26 Responses to “Yay or Nay: Author Websites”

  1. Avaron Dale October 19, 2006 at 10:28 AM #

    Frustrated is putting it mildly. I hate when things aren’t updated, if only monthly with a linked blog post, so we readers know what’s going on. Additionally, it’s hard for a newbie, want-to-be-an-author to convince the husband/significant other that a website on a reliable host (and not husband’s not always available one) is a good thing when you don’t have even a contract in hand for a book.

  2. Jane October 19, 2006 at 10:51 AM #

    How ironic that you would post about this. I have been planning on putting up my own frustration about author websites, myspace sites, and blogs since I did the Nalini Singh contest. It amazes me that almost all the reader blogs look professionally done whereas many author blogs look like they threw something together in the middle of the night with no lights on.

    I also don’t understand the lack of a decent website and frankly, don’t know how someone like Suzanne Brockmann gets away with the train wreck that is her site. She certainly makes enough cash to hire someone to do it for her.

    It would take maybe two days to put up a professional looking website. And I don’t want to hear from an author that they don’t have time. Hello. All these bloggers have full time jobs. Okay, I’ll rant over at my site on Monday about this.

  3. RG October 19, 2006 at 10:56 AM #

    I believe a website is a must. I am not remotely internet saavy about such things-and trying to find the right host at the right price-and then making a site that represents well and is interesting…well its hard. {especially on my crackers and ramen diet LOL}
    But I find myself looking to know more about authors I like, and I know alot of others do as well. And I’m not super thrilled with tons of advertising either…however, ANYTHING that gives info on the author and what they are planning next, or what they have already done-is better than nothing IMO.

  4. Emma S October 19, 2006 at 11:34 AM #

    If someone doesn’t have a website, they might as well not exist in my world.

    I know I’m the extreme in that I use the internet for EVERYTHING. I mean, it shocks me to find out people still have dial-up.

    At the same time though, is a half-assed website better than no website at all? Honestly I’m not sure about that.

  5. Kristie(J) October 19, 2006 at 11:52 AM #

    You pretty much covered it for me. I get very frustrated to with an author who doesn’t have a web-site of if they do, they don’t keep it updated. I like all kinds of things about them, what’s currently out, what’s coming up and what went behind the writing of their books. One thing I’m not keen on about an author’s website though are message boards. I think they contribute to overzealousness on the part of some fans who can’t separate fiction from reality. Guest books – fine, but message boards – nope don’t like them.

  6. Dana October 19, 2006 at 12:37 PM #

    I read author web sites often for the same reasons you listed. I’m still surprised when I google an author and find that they don’t have a website. With things like blogger and livejournal it’s so easy to get information out on the internet now. Both blogger and livejournal are free and you don’t need to know html to use them.

  7. Lara Rose October 19, 2006 at 12:46 PM #

    I blogged about this recently, too, with respect to people who want to be pubbed and want to get their name out there and don’t use the Web. I’m like Emma, I do *everything* online.

    When you consider a free blog site, like wordpress, which lets you add pages and a personalized header on your blog page, I think that ‘I don’t have the $$’ is a cop-out excuse. And time? same thing… WordPress does almost everything for you. Spend an hour or two personalizing it and keep people updated on your books… published or not.

    Personally, I’m not sure the actual website has ever been a determining factor for me to buy a book, but I have stumbled across a writer’s blog whose voice intrigued me enough to go and track down their book. And, with the rising popularity of e-books, you absolutely, positively have to have a presence on the Web.

  8. Wendy October 19, 2006 at 1:47 PM #

    I utilize author web sites for the same reasons you do Angie.

    I also like to know what the author is up to as far as their career. It annoys me when a favorite author drops off the planet without any “news.” Did they get dumped by their publisher? Are family obligations keeping them from the keyboard? What? Don’t just vanish on me!

    Also, I want the series information spelled out for me. In fact, devote a separate page just to your series/connected books. That is ever so helpful!

    And lordy, and to whomever singled out Suzanne Brockmann – I couldn’t agree more. A high school computer geek could create a more professional web site than the one she’s got now. And considering she’s now a “bestseller” – well it’s just embarrassing….

  9. Karen Scott October 19, 2006 at 2:41 PM #

    I use author websites, primarily for the excerpts. I can’t tell you how crazy it makes me when I find an author I might be interested in, and hop along to their website, to find that the bleeders don’t have any excerpts up.

