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Author Topic: Access to bonus content on an author website  (Read 4899 times)

Offline AnneLyle

Access to bonus content on an author website
« on: March 01, 2012, 12:48:59 PM »
Not sure if this is the right forum section, but I'm aiming this more at readers than other writers, so...

A lot of authors put bonus content on their website - background information, deleted scenes, book giveaways, etc. Some self-promotion articles recommend putting this in a members-only area that requires the visitor to sign up for a newsletter or similar, rather have it freely available to all-comers.

How do you guys feel about this?

Personally, it would put me off - there's so much free content on the web that, unless you are hugely popular like JKR, you can't rely on fans being keen enough to put up with any kind of hurdle. I don't know about you but I get enough email as it is, without being coerced into signing up for more!
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Offline Nighteyes

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Re: Access to bonus content on an author website
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2012, 12:53:56 PM »
Not sure if this is the right forum section, but I'm aiming this more at readers than other writers, so...

A lot of authors put bonus content on their website - background information, deleted scenes, book giveaways, etc. Some self-promotion articles recommend putting this in a members-only area that requires the visitor to sign up for a newsletter or similar, rather have it freely available to all-comers.

How do you guys feel about this?

Personally, it would put me off - there's so much free content on the web that, unless you are hugely popular like JKR, you can't rely on fans being keen enough to put up with any kind of hurdle. I don't know about you but I get enough email as it is, without being coerced into signing up for more!

that drives me crazy - hate having to sign up for things :(
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Offline Ken

Re: Access to bonus content on an author website
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2012, 01:03:47 PM »
As a reader I hate these sort of things but then I understand these are needed for measuring performance and for marketing purposes.

Maybe just make the signup process simple by using a Facebook fan page where readers can have access to further information once they 'Liked' the page.

Offline Francis Knight

Re: Access to bonus content on an author website
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2012, 01:40:55 PM »
I'd have to really LOVE (in an 'I want their babies' kind of way) an author to sign up for anything.

But bonus content is good. And everyone loves free stuff, right?
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Offline AnneLyle

Re: Access to bonus content on an author website
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2012, 01:43:12 PM »
Seems a consensus is forming - glad it's not just me!

As a reader I hate these sort of things but then I understand these are needed for measuring performance and for marketing purposes.

No, they really aren't. You can analyse site metrics perfectly easily without requiring sign-up. Also, I already use a download management plugin for WordPress that counts the number of downloads of things like novel extracts.

Anyone who says they "need" this stuff for marketing is misguided at best. The real reason is to use the lure of free content to make you sign up for some kind of marketing material.

FWIW, I do have a newsletter, and my subscribers often get advance notice of stuff and little bits of behind-the-scenes news through that - obviously I give them the kind of content that you sign up to a newsletter to get - but I've balked at making additional stuff dependent on sign-up because I don't like being on the receiving end of that kind of treatment. I want people to subscribe because they want news via email, not because they want other promotional goodies.

Maybe just make the signup process simple by using a Facebook fan page where readers can have access to further information once they 'Liked' the page.

Definitely not Facebook - hate it myself, I only have a fan page because it's the biggest social network out there! Also, there's no way I'm putting my content on FB, not with their laissez-faire attitude to other people's property.

Maybe as a compromise, I can use my FB page to announce new content - that way anyone not on FB can still get it by checking the site manually.
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Offline Dan D Jones

Re: Access to bonus content on an author website
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2012, 02:55:10 PM »
I can deal with sign-up but only if I feel the extra content is worth the hassle.  If an author is forcing fans to sign-up to view extra content, I feel like that author has made a commitment to the fans who go through the effort.  The extra content shouldn't just be "Oh, here's a chapter I deleted, let me throw that online.  And I've got a few notes, I'll just pitch those out there too!" 

Offline Nighteyes

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Re: Access to bonus content on an author website
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2012, 04:14:16 PM »
I can deal with sign-up but only if I feel the extra content is worth the hassle.  If an author is forcing fans to sign-up to view extra content, I feel like that author has made a commitment to the fans who go through the effort.  The extra content shouldn't just be "Oh, here's a chapter I deleted, let me throw that online.  And I've got a few notes, I'll just pitch those out there too!" 


I haven't really done that much poking around, but the one who really impressed me is Brandon Sanderson.  His website hosts free downloads of various revisions of Warbreaker, he has a bar showing progress on whatever his current WIP is, blogs, and has a calender for book signings etc.  Plus an active twitter account. 

