Having the right kind of website content to attract media coverage is something many authors miss the boat on. In this three-part series, I will help you fix that.
Working in the media for more than 30 years, I’ve visited many author websites. Sometimes I was researching whether he or she is a good fit for my audience. Other times I’d be prepping for an interview or need some quick information for a blurb. There are also times I’m looking for information for an online author database.
It’s shocking how many author websites don’t include basic information to help me promote them to my audience.
Of course, this kind of website content is important to other kinds of visitors, too:
- Booksellers wondering whether to carry your book on their shelves
- Librarians that might want you to conduct a workshop
- Event planners considering you as a speaker
- Readers who want to know more because they might want to buy your books
When visitors get more value out of visiting your website, you’re more likely to hear from them.
But if they don’t see what they need, you may never know they were there. That opportunity will be lost.
5 Essential Website Content Components
In this series, I’ll share five essential types of website content that authors must have. Don’t worry, it’s nothing complicated: This isn’t about coding or website design—it’s about text, some links, and maybe a few PDF downloads. If you can write a book and you know your category, this stuff should be easy.
So, what are these kinds of website content? Read on…
Content Type #1: Information About You
Clue in the visitor what you’re about. On an “About the Author” or “Start Here” page, you can welcome visitors by sharing…
- Who you are as an author
- What you write
- Why you write it
This page can give readers a sense of your personality. It doesn’t need to be as formal as your media page (which we’ll discuss in a future article).
You may include fun photos, testimonials and endorsements, and a casual author bio. It’s also fine in this context to share about your hobbies, your family and friends, or your vacations.
But don’t forget why people are here in the first place. Remember to include info about yourself as an author, why you write your category, and about your qualifications or connection to this category.
By your “connection” to your category or genre, we may be talking about…
- Work experience
- Life experience
When you visit the website of thriller author J.T. Ellison, the navigation bar at the top makes it easy to find the “About J.T” page. On that page, there’s a basic author biography that gets right to what she writes (“standalone domestic noir and psychological thriller series”). There are also links to her social profiles, plus links to find out more about her. You can also scroll down the page for an extended author bio.
Dr. Damon Tweedy is the author of Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor's Reflections on Race and Medicine. As a doctor who writes about medicine and racial issues, his website bio briefly explains his credentials, and that he’s been published in several prestigious publications. There’s also a nice author photo here, plus links to read about him in the New York Times and the Raleigh News & Observer.
Viewers of the television show Shark Tank should be familiar with business person, investor, and author Barbara Corcoran. But when you go to her official website, there’s still a block of text here that explains her qualifications to write about business. There’s also a video here, plus links to an interview and her social profiles.
Content Type #2: Information About Your Books
It’s always puzzling to me when I show up at an author’s website and there’s nothing about their most recent book. At the very least, you should have your book cover, a brief description of it, and then links so I can look at it on websites for booksellers and retailers.
If possible, you also want to include quotations from reviews or endorsements for your writing. This helps with your credibility.
The media isn’t going to buy your book—don’t take it personally—but we might click through to find other kinds of information. Not to mention, readers who come to your author website need to easily click over to where your book is available so they can buy it. Right?
On the book page for romance author Bella Andre, the titles are grouped together by series collections. Click on a particular book cover or title, and you’re taken to a dedicated page for that book. On the page for Kiss Me Like This (Oak Press), there’s a book cover, links to purchase the book, a plot summary, and a few quotes from notable reviewers and endorsers.
For his book Epic Content Marketing, business author Joe Pulizzi features a few bullet points that include links to Amazon and notable press about the book. There’s also a description of the book’s contents and a couple of key endorsements.
For her novel Before We Visit the Goddess, author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni shares the book cover, a plot summary, and a description of the novel’s themes. There’s a link to an excerpt and links to order the book from several online retailers. For book clubs, there’s a link to a reading guide page and info to contact her. There’s a section with several quotes from reviewers about the novel. At the bottom of the page, there are instructions to contact the author about publicity or speaking engagements.
What Are You Going to Do Now?
It’s not enough to post a bio or book description and sit back, waiting for people to stumble across it. Your website doesn’t create your publicity. You still need to reach out to generate any attention.
But when you make it easy for website visitors to find out about you and your book(s), that raises the odds of that visit turning into some form of engagement. Give them what they're looking for and they'll be more likely to get in touch with you!
(Part One of a Three-Part Series.)
NEXT TIME: Want the media to interview or profile you? We’re going to talk about how they can get in touch.
If you haven't seen the new version of BookWorks, please check us out for more great content like this and join our community of indie authors, editors, coaches, designers, marketers, bloggers and other self-publishing pros.