writer fiction or nonfiction

Fiction or Nonfiction: What’s the Difference?

writer fiction or nonfictionSo you want to be a writer. But you’re not sure where to begin. Which should you write? Fiction or nonfiction? How do you know which one you’d be better at? What’s the difference between being a fiction or nonfiction writer?

First, let’s start with what you probably already know: the basic difference is their definition. A fiction book is a … well … book of fiction. In other words, it’s an untrue story. It’s made up. It’s created in your mind. A nonfiction book is a true story. It’s full of facts. If something in it is found to be untrue, the book is no longer considered respectable. (I won’t even begin to go into today’s political climate and the blurring between fact and fiction, because that’s a book in and of itself).

So now that you know what they are, how do you know which path to take going forward? Here are some ideas to get you started.

Fiction or Nonfiction: Which Would You Be Better at?

You might want to consider writing fiction books if you…

  • Have a knack for creative writing
  • Always tell stories (and are good at it)
  • Have vivid dreams that resemble real tales
  • Love choosing words to really create a picture (i.e. her auburn hair blew in the breeze)
  • Want the freedom to let a story go where it takes you
  • Are more interested in entertaining people than educating them
  • Associate yourself more as an artist than a journalist
  • Are outgoing and willing to network to get your book out there to the right audience

On the other hand, you might be a better nonfiction writer if you…

  • Are passionate about a specific, real-life topic
  • Want to change the world
  • Aim to share your knowledge with others
  • Are detail-oriented
  • Are never afraid to ask questions
  • Can take complicated topics and break them down clearly
  • Are willing to let the truth tell and shape the story
  • Bring an interesting perspective to a topic

Fiction or Nonfiction: What’s the Same?

In some ways, writing is writing, regardless of the genre. You need to have good writing skills to do either. Here are the tenets of writing any book — fiction vs. nonfiction.

  • Your story needs a beginning, middle and end.
  • Your book needs to have “characters” (be they real or imaginary) that are engaging and entertaining
  • You should have an outline of the book before you even get started.
  • You need to be prepared to deal with feedback on the book along the way, and be open to recommendations
  • You will need to do some legwork after you write the book to get it out there to your audience

Fiction or Nonfiction: How Do You Market the Book?

I’ve said it before many times, but marketing a fiction book is drastically different from marketing a nonfiction book. And it’s important for you to understand what type of marketing you would need to do with each category of book before you become an author in that genre. Here’s what you need to know.

In many ways, nonfiction books are easier to market than fiction. That’s because you are likely starting with a ready-made audience of people looking for books like yours. Here are a few examples.

  • If you write a self-help book about career change, you have people already searching on Google for information about changing careers. You also have people browsing job sites, LinkedIn, etc… looking for this information. You just have to get the book in front of them.
  • If you write a book about today’s political climate, you’re touching on a topic that many people already spend hours a day reading about online. And if, say, your book is leaning to the left or to the right, you know where the readers who have those leanings are. They’re on certain blogs, certain news sites. Again, you just have to get the book in front of them.

These are just two examples, but the rules pretty much hold true for most nonfiction authors. As a result, I frequently recommend strategies for these authors like:

  • Social networking on the appropriate channels for that audience
  • Search engine optimization and keyword research
  • Guest blogging on relevant sites

Marketing fiction books is a bit harder. That’s because no one goes to Google and searches for “new romance novel,” or “good mystery books.” But there are some strategies fiction authors can use. They might just take a little more legwork. They include:

  • Building strong presences on Amazon and GoodReads — where fiction readers often spend their time
  • Getting local press and using connections in their local areas for book signings, book club readings, etc…
  • Building relationships with other authors who write for the same audience

While all of this is in no way exhaustive of the difference between fiction or nonfiction, I hope it gives you some idea of which way you want to start leaning. Good luck, and good writing!

most read posts of 2016

Our 5 Most-Read Posts of 2016

Happy New Year, everyone! 2017 is coming in with a bang! But before we look forward, let’s take a quick look backward at our most-read posts of 2016 — most-read by authors like yourself.

Here is a list of the five blog posts that got the most reads in the calendar year. Consider this your cliff notes if you missed any of it. Enjoy!

