Getting Personal on Your Author Website

Ask any reader and they’ll probably say that one of the reasons they visit an author website is to learn more about the author. They want to get a peek into who the author is as a person. But how do you know what to share? How do you get personal … but not too personal?

First, here are some of the personal things that site visitors say they would want to see on your author website:

  • Your story about how you started writing and got published
  • A photo album of pictures
  • What books/music/websites you’re into
  • A blog that conveys your distinct personality
  • What inspired you to write each book (for non-fiction authors), or where the idea for the story came from (for fiction authors)
  • Your daily journey toward the next book
  • Details about your involvement in any community projects, charity work, etc…
  • A background about where you grew up, your marital status, etc…

Basically, people are saying that what they want from the website is to get to know you better. But there’s a flip side to that. Because an author can get too personal at times. Here are some don’ts…

  • DON’T provide any details about exactly where you live or where your children go to school. There are stalkers out there, you know.
  • DON’T blog or tweet about things that readers might find boring. Like driving your kids to a soccer game or deciding what to eat for dinner.
  • DON’T get negative. Even if you’re having a bad day, no one wants to read blog posts about how you’re getting mean emails or someone cut you off on the road.

What’s your experience — either as an author with a website or as a reader visiting an author website? What do you want to see? What works? Share your thoughts here!

Ready to talk with us about building your own author website? Contact us today for a free consultation!

Book Club Discussion Guides on Your Author Website

This is one thing that I often recommend to clients as we’re discussing what kinds of content their author website should include. It’s a downloadable book club discussion guide.

If you think your book might be appropriate for a book club (and what book isn’t, really?), then you should be making it as easy as possible for someone in a book club to find your book and get ideas about how to integrate it into their book club. One of the best ways to do that is to provide them with this discussion guide.

Not only would a good discussion guide make it easier for someone to understand why your book should be reviewed by their club, but it could also improve the discussion itself. The better (and more heated) the discussion is, the more likely book club members are going to mention the book to their friends.

So what should be in such a guide? Here are six ideas, courtesy of Chlorine Books.

1. Direct your questions at the appropriate age level for your book. If you’ve written a children’s fiction or non-fiction book, questions should be targeted at the reading level of your book’s market.

2. Questions for adult fiction or non-fiction books should include a range of questions so that different levels of book groups can find questions that appeal to their groups.

3. For fiction books, are there any current or historic events that impact the story you’ve told? If so, create questions based on these events.

4. As people often read discussion questions before reading the book, be careful about accidentally revealing a fiction book’s surprise plot points in the questions. With careful consideration, you will usually be able to find a way to discuss a question topic without revealing these plot points.

5. Before making available your discussion questions, test them on friends who haven’t read the book yet. Check that the questions mean to others what these questions mean to you.

6. Offer the questions to anyone who might be interested besides making the questions available as a free download on your website or other author platforms.

Hopefully, these ideas will help you put together an effective discussion guide, and, as a result, your book will become the hot topic in book clubs across the country!

Ready to talk with us about your author website? Contact us today for a free consultation!

Building a Book Website for an International Book

There are thousands of author websites out there. And most of them are pretty standard in terms of what they include. But sometimes, an author website has to be pretty different from others. A book that’s being published internationally is one of those instances.

I’m going to use a few of the author websites I created as examples here. These authors also happen to be a few of my favorite clients — Ann Weisgarber and Sherry Jones — whose books were published in many countries.

Here’s what we did with AnnWeisgarber.com and AuthorSherryJones.com to promote their books in multiple countries. If you are building a website for such a book, you may want to steal some of these ideas…

  • Include links to buy the book from websites based in as many countries as possible (Amazon.co.uk, for instance). You want it to be as easy as possible for people to purchase the book published in their language, and sold through their currency.
  • Create duplicate websites (or at least pages of the website) in whatever languages the book is published in. See Ann’s French website and Sherry’s Spanish website.
  • Don’t let multiple book covers confuse people! Books published in different countries often have different covers. So make it as clear as possible which covers correspond with which country’s publication. We do this on Ann’s homepage and Sherry’ International News page.
  • Include news and reviews, sorted by country, as we also did on Sherry’s International News page.
  • If the book is published by different publishing companies in different countries, make sure to list each publishing company’s name and a link to their website. Again, this was done on Sherry’s site.

So what do you think? Are we missing anything? Did these ideas help you? Please share your thoughts!

And if you’re interested in talking with us about developing a website for your international book, contact us today for a free consultation!

How Interactive Should a Book Website Be?

Author Anna McPartlin is doing something very interesting with her website for the book “So What If I’m Broken.” She’s actually allowing readers to interact with her characters in cyberworld. The feature is being promoted as “A book that talks back.”

Anna says, “What is really exciting is that readers might actually change the story through their own interactions with the character.  So while it will return to the universe of the book by the end, it can go for a user led meander through the public’s contributions.”

You can read more about what she’s doing here.

This is an interesting idea. I love that she’s really bringing her characters to live in the online world and allowing readers to follow their blogs and twitter posts, visit their social networking profiles, etc…

But is allowing the readers to actually change the plot going a little too far? Does that allow people to purposely sabotage the story? I would guess Anna and her crew have ensured that sort of thing can’t happen. But it’s something we should all keep our eye on. Because this could be a great idea … or a great disaster.

What do you think?