Monday, July 2, 2012

10 Things Your Author Website Must Have

Author Websites can contain a lot of information and serve as a means to brand, market, promote, and sell. So what types of “extras,” beyond press releases, a biography, testimonials, excerpts, etc. should go on a site?

1.      Offer short quizzes. People are self-absorbed and love to test themselves and see how they rank against others.
2.      Post poll results on issues related to your book’s topic .
3.      Share links to related news stories. Position yourself as an expert/authority by commenting on these aggregated stories.
4.      Consider offering a short study guide online.
5.      Reveal useful statistics and relevant factoids.
6.      Offer a quick resource guide related to your book’s topic.
7.      Post a QR barcode to offer special content or discounts.
8.      Have a section for people to post comments/feedback on a topic you begin a discussion on.
9.      Sell the books, products, and services of other people that you create an arrangement with.
10.  Post a photo of something catchy or odd, beautiful (nature), attractive (people), babies, pets – anything that few could complain about but would find amazing.

Don’t forget to use empowering words on your site – words that describe something positive, powerful and unique. Quantify how you are enhancing something by fixing, resolving, improving, saving, increasing, expanding, etc.

It is important that a site use language that is clear and concise, that contains SEO terms but doesn’t sound filled with industry jargon, and uses words that are descriptive, exciting, and moving. Your site may be your only chance to impress someone to take an action step, such as read your blog, buy your book, or see you make a presentation.

The best Web sites do not overwhelm but provide enough “teaser” information to seduce the reader and win him or her over. You can do this by regularly updating your site and finding new ways to connect with others. If you look at your site and conclude it is sufficient – but not great – keep at it. Don’t accept the ordinary, regular, typical or expected. Otherwise you will get responses that are merely ordinary.

Interview With New York Times Bestselling Children’s Book Author Patricia Polacco

1. What inspired you to become a children's book author?  I came from a family of amazing story tellers. My mother's people came from Russia and the Ukrane, my father's people from Ireland. Both of those cultures are amazing story tellers. So I was raised "hearing" stories, beautifully told. They are in my heart as long as I live. Most of my life I have been a story teller and then when I was 41 years old, I started writing these stories down and since I'm an artist, I drew pictures to go along with the stories. Twenty seven years ago, I went to New York, armed with eight of these booklets and sold everything I had to several publishers and that is the beginning of why I am now a children's author.

2. What is your new book about? Well, the latest book that has been published is the "Art of Miss Chew", detailing my struggle with dyslexia and how art saved my life. But the newest book soon to be released, there are three of them, for Penguin, it is called, "Bully". It is about cyber bullying among 6th grade girls. This book is scheduled for release in the fall of 2012.  I have for Paula Wiseman books, a prequel to "The Keeping Quilt", which is called "The Blessing Cup", about the pograms in Russia and why my family fled. At the same time, we are adding chapters to "The Keeping Quilt", which brings it up to modern time. Those two books will come out together. For Scholastic, a biography of Clara Barton called "Daisy and Me", will soon be released. These latter books mentioned are scheduled to be released the fall of 2013.

3. What have you done to promote and market your book? I appear at between 250 and 300 schools every year and I do book signings for various book stores. I spearhead a non-teasing campaign that has been in place since 1998. I advocate for abused and homeless children. I have a web site,, as well as a Facebook page and Twitter page.

4. Any advice for a struggling writer? Keep the story simple and very near your heart. I write personal narratives, which are about family and home and people that I love. Write from the heart, don't try to overwrite, don't over polish your words. Your voice is dictated by the way you talk, so try to be faithful to the way you turn a phrase.

5. Where do you see the book publishing industry heading? I personally believe picture books are not lending themselves well to the electronic market. I do believe chapter books and novels will most probably be predominately electronic books. But picture books are on double spreads as a rule and do not translate well to a tiny single screen. I believe there is no experience in the world more gratifying to a child than to be held in the lap of someone they love or admire and hear a story being read just to them from a book. As far as the future of publishing, not many of us know what the future holds.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person.

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