(And on a side note … apparently October and November were good months — they brought all of our most-read posts of the year. This is a pure coincidence.)

most read posts of 2016

Image courtesy of patrisyu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1. How to Promote Your Book on Your Website
Ever wonder how to promote your book online? Whether or not you already have an author website, there are definitely right ways and there are wrong ways to feature (and hopefully sell) your book there. Here are some examples of the dos and don’ts.
October 20, 2016

2. Getting an Agent for a Book: Why Self-Marketing Is Essential
So you’re starting to think about getting an agent for a book. Your manuscript is almost finished and it’s time to get it out there. Where do you start? In today’s world, I would argue, becoming a self-marketer before getting an agent for a book is essential.
November 17, 2016

 3. Your Author Page: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself
So you’ve decided to build an author website. Among other things, that website will include an author page. In this post, I explore a few different approaches to a successful author page, and examples of people who have done interesting things with theirs.
October 11, 2016

 4. Selling Books Online: 5 Things You Need to Know
Okay, you’ve written your first novel and you’re interested in selling books online … so how do you actually go about that? Here are five basic tenets to help you get started selling books online…
November 29, 2016

5.  Website Hack? 5 Reasons Your Author Site May Be Down
Here are five possible causes of your site being down, and what you can do about each one.
October 27, 2016

Here’s to a great 2017 for all you authors out there!

What Authors Should Read: November in Review

what authors should read

Photo credit: Foter.com / CC0

Another month has come and gone (and we are in the midst of the holiday season). We did a lot of posting and sharing in November — both of our own content and of other sites’ interesting articles, blog posts and more.

In case you missed any of it, here’s a summary of what authors should read to stay on top of industry trends.

What Authors Should Read From November

1. Is Passion for Your Book Enough? Include These 10 Hot Selling Points
Knowing these before you write your book will make all of your copy more organized, succinct, easy to read and engaging.
Book Coaching, November 5, 2016

2. Author Website Templates: 5 Things You Need to Know
So you want to build an author website. Here’s what you need to know about selecting and utilizing the right author website templates.
Smart Author Sites, November 7, 2016

3. Guest Blog Post: Author Website Tips
This article offering author website tips is our second guest post from Irish children’s book author Avril O’Reilly, who I met when she took one of my book marketing courses.
Build Book Buzz, November 16, 2016

4. Social Media Marketing Evolves
As social media platforms get more crowded, indie authors are recalibrating their marketing efforts.
Publishers Weekly, November 18, 2016

5. 4 Steps to Selling More Books with Less Social Media
Traditionally and self-published authors use Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to help sell books. But should they be doing that?
Digital Book World, November 28, 2016

Happy reading!

web novel sample

Web Novel: What Is It and Should You Release One?

web novel sampleI sometimes get asked the question: “What is a web novel?” Authors hear the term and want to know … is a web novel the same thing as an e-book? How do web novels get distributed?

Here are five things you need to know about web novels, and whether or not you might want to consider releasing one.

5 Web Novel Facts

1. A web novel is exactly what it sounds like: a novel published on the web. These can also be referred to as a “virtual novel,” or “webfiction.” But note that these do NOT encompass e-books that are published through Amazon or other online retailers. Web novels are usually released in blog format … and if they end up being published, they are often referred to as a “blook” — a blog that turned into a book.

2. A web novel is usually released by the chapter. While most books (including e-books) are usually released all at once in their entirety, a web novel is usually released chapter by chapter — so one chapter this week and one chapter the next … and so on. That keeps users coming back regularly to keep reading.

3. Web novels are generally offered for free. That’s right. Since most web novels are not available via Amazon and such, they are almost always offered free of charge by the author for people who are particularly interested in their writing. There have been a few cases in which an author charges for access to their web novel, but those are few and far between.

4. A web novel can be a good jumping off platform for an author. Some aspiring novelists use a web novel to gain recognition and a fan base for their work while they try to get the attention of a publishing company. Some web novels can actually end up being turned into full-fledged print books, should a publishing company choose to work with that author. Of course, there will be some editing and tweaking of the story that happens during that time.

5. Anyone can write and release a web novel. It’s true. Basically, all you need is an online platform or author website. Then you can use the blog tool (or something similar) to start releasing your story. Make sure to invite all your friends, social networking followers, etc… to subscribe to your feed so that they can be notified whenever a new chapter is posted.

So is a web novel for you? Well, if you are a fiction writer who is trying to build a following, it may be worth considering — assuming you’re willing to give away your work for free. Based on the information above, it’s up to you to figure out whether this is the right starting point.

Marketing Your Books Through Current Events

googletrendsQuick. Check out Google Trends. What do you see?

In case you’re not aware of Google Trends, it’s the branch of Google that shows you which search terms are being entered the most right now. And what is the thread that always seems to carry through each and every one of them? That would be news.

In other words, on the day of the Super Bowl, the most popular search terms were “Super Bowl,” “NFL,” “Denver Broncos” etc… On the day of a presidential primary, the top search terms are the names of the candidates, the state that’s voting, etc… This isn’t rocket science. People are searching for what’s top of mind that day.

So why does this matter to authors? Because taking advantage of these top trends can play a role in marketing your books. Let me explain…

Making the Connection

“What does my book have to do with today’s news?”, you might ask. For some people, making this connection is easy. If you’ve written a book on politics, it’s a no-brainer to think about how to tie your book in to the conversation surrounding the presidential election. But for a large majority of authors, this isn’t such an easy connection. That’s where your creative mind comes into play. Here are three scenarios of book topics and things in the news as I write this … and how you can link them.

Romance Novel and the Super Bowl

These two things seem to be polar opposites, correct? Well, that’s exactly where the connection lies. What a great opportunity to bring up the fact that chances are, if you’re a fan of romance novels, you are not all that into watching the Super Bowl. This is where you create, say, a live chat with the author during the Super Bowl. Or you remind people that your book is the perfect one to read while their significant others are wrapped up with football.

Psychology Book and the Presidential Election

This year’s Presidential election is … well … fascinating. We’ve got competitive candidates in both parties, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, who are using extremely non-conventional approaches to the election. And no matter how you feel about these candidates, studying their tendencies — and their supporters’ devotion — is practically a psychology experiment. This is the perfect time for an author to step in and talk about the intensity of the feelings behind the support for these candidates. Are they feeling angry? Why? What’s the best way for them to express this anger? Is there room for personal growth for either these candidates or their followers? Or are they MORE in tune with themselves than the other candidates? Again, this is ripe conversation for fodder among authors who dabble in the spirituality/self-help/psychology arena.

Historical Biography and the Flint Water Crisis

So we’ve all heard about the awful situation in Flint, Michigan. Kids — and let’s not forget pets — are being filled with lead through the drinking water. The results are already awful, and could only get worse over time. So what does this have to do with a historical biography? Well, let’s look at the leadership in Flint, in the state of Michigan and in the US government. What are they doing to fix the problem? What caused the problem in the first place, and who is responsible? If you have written a biography on, say, John F. Kennedy, Jr., you probably know something about his position on the involvement of government in this type of issue — both on a local and national level. Maybe you even know if he worked on any bills related to clean drinking water. If nothing else, this is your opportunity to write a piece along the lines of “What Would JFK Do?” in response to this current crisis.

Obviously, you are not likely to fit into one of these three scenarios exactly. But this (hopefully) will give you some ideas about how to think outside the box and find the link.

Utilizing the Connection for Marketing Your Book

So now that you’ve found the connection, what do you do with it? Here are a few different ways to take advantage of the news cycle and use it as an opportunity to market your book. All of these routes will help — in one way or another — get a mention of your book in front of a portion of the many, many people searching for these popular keywords.

  1. Blog, blog, blog. Yup, it all goes back to blogging. This is the easiest and quickest way for you to get your message out there. Write one or more blog posts specifically tying your book to a top news story. Make sure to use specific tools/plug-ins that allow you to properly optimize the piece for those search terms. For example, here are dummy titles for each of the three scenarios outlined above:

    “Forget the Super Bowl! Read _____” (optimized for “Super Bowl”)
    “Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and the Psychology Behind Them” (optimized for the candidates names)
    “The Flint Water Crisis: What Would JFK Do?” (optimized for “Flint water crisis”)

    By properly writing and optimizing these pieces, you can try to break through to the audience specifically looking for more on these news items. Is it easy to compete with top news organizations for these keywords? Of course not. But a good effort might just sneak you in. And if your title is interesting and clickable enough, it will attract the perfect audience of potential readers.

  2. Pitch articles. There are hundreds of sites out there just looking for good writers to pitch good story ideas to them. Giving an interesting slant to a popular news story is just icing on the cake. Think about local publications/news sites that you can easily reach out to, and also think big — like HuffPost — and pitch your ideas there as well. It may be as simple as finding other bloggers and asking them if you can guest blog on their site. Depending on the specific subject matter, identify five or so relevant sites that accept story submission ideas and make your pitch.

  3. Use social media. How many people are talking about top news items via Twitter or Facebook? That would be a lot. Just look at how many tweets were sent out during the Super Bowl. Do some quick sleuthing online to find out which hashtags are being used for tweets related to the news item you’re connecting with. Then use that tweet to inject yourself into the conversation and make the connection with your book. For example, a post that reads, “#superbowl Bored to tears? Buy an e-copy of ____ now” can reach your target audience. Ditto with Facebook … find conversations going on related to hot news items, and chime in with your quick blurb (or link to your blog post).

Again, there are a million ways you can go about this — both how you make the connection and how you get the word out. But no matter what type of book you’ve written, piggybacking on today’s hot news items can be your ticket to reaching a whole new audience.

 

Marketing a Nonfiction Book: Using Your Website to Enhance the Journey

journeyI’ve said it before and I’ll continue to say it: marketing a nonfiction book is totally different from marketing fiction. In the latter, your story takes people into a fictional world that gives them a break from their daily life. In the former, you’re most likely educating people on something that will help them enhance their daily life. That’s true no matter what type of nonfiction you write: whether your book is about a war that happened hundreds of years ago, tips on home decor, or a way for people to find meaning and purpose through spirituality.

In essence, your nonfiction book provides a lesson to you readers. By the time they’re done reading it, they’ve been through a journey that has taught them something they didn’t know before. And, hopefully, that’s a journey they’re happy they took.

With that in mind, here are some interesting ways to use your website to further enhance that journey (and hopefully, increase the number of people buying your book). Depending on the subject matter of your book, one of these ideas might work better than others.

  1. Serial blog posts. You can use the material in your book (or come up with additional material) to use blog posts to help people along the way. So, for example, if your book is about how to reinvent your career midlife, you could write one blog post each week about the specific steps you have to take to get there. For example, the first post could be a brief explanation of how to do a self assessment to determine what you’re good at. The second could be full of resume-writing tips. The third about how to build a strong LinkedIn profile, etc… And by getting interested readers to your site regularly, you’re able to promote your book wherever appropriate.
  2. Weekly emails. This is building on the serial blog post idea. In this case, let’s say you write a book about getting organized. Allow your readers to sign up for your “Organization boot camp.” Each week, you would send them a separate email (these would all be pre-written, of course) with specific tips on what they could do that week in order to meet their personal organization goals. And it goes without saying … each email would tell them that they could get more detailed information from your book, along with a link to purchase it.
  3. Chapter-by-chapter discussion guides. What better way to sweeten the pot for a potential reader than to tell them that after they have purchased the book, they can come back to your site at the end of each chapter for a downloadable discussion guide that will help them better understand what they’ve absorbed. So if your book is about, say the Great Depression, the discussion guide that you offer will allow them to go on the site after reading chapter 1, and ask/answer a few questions that will help them have an even better understanding of what caused the Great Depression before moving on to the next chapter.
  4. Podcasts/videos. To say podcasts and videos are popular today would be an understatement. They are the most popular forms of media out there. So maybe you want your weekly lesson plan to be in video or podcast format instead of a written email. Maybe you want your chapter discussion guides to be actual discussions between you and another expert, talking through the most interesting things you covered in that chapter. Maybe you’re even debating the subject. Take about a great way to reinforce a concept and make the reading experience even more satisfying!
  5. Ask the expert features. People love being able to ask a question of an expert. And if you’re a nonfiction author … well, you’re an expert. After reading your book, people might have questions that are gnawing away at them, like, “How do I know if renovating my kitchen will really be worth it?” or “What would really happen if our country really embraced libertarianism, as you recommend?” By providing them with an avenue to ask you these questions – and get responses in real time – you are offering a truly satisfying journey. That can be done via a live expert chat, or simply exchanging comments via Facebook or your blog.

Embrace the fact that people will be in a new and better place in their lives after reading your book. Then, you can start to figure out which of these ideas – or others – will truly make the journey more satisfying. And yes. Like it or not, it is a journey.

5 Author Website-Related New Year’s Resolutions

new-years-eve2016 is rapidly approaching, and with a new year comes new goals, new technologies and new promises. With that in mind, here are five things that authors might consider making their new year’s resolution.

1. I will blog/update my site regularly. There’s a reason this is the first potential resolution on the list. This is where I see the most authors getting lax, or letting things slide. I regularly see blogs that haven’t been updated in months, or “upcoming events” listed that have dates long in the past. Look, it’s hard to stay on top of these types of things. After all, authors have a lot of other things to do. But consider this: if you visited a website and saw that it hadn’t been updated in a while, what would your reaction be? Probably something like, “If he/she isn’t paying attention to it, why should I?” That in and of itself is enough reason for you to make sure your website is always current, and looks like it’s tended to.