    Totally annoys me. I want to know if their voice appeals to me.

    I also use author websites to find their backlist.

    I rarely look at the ‘about me’ sections, unless I really loved a book that they wrote. :noway:

  10. Sharon/Maya October 19, 2006 at 2:47 PM #

    Echoing Karen’s remarks. It irritates the hell out of me for an author to have a “coming soon” book but no information whatsoever about it! Publishing sites are just as guilty.

    I know for instance Ellora’s Cave and Venus Press have a coming soon page but it’s only the cover. No blurb, no info. VERY annoying. But what annoys me even more is when I take the trouble to LOOK UP an author from one of those coming soon covers, go to her website and SHE doesn’t have a blurb or excerpt for that same coming soon title.

    If I have to work that hard to figure out if I want to buy a book, guess what, I ain’t gonna buy it!

  11. Jana J. Hanson October 19, 2006 at 3:20 PM #

    I use author websites for those same reasons. If I cannot find such-and-such author dot com, I Google or Yahoo. I like author websites to be easy to read first, and fun/flirty/theme-oriented last. Chances are I saw the cover and decided the author was worth my time. If the author doesn’t care about their web presence, I may not give them that time again.

    The ads don’t bother me (especially for e-published only authors) but I’m not a big fan of blinkies or off-kilter formatting, or so much crapola that I can’t tell what’s an ad or book cover. Clean and simple, I say.

    Excellent RTB post!

  12. Aimee Beckmann October 19, 2006 at 7:45 PM #

    For pretty much the same reasons you listed, but I’d also add that I like to see if they’ve written any “how to” type articles on writing and whether they have any resource links that I haven’t read yet.

  13. Shelli Stevens October 19, 2006 at 8:25 PM #

    :exactly: Good topic in RTB and in here! I often rant about the same thing you did in RTB.

    The author website is a big promo tool I think. I think a problem many authors get into is hiring someone to build the website, but don’t want to have to pay to get it updated all the time.

    I sure didn’t want to! That’s why I taught myself basic HTML and do it myself now! Yeah it can suck, and takes time. But it’s investment. My blog and website are one big way I get my name out! Or try to. LOL. :jump:

  14. Keishon October 19, 2006 at 10:26 PM #

    :exactly:

    Whenever I finish reading a really good book I go looking the author’s website. I am very fustrated as a reader with a) not finding one and b) looking at one that wasn’t updated since God knows when c) I really wish Diana Norman would get a website and that her current publisher would reprint her books. Sorry. I’ve written her once and left my email address to no avail. Never mind me this is reader fustration and you tapped right into it.

  15. Kimber October 19, 2006 at 10:51 PM #

    Honestly, I use the web for almost everything yet I don’t often go to author’s websites. Print novels are now usually quite good at having a list of previous books at the front and a coming soon at the back. Then I use Amazon to put my pre-order in.

    The only time I use the website is when I really, really love a book and want to send fanmail.

    For the e-published gang, well, an updated website is the price of admission.

  16. Rosie October 19, 2006 at 10:55 PM #

    I’ve had pretty much the same experiences as everyone else here. It’s so frustrating to go to an author site for a backlist when you know there is one and either finding a blank page waiting to be updated or nothing at all. It makes me feel as though the author really doesn’t care whether or not we buy their backlist or other releases.

    Also, ditto on the excerpts. I really appreciate the author and book store sites that have them.

  17. Lori G. Armstrong October 20, 2006 at 9:19 AM #

    I’m up in the air about excerpts. I have them on my romance website, but not my mystery site. And I fall into that “why hasn’t she updated her site” category for the mystery site, which I’m – or should I say my webmaster – is currently remedying because I have a new release next month. I think it also depends on whether you’re e-published or traditional print. I put out a paperback book a year in mystery so I’d feel silly updating the site every month. However, there is a link to our group blog, which I blog on once a week, so the updates about my writing life are done there.

  18. Avaron Dale October 20, 2006 at 9:27 AM #

    An addition to my earlier comment, another thing I’m getting really sick and tired of? Going to a site only to find a ‘in your face’ advertisement for Firefox. This ad usually consists of a bold statement at the top of the page text with words to the effect of “You moron, I see you’re still using Internet Explorer… you should get the most secure browser on the web – Firefox!” and a link to Firefox’s website.

