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Archive for October 6th, 2011

Does your author site give visitors a reason to COME BACK?

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In a recent post, we discussed a list of problems that might be making your author website less than successful. Today will largely be a recap of that post, but with a more positive spin and some other tips about pages/items/content to include in your website to give your visitors more reason to (a) show up in the first place, (b) come back another time, and most importantly, (c) refer others to your site.

There is no right or wrong way to create a website, simply ways that can work to generate more traffic and sales for you. Below are suggestions for pages and content to include in your website. Feel free to use what makes sense, add others that are not included here, and ignore what doesn’t work for you.

PAGES

HOME. Your home page is likely the first page people will visit, unless you point them somewhere else with your social media, email, and other external links. You want the home page to be inviting and to give the first-time visitor a good idea of what your book is about, but you don’t want it to be cluttered or to try to do too much. Include an image of your book cover(s), a blurb or testimonial from as esteemed a source as possible, and buttons or links to all the other things you want the visitor to do/see.

EXCERPT(s). One of the precious things that’s been lost in the shift from brick-and-mortar stores to online book sales is the opportunity to wander the aisles, the chance to touch, feel, and smell the books, and the ability to pick them up and page through them. Amazon has done a decent re-creation of that organic bookstore experience with its “Look Inside” component. How can you do something similar for readers who visit your site?

AUTHOR BIO. We did a post recently about an author with a great book-signing venue the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas. Upon visiting the author’s website, however, to find out where she was from and how far she had to travel to get to the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, we made the dismaying discovery that this author had no bio on her website. There’s no rule that says you must have one, but it seems a cheat to me, and unfair to your visitors, not to be willing to tell people a little about yourself, why you wrote the book, and/or your writing process.

STORE/PRODUCTS. OK say it with me: THIS SHOULD GO WITHOUT SAYING. As I wrote in a previous post, “Even if you can’t or don’t want to handle fulfillment personally, you must include links on your site to the places where your readers CAN purchase your book.” Otherwise, what’s the point of your website?

EVENT CALENDAR. This is another feature Amazon incorporates on its authors’ pages, and it’s a GREAT idea for you to use on your own site. Increase turnout at your book signings and events by making it easy for your readers to find out about them. Include the date, time, location, description of the event, signing protocol (many stores will only allow signing of books purchased at their venue), a map, and any other information that will help your reader get to you.

SPEAKING/WORKSHOPS. We will revisit this a little later, but if you’re not speaking on topics related to your book, you should be! If you are already doing so or are ready to begin include a list of speaking topics, the length of time of each presentation, and the sizes of the audiences you are able/willing to speak to. Make no mention of fees, as that is something that will get hammered out in later conversations, should someone contact you about speaking. The main goal here is let people know that you do speak on these specialty subjects.

MEDIA ROOM. A while back, we did a whole post about how to build a media room and why it’s  important to have one on your website. The primary reason is that it makes you more attractive to the media when all of the links and information they need is aggregated into one place. Rather than making them chase around your site looking for high-res images, links to your interviews, all of your media releases, etc., put them in one spot so they are easy to find. Are you seeing a trend here of making your site EASY for your visitors to use?

SITE MAP. As your site grows and you build more and more pages into it, it might make sense to include a site map, which is simply an overview of the whole site in outline format.

PAGE COMPONENTS

EMAIL CAPTURE BOX. If your site is lacking this element, I’d get your webmaster working on it ASAP, because without an email capture box, you are eliminating any future chance of reaching out to the people who have visited your site. We’ll be talking about the importance of list-building and how to do it in a future post, but for now, get that creativity cap on and come up with an interesting giveaway (NOT a subscription to your newsletter) that you can offer in exchange for capturing your visitors’ email addresses. This box should appear on the upper-right hand corner of EVERY page on your site.

CONTACT INFO. This is another one that should go without saying, but… Make it EASY for people to contact you. Unless you’re a hermit and don’t want to hear from the media, fans, bookstores, other authors, or people with joint venture opportunities, make it easy for people to get in touch with you. Don’t bury your contact information three levels down through your About page. Put it right up front, on EVERY page, where it’s clear and easy to read. Be sure to include all your social media contacts.

EASY NAVIGATION. Again, I reiterate, don’t reinvent the wheel on this one. We’ve come to expect navigation buttons at the left or along the top of web pages. Give people what they expect. Make sure your links work. And make sure you have links to the things that make sense. It probably makes sense to have a link to your store/products page on your home page. It may make sense to link to your excerpt(s) from your media room.

The best advice I can offer is to remember that you are not your visitor/reader. Do everything you can to get into THEIR head and view your site from their perspective. What would they want to read or see or learn by visiting your site? What do you want to read or see or learn when you visit other authors’ sites?

And speaking of other authors’ sites, visit them! Look and see what they’re doing that works well, and model it! Use video on your home page if it’s feasible and works for you. Use hand-drawn, whimsical art if it fits with the theme of your book.

You definitely want to keep your branding consistent, meaning your website should reflect the look and feel of your book(s), and vice-versa.

Make the most of your website, make it inviting, and connect with your visitors!

MARCIE

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PREVIOUS POSTS

Monday, Oct. 3 – I’m on Facebook and have a blog – why do I still need a website?

Friday, Sept. 30 Is your author website DOA?

Monday, Sept.26 Internet Radio: Are interview opportunities just waiting for YOU?

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