2. I will make sure my site is mobile-friendly. Mobile is taking over the world. Seriously. The number of mobile users has grown tremendously in the past few years, and it’s only continuing to get larger. Whether it’s phones or tablets, a large percentage of web users nowadays are not using a desktop computer with a large screen. So when is the last time you looked at your site on a mobile device? How about multiple mobile devices (say, an iPhone and a tablet)? If your site doesn’t offer the optimal user experience on those devices, then you should make your goal for 2015 to make sure that every mobile user has as good an experience on your site as a desktop user.

3. I will begin adding video to my website. I recently posted another entry on video. And, if you haven’t gotten into video yet, the numbers are pretty scary. In short, video is the future of the web. As much as you and I may be “authors” (i.e. people of the written word), we will fall behind the times unless we start thinking about ways to incorporate video into our author websites.  Whether they’re vlogs, book trailers or curated YouTube videos, don’t let video pass you by this upcoming year.

4. I will take an objective look at my site. When you look at your author website on a regular basis, it’s hard to know what it looks like to new users. It’s kind of like your spouse: he or she may look beautiful to you every day, because you don’t notice that receding hairline or those few extra pounds. But to someone new, those things might be evident. In other words, take a step back and look at your website like you’re seeing it for the first time. Does the design look current? Is it clear at first glance what kind of writer you are? Does the tagline you put under your name still apply? Is there anything on the site that looks out of place? Sometimes, it helps to step away for a little bit before you come back with fresh eyes. You may be surprised at what you see.

5. I will think about new ways to make my site interesting. This is where I stop giving you specific ideas and toss the ball into your court. The best author websites are the ones in which the authors have started their own trends. Maybe they are asking readers to vote on a title for their next book. Maybe they’re running a writing contest for aspiring writers in their genre. Maybe they’re doing live video chats with users, answering questions. The ideas are endless, and it’s up to you to come up with them. So make a resolution to think outside the box this upcoming year and make your site one that others will want to emulate.

Happy New Year, everyone!

5 Things I Love About Haruki Murakami’s Author Website

harukimurakamiVery rarely do I stumble across an author website that I wish I had built myself. This was one of them.

This brilliant Japanese novelist, author of Norwegian Wood and Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, admits to being a bit of a recluse. And that’s what makes his author website so special: it is, in many ways, a peek inside his world that no one ever has gotten to see before.

Here are the five things I love most about HarukiMurakami.com.

1. It’s the perfect balance of photos and text. Many author websites are too heavy one way or the other — they are all text with just a photo or two strategically placed, or they’re all images with little to no words. This site happens to find the perfect balance, with different photos on different pages, and just the right balance of graphics and powerful words.

2. Check out the amazing interactive picture of his desk. Want to know where Haruki does his writing? Check out the photo of his desk on his author page. And oh … that’s not just a static photo. Click on the plus sign on any of the items on his desk (like the coffee mug, for example) and read his commentary on the role that particular item plays in his writing. Brilliant!

3. There’s so much information on each individual book. Visit any individual book page on the site and see the cool slider function at the top, chock full of quotes from the book itself. What a great way to actually whet people’s appetites. Below that is the cover, the description and links to reviews, excerpts, discussion guides and more. It’s almost like each individual book has its own site, and there’s no shortage of things to learn about each book.

4. It also has a wealth of information about what’s behind the books. This section of the site may be hard to find (one of my only criticisms), but it’s well worth it once you do find it. The section called conversations includes excerpts from his conversations with his publisher/cover designer, interviews with him about the books, letters from his editors and more. It’s truly a sneak peek inside (and behind) the books. Plus, visit the music pages on his website and learn about the songs and the artists that have inspired him and his writings.

5. It has an interactive community. I love, love, love the community section of the site, which allows visitors to share their favorite characters, favorite scenes, and how fans discovered Haruki’s books. Fill out the simple form to share your story, or click around to read what other readers have shared. This really makes it an interactive experience, in which readers can speak to their favorite author … and each other.

This website is truly one that I see many others — myself included — modeling future sites after. It’s the perfect blend of information and interactivity, design and functionality. Kudos to Haruki and his Philadelphia-based design agency Blue Cadet. No wonder they won a Webbie!

6 Things Elizabeth Gilbert Does Right on Her Author Website (and You Can, Too)

elizabeth_gilbert_screenshotBestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert (known best for Eat, Pray, Love) has an amazing author website. And no, we didn’t build it.

