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Cathy C
03-16-2007, 02:49 AM
Hi, all!
I'm going to be speaking on a panel at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention about website design for both aspiring and published authors. It occurred to me that, really---the reason for a website is to reach READERS. So, I'm wondering what YOU like to see in an author's website when you're thinking like a reader. I hope a few of you won't mind answering a few questions about your preferences. I know there are going to be a million opinions on design and, what one person considers "easy" to use, another person will find difficult.

But I'm planning to speak on the theory that there are a few elements that EVERY author site should contain, that can make or break a happy visit from a fan.

So, which of these elements do you REQUIRE on an author's site in order to visit a second time?

1. In-depth information about the author? (and how in-depth do you like it? The author's hobbies and interests or National Enquirer-style dirt?)
2. The books:
a. Blurbs and covers only?
b. Excerpt to read (is a chapter enough for you to know if you want to buy?)
c. Reviews of the book from sites/reviewers you know?
d. Direct hyperlink to buy somewhere?
e. Do you like ALL the books on one LOOONG page, or go from page to page for more depth?
3. Photo gallery? Signings only with fans and other authors, or at-home candid stuff (their office, pets, etc?)
4. Is a dedicated forum/message board a must or is a guestbook okay?
5. How far in advance do you like to see upcoming book tours or appearances show up on the site?
6. Do you like to play games or puzzles on a site?
7. Are contests to win books/prizes important to you?
8. Is there anything else you like/dislike when you visit a new site (music, "whistles and bells" like tracking cursors with bats or hearts, book trailers (movies about the books), or flashing/moving banner ads?)

Next, how often do you visit an individual author's site if it's a FAVORITE author? Do you visit:

1. Hardly ever. I just like to read. Don't really care about the author's life.
2. Occasionally. Mostly when a new book is due out.
3. Pretty often. I visit favorite author sites every few weeks.
4. Nearly every day. I go to at least one author site a day and always look for new sites.

How about if it's a NEW author you've only just learned about?

1. Do you visit their site to read excerpts to see if you want to buy the book?
2. Does the design or ease of use of the site influence your purchase of their book? Do you EXPECT multiple pages to wander through?
3. Does WHERE their site is matter? For example, if the domain name is the author's name, does that matter to you more than say, if the author has a single page on a community site, like Authors Den?

Any help appreciated! Thanks in advance for anyone who is willing to take the time to answer. :D

alleycat
03-16-2007, 02:56 AM
One comment. I didn't see anything there about a newsletter, which could be tied in with a website.

I don't visit many author's websites, but one of my favorite contemporary writers sends out a quarterly e-mail newsletter. I sometimed enjoy reading it. I believe I signed up for it on his website.

PeeDee
03-16-2007, 03:04 AM
I quite like blogs.

Honestly, the web-site I point to as best-designed auctorial web-site is Neil Gaiman's. It's relaxed, it's friendly, it's not a sales pitch, it's entertaining all by itself,

Otherwise, I would at least like a site to be clean and concisely designed. I like Peter Straub, but have no end of difficulty navigating his site. Now I'm devout enough to get through it, but if i were just a fan looking for the name of some book by this Straub guy, his web-site would bamboozle and lose me quickly.

paprikapink
03-16-2007, 03:05 AM
I like it when the website gives me the feel that I've stumbled upon the author in his or her natural setting. Like it's not a corporate production. Ursula K. LeGuin's website comes to mind. It's homey. And informative. And really reflects Ursula.

Cathy C
03-16-2007, 03:16 AM
I guess I didn't consider newsletters to be part of a website, so that's useful information.

And favorite/least favorite sites are welcome so I can visit them to look around.

Thanks! Keep 'em coming. :)

PeeDee
03-16-2007, 03:16 AM
I like it when the website gives me the feel that I've stumbled upon the author in his or her natural setting. Like it's not a corporate production. Ursula K. LeGuin's website comes to mind. It's homey. And informative. And really reflects Ursula.

And on the other end of the spectrum is J.K. Rowling's web-site, which is more complicated than...than...really complicated things.

Jennifer L
03-16-2007, 03:32 AM
My sister loves author websites that look as if they're written by a character in a book. I HATE that conceit but I know she's not the only one who finds it appealing.

For me personally:
1. I don't care that much about the author. Tell me a little about your hobbies and maybe how many dogs you own. If something in your life inspired your book, I often like to know about that (i.e., you're a former FBI agent writing thrillers about FBI agents). But that's about it.

2. Cover and blurbs with a link to the first few pages so I can read it and see if it's up my alley. (Same as I'd do in a bookstore). Reviews are great. Reader reviews are fine, if they're NOT anonymous. I don't need any hyperlinks; I know where to find books. I like a few books presented per page so I don't have to keep hopping from page to page, but not so cluttered that I can't figure out how to navigate the site.

3. A modest author photo is fine. Doing something apt/candid is fine. But I don't really care what the author looks like or how cute the cat is, so photo/photo gallery isn't necessary. I do care if they own a malamute, because anyone who owns a malamute is a WONDERFUL person and they cannot post too many pictures of said malamute, but that is a personal quirk. Also, re: author photos. I had SUCH a hot fantasy going about a certain sci fi author until . . . sometimes it's better to leave these things to our imaginations.

4. I'm not interested in forum/message board/guestbook at all.

5. I don't go to a lot of author events but 2 months' notice is good.

6. No games or puzzles for me.

7. Contests and prizes, eh.

8. I hate sites that take a long time to download or have a lot of graphics or flash etc. I'm just there for the info.

I'll visit a favorite author's website occasionally. When a new book is due or I go, "Hmm, shouldn't a new book be due?" and want to find out.

New author: I may visit the site to see if I'd buy the book. The site itself (i.e., ease of use) wouldn't make me NOT buy the book. I don't expect multiple pages to wander through, but if someone's got an interesting site, the more the merrier. Where the site is doesn't matter to me, except that I often type in "author's name dot com" to see what turns up and I wouldn't necessarily turn up a different host site.

Hope this helps.

Jennifer Lawler

PeeDee
03-16-2007, 03:35 AM
I had SUCH a hot fantasy going about a certain sci fi author until . . . sometimes it's better to leave these things to our imaginations.

Someone's hot for Hugo Gernsback (http://www.tarzan.org/hugo/hgclip14.jpg)....!

BottomlessCup
03-16-2007, 03:36 AM
Neil Gaiman's (http://www.neilgaiman.com) is pretty right on.

PeeDee
03-16-2007, 03:56 AM
George R. R. Martin's is functional and navigable, but ugly as all get out. I don't necessarily like flashy sites -- Stephen King's site is awkward for me, I've already mentioned Rowling's -- but I do like clean and easy on the eyes too.

For examples of good ways NOT to do it, look at some of the amateur web-sites on Freeweb done by authors. If you're using twenty-four-point type, silver, on a gray background and expound on te wonderfulness of your book for three pