Best-selling author Shiloh Walker pens this bi-weekly column of online advice for writers. Walker is a full-time author who is published in both e-book and traditional print formats. Now she shares her experience and advice to help aspiring and published authors figure out the "Writes and Wrongs" of the digital world.
Talking Tips On Websites
Websites—it’s a question we hear/read all the time—do I need a website?
Are you published? Then, yes, in my opinion, you need a website.
Are you about to be published? As in…you’ve sold a book? Again, it’s my opinion that you need a website.
Are you unpublished and still trying to sell? Well, there are varying opinions on that. Some industry people may say no. Others will adamantly say yes. Me? I say it’s your call. But I will say this as well…not too long ago, I was at an event and I heard an agent mention that she’d received an email from an unpublished writer and she was curious enough to go check out said writer’s website…and there wasn’t one. I have no idea whether or not it added up to much, but it’s something to consider.
Now most of us know why a website is useful. It’s more than just a way to get your name out there—it’s where readers are going to go looking for your books, for upcoming works, for news, all that fun stuff. Many of you have probably experienced the frustration of finishing a good book, hitting the web for the author’s site…only to find:
A) It doesn’t exist
B) It exists, but hasn’t been updated since 2009
C) It’s been updated, but you can’t find any excerpts
D) It’s been updated, you found excerpts, but you can’t find anything about the backlist
Yes, there are other ways to find some of this info and yes, some look for it. But others *cough, cough like me cough, cough* will put it on a to-do list that ends up lost or forgotten and that book is a book I end up not buying…I just never remember to check it out.
If there are been some information on it? It could have been an entirely different outcome—one that ended with me preordering, possibly ordering backlist books, etc, etc.
Certain things just belong on a website and while it would seem logical, sometimes you don’t easily find the stuff you’d hoped to find.
You want excerpts. The length of it is up to you—many authors are bound by word count and we can’t give too much of it away, but unless it’s like a microscopic short story, hopefully the excerpt is more than three paragraphs long.
You want covers. We like pretty pictures…okay, it’s more complicated than that, but the graphics catch the eye. Please show the cover.
We want the backlist. Please, please, please give us your backlist. If we like your books, we’re going to want more.
We want the upcoming books. If we don’t know they are coming out, how can we get excited about them?
Beyond that? Everybody has different likes and dislikes, different expectations, but most readers go to an author’s site for books, yes? If you can’t tell us the bare minimum about the books…it’s easily a lost sale.
- Shiloh Walker