A Good Author Website Is…. ?

By • Jan 22nd, 2009 • Category: 26th Story, Book News and Publishing, Books, Current Affairs, Music, Technology

I have a dumb question, one that’s been nagging at me recently: What exactly is an author or book website supposed to do?

The short answer is sell books. But it ain’t that simple.

If you stop and think about it, give or take a few bells and whistles (the ubiquitous flash intro page, for example), most author websites are exactly the same: Descriptive copy, an excerpt, author bio, possibly a trailer or Q&A, reviews, events & readings, and a link to Amazon and other book retailers. In other words: an electronic business card. It comes as no surprise, then, that a recent Codex study quoted in Courtney Sullivan’s article “See the Web Site, Buy the Book” found that 8% of book buyers had visited author websites in a given week. 8%!

So what would engage the other 92% of the book buying market? What are the elements of a successful author/ book website? (On Friday Debbie is hosting a breakfast for our authors to discuss these very questions so more to come on this subject from the rest of the HS gang). For now, here are some of my unscientific observations. I would love to hear yours….

A good author website:

- Is interactive and speaks to a distinct community

- Is inherently entertaining

- Engages someone who has never heard of the book or author

- Gives the reader a reason to come back

- Can be found easily on Google

Here are 5 authors who are getting it right.

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John Hodgman: http://www.areasofmyexpertise.com/

Tim Ferris: http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/

Chris Anderson http://www.thelongtail.com/

Sloane Crosley http://sloanecrosley.com/

Cory Doctorow http://craphound.com/


(note the savvy publicist Sloane Crosley is the only author here who has used her name rather than the book title)

- Julia

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    I can't agree with your points any more.

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    How does my author website measure up?

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