Ask the Publisher: Nice-To-Have Author Website Features
Hallos, everyone and happy Monday! I trust a fine weekend was had by all! It was a typical summer weekend here in Toronto. The Honda Indy took place—for those of you who are car aficionados—and plenty of patios were heaving with football (of the soccer variety!) fans watching the FIFA final.
But I digress and you’re here hoping to learn about author marketing tools and strategies. To begin…
Last week we talked about the Essential Author Website (quick refresher: Home page, About page, Book page, and Contact page). But there are also a few nice-to-haves on an author website: A News and Events page and a Blog.
News and Events Page
Whether or not you have a News and Events page really depends on where you are in the publishing process and whether or not you have actual content for that page. (If you have a lot of content, you may even find splitting news and events into two pages is worthwhile.)
Reviews in certain publications, award announcements, upcoming book signings or appearances (speeches, workshops, literary festivals, or book fairs), or book deal announcements are all good examples of what can be including on this section of your site.
Note: Before sharing news, make sure you've received permission from the other parties involved. For example, don't talk about your new book deal unless your publisher has said it's okay. Similarly, don't announce that you've won an award if the awarding entity hasn't announced winners yet. (Waiting until an official announcement has gone out also means you can link to it, which lends authority to your post and improves your SEO).
To blog or not to blog is an entirely different cauldron of spells, as one of our authors likes to say. I get a lot of questions from our authors as to whether or not they really need a blog. The answer is "no," and that’s why it’s in the Nice-To-Haves and not the Essential Author Website.
Is it a good idea to have one? It depends.
A Few Blogging Basics
Blogging is not a strategy, it is a tool, like your overall website, to help you build your author platform. Your author platform has three key components and they have to be addressed in a particular order to be effective:
Content. Your content consists of everything that you choose to create—your books, articles (and a blog might or might not be a type of article you produce, social media posts, speeches, interviews, etc. *
Outreach. This is how people hear about you for the first time and it will be based on some form of content or word-of-mouth. This what will make people decide whether or not they wish to engage with you further. And then they will respond to your request on your website contact page for…
Permission to add them to your email list.
*I have seen some posts about author platforms that put Outreach first and Content second but that doesn’t make much sense to me. Without some content you have nothing to Outreach with!
Blogging is great way to add content to your site. It can serve several purposes (and we'll get to them in the next post!), but basically, it's a chance for you to share your ideas, thoughts and opinions with your audience in a longer format than a tweet or Facebook post.
You can blog about many things, but remember to keep the idea of branding in mind. And remember, blogging is a choice, a nice-to have. Whether or not it is the right choice for you is something we will delve into in a future post.
There are other things you can add to your site that can be fun, though definitely not necessary. For example, some author websites include photo galleries that include pictures taken at events, or books “in the wild.”
It’s your site. What’s on it is up to you! Just remember that, no matter what else you include on your website, you’ve got the essentials covered and that your site remains easy to navigate and use. (If your fun extras make it difficult for someone to find your contact page, for example, you’ll have a problem).
What other content or pages do you like to see on author pages? What do you hate seeing? What has confused or annoyed you? Share your thoughts in the comments.