Sawyer’s website. He’s sfwriter.com. Science Fiction Writer. That’s exactly what he is. At the time of writing, if you type “science fiction writer” into Google, he’s number two, after Wikipedia.
5. A Visible Contact Me Page
When I was a journalism student, there was nothing more annoying than trying to find someone’s contact information in a sea of links on a poorly designed page. The contact page should include a working email address that you check daily, and/or your agent’s address. If you are uncomfortable with putting your email address on your website, or if you’re afraid of getting spammed, insert a contact form. WordPress has several.
4. Relevant Links to Similar Websites
I get a lot of emails from companies asking if they would like to exchange links. At first, I was eager to do this because Google ranks you according to how many other sites link to you. But then I was getting a lot of miscellaneous traffic that wasn’t reading my posts, and then bouncing away as quickly as they came in. If you have relevant links–say, links to other authors that have the a similar target audience as you–their audience might be interested in your writing, and click through to check you out.
Aren’t other authors with the same target audience my competition, you might ask? Yes, that’s possible. But I think it’s better if authors work together in this industry because they will sell more books that way. People don’t just read one book in their favourite genre. They’ll read everything as long as it’s within their means to attain it.
3. Excerpts from your Book
Let’s say, by luck, someone has found your website. They like the look of it and want to read some of your stuff. You should have a clear link near the top of the page that allows them to access your work. Excerpts are very important because it allows the reader to try before they buy. It’s like going to a bookstore–generally people read the back cover and a few pages of the book to see if it’s for them or not.
2. Links to Amazon, Indigo, or Wherever your Book is Sold.
Maybe they’ve found your website and liked what they’ve read. Now it’s time to convert them to a paying customer. It’s a good idea to have a link at the bottom of the excerpt page that says, “if you liked this, you can get it here”.
1. Content that Defines you as an Expert
Just because you put your fiction up on the web, doesn’t mean that people will find it. People use the internet to search for information. You want people to find your website because of the rich, detailed content about the area you specialize in. That’s why, in addition to excerpts from your books, you should have articles that relate to the subject. It doesn’t matter if you write fiction or non-fiction. Fiction authors can find non-fiction hooks that relate to their books.
For example, if you write about aliens and their adventures in outer space, you might want to try researching the likelihood of your aliens actually existing. Hopefully as a SF writer you’ve already done this. Maybe their biological makeup would allow them to exist on gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn. You could contact scientists to try and confirm your ideas. They may or may not get back to you, but it’s been my experience as a journalist that people will try to help you if they can, and if they feel it’s not going to eat up a lot of their time.