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Author Topic: What do you want from an author website?  (Read 5874 times)

Offline Raptori

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What do you want from an author website?
« on: December 31, 2015, 05:00:08 PM »
We've been putting together our author website, so we've been thinking about this for a little while now. It seems like the majority of authors these days have a website - which is a good thing - but in our experience their content doesn't necessarily sell their books. They often focus on writing advice, and while that tends to generate an audience for the site itself it doesn't usually generate an audience for the author's books. We have a pretty clear idea of what we think our site should contain, but it'd be interesting to hear some other perspectives.

More established writers seem to focus less on the writing advice and more on progress updates and tour schedules, but in their case they already have an audience. Their sites aren't there to attract potential readers, instead they're largely there for existing fans, so they're fairly irrelevant as a reference for an author just starting out.

So, the question: when you encounter a new author - one whose work you haven't read, and potentially one who has not yet been published - what do you want to see when you visit their website? What content would make you more likely to check out their writing, and what content would make you want to subscribe to their blog?

@m3mnoch should totally have some awesome thoughts on this since he's just started his site.  :P
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Offline Eclipse

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Re: What do you want from an author website?
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2015, 05:11:36 PM »
I would like a list of books you wrote and a blurb for each one and maybe an article on goats
« Last Edit: December 31, 2015, 05:23:26 PM by Eclipse »
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Offline Ryan Mueller

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Re: What do you want from an author website?
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2015, 05:15:40 PM »
I'd definitely want information on the author's books.

For my own author site (which I don't update often enough), I also write progress updates, book reviews, and writing advice posts.

Offline night_wrtr

Re: What do you want from an author website?
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2015, 07:18:46 PM »
I've thought about this also, Raptori.

I want to see a list of books like Eclipse and Ryan said, but also something in the author's words about those books, not just what they are about, but the "extras." Like their own thoughts about the books, characters or maybe their journey writing them.

Chuck Wendigs site is awesome because it has free stories, a great blog that ranges from writing advice to things he is interested in. That is related to what you said as far as getting an audience for the site instead of the actual books. I've been reading Chuck's blog for more than a year and I only recently read one of his books. Only then because it was Star Wars...so take that as you will.

As far as the blog goes, it doesn't need to be every day or every other day. Once every week or so would keep me coming back periodically, which would then make me want to check your book progress meters, or updates and such.

Which brings me to WIP sections. I would want to know what the author was working on, whether in the planning stage or rough draft stage. Hell, I would find a "Recycling Bin" section very interesting that held failed story ideas and whatnot.

Maybe the most important for me investigating a new author, would be the "About" section. Who are they, how did they get into writing? That kind of thing. And nothing too clever, that just irritates me.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2015, 07:20:46 PM by night_wrtr »

Offline Yora

Re: What do you want from an author website?
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2015, 08:03:31 PM »
Descriptions of existing books would be the minimum necessity. The occasional update on upcomming books would also be nice.
I personally also appreciate when they share their thoughts on books they've read and liked, because if I like the books people write, I probably also like the books they enjoy to read.
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Offline Nighteyes

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Re: What do you want from an author website?
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2015, 08:12:42 PM »
I don't check out author websites as much as I should but not Joe Abercrombie and Neil Gaiman have good ones. Blogs, reviews, updates on work on progress, fan art and short stories are seem like good things to have.
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Offline Raptori

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Re: What do you want from an author website?
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2015, 08:22:20 PM »
Chuck Wendigs site is awesome because it has free stories, a great blog that ranges from writing advice to things he is interested in. That is related to what you said as far as getting an audience for the site instead of the actual books. I've been reading Chuck's blog for more than a year and I only recently read one of his books. Only then because it was Star Wars...so take that as you will.
Yeah he's a perfect example of that - I've read a lot of his blog too, but never any of his books. Aftermath does sound tempting though!


Funny that everyone mostly wants info about existing books, not ideal for someone without anything published!
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Offline Doctor_Chill

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Re: What do you want from an author website?
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2015, 08:25:06 PM »
I want to see a list of books like Eclipse and Ryan said, but also something in the author's words about those books, not just what they are about, but the "extras." Like their own thoughts about the books, characters or maybe their journey writing them.

This sounds really interesting, if a bit spoiler-y.

I like what m3m did with his free short story page. Even though there's the ability to read the first chapter or so of kindle books and whatnot, I think having excerpts or free shorts (whether to flesh out the world, story, or characters is up for debate) showcasing how the author writes and if I'll like that style would be beneficial.
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Offline ScarletBea

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Re: What do you want from an author website?
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2015, 10:09:23 PM »
People have already said many keys things for me.

I particularly like this:
I personally also appreciate when they share their thoughts on books they've read and liked, because if I like the books people write, I probably also like the books they enjoy to read.
I'm not sure many do that.

You could also have something along the lines of the thread 'Adventures in Writing', telling of the steps you've taken to get published, how things are going.
Then again, it might be too public, too visible, and you might not want agents/publishers reading that - not sure...
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Offline Lanko

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Re: What do you want from an author website?
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2015, 10:41:13 PM »
I haven't read Jim Butcher yet, but his stories on writing and even a topic he created full of bad reviews on his books made me respect the guy a lot and made me want to check his work.

Brian McClellan is the recent one on this as well, loved his posts on writing, from his "adventures" to even how authors are paid, thoughts on self publishing vs traditional, and so on.

Michael Sullivan also has an amazing website, and his On Writing advices are extensive and detailed. He also provides free stuff, information on his works, and so on.

Brandon Sanderson does this as well and also write essays and personal opinions on some matters. I discovered he plays Magic there. Probably his inspiration, his books and magic systems probably have some inspiration by it, like card sets and set mechanics. Wonder how good he is playing it. He also has a forum.

Neil Gaiman, Mark Lawrence, Patrick Rothfuss often talk from various things as well, not only writing/books.

I really like their "on writing" material (I may be biased), but somehow it also shows something about who they are. Allows us to see the person behind the cover and ink, even if they don't realize it.

That said, the works of Brent Weeks, Robin Hobb, George Martin and Mark Lawrence are among my favorites, long before I even accessed their websites. Getting swept away by their work is what made me go there and search what they had to say.

I've no idea, however, if they had websites before having any kind of work out or after. I think read Brent Weeks saying it was after they decided to publish him that they asked him to have a Twitter account and blog or website.

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Offline DrNefario

Re: What do you want from an author website?
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2015, 11:33:28 PM »
I don't think I go to any author's website unless I want to clear up some question about reading order or find a map, or something. And sometimes they're not even much good for that.

Offline m3mnoch

Re: What do you want from an author website?
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2016, 01:37:24 AM »
whew.  sorry, i have been missing most of the day.  there was work and some family stuff (we got the kids packed and shipped off to their grandparents' house!  10 days of just the wife and i!  let the party get started!) keeping me away from a keyboard most of the day.

anyhow.

yeah, basically everything is already covered here.  some stuff i'd think about if i were making an author site (ha!), in-order of importance:

  • lifecycle - most important is where in the author lifecycle you are.  whether you're new with no books (waves hand) or you've been writing forever and have a bunch of books.  that really dictates the content for your site.

  • your work - the most important piece of information people want is your writing.  samples.  your books.  and omg, @DrNefario is so right -- the reading order!  if you're a new author (again, waves hand!), i suspect it's a good idea to put up anything and everything you can that isn't already spoken for.  just to let your readers feel your writing.

  • about the author - probably the second most important piece of information is who you are.  why should these time-constrained folks bother investing anything in you?  what makes you different?  especially if you're an unknown author.  like steven martin said, "Be so good they can't ignore you."

