But what makes author websites truly different and appealing is something that goes above and beyond. That’s why I always recommend that authors include bonus material on their site.
Why bonus material?
Bonus material serves a duel purpose: it makes the book extra appealing to those who haven’t read it yet (hopefully increasing book sales as a result), and offers some interesting and satisfying information for people who have read it.
In short, it makes readers feel like they’ve gotten an “inside” story that just the book itself doesn’t offer.
What’s an example of bonus material?
Just what makes up bonus material depends on the subject matter of the book. For fiction titles, that bonus material could include “book secrets” (i.e. hidden meanings in the book), how characters got their names, where the author may have hit writers block, etc…
For nonfiction books, that bonus material may be a discussion guide, a “behind the book” story (i.e. what prompted him/her to write it), segments of the book that were cut out, etc…
Can I see bonus material on someone else’s site?
Check out nearly any author website in our portfolio and you will see some form of bonus material. Feel free to grab ideas from there.
But today, we’re going to focus on one very high-profile example of bonus material: that being used by the infamous J.K. Rowling.
Just this week, Rowling launched her latest author website, Pottermore.com. In it, Rowling celebrates the 18th birthday of one of her most beloved characters from the Harry Potter series, Celestina. As part of this celebration:
- Visitors get their first chance to actually listen to a song sung by Celestina and the Banshees (who, by the way, perform live everyday in the fantasy world of “Harry Potter.”) The song is titled “You Stole My Cauldron But You Can’t Have My Heart.”
- Rowling shares some background information on the character and the source of her inspiration for it. That, apparently, starts with Shirley Bassey, the singer known for singing in the James Bond movie “Goldfinger” in 1964.
If you’re a fan of the Harry Potter series, this type of information can satisfy an appetite that you never even knew you had. Talk about bonus material! Authors, take note…