Sunday, July 22, 2012

What the Experts Say: Top Ten Things That Should Be On Your Author Website by Aileen Stewart

Aileen Stewart resides in lovely Shelby, Ohio with her beautiful daughter, her wonderful husband, and their cat named Max who acts more like a dog and chews everything in site. She is the author of the children’s book Fern Valley-A Collection of Short Stories, a blogger, and a public speaker. She holds a degree in Business Administration and a certificate in Sales/Marketing from North Central State College which she has put to good use since becoming published. Besides writing, she loves to cook, quilt, craft, take pictures, garden, travel, bird-watch, and volunteer at her daughter’s school. She also volunteers at her local library where she is in charge of the children’s display case. Aileen is a firm believer that “Kids Who Can Read Can Do Anything” a motto which she created from lessons learned from her late father.

From time to time I like to share with fellow authors, especially new authors, the things that I have learned on my publishing journey. One of the things I have learned is the importance of having a website. A website is important for many reasons, one of them being that having a home base with all your pertinent information in one place is helpful for fans, potential customers, and media. So with that in mind, here are the top ten things that should be found on your author website.
Home Page- Every author website should begin with a home page. This is the landing page for everyone who stops by and it is also the page where you make your first and hopefully best impression. Be sure to include your name, the name of your site, and your branding message. In other words, what do you stand for as a writer, what do you promote, what can people expect from you. My branding message is "Kids Who Read Can Do Anything". This not only lets my readers know that I promote children's literacy, but it also lets them know how important I think good reading skills are for children's future success.

Bio- Every author website should have an interesting biography because lets face it, people are a curious lot. Readers want to know about the authors whose books they find intriguing. They want to know where you live, what other hobbies you have, and what makes you tick. This helps them to connect to you on a personal level and when people feel connected they are more likely to care and share!

Book List & Synopsis- Readers need to know what books you have available and what each book is about. A brief synopsis of your book or books gives them a taste of your writing style, allows them to see what genres you write in, and if well written, will wet their appetites. This is also the place to add the covers of your book or books because we all know a picture is worth a thousand words.

Easy To Find Contact Info- Contact information is a key ingredient. Fans want you to be accessible and the media don't want to have to dig for information if they are interested in you and your product. I usually make my mailing address available for those readers wishing to send me letters or pictures; each which  fills me with delight when it arrives.

Reviews and Interviews- Reviews and Interviews are an authors credibility builders. They show possible customers that there is an established audience for the work. People are leery to read books by authors of whom they have never heard and generally wish to see recommendations before making a decision of their own. Make note that links to reviews and interviews should always be made to appear in a separate window so that potential fans remain on your site until they choose to leave.

Availability- Today's customers like everything they come across to be user friendly and nothing turns them off as quickly as a site that doesn't allow them to effortlessly find what they are looking for. Links to the various places that your book/books are available should be assembled in one easy to find place. And similar to review and interview links, they should be made to appear in separate windows.

Events Page- Now that you are a published author, you want to connect with the public and this is the page that allows you to do just that. This is the page where you share your projects such as an upcoming book, a book launch, a contest or promotion, book signings, and any speaking engagements. People want to know what you are doing and where can meet you in person, so be sure to keep this page up to date.

Current Picture- As stated earlier, people are a curious lot. Not only do they want to feel that they know all about you, they also want to know what you look like. The more people recognize you from your picture, the more people will remember you; the more people remember you, the more likely they are to share with others about you and your work. This another great way to build credibility.

Added Value Content- Added value content are pages that draw the reader back over and over again, pages that show the reader that you are not totally self absorbed, pages that offer the reader something of value.Value content can be almost anything you think your target audience would be interested in. My audience consists primarily of mothers of children from six to twelve; I, therefore, offer pages introducing other great children's books that I recommend, craft sites, recipes, safe sites for kids, etc...

A Call To Action- And last but not least, you need a call to action. A call to action is exactly what you want your visitors to do before leaving your site. As an author, I have two things I want my visitors to do before they leave. I want them to comment on what they think about my site, and I want them to buy my book. On my home page I state that I would like people to look around, find something useful, and then leave me a comment about the site. Underneath this statement I have placed a comment box for them to do this. I have also placed, on several pages, small "buy now" buttons that are linked to my book's Amazon page.These buttons make it easy for people to go right to the point of sale.

And there my friends you have a list of what content should be in an authors website. Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Reprinted with permission by Aileen Stewart from Aileen's Thoughts 

For more on Aileen, please check out her website or LIKE her Fan Page

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