Author Websites: Retaining Readers

We’ve designed several author websites – in fact, we’re working on two new ones right now. One of the things we bring to website design is research. That means we don’t just throw a design up and hope it sticks for the type of business– we really think about your market.

For author websites, there are definitely a few things that require special attention.

Readers aren’t as interested in author blogs as other writers are, and we know that readers come to author websites looking for:

  • Information about who the author is
  • Information about the book being read
  • Information about the next book

Most visitors are going to be readers who have already made the purchase. Your website might sell a few books to those who hadn’t previously bought books– but in most cases, the goal of an author website is to retain your reader and make them your brand ambassador.

So how do you do that?

1. Offer “DVD Extras”

You know the extras you get on DVDs? Those are fun. Give extras like that on the website. This works for any genre of writing: fiction, non fiction, anything. Here are a few ideas:
  • Photos that show your thoughts about setting or characters–use a Pinterest board or a slideshow
  • Deleted chapters or scenes
  • Character background sheets
  • Playlists that you wrote to or soundtrack you imagined for your book as a movie 
  • Bonus epilogues, prologues, or short stories
  • A Q&A with you on how you decided to write the story
  • Recipes

2. Offer a newsletter
Sign up with a newsletter service (we like Vertical Response but you can use anything like Mail Chimp– do a search). When you have a new book about to launch, sending out a fun newsletter announcing it –along with a few thoughts about how you got to that point and what you’re doing to celebrate–and hey, even a giveaway for your newsletter subscribers– is a great idea. I recently got one of these from my favorite author and it was fantastic. It was a cool, funny slice of her. And guess what? I immediately went and pre-ordered her book.

3. Spotlight Yourself

Readers who enjoyed your book will want to learn more about you, the author. A few ideas that go beyond the standard bio are:

  • A funny FAQ about your life
  • The story of how you got your agent and book deal (writers and readers will want to know this)
  • A list of what you’re reading or your favorite books – Goodreads or Shelfari are good auto widgets
  • Non-standard author photos showing you in doing normal human things including travel or posing with readers at signings 
  • A blog that is pure you

Check out some of our author websites: