August 12th, 2009 by Sasha White
What Makes A Successful Website?

I’ve been trying out a lot of new authors lately. Some I like, some I don’t. But when I like one, the first thing I do when I’m done the book is an online search for that authors website so I can see what other books are available.

In this day and age, some sort of online presence is a must for an author. However, I think it’s important that everyone know that you don’t have to join Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and a hundred Yahoo groups to do successful web promotions. Neither do you have to have a fully loaded author website with flash, book trailers, and a custom -made quiz to see which of the authors characters you most resemble. That sort of thing can be fun for some, but it’s intimidating for others. ( Not to mention expensive)

What you do need is a place where readers can go to learn about your books, and if you want to share, yourself too. What should that place consist of? Thats up to you.

Below are a couple of bits of advice that I think every author should keep in mind when planning, or thinking about, their website.

Five things every author website must have within 1 click. from Jane at Dear Author

* Booklist, both with covers and a printable list
* Where to buy the books (especially important for OOP or ebook authors)
* What’s Next (even if you haven’t sold anything, tell us what you would like to see in print soon)
* Bio
* Contact (only if you are going to reply)

In an interview with Rainbow Romance Writers Frauke, of CrocoDesigns, was asked what she thought the key areas for authors to focus their efforts on were. (a snazzier design, more content, added marketing components like a newsletter, a blog,
book promos like videos and banners, etc.) She replied:
“Do whatever you feel comfortable with! For example, if you aren’t a chatty person, you don’t need a blog or message board. There have been quite a few authors who thought they need to follow the blogging trend, only to have blogs they never posted on or that they maintain so rarely that it just doesn’t make sense and was a waste of money and time right from the start.

There’s no secret formula to success when it comes to promotion. Wouldn’t we all be glad when we knew? I’d be brave and try things out, and watch the response to it. Things that work for others
won’t work for you and vice versa.”

In the same interview she was also asked What design advice she’d give authors in order to make thier site as professional looking as possible. To which she replied:
“Less is more! For example, don’t overload your pages with graphics, especially blinking and animated ones. It could result not only in a visual overkill but prevents your site from loading fast. Get a domain and ad-free hosting. No ads or split-screens for advertising other
products/companies. Put you and your books in the center of your readers’ attention. Don’t go wild with different font colors and underlining text, readers will have trouble telling links apart from the

In the same interview with Rainbow Romance Writers, Rae Monet of, Inc Design, listed these website do’s and don’ts.
* Don’t use sound unless it’s invited. If your viewer opens your website at work and you blast them with sound and get them caught, they might never return. Sound makes people angry unless they invite it in.
* I don’t recommend flash intros. They’re not crawler friendly and slow to load. Believe it or not, a good portion of the country is still on dial-up. You viewer will simply move onto the next site.
You have seconds to grab their attention.
* Don’t over crowd your site content. Viewers’ eyes will be jumping all over the page; this will
annoy them and can cause vertigo. Crawlers don’t know where to go either.
* Do contract with a designer that listens to what YOU WANT. You want the website to be
relevant to your genre and what you’re writing. After all, this is your website.

Now, if you don’t want the hassle (or expense) or building a website form the ground up…take a good look at our own Lynn Viehl’s PaperbackWriter blog. She’s taken a free blog site, and turned it into a full and complete author website. She has daily posts to keep followers coming back, her bookcovers (Recent Releases & Upcoming Releases) line the top of the sidebar, clear and easy to see. Just click on the covers to find out more about the books. She has links to Free reads listed clearly, as well as having her posts categorized for easy searching.

Carrie also has a simply, classy website with n fuss, no muss. But full of content about her novels (both her Kitty the Werewolf series as well as her upcoming YA Dragon ones). She also has a list that clearly tells you where you can find her many short stories, and a blog that she uses to share more of herself with her readers.

There is nothing wrong with wanting a shiny sparkly design, but don’t get sucked into thinking that an author website has to be that way.

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