Last week, I wrote a post about author websites and decided this week that I and better take my own advice! First, I updated the theme of this blog and added a homepage and a homepage for the blog. There are other behind-the-scenes improvements, mostly improving the way the site displays on mobile devices. (If you notice any problems with the website update, I’d appreciate an email!)
Second, last week, I quoted a study that said fans come looking for certain things on an author’s website. I am working on a draft of my new story this week and that study keeps haunting me. Am I providing any of these things on a regular basis? Is there any reason for a fan of my writing to keep coming back to my website?
These thoughts are starting to change how I write. Now, I also have open a second file that is a list of things to put on the website to go with this book.
Specifically, let’s go through the list of what fans want on an author website and see how you might plan for this as you write.
- Exclusive, unpublished writing. 43% of book fans surveyed said they return regularly for exclusive content. While I am writing, I am keep a radar out for writing ideas that take off on a tangent. It may be a topic that doesn’t belong in the book because it would destroy the pacing. But it might work perfectly on the website as Exclusive Content. Maybe a short vignette, a short story, an episode. Maybe it’s a letter that the character might write to another character. For my current WIP, it’s recipes. One character refuses to eat eggs of any kind, so we have eggless cakes and such.
- Author Schedules. 36% of book fans surveyed want to know the author’s schedule of tours, book signings, and area appearances. I couldn’t figure out how to plan for this one while I wrote. I did, however, add a News page to my blog, where I plan to regularly post the small successes that come my way.
- 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. This one is a bit harder, too, because it doesn’t relate directly to the current WIP. For me, it will probably take the form of a focus on Pinterest. I need to spend an evening creating a couple boards of Recommended Books, Favorite Music, Movie Recommendations. And to complement my current WIP, I need to do something related to it. Maybe eggless recipes again. Or the story has aliens, so maybe a board of Alien Pics, UFOs, etc. I’ve always liked it when authors post a playlist of music for a book. I shouldn’t be surprised when kids like this, too.
- Insider Information. 36% of readers (especially men) want “insider” tidbits. This is one of the main changes I am trying to make as I write. I am trying to notice where I do research and capture the URLs of interesting websites. Later, I’ll write about the inspiration I found from these sites. For example, one setting in the current WIP is a City Hall and I needed something interesting to happen there. What could be weirder than the truth?
- Freebies. 33% want downloadable extras like icons and sample chapters. I am sorta lumping this in with the exclusive, umpublished writing above. I hope to have a couple side stories and/or recipes as freebies. But I am also paying attention to ideas for free wallpapers and such. I’ll look for easy ways to add things like that. Any suggestions?
- Regular contact. 33% of readers want weekly e-mail news bulletins with updates on tours, reviews, and books in progress. I already have this covered. See the signup in the sidebar to get on my mailing list.
- Fans under the age of 35: these fans like contests, puzzles, and games, with prizes like autographed copies of books. Well, this is hard, too, to plan for as I write. I am keeping a radar out, though, for contest, puzzle and game ideas. And I’ll certainly offer book giveaways when it’s appropriate. But overall, I’m not sure this one really affects my writing process much.
Overall, then, it is the extra writing and the insider information that needs to run parallel to my writing process. By the time this next book is written, I’ll have plenty of material for the website. Only time will tell if the fans come.