    All well and good that the site owner prefers Firefox, but please don’t shove your preference down my throat like my using the more commonly designed for browser is a bad thing and will result in the destruction of the human race. I don’t like Firefox – for two reasons, it doesn’t work well on my computer and it’s not adaptable enough for me to work with. I stick to IE… it may be insecure, but can you swear an oath to me that Firefox is some heaven-sent miracle with absolutely no flaws? I didn’t think so.

    Okay, done bitching now.

  19. Rene Lyons October 20, 2006 at 10:28 AM #

    I love checking out author’s websites. What I can’t stand it a messy, slapped together feel to one. Especially if the author has the means to have a really nicely done professional one made. If an author doesn’t have such resources (me raising my hand) then at least upkeep your site yourself and make it as clean as possible. Why add silly graphics, clutter, glitter, ugly fonts, or flashing graphics? I think people forget these are supposed to be professional sites. A lot I’ve seen are just plain ugly or juvenile.

    I do my site myself for two reason, one, I lack the funds to hire someone to design it and upkeep it. And two, I’m a control freak when it come to my sites. They represent me, so I want to control how people will “see” me when they come to my site. Also, I like to update it and or change it often since I get bored really quick. But one constant is that I keep the basic layout, which is clean and extremely easy to navigate. Even my blog is neat and clean and arranged in a way that visitors will have an easy time of it to venture through them.

  20. Charlene Teglia October 20, 2006 at 3:29 PM #

    I hate, hate, hate when I find a new-to-me author and they a. don’t have a website or b. it doesn’t tell me anything! No backlist, coming soon, excerpts, etc. I also hate when it looks unprofessional. Jane’s got a point, how many reader blogs out there look nicer than some author’s tripod site?

    For myself, when I first got a contract I considered a site my top priority. It’s grown and improved over the last two years, and I’m in the process of another revamp to tidy it up. If somebody wants to know more about me and where to find my books, I want to make it as easy as possible for them!

  21. Lauren October 20, 2006 at 4:27 PM #

    I think it’s just bad business for an author not to have a website. I think it’s even worse business for an author to have a website that has the trifecta of “things that annoy Lauren Dane”

    1. Music. Seriously, please don’t put crappy music at your website so it slows load and is just an attack on my ears. A song you think is great might not be thought of as others as such. I may put up my soundtracks for various books if people are interested.

    2. Colors so dark or bright I have a headache and make it impossible to read;

    and lastly

    3. Confusing or incomplete design. If I have to page through twelve clicks to find something simple like contact info or your current books, the site is ineffective. If I can’t find your publishers or buylinks, I’m going to give up.

    I use author websites all the time, especially when I’m looking for a book I’ve been waiting for or I’ve just discovered an author. Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter site is a great example of a site that is cohesive and has information where you’d expect it to me. Some other sites of big name authors make me cringe because they don’t even have basic coming soon info.

    I like to look around to see what other people are doing effectively and not so effectively. It helps me to make my own page better. And I love to hear from people about what does and doesn’t work (for instance my font was too small and I got some complaints about it so I was able to fix that)

    Oh and one last thing – keep it simple. As in http://www.authorname.com or net if you have to. Free sites like geocities and angelfire have convoluted urls and aren’t easy to find and I hate when I get bombarded with pop up ads. As a reader, it’s like blog ads, I don’t want to feel pumped for every last dime. A domain name isn’t that expensive and many hosting sites offer very simple plans that are inexpensive and come with easy templates if you can’t design them yourself or can’t afford to have a designer work for you.

  22. Ursula October 20, 2006 at 6:35 PM #

    If I find a book I like, I always check the author’s site to see if there’s more, figure out order, learn about them etc. I also travel to sites I see referenced in blogs. And sites that are linked to author blogs. I also go to them when I’m buying e-books. I am always surprised when you hit a big author’s site and it’s full of adds and such. I also get a little bent when there’s just too much stuff. It’s like someone puked all over the screen. Music also bugs me. I usually have Rhapsody on my headphones as I cruise the net, and the music competes. Also, I’m not sure why you would add music to the site, unless you were a band, or singer.

    I don’t mind static sites, that are not updated every day, as long as they keep updates on releases. I do like author blogs sometimes, but it depends on the blogger. I like the sites that have the blog, or a sample of it right on the front page.

