Two Way Street: How Adding Interactive Elements to Your Author Website Will Help You Gain Followers

Are you looking to really gain a following on your author website? Have you been struggling to drive traffic to your blog via social networking and post sharing alone?

You are not alone. It isn’t easy marketing your books online. The fact that there are so many means of online communication — and it is simpler than ever to make use of them — mean that standing out has become difficult, to say the least.

So how do you really capture interest? Establish a two-way street with your customers. If you can reach them and encourage discussion you will open new doors.

“But the blog section of my website already encourages comments…” you might say, “and I am not getting any/very many of those!”

The good news is that there are still many unique, interactive channels of communication that will help you stand out if you have the time to put some extra effort in. Here are a few:

1. Polls

Let’s face it — everyone loves to give their opinion. Make use of the wp-polls plugin to ask questions of your visitors and easily track their responses. Your visitors will love this.

You can even do a “poll of the week” with a new blog entry where you ask your readers what they thought of your most recent book, who their favorite fictional character in your trilogy was, or provide a multiple choice of their favorite genres.

Polls are easy to add to your WordPress website, and you can write an engaging blurb with your poll on Facebook to attract readers to your blog.

2. Quizzes

Don’t worry – you aren’t getting quizzed on this blog entry.

There is a great WordPress plugin that allows you to easily build tests and quizzes. How can you make use of this feature exactly? Here are some possibilities:

  • If you are a children’s author you can put together a fun quiz for kids about your books.
  • Psychologists can write up their own personality tests (we put one of these together for one of our authors). And here’s the catch: visitors need to buy the book to take the quiz!
  • Other authors can put together tests to see how well readers understand themes in the novels.

You might think that these tests are a pretty silly addition to an author website and will not help you gain readers. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Tests and quizzes are HUGE in the online world. At the very least, putting one together and sharing it on your favorite social networking outlet should get you a few clicks right off the bat.

3. Contests

One of the best tricks you can use in conjunction with a new release is to have a “free book giveaway.” You could put together a contest where the winner receives a free, signed copy of your new book, or other prize that you would like to use as a giveaway.

The earlier you announce the contest and the more you cross-post the details to social networking outlets and your blog, the more entrants you will receive.

And let’s face it — when it comes to the online world, the only thing people like more than personality quizzes is free stuff. This is a great trick you can use to build a fanbase right off the bat. Even those who don’t win the contest will feel more connected to your work.

4. Forums

This one is a bit tricker as I don’t recommend adding a forum to your site unless you already have a decent traffic base. If you are getting fewer than about 100-150 regular returning visitors to your author blog per month, it might be too soon to consider a forum. In fact, it might be a liability having a bunch of zeros in the “new posts” section — people will think that you aren’t popular. You wouldn’t want that, would you?

Still, if you already have a decent following, this will encourage readers to return to your site with some regularity and engage in discussion with other forum members. This is great for creating large increases in traffic and returning visitors.

It also will help you build up excitement for your current and future releases as you get to watch your fans discuss your books!


Are there other interactive elements you’ve found to be successful on your author website? Share them in our comments section below.