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Should Author Websites Have Editors?

I’ve worked with hundreds of authors in the last five years. Some of them ask for my feedback on what they’ve written for the website before we go live. Which is great — it’s always good to have someone who knows the web world offer their two cents on things. And then I have other clients (not naming names here) who not only don’t ask for my opinion on what they’ve written, but actually reject the one or two recommendations that I offer unsolicited.

So that leads me to the question: Should author websites have editors? After all, an author’s writing in a book is usually edited. Should the same be done for their website content? Here are a few ideas I have on why it should…

  • Print vs. web. Book authors are probably pretty well versed in writing book-style. But web-style is very different. First of all, someone is likely to spend only a few seconds on your website, so it’s important that you write your content in an eye-catching way. In fact, writing a headline for a website is like writing the first page of a book — it’s what will make someone decide whether to stay or not. Which is not something a book author tends to be familiar with.
  • Objectivity! A website is basically a portfolio of an author’s work and life. It’s hard to write objectively about yourself. There’s something to be said for a third party offering an unbiased opinion on what’s being written.
  • Copyediting. You wouldn’t let your book be published without a copyeditor, would you? Then why should you publish your website without someone who is an expert on commas and prepositions giving it a once-over?

Too often, web designers and developers will just plop in whatever text an author sends. I must confess, I’m guilty of that sometimes. But maybe editing should be a more crucial part of author website development….

What do you think? How would you feel about having an editor look over everything you’ve written for the site before it’s live? Share your thoughts, please!

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