This month-long series of blog posts will explain author websites and offer tips and writing strategies for an effective author website. It alternates between a day of technical information and a day of writing content. By the end of the month, you should have a basic author website up and functioning. The Table of Contents lists the topics, but individual posts will not go live until the date listed. The Author Website Resource Page offers links to tools, services, software and more.
What to Include on Your News Page
As you set up your Author Website, it’s a good idea to refer back to the 2008 Codex study that discusses what would bring readers back to your site. To recap, readers want:
Exclusive, unpublished writing. 43% of survey respondents said they return regularly for exclusive content. This could include related short stories, but might also include a short essay on your cats. An interesting blog could do this, as well.
Author Schedules. 36% want to know the author’s schedule of tours, book signings, and area appearances. In other words, is there any way that a fan could meet-up, get a signed book, watch you speak, etc.
Author’s Literary Tastes. Readers want lists of the author’s favorite writers and recommended books. Younger fans are also more interested in knowing about their favorite authors’ book, music, and movie recommendations.
Insider Information. 36% of readers (especially men) want “insider” tidbits. YOU know why you killed off that mother in chapter three; explain that to the readers on your website. Include things such as: Background info–where and how you did research; important inspirations for the story; your biggest struggles and biggest successes as you wrote this book.
Freebies. 33% want downloadable extras like icons and sample chapters.
Regular contact. 33% of readers want weekly e-mail news bulletins with updates on tours, reviews, and books in progress.
Fans under the age of 35: contests, puzzles, and games, with prizes like autographed copies of books.
Your career isn’t static; instead, it is constantly changing. But you don’t want to have to update the website every day or every week. That takes too much time away from your work! Updating a single page, though, when you have News is easy and should be a priority–even before you post on Facebook, update this page. Today, we’ll write the beginnings of a News Page where you will announce anything new and interesting in your career. By the way, you’re still just writing these pages in a wordprocessor; later, we’ll transfer what you wrote to your website.
What is Newsworthy? Think about what goes into a daily newspaper, or your favorite online news outlet? Articles need to be timely, interesting and/or important, detailed and accurate.
Timely: Let me reiterate: before you update your Facebook status with your News, post it here first! Your News Page should be the first place a fan looks for information on your latest book, where you’ll speak and so on.
Interesting/Important: Is it Newsworthy that you finished a first draft of your next novel? It’s your call. Personally, I’d put that on my Facebook status or Tweet it, but not put it here. When the novel sells or on it’s launch date, I’d post here. Unless you are J.K. Rowling the news of a first draft of a novel would never make the first page of a local newspaper. In other words, think about what is important enough to include here and how you plan to post information on this and other social media outlets. Create some guidelines for yourself and then stick with them.
Detailed and accurate. If you post that you have a new book coming out, people want details. Title, subtitle, ISBN, release date, publisher and so on. This is the place to be factual and accurate.
What to Include on a NEWS Page
Over the lifetime of an author’s career, there are many newsworthy moments. Let’s see how they might slot into the categories that the Codex study says will bring readers back to your site.
- Speaking Schedule. Yes! Readers want to meet you. If you travel to speak, make sure to list your schedule on the News Page.
- Goodreads updates. I wouldn’t post on a News Page that you read and reviewed a novel. But if you want, you could use a Goodreads Widget on this page.
- Your recommendations. On the other hand, you could run a book club or post music playlists that help you write. Remember that readers want to know what you like; they want your recommendations. If you find a creative way to do this, add it to the News Page.
- Book releases. For sure, include a notice about any new releases. Sneak previews, early announcement, advance reader copies–anything you can include to make this Insider Info makes it even better.
- Awards. Recognition for your work is a thrill, so share it here with those who care about you the most.
- Interviews. When someone interviews you, please include a link here. People wanting to quote you will be glad you did.
- YouTube videos or relevant posts on other sites. Likewise, any publicity on other sites should be included here.
- Samples and Freebies. Anytime you post sample chapters, free coloring pages, Facebook quizzes or games and so on, include a link on the News Page.
- Do you post other places? Guest posts, pro bono work, or just a free story for Christmas–any time you make exclusive, unpublished writing available, post a link on the News Page.
AUTHOR’S LITERARY TASTES:
FREEBIES & GAMES, CONTESTS, PUZZLES:
EXCLUSIVE, UNPUBLISHED WRITING:
Date Your Entries
Remember the advice above to be timely? People want to see your career unfolding before them. That means you should date each entry. On my News Page, I have started dividing it by year and within a year, I add the most recent material on top. Decide now how you will organize the entries chronologically.
A couple last things: this is not the place to be shy. Toot your own horn! You can do this and no one will think you are bragging because this is the right place to do it. Just present the information as facts, without lots of hype, and it will be well-received.
Notice also that you’ll need to make choices: if you use a GoodReads widget on your website, where will you place it? It could probably go a couple different places, either on the ABOUT page or the NEWS page. Info about a new title will go several places: on it’s own page, on the News Page, on the About Page, and maybe other pages, as you wish. Think about the structure of your website and what you want to go where. Making these decisions NOW, before the site goes live will make it immensely easier later–and much easier to keep updated.
What information would YOU share on a News Page? What would you NOT share on a News Page? Why?