An author writes a book. An author builds a website to promote that book. A year or two passes. The author starts ignoring the website. It becomes like a “portfolio” — somewhere that he may send people if they’re interested, but not something that he things about all that often.
Here are five tell-tale signs that an author has stopped paying attention to his or her website (and why that’s a problem).
1. The last blog entry was months ago. This is probably the most tell-tale of the signs. Authors are often told to blog. And when they first launch their site, they invest the time in blogging. But, after a while, they feel like they’re talking to a wall and stop investing their time and energy in the blog. Sure enough, a visitor comes to the site, goes to the blog page and notices that the author hasn’t updated it for months. Do you know what would go through that user’s mind? Something along the lines of … “Well, if she isn’t paying attention to the site, why should I?”
2. The copyright at the footer of the site is outdated. I confess. I haven’t yet hanged the copyright at the footer of our site to 2014. But if your site still says 2010 or earlier, then that’s a pretty good sign you haven’t been paying close attention to the site recently. Seriously … just change the date. It’s not that hard. And it sends a clear message to users that you’re on top of things.
3. Your site isn’t mobile-friendly. Have you looked at your site on a mobile device? Nearly all sites built today are somewhat mobile-friendly; that is, they are viewable and navigable on smartphones and tablets. If your site was built more than 2 or 3 years ago, make sure you check how it appears on mobile. With more people than ever accessing sites from mobile devices, this is something authors need to stay on top of.
4. There are no social media links/widgets. When we started building websites for authors in 2006, social media was not something we paid much attention to. Boy, how times have changed. Now, every author site needs to either have links to connect with the author via Facebook, Twitter, etc… or (even better) widgets that feed in the most recent activity on those social media profiles. If your site still doesn’t have them, clearly you haven’t been paying close attention.
5. There is very little new information on the site. Let’s say you go to an author’s homepage. And let’s say that the top “news” item on the site is about an award the author won five years ago, or about a “newly released” book with a pub date of 2010. What does this tell you? It tells you that the author isn’t paying very close attention to his or her website. Or, that the author hasn’t been doing much in terms of writing over the past few years. Either way, it’s a clear message to visitors: “Time to go!”
Authors: take a look at your website. Is it showing any of these tell-tale signs? Have you been paying enough attention to it lately? If not, then you may be turning away potential readers without even knowing it.