These days, every writer needs a website.
True or false?
True – but why?
And, more importantly, what?
It’s been mentioned quite a bit by my fellow ‘Rati that writing is no longer simply about writing the books, and hasn’t been for some years. In fact, there’s been a lot of talk lately about whether writers should also be their own publishers and cover designers, but I won’t go into that one again. It’s been covered far better than I could in Allison’s recent post.
But even if you don’t go down the eBook route, there’s a whole load of other stuff that goes along with being a writer and occasionally swamps the creative process altogether. Websites, although creative in their own right – and certainly a creative outlet – can be one of them. Websites are a vital but time-consuming (and possibly hideously expensive) part of the job, but if all you’re providing is information on yourself and your work, how do you know it’s the right info, presented in the best possible way?
The reason for this post is because my website is due for revamp. In fact, it’s probably overdue for revamp, but there never seems to be the time to devote to pulling the whole thing down and rebuilding it from scratch. I’ve been trawling the web quite a bit recently looking for good and bad examples of web design, purely from a visitor’s point of view. I won’t name the guilty parties, because this website has already done it for me.
Just as you can learn a lot about writing from reading bad books as well as brilliant ones, you can learn a fair bit about web design from looking at appalling websites. Good design looks effortless but is incredibly difficult to do well.
But design is one thing.
Content is another.
A writer’s website, after all, should be more about the content than anything else.
What makes you seek out a writer’s site?
Personally, I don’t put ‘crime fiction authors’ into Google and see what comes up. I usually search on a title or a specific author’s name. Why? Because I’ve heard them mentioned somewhere like here, or recommended, or there’s been a lot of hoo-hah for some reason. I always click on what looks like their official site – I’d rather go straight to the horse’s mouth than a publisher’s author page or similar. Don’t know why – just personal preference, I guess.
But, what do I look for when I get there?
If they’ve written a number of books, I want the right order for the series. I want publication dates for the next book. An opening chapter and/or an excerpt is always good. The publisher and ISBN can be useful for ordering. Tour dates are a plus.
But that’s just me.
What I’d like your help with, is what do YOU want from an author’s website? What are examples of good sites you’ve visited, and why? What DON’T you like about either writer’s sites, or other websites you’ve been on, for whatever reason?
I remember visiting a Thai restaurant site in a town where I was going to do an evening speaking engagement. I went to the site both to get the address, so I could be sure we could find the right place, and make sure we had time to be in and out before I had to be at the gig.
The only thing not on the website was the restaurant’s opening hours. Doh!
Anyway, let me know your thoughts, ‘Rati!
This week’s Word of the Week is toxicophobia, a morbid fear of poisoning. And, along with this – but perhaps more worrying – we get toxicomania, which means a morbid craving for poisons. Doesn’t say why, though…