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How Much Is Too Much (or Not Enough) on an Author Website?

secretI’ve played a role in building hundreds and hundreds of author websites. Some are as thin as a few pages. Others have 50 pages of content or more on them, including articles by the author, various book excerpts, photo galleries and more.

Seeing this vast disparity can be tricky for authors: after all, how much is the right amount of information to include on an author website?

What Are You Goals for the Site?
Figuring out how much information to include is dependent upon what you actually want people to do while they’re on your website.

Is your goal to promote yourself as an author?
Do you want to build a fanbase? Get an agent or publisher? In these cases, providing a lot of information about yourself is a good thing. Not providing enough can leave visitors feeling unfulfilled.

Is your goal to spread the word?
If you wrote a book, let’s say, about climate change, and your goal is to inform the public about this crisis, then you want to include tons of information on the subject. Link to articles, studies, etc… Allow readers to post their own comments and discuss the subject. They say that knowledge is power … well, information breeds knowledge.

Is your goal to sell copies of the book?
This is where it gets tricky. In the previous two instances, there’s really no such thing as too much information. For instance, sharing photos of your favorite pet may not interest everyone, but it won’t hurt your cause if you’re looking to build a following. Where you really can get into trouble with sharing too much information is when your goal for the website is to get people to take the plunge and buy the book.

What to Include?
So you want to get people to buy a copy of your book. It’s time to put on your salesman’s hat. If you’ve never worked in sales before, this can be a bit tricky.

The key in getting people to make a purchase — just about any purchase — is to provide just enough information that you’ve whet their appetites, but not too much information that they feel like they’ve already gotten a sense of it without spending a dime.

Some examples of including too much information would include:

  • Including excerpts to more than one chapter of the book
  • Showing all the photos/illustrations from the book
  • Telling a full story of what happens in the book, even giving away the ending

On the other hand, there’s such a thing as too little information. Since visitors can’t actually open the book and browse it on your website like they can in a store, you have to make sure you include all the important things that someone would want to know before making the purchase, including:

  • A link to at least one featured excerpt (to let people get a sense of the voice and tone)
  • A table of contents (if it’s a nonfiction book)
  • A book teaser
  • Publishing and purchasing details, like which websites/stores sell it and ISBN number
  • Quotes from raving reviews/testimonials
  • Any awards the book has gotten

Remember: When you’re building a website, it’s all about what you want people to do while they’re on it. And if your goal is to get them to buy the book, then think about exactly what you can include that might make that happen … and what you might include that would prevent that from happening.

Happy website building!

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