Image credit: NASA
“Where do I plant my flag (set up my author web presence)” is one of the questions I see come up again and again on author loops. What usually follows is a lively discussion about where to set up. Rarely do I see authors talking about what. What are the “must haves” for a solid author web presence?
Much of your web content will be decided by your goals as an author, by the needs of your writing business. An author that writes both fiction and non-fiction will have different content than authors who write only fiction or only non-fiction. The more diverse your writing, the more challenging it will be to clearly establish your author brand. Just like the covers of your book, your web layout and design should provide cues and clues to what you write. So that is the first question to ask yourself:
What do I want visitors to know when they arrive?
Beautifully designed websites that don’t answer this basic question can cause visitors to click away without exploring further. While my website isn’t the sassiest out there, visitors to my site will quickly discover that I’m an author who writes fiction. Because I write in several genres (a branding nightmare), my tagline is simple and brand-inclusive: Pauline’s Perilously Fun Fiction.
I tried doing fun things with my navigation and realized that confusing readers about where to find out more was not in my best interests. So my navigation is simple and based on this question:
How do I help readers find out more about me and my books?
I found this article on Dear Author to be very helpful. It was written in 2006, so all the information is not relevant in this fast-changing, internet world. I took what fitted into my business plan and brand and integrated it into my website. At the very least you should have:
- A complete list of books (and I still maintain a printable list, in case a reader wants to carry it to the library or bookstore)
- Book order/availability/formats available
- Excerpts and/or extra or free content
- Where to buy and what formats are available
- What’s next and sign-up for ezine (Mine is for release information only, but some authors do weekly or monthly ezines)
- Bio (depending on your business goals, you should have 2-4 bios in varying lengths)
- Contact info
- Social media/blog links
- Two bios (should have more)
- Links to larger cover art files
- Links to photos of me that can be used
- Permissions information for cover art/photo usage by blogs and press
- Press kit (what this includes is dependent on your business goals. A good resource for a press kit is Joan Stewart)
And last, but hardly least, it’s better to have no site than one that is never up-to-date. Don’t be like the NASA moon mission and leave your flag alone and lonely. Like the worlds where we set our books, keep your web “world” well populated.
What content do you consider key for your website? As a reader? As an author? Pet peeves and pet loves?
Pauline Baird Jones is the award-winning author of sixteen novels of science fiction romance, action-adventure, suspense, romantic suspense and comedy-mystery, as well as releasing several short story anthologies. Girl Gone Nova and Out of Time were EPIC Book Award winners. Her eighth novel, The Key won an Independent Book Award Bronze Medal (IPPY) for 2008 and is a 2007 Dream Realm Awards Winner. With the closing of L&L Dreamspell, Pauline has opted to independently publish. Core Punch is her latest release and the first book in her new Uneasy Future series. Originally from Wyoming, she and her family moved from New Orleans to Texas before Katrina.
You can find her at the following places: Website Blog Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Goodreads Amazon Author Page