You know that you need an author website. Everyone has told you that you need one. But what exactly should be on that author website? Why do people visit author websites at all?
This is a common question. And it’s a question that is very helpful to know the answer to before you start building your site. So why do people visit author websites?
A first-time visitor is likely to visit your website because:
a) they heard your name and want to learn more about you
b) they read your book and want to see if you’re written others
c) they stumbled upon your site from another site
No matter which of these three methods someone went about finding your site, what’s important is that they did find it. And the truth is that you now have only a few seconds to grab their attention.
You need to know right off the bat what exactly you want someone to do on your site. Is it buy your book? Give you their email address for future correspondence? Sign up for your blog notifications? Set a goal for yourself and make it as easy as possible for first-time visitors to help you accomplish it!
This is where it gets a little more complicated. It’s easy to explain why someone might wind up on your website the first time. What’s harder to figure out is why some author websites get visitors to return time after time, and others do not.
Thankfully, we have the answers. Not to toot our own horn or anything…
Before I get into the nitty gritty details, remember this: if you’ve set the goal of getting first-time visitors to sign up for something (as described above), then you’re far more likely to get them coming back for more. If all you’ve encouraged them to do is learn more about your book, read an excerpt, or even buy the book, then what motivation have you given them for coming back?
Now on to the meaty stuff. You see, the best way to know how to get a reader coming back to your website over and over again is to find out why people opt to return to some author websites and not others. With that in mind, I’ve collected some anecdotes from various message boards to see what people are saying about why they visit author sites repeatedly. Here are some of the highlights…
- I love to check out Sarah Dessen’s blog, where she posts pictures and gives lots of little tidbits about her new books. She’s been showing pictures of the new covers for the re-released versions of her books, and she dropped a hint that her next book, due out in May 2013 will be called Someone Else’s Summer.
- I visit author sites because they usually have their book info and bios layed out more clearly than Amazon does, along with links to their Twitter, FB, and/or blog. They mention upcoming titles and events and many have special sections devoted to their series, discussing the larger story arc behind the series, whether readers can expect additions to the series, etc.
- I think trying to connect with authors is a big part of it. You wonder if they’re really and truly human. Do you have anything in common? The books is another angle. What do they have? What series? How many? Are there going to be more? My daughter is a huge reader and she stalks the sites of the authors she loves to see what conferences they’re attending, where are they signing, when is that next book, do they have a new cover yet, and so on.
- I occasionally visit author websites to find out about the status of their works-in-progress. That’s when I’m a fan of their writing.
- I’ve only ever gone to one I think – but he’s my favorite author. For some reason I want to read about his life! And the the funniest thing is that I don’t even think I’d LIKE him in real life. Yet, still – every few months I go check it out to see what he’s up to.
So what do all of these quotes have in common? They all have to do with currency. No, not currency as in money; currency is in timeliness. What is the author currently doing? What is the status of his or her latest book? Where is she doing book signings? Are there any teasers in place for the next book?
Yes folks, that is “the answer” to the question. Why do people visit author websites? Because the website gives them something new and interesting to digest. Keep that in mind before you decide that you don’t have the time to blog or simply want the site to be a static portfolio of your work. You may be losing out on a lot of repeat visitors. And less visitors = less book sales.