    I sat in on a session at NJ, and learned my site is EVERYTHING you should NEVER EVER do in your web site. (this was the highlight of the conference for me, next to the excellent g&ts at the bar) I got a template, had a friend put it up, kind of just for fun. I’m not published, so it was just sort of floating out there. Now that I’m ‘on the way’, redesign is in order. :away: Most of what you guys have said was covered as no nos in the program. The speaker talked about how few minutes a person spends on a site, and how important it is for the site owner to ‘cleanly and quickly convey the most important info in the ‘power corner’ (upper left, just under the header) and, then, convert’ the visitor: in other words, get them to do something: take note, sign up, buy. It was a real eye opener to me.

  23. Lara Rose October 20, 2006 at 11:40 PM #

    An addition to my earlier comment, another thing I’m getting really sick and tired of? Going to a site only to find a ‘in your face’ advertisement for Firefox. This ad usually consists of a bold statement at the top of the page text with words to the effect of “You moron, I see you’re still using Internet Explorer… you should get the most secure browser on the web – Firefox!” and a link to Firefox’s website.

    Oh, dear, Avaron, I hope that wasn’t my site you were offended by… the guy who designed the template I poached and played with for my blog added that kind of comment in and I have no idea how to take it out… I did apologize for the message as soon as I found it, and I’m trying to get an updated version installed without it. ;)

  24. Erin the Innocent October 21, 2006 at 1:17 AM #

    I do go to author websites often. I like seeing what’s coming up and getting back lists and stuff like that : )

    I’d rather an author NOT have a website though if they aren’t going to update. It’s annoying beyond belief to find only old stuff on the site

  25. Willa October 21, 2006 at 5:52 AM #

    I do go to author websites often. I like seeing what’s coming up and getting back lists and stuff like that : )

    I’d rather an author NOT have a website though if they aren’t going to update. It’s annoying beyond belief to find only old stuff on the site.

    :exactly:

    And there are a lot of sites like that out there!

  26. Barbara B. October 21, 2006 at 4:57 PM #

    One of my favorite authors, Kaitlyn O’Connor, hasn’t updated her website since before May 2004! That really blows my mind. She’s had several books released since then. I guess she’s found that her books sell well enough without the bother of maintaining an up-to-date
    website. It annoys me but I’m hooked on her books so I buy them as they unexpectedly pop up.

About Me


Angela James

There is nothing worse than writing a bio. And writing one for your blog sidebar? Blech. Maybe you landed here via Google, followed me from Twitter (does that make you a stalker?) or maybe we met at a conference or you clicked a link from a comment I made at a blog you visited. Hopefully whatever I said didn't make you so mad you came looking for a picture to throw darts at (yep, that's me up above, in my favorite cowboy hat) but instead drove you to find out more about the amazingly witty and intelligent person behind the amazingly witty and intelligent comment.

However you found me, who you found is Angela James, executive editor of Carina Press, Harlequin's new digital-first press. I'm passionate about digital publishing, my mission is to drag people to the digital dark side, one reader (and author) at a time. I'm also Brianna's mommy. At my blog you'll get an odd mix of personal and professional posts about parenting, publishing, books, cooking, sewing and life in general. Come back often, comment frequently and go green—buy ebooks!

Please note that this is my personal blog and my opinions are neither that of Harlequin, nor representative of their opinions.

 

Find Me Here

First, I blog once or twice a week at theCarina Press blog, talking about the job, the authors, the books and other things Carina Press. And, of course, you can always find me on Twitter. Or Facebook, if you prefer (mostly the same content, one feeds the other). I also run the Carina Press Twitter and Facebook accounts. Social media, it's where it's at (well, it's where I'm at, anyway).
 

Follow me on Twitter

 

Recent Comments

  • Lindsay Kiernan:
    "Good to be careful, especially at large events. My Blog"
  • Anna M. Lee:
    "Great advice, got to remember this when I got to my next conference!"
  • Giora:
    "I don’t travel much, but waiting for your self-editing tips. Best wishes with your new newsletter."
  • Blythe Gifford:
    "Let me reiterate the point about knowing where the exits/fire stairs are. If there is smoke in the..."
  • Ella Quinn:
    "Great advice. I’ll be there with business cards, and I’m excited to meet people I know from..."