Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thursday Thirteen - A Killer Site

No, Jack the Ripper doesn't have his own website (well he does, but that's not what I'm talking about here) I'm talking about the kind of author websites out there that just rock my socks off. Not always in a good way. I'm going to list my thirteen do's and don'ts for an author's website.

#13 - Do: Group your books by series. Please. If you love your readers, you will do this one simple thing for them, and they'll love you for it. Here's a great example of this on Cameron Dane's website:

#12 - Don't: Assume your visitor knows what series they are looking for, or the titles of said books. If your book page is links of series names, and I have to click from page to page to find that one book that my bestie told me about six weeks ago...I'm going to give up and find an Amazon freebie.

#11 - Do: Show all your covers! I'm a visual person. Sometimes I only remember a book by the cover. I probably won't remember your title, even though you did spend six months coming up with it. See what I mean? This is perfect (I scrolled down a bit on Trina M. Lee's site, she does the series thing right too)

#10 - Don't: Use a funky font. Yeah it's cute in moderation, maybe blog post titles or something, but if I have to work too hard to read your blurb, I'll probably click out of your site.

#9 - Do: Tell me how to get a hold of you. Don't make me work for it either. A contact page that's easy to understand, with a form or a simple email link is all it takes. If I loved your book, I just might want to tell you about it, but not if I have to jump through hoops. Here's my contact page. Can't miss me...I'm all over the web, right?

#8 - Don't: Have a contact form or email address that you don't check often, or it goes to an unreliable address. If someone takes the time to email you, please have the courtesy to respond quickly.

#7 - Do: Make sure your website theme is relevant to your writing style. I don't want to see an urban banner with dark colors for an author that writes frilly inspirational books, and vice versa. My first impression should be your style, your mood...your genre. Just look at Jeanne's website. You just KNOW she writes hot stuff lol

#6 - Don't: Have porn on your site. Lots of us have kids, and they might happen to walk by our computer while we're browsing, and ask, "Mommy, what is that man doing to that lady?" And then we have to come up with a leap-frog slash hopscotch game that we end up having to demonstrate....but I digress. Shirtless men? Yes. Hell yes. Nothing wrong with that ;)

#5 - Do: Make your home page the most visually appealing. Half the time (maybe more, I didn't study this stuff guys) your visitor will reach your home page, and only THEN decide whether to click on to your books page or blog. You never get a second chance bla bla. Here's my idea of a great home page by Gem Sivad. You can't tell by this screenshot, but the picture there fades into mini excerpts of each of her books.
#4 - Don't: I wanted to put this on as the #1 don't, but it ties in to the home page thing. Don't have music autoplay. Please. This is a personal plea from yours truly. I'm a huge music fan. So huge that as I browse your site, I've already got my own music blaring in my ears, and yours will rarely harmonize with mine.

#3 - Do: Keep your website updated. Got a coming soon? Your website visitor needs to know about it. If it says "New Release" and the book came out 18 months ago, it might be time to change it to "Latest Release" or just "Available". (Why yes I *did* just bust out the King.)

#2 - Don't: Flood me with links. You want your website visitor to stay on your website as long as possible. Don't direct me elsewhere as soon as I get comfy! (I'm guilty of this myself)

#1 - Do: Include a buy button! I can't tell you how many times I find a book on a new-to-me site and have to hunt down a way to actually pick it up. Books are impulse buys. Grab me when I want it! Shiloh Walker has a link to all my favorite stores:

Now, as I'm searching the web for some great author sites, I was going to show you the professionals. Turns out the "pros" don't quite get it yet, but 99.9% of the e-published authors do. Seriously, my favorite author of all time, a NY big-shot (who won't be named here) has a website that pretty much fails on all of my "don't" criteria, and I refuse to visit her site. Okay, that's my little instruction manual for authors, because I'm a reader too! Now it's your turn. Tell me what you like to see in an author's website. Bells? Whistles? Free chocolate?


Gem Sivad said...

Thanks for the nod at my home page and all the good advice.

Great blog!


Savanna Kougar said...

Alanna, very smart advice, indeed! In my case, since I don't have a website, and all that good razzmatazz...well, my blog will have to do. I'm on dial-up because of where I'm located, so it's a pain in the derriere to even visit most websites. However, my covers are there for easy click on, and my publishers are good at being simple, and not pushy about sales. It's just as easy for a reader to see the blurb and excerpts there.

I'd like fancier digs, but it just ain't happening. So, count me among the sadly unprofessional.

Gem, gorgeous presentation!

Alanna Coca said...

Great point about dial up Savanna. Too many images and funky stuff is a nightmare for a dial-up visitor!

JoAnne Kenrick said...

Some really good points. Thank you