Getting potential readers to visit your author website isn't enough. You need to convince them to stick around long enough to get a feel for you and your books, and hopefully convince them that they want more. Yet many author websites follow a very boring template.
Let's look at five ways your author website might be boring visitors and convincing them to leave rather than buy your books. And let's explore some simple things you can do to fix each of these problems.
1. It's All About You
There is nothing wrong with including an author bio on your website. But your entire author website shouldn't read like one.
The Fix: Give Your Readers What They Really Want
Think about your readers. Better yet, think like your readers. What would keep you interested on an author's website, especially in your niche or genre. What are their expectations?
For example, if you write picture books for children, you might want the site to include visual, interactive elements. If you write novels, you might want to include some examples of short fiction to give readers something to enjoy between books. If you publish nonfiction, articles and resources related to the content of your book might be a good idea.
At a bare minimum, tell readers what they should know about your books so they can decide if those books are a good fit for them. And, of course, let visitors know where they can buy one.
2. Your Site Never Features New Content
If you run an entirely static website (meaning your content rarely, if ever, changes), you only get one shot to impress most visitors. Once you've lost them, you've given them no reason to come back at another time.
The Fix: Add a Blog
A blog is a good way to add dynamic content to your author site. You can blog about anything from your writing process and progress on your next book to answering reader questions. Also consider sharing short fiction or nonfiction articles depending on what kind of books you write.
Blogs are versatile tools. The key on an author website is that they allow you to keep offering something new, and that gives readers and potential readers a reason to keep coming back. The bigger your ongoing audience, the more reach you'll have when you have a new book to promote.
3. It Looks Like Every Other Author's Website
There are some common key elements of successful author websites, but that doesn't mean yours should look like most of the others out there. Make it stand out, and you make it more interesting to visitors (and hopefully you capture their attention a little while longer).
If you don't know much about Web design, that doesn't mean you have to settle on a boring template for your website. There are plenty of nice-looking options out there these days, especially if you're willing to buy a premium template or theme. A better bet is to hire someone to either customize a theme for you or create a design from scratch. Then, at least you'll know you have a unique design.
4. You Rely Too Much on Text
Along the same lines as the last point, don't rely too heavily on text. Yes, you're a writer. But that doesn't mean text alone is going to make for an interesting author website. Design matters. So do other non-text elements of your site.
The Fix: Spice Things Up With Other Media
Don't shy away from using images. If you have multiple books, make good use of your book cover graphics. For example, you might combine them into a header graphic at the top of your site. Use background graphics for your site design. Include graphics to promote each book in your sidebar. Offer banners that others can use to promote your books (better idea if you're established already).
Explore other media options as well. For example, you might add a video introduction or a book trailer to your site. If you write nonfiction, you might include a slide presentation. Get creative.
5. You Seem Inaccessible
Another common problem is that author websites often make it seem like the author is somehow "above" their readers. It's as if they can't be bothered by their visitors. That won't score you any points, and it makes your website more boring because it makes readers feel like they can't relate to you.
The Fix: Make It Easy for Readers to Interact With You
Stop alienating visitors to your website and start making them feel more like welcome guests. Make sure your site has easily-accessible contact information. Invite feedback on your books as well as comments if your author website features a blog. Take it a step further and ask your readers to interact. Ask them specific questions. Or answer their questions on your blog.
These things might not all seem like a big deal. But when you put some effort into making your author website more interesting, you turn it into a much better marketing tool for your books.
What do you do to avoid having a boring author website? Share your thoughts in the comments. Would you like a personal review of your author site with some suggestions on how you might improve it? Join the free All Indie Writers community today and post a request in the book marketing area of the forums.
Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.
She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.
Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.
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