Otherwise I'd recommend writers support whatever lovely bunch of nerds run the best website/ pedia site for their books - both Jordan and Martin have some lovely, very active fans.  The guys are doing much of the work for you, so show your appreciation by popping in once in a while and supporting them.
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Offline AnneLyle

Re: Access to bonus content on an author website
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2012, 05:45:09 PM »
Oh to be that famous :)

Right now it's just me and my website. Next stop, Wikipedia!
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Offline Nyki Blatchley

Re: Access to bonus content on an author website
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2012, 07:12:48 PM »
Definitely not Facebook - hate it myself, I only have a fan page because it's the biggest social network out there! Also, there's no way I'm putting my content on FB, not with their laissez-faire attitude to other people's property.

I don't know if this was ever more than a rumour, but I recall hearing that FB actually claim copyright for anything posted there.

As a reader, I'm in the "I'd have to seriously love it to sign up" camp.  As a writer, if I have stuff that's going to attract readers, I want as many people as possible to see it.

Offline AnneLyle

Re: Access to bonus content on an author website
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2012, 08:11:48 PM »
I don't know if this was ever more than a rumour, but I recall hearing that FB actually claim copyright for anything posted there.

That was my concern - I wouldn't put it past them. Pinterest pulled the same stunt recently.

I put my blog RSS feed on FB, because it's not the whole article, just the title and a brief extract. More than that - no way.

As a reader, I'm in the "I'd have to seriously love it to sign up" camp.  As a writer, if I have stuff that's going to attract readers, I want as many people as possible to see it.

Exactly. As Cory Doctorow says, the problem for most writers is obscurity, not piracy. I'd rather give away snippets and goodies with no barriers, to entice people to buy the books.
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Offline Elfy

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Re: Access to bonus content on an author website
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2012, 10:44:23 PM »
The bonus content idea is solid and good, readers do like that sort of thing, but having to sign up tends to put people off I think.
I will expand your TBR pile.

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Offline AnneLyle

Re: Access to bonus content on an author website
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2012, 10:54:08 PM »
Yes, I think it's one of those things that may have worked a decade ago, but the internet moves faster than pundits' opinions. Nowadays, free-with-no-marketing-strings-attached is a boon to spam-weary consumers.
Elizabethan fantasy trilogy The Alchemist of SoulsThe Merchant of Dreams and The Prince of Lies out now from Angry Robot Books!

Offline graveyardhag

Re: Access to bonus content on an author website
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2012, 01:04:44 AM »
I feel like you should really only need your readers to sign up if you intend on having a message board/forums. If you are running a blog with the ability to comment then that probably isn't needed though.
Signing up for a newsletter is different, as you just give your email address, hit ok and your good to go.

I don't personally see a problem with having one or 2 things available only to members (talking about a forum here for example) Maybe some sneak peaks at the next book or perhaps a competion/giveaway available only to the members. These sorts of things are a good way to get more fans to join up, and join in. Everything else should be available though, if you are the type of author happy to do so.
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Offline Elfy

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Re: Access to bonus content on an author website
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2012, 03:04:14 AM »
Seanan McGuire is a good one to look at for this sort of thing. She has her LJ, which she posts on pretty much every day and in the lead up to Deadline and Discount Armageddon she's posted things of interest to fans. Deadline was a novella, which she posted a bit of every day, and she's now released that as ebook actually. With Discount Armageddon it's a different post every day, one for each letter of the alphabet specifically relating to the InCryptid concept in the book. On the actual site she has her Velveteen stories (she also posts them on LJ) and some other downloadables, as well as just bits about the background behind some of her books. I'm not a fan of FB myself I'm not even on it *shocked gasp*, but I do find LJ an excellent way for authors to just kind of 'chat' to their fans and also give them the occasional nugget of other stuff.
I will expand your TBR pile.

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Offline Ken

Re: Access to bonus content on an author website
« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2012, 03:35:27 AM »
Seems a consensus is forming - glad it's not just me!

As a reader I hate these sort of things but then I understand these are needed for measuring performance and for marketing purposes.

No, they really aren't. You can analyse site metrics perfectly easily without requiring sign-up. Also, I already use a download management plugin for WordPress that counts the number of downloads of things like novel extracts.
It really depends on what your purpose is. If you just want to get your content out there, then requiring sign ups will create a barrier of entry and deter potential readers. There are a group of readers who just grab whatever is free and probably never read the stuff.

However if you want to measure your core readers, the group who is highly engaged enough to jump through hoops and connect with them, then some form of separation might be good. Like graveyardhag says, sign up doesn't have to be for a newsletter, it can be for an access to your private forum where you post works exclusive to them.

Of course there are many ways to achieve the same thing and it's up to you to choose which approach suits your needs the most.