Friday, April 9, 2010

An Analysis of the Writer Online: Maria Snyder's Online Presence

Have I convinced you to buy Maria Snyder's INSIDE OUT yet? And have you clicked on my contest on Monday for a chance to win a signed copy, or signed Maria Snyder bookmarks? DO IT!

Today, I'm going to focus on the internet presence of an author. I've been thinking a lot about this lately, including what kinds of things I want to do to change up my own website. So today, let's check out what Maria's doing online.

First things first: Maria's author page. An author page is important--I honestly don't know why any writer whose works is published or will be published doesn't already have a web page. Readers want to know what you write--and YOUR link should be the first thing that pops up on Google. If not, you risk losing a potential reader. It's that simple.

It's even more important if you're a multi-book author, like Maria. Now you need a webpage that gathers together all your work in one place--so if someone reads and loves INSIDE OUT, you now have a convenient way to find the author. Let's face it--as an author, it's your name that's the brand people look for.

Maria's got a great online presence already. Her personal homepage is easy to find and well laid out.
Now, I know some of you are going to look at that and go, "eh." It's not flashy. There's no graphics jumping out at you, no background music, there's not even a Flash intro.

Which is GREAT.

For an author page, information is key. Which means: don't hide your information with lots of bells and whistles! I see this all the time when I look for an author's email. Let's say I read and loved a book. You guys know this isn't a book blogger site, but if there's a book I truly love, then I want to feature it with a review and an interview. So, I've read Awesome Book, and look for Awesome Author's webpage. I click on Awesome Author's webpage...and can't find her contact info. Sometimes I'll click around, try a few of the randomly named pages ("musings" is common, as are other cutesy phrases that don't really tell you what the page actually is). If I can't find the email address in a matter of seconds, or if the page itself has so many bells and whistles that it doesn't load almost immediately...I don't feature that book on this blog. Period. There are too many other books out there that have what I need instantly. I don't want to have to dig through fancy graphics, cute-but-meaningless fluff, and Flash intros just to find what I'm looking for.

Take a look, also, at the kind of information Maria has. She's got the typical--contact info, reviews, etc., but she also very cleverly grouped all her book covers into one place, has a separate sections for writers (which I appreciate), and has a pretty unique contest page. Seriously. Go check that out. She includes a very clever idea for a referral program...and a way to get more readers to her website and her series.

So--all of that was what an AUTHOR webpage should look like. But what about a BOOK webpage? Recently, Harlequin Teen developed and launched a webpage specifically for INSIDE OUT

And it's loaded with bells and whistles. There's sound, jumping text, Flash, moving pictures, video. Everything.
Which is GREAT.

Look, a BOOK website is different from an AUTHOR website. A book website should be where all the cool effects are. It should have the fancy stuff, the eye-grabbing details that make you curious. 

It should be fun--there's games on the INSIDE OUT website that are just pure fluff, but fun. It should be interactive. I can click here, there, find new stuff, make discoveries. It should grab my attention: the sounds and video that automatically play when the page loads does just that.

It should also have the basic info readily available--which this page does.
The bar at the bottom of the page is easy to find, but doesn't obscure the fancy stuff. If all I want to do is order the book, the first link is right there at my fingertips. If I want to do more--follow on Facebook or Twitter, or anything like that--it's also easily findable and located.

And there you have it. Two examples of what an author should be doing online in her own webpage--easy to read, simple layout, obvious information--and in her book webpage--fun, exciting, and intriguing.

Basically, an AUTHOR website should answer all your questions, but a BOOK website should make you ask questions...questions that get answered when you buy the book.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Beth. Your descriptions and examples are really clear. It makes a the project of developing an author website less daunting, and maybe even fun!!

lisa and laura said...

Great post! This is so relevant for us as we consider getting a website up and running for LIAR SOCIETY. Thanks Beth!

Kim Harrington said...

I totally agree (says the girl with the plain, simple website).


Candyland said...

Excellent post! All things every author needs:)

Liza said...

Thanks Beth. Great insight.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

This week has been a great series. Today's post is one of my favorites! :-)

Matthew MacNish said...

This is great advice Beth, thanks a lot! My problem is that there is a famous gay porn star whose screen name is my real name: Matthew Rush.

Go ahead and Google image search him ladies, he IS hawt.

But arggh does it suck for me. Any Google search will return hundreds of links for content related to him before it mentions me or my blog. Or at least it will until I become published. Then it will still probably be tens of links.

Maybe I should consider a pen name.

Shameless promotion for all your other reader/followers:

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This one is pure query/submission gold folks in which she shares the ACTUAL query that landed her an agent and the correspondence that ensued.

Please stop by to read, comment and follow.


Myrna Foster said...

Thank you! I don't need all of this yet, but I've wondered what I'll do when I get to that point. This post answered a lot of my questions.

B. Miller said...

Nice post! Thanks for making the distinction between the two! This was really informative and I love having an example of an author's website I can compare and contrast with the one I'm working on for myself.

Have a great weekend!

Unknown said...

I love Maria's website! I have a blog but need to set up a website. I've only gotten as far as buying my domain name but love researching author websites. Thanks for this, Beth, and have a great weekend! :)

Theresa Milstein said...

I like the layout and design of her website too. Bells and whistles are not what people are looking for when they click an author's site. As you say, they want information to be obvious.

Anonymous said...

This is a great post, Beth. I never looked at the differences between book sites and author sites like that before. Great food for thought. Thank you!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

OMG. You totally read my mind with this post. AGAIN. Please stop. (not really)

I am in the process of putting together an author page and a book page and voila! here you are with the great, handy tips.


Anonymous said...

Lots of good stuff to ponder here- thanks, Beth!

Anonymous said...

Yes! I whole-heartedly agree with this. While I do appreciate a pretty website, I'd take functionality over flashiness any day. When I visit an author's website, I am curious about them and their books. If the info are difficult to find, I probably won't stick around.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Great post! And thanks for starting this question at elevensies. I got to check out lots of cool author websites.

Christina Farley said...

Great points here. I'm taking notes!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great post. You do an excellent job of showing the difference between an author & book website. I'll definitely check out Maria Snyder's site.

Sherrie Petersen said...

Nice review of the websites and their purposes. I always agree that simple is best.

Tess said...

How timely because I just wrote a post about this very topic (for wed)!

I recently finished crafting my website. It's not fancy, but I ended up happy and I used a $5/month service, which is a fine, fine price. It comes w/ free updates so I can add more info (like cover art and calendar info) as that comes along.

According to your great post, I followed the rules! that's good to know - especially since I was kind of shooting in the dark on it :D