DISCUSSION POSTEvery so often, the topic of expectations around author websites comes up. I've seen several authors complain about readers asking the same questions over and over. Well, do you have a FAQ on your site? Not all readers use them and that IS annoying but one author who was complaining about readers constantly asking didn't have a FAQ section on her site or her FB page. BZZZZ! Sympathy lost! I know that I get cranky when a site doesn't have the information I'm looking for, regardless of what type of site it is. When I'm looking at author sites, I have certain expectations. I'll share those with you today and then I hope you'll share yours. The differences in our expectations will make for some interesting discussions I'm sure!
As I was thinking about the post, I realized that my expectations as a reader and as a reviewer/blogger are sometimes different. Certainly, what I look for since I've started blogging has changed. Do you find that also? For instance, I never cared, and mostly still don't, about press pages or media kits. As a reader, they don't interest me. As a blogger, I only care if I'm doing a feature on that author, and then I'd rather they email the kit. The main advantage of a press or media kit is that relevant info is typically all gathered up into one place so you don't have to hunt here, there, and everywhere. Since I rarely use these kits, I don't care if the author site has them or not.
Another item I don't care about is awards pages. If you want to list awards and nominations with the individual book, fine, but I have no use or interest in a page devoted to that info. Some readers do care and enjoy reading that info but I'm usually not one of them. Now and again, I'll be curious and take a peek but I'm perfectly fine with that info being left off an author's site.
So, what do I want?
Make your site easy to navigate. Have everything organized and neatly labeled. Don't make us dig for info, and for the love of crackers have a damn search function! Yes, an archive function is nice but it doesn't come close to a search function. And please don't hide the search function, make it visible and easy to find. It is appalling the number of authors and bloggers who fail to include a search function. If I can't easily find what I'm looking for, I'm outa there and I won't be back.
Book info. That seems basic and simple enough but so many authors get it wrong. Have a book? Have a page for it. Have a series? Make a page for the series and individual pages for individual books. AND LIST THEM IN ORDER. Sorry for the yelling but that's a huge pet peeve of mine. So many authors either don't group their books by series or fail to list the order. There was an author, dozens of books published, several different series, whose site is, or was when I was trying to use it, a disaster. I eventually found the series I was looking for and then had to guess at the order of the books. I had never read this author before but had heard such good things about this one series that I wanted to try it. I poked around and finally, after looking at the order in which they were listed, picked what I thought was book one and requested it from my library. I got it, started to read it, and discovered it was the most recent book, something like number 15 in the series. I gave up on the book and I never have gone back to try the first in the series. Also, don't assume that everyone who comes to your blog can or will look up necessary book info at goodreads, Shelfari, or Amazon. Amazon doesn't give series info and not all visitors to your site will be aware of sites such as goodreads, Shelfari, etc or they may want all the info in one place instead of hopping here, there, and everywhere. If they can't find the info they need they may not come back to your site, and more importantly, may not give your books a chance.
So, book info should include the cover, and any alternate covers or titles it's been published under, the blurb, story length, series name and position, buying links, and the release date. Those are my musts.
Author bio. Please keep it short. I don't need paragraph after paragraph, detail after detail. Some authors will have both a short bio and an extended one. I almost always opt for the short one. Author pics are nice too but please, please, PLEASE don't make me leave your site to see them. Yes, there are authors who have a page called photos and when you click on it, there's a link to an album or gallery offsite or it automatically takes you to that offsite location. No. Put your pics on the site or don't have them.
Social media links. Are you on social media? Put your links on your site and make them visible. Before I got involved in blogging, I didn't do much in the way of social media but as a blogger, I appreciate the links.
Blog. Do you have a blog? Include a link. Readers and bloggers will appreciate this.
Contact info. Is there way to contact you? I don't care if its to you the author directly, your publicist, your assistant, or your cat, but have a way for people to contact you. Want review requests to go to a certain person? Put that info on the site with that person's name and contact info. Who do we contact for interview and other requests? Put that info on the site.
FAQs. Don't be like that author I mentioned at the beginning. If there are questions that you get repeatedly, make a FAQ area and make it easy to find.
Some author sites that I like, though none of them are perfect: Kelley Armstrong (well labeled and easy to navigate), Patricia Briggs (especially her books area), Mike Mullin (well organized and he has 3 bios for you to choose from :D), Linda Poitevin (her social media and search function are right there and easy to see)
So, what do YOU want in a site? What don't you want? What aggravates you? Is there an author site that you think is well done?