  • landing page - i don't think the landing page should be your blog.  it should be your work (as much as you can point at, depending on how much you've written) and information about you.  NOT YOUR BLOG.

  • accessibility - have contact information.  people these days love virtually hanging out with authors.  email, twitter, facebook, blog comments, etc.  be available.

  • worldbuilding material - people dig behind the scenes stuff.  even if it's kind of spoilery (tho, you probably don't want that), people love an appendix.  @night_wrtr's concept of a recycle bin would be awesome here.

  • a blog - like wendig, scalzi, konrath, sullivan, mcclellan, lawrence, etc.  blogging can be great.  but, if you aren't going to post but once or twice a year?  you're not really helping anything.  established authors have lots of dates and numbers and such to talk about.  those of us no names can just blab about our likes or dislikes or random thoughts.  i wouldn't stray into controversial topics (uh... scalzi) unless you like to fight.  i wouldn't poorly review anyone else's writing because it's a small industry.  always build others up, never tear them down.

  • writing advice - this is last because, if you're like me, you're not a famous author.  even if you have advice to give, since you haven't made it yet, it's going to be seen as "your advice must not be good otherwise you'd be famous".  leave the writing advice to the people who have clout.

Offline Nighteyes

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Re: What do you want from an author website?
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2016, 02:00:44 AM »
While I did say blog earlier, make sure it is fun. I have been majorly switched of certain writers (ahem Lawrence ahem) who often post negative reviews of their own work and take issue with them, moan about piracy and how little money they make from writing, and whine about how unfair awards are. You are doing a job that most people who visit your website would give their left arm to do, sound like you are enjoying it!
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Offline Lady Ty

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Re: What do you want from an author website?
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2016, 02:33:03 AM »
I've thought about this also, Raptori.

I want to see a list of books like Eclipse and Ryan said, but also something in the author's words about those books, not just what they are about, but the "extras." Like their own thoughts about the books, characters or maybe their journey writing them.
...................

Which brings me to WIP sections. I would want to know what the author was working on, whether in the planning stage or rough draft stage. Hell, I would find a "Recycling Bin" section very interesting that held failed story ideas and whatnot.

Maybe the most important for me investigating a new author, would be the "About" section. Who are they, how did they get into writing? That kind of thing. And nothing too clever, that just irritates me.

I agree and would also enjoy all those things night_wrtr mentioned.
 
As new authors without a book already out your short stories, like m3m has done, would give an indication of what to expect and show people  your particular style and thinking.

Then extra information about what you are researching for your WiP, how you decided to build the characters and world of your book, for example if you based it on a particular city or race, or real life legend, folklore or history, and what attracted you to choose it.

Not so much the mechanics of writing, because honestly there are mountains of writing advice out there, but just perhaps particular practical problems you encountered and how you solved them.

Readers appreciate your feelings and thoughts that made you write that particular story or book, it makes them feel part of the whole process by sharing in the book personally with you.  I like to get to know how an author thinks about other things besides his writing such as his own city or country. For example, Raptori and Saurus because you live in a country seldom in world news, yet very beautiful and different in it's cold Northerness,  some facts or pics about your Finland and its influence on your writing or your scenery would be unusual and different.

Those are the sort of things that warm me to an author and help me enjoy his work more. Prime example of this has been Christopher Fowler who writes Bryant and May detective fiction, very London-centric series. His blog used to be is filled with strange and unusual London lore that tied up with the books. I have found that this blog has now become so busy I can't keep up, but the general idea is good and now I just dip in now and again.

http://www.christopherfowler.co.uk/  Check out his FAQ's as well, that also makes for a reader to feel a  personal link with an author.
 
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Offline m3mnoch

Re: What do you want from an author website?
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2016, 03:34:28 PM »
oh wow.  i LOVE fowler's site.  i love his little outline logo that keeps changing.  i love the concept of an faq.  i love his landing page.

fabulous find, @Lady_Ty!  (in addition to your brilliant thoughts on the subject, of course!)