But when I stumbled upon it today, I was immediately impressed by it. Why? Here are six reasons…

1. The font and logos at the top give it some personality. From the moment you arrive, you notice her name at the top and those cute little icons next to each tab in the navigation. Without having to use words to explain who Elizabeth is, the site gives you a sense of the books’ genre and Elizabeth’s writing style just from these simple images.

2. The slider on the homepage lets you see all her books immediately. Sliders are all the rage in today’s world of web design. Sometimes they’re overused, but this is definitely not one of those cases. When you land on the site’s homepage, you get little thumbnail images of each of her book covers, and clicking on one allows you to see a larger version of it, along with a description and a “learn more” links. This is a great way to feature multiple books without taking up a lot of real estate.

3. It’s easy to buy the book … in different formats and from different vendors. See the right hand column of the homepage? It highlights her most recent book (the one people are most likely to buy) and ways to purchase it in hardcover, paperbook or e-book format, from Amazon, B&N, iTunes and a wealth of other publishing companies. It even offers a bonus: a signed copy if you buy it directly from Two Buttons.

4. The “upcoming events” section is current. Admit it. You have trouble keeping your “upcoming events” section current. If I browsed most of the author websites I built over the last few years, I would be likely to find an upcoming events section with dates that have gone by. But Elizabeth (and her team, I assume) are keeping this up to date with events that are truly upcoming. This sends the message to readers that Elizabeth is paying attention to her site … and they should, too.

5. It highlights video. I wrote a post recently about how video is the future of the web. Author websites are no exception. On Elizabeth’s site, video is featured the site’s navigation. That’s where all her videos — promo trailers, interviews, etc… — are all housed.

6. It includes unique content. Elizabeth keeps a blog, which is great. In it, she covers current events, personal stories, and just general commentary that she’d like to share with readers. She also has a page on the site that she calls “Thoughts on Writing,” in which she shares some insight into what inspired her to write, the challenges she faced along the way, and what advice she would give to up-and-coming writers. All of thise content is unique to the site, and gives people who are fans of her books reason to visit the site and come back regularly.

Now, it’s true that Elizabeth is a bestselling author and probably has more time and money to dedicate to her site than many of you. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t take a lesson or two from what she’s doing right and replicate some of the same ideas on your own site.

And finally, hats off to Dave Cahill, by the way, of Rivernet Computers, who built this site for Elizabeth. Good work!

5 Things That Have Changed Author Websites in 2013

This is my last blog post for the calendar year! And what a year it has been! We have built more than 50 new author sites, redesigned/rebuilt dozens of others, and added a variety of social networking assistance to our services.

A lot has changed in the world of author websites (and websites in general) as well this past year.

Here are five things that we’re doing differently now than we were a year ago.

ipad-and-iphone1. Mobile, mobile, mobile. This wasn’t exactly a surprise, but it has been one of the biggest changes in the industry over the past 10 months: more than one quarter of website viewers today are accessing author websites on mobile phones or tablets. The latest trend is to build sites in “responsive design” — a design that can determine the type of device that a user is viewing the site on and adjust the layout to fit its specifications.  If you have an author website that isn’t in responsive design — or doesn’t have a custom mobile version — you may be losing readers.

2. Homepage sliders. This was all the rage in 2013; homepages that have sliders that rotate. So your first screen might have a photo of you. The second might have your book cover and a brief blurb. The third might feature details about your upcoming events. See an example of a slider here: themanopauseman.com. Whereas Flash homepages were all the rage five years ago, sliders are now the hottest item in web design.

social_networking3. More social networking buttons. Remember when it was just Facebook and Twitter? Oh, how 2012. But seriously, an author’s series of social networking icons should include GoodReads, Pinterest, Google+ etc… Obviously, not every author is active on every social networking site. But it’s not uncommon to have up to 10 social networking icons at the top or bottom of an author website. The more, the merrier!

4. Videos galore. Videos have always been hot on the web. But never more so than this past year! Almost all of the new author websites that we’re building include a video of some kind smack dab on the homepage. Maybe it’s a book trailer. Maybe it’s an author interview. Maybe it’s a clip from a press appearance. Regardless, today’s authors are thinking outside the box and figuring out all the different ways to utilize video to promote their books.

5. Larger fonts. According to an article on Forbes, larger fonts are essential. Author websites are no exception. According to Forbes, “One major reason for this is the improved screen resolution and greater screen sizes of the computers and other devices now used; which makes the standard font sizes of yesteryear seem puny.” So, I guess size does matter…

What else have you found to be the biggest changes in web design in general (or author websites specifically) in the past year? Share them with us.

Happy New Year, all!