Author Websites: 5 Big Ways to Create Loyal Readers
Author websites are the one place readers get to judge a book by its cover… or in this case, the webpage. We’ve already written a blog post on tips to having an original author’s site, but now we’re switching gears to address the reader’s biggest turnoffs when exploring an author’s webpage.
Though not every reader can be satisfied, the internet allows readers to connect with you and virtually explore your creative mind! It’s obvious that authors are masters of language, but when it comes to the web some don’t deem it necessary to have a strong internet presence. And that’s exactly where a dedicated reader can be made…or lost. Reedsy knows first hand that it’s time to get technological and here are five tips on how to catch and keep your readers connected to you and your writing.
Tip #1: Teasers
Once an avid reader has finished a great book, they immediately want to read another; it’s an addiction. So when they make their way to your author website, the first thing they should see on your homepage is a feature on what you’re working on next. Readers want some exclusivity!
Nothing is worse than finishing your new favorite book or the first book in a series and going to the author’s website to find out when the next one will be published and there’s absolutely zero information. It’s simply heartbreaking coming from a reader’s eyes and also from a marketing perspective.
For this, we turn to Joe Abercrombie’s author website because not only does he have his upcoming book on full display, but he also offers a (free!) three-chapter extract to get his readers/followers eager for some new exclusive content.
Tip #2: Keyword to Success: Freshness
How many times have you as a reader visited an author’s website and thought, “hmm… is the site under construction?” Keeping your main homepage fresh is how you increase traffic flow. We hate to see author websites that have had the same homepages since they even considered publishing a book. If you don’t continuously update your website- just like you continuously update your social media- will the reader continue coming back? Probably not… and you’re in jeopardy of losing connections with loyal readers.
Similar to a blog, smart use of social media content can be the defining factor in a robust “fan club” or the more fresh term: a following. Like Joe Abercrombie, consider leaking a chapter title, strong excerpt, or finalized book cover. Not only will this get followers eager for an upcoming project, but will expand your following base across several platforms keeping your content new and relevant.
If you want heavy online traffic (let’s be honest, who doesn’t like getting noticed?), you have to incessantly update, update, update your news, blog entries, a great book review, and comments! Interactivity with readers is crucial because essentially the whole point of having a website is to intermingle with subscribers. Don’t leave your followers thinking, “Am I talking to a wall?”
Steena Holmes has several sections of updates and upcoming events on her homepage. She even has some chances for her readers to get involved and interactive through contests!
Tip #3: Hide-N-Seek
Don’t play hard to get. It’s shocking how difficult some authors make it to be contacted by readers, publishers, and other medias. Think about the times you’ve searched over and under the web looking for one specific person’s email address and gave up because it was probably buried in some faraway land and all you wanted to do was ask a question or give them a good review; it’s not fun for anyone and you end up discouraged.
We understand that being a published author means that you’re extremely busy working on your next book, but creating a separate email account for the sole purpose of receiving feedback from your followers is extremely controlled and feasible. (And if you’re having a bad day, reading a little fan mail should cure that!)
Also, if you’re feeling sociable, make it easy for your readers to find you on social media- Twitter, Instagram, Google+- with the help of push buttons. It will be easier to “like” what they tweet or tag you in and if they tweet positive feedback they’re marketing for you! Or you can try Nick Stephenson’s approach to staying in touch: homing pigeons 😉
Tip #4: First Impressions Are Everything
Give the readers what they want, an enlightening bio blurb. People love to feel like they know well-known professionals, even if it’s only in the technical world. We know it’s more natural to bestow the world with the beauty of the written word because it’s fiction, (unless you’re a nonfiction writer, then hopefully this step is easier for you!) but it’s time to start bragging about your accomplished self!
The best trick? Write more than one. As a writer, rewriting and re-editing comes with the territory. Write multiple versions of your bio blurb until you’ve broken down your shyness barrier and created a bio that truly defines you not only as an author, but also as a person. And continuing our point in tip #2, continue to keep it fresh by updating it as you move along in your career.
Even after you’ve written a few versions filled with professionalism and official-sounding credentials, you’ll know it’s completed and unreservedly written when it envelops the essence of your genre, yourself, and the relationship with your readers. Lindsay Buroker is a great example for being genuine and true to her work. She’s honest, witty, and real in her bio blurb!
Tip #5: Will you ever go out of style? Not if you follow this tip
When it comes to author websites, looks really do matter. There’s nothing worse than looking on a website with annoying fonts and clutter like pop-ups and loud colors all telling your reader to “sign up for a weekly newsletter!” You can and should have a spacebar for them to willingly sign up, but just like any good connection, don’t force it.
In our blog post with Erik Spiekermann, a typographic genius, he spoke several bits on correct typeface and formatting. His words are useful to all aspects of type and media- including your author website- because he’s “seen too many books with great covers but horribly designed content. It’s like great packaging, but when you open it, the food inside looks brown and boring.” This is relevant to your website because as a published author, of course you have created great content, so don’t let your author webpage disappoint your readers.
What are your favourite author websites out there? What other tips would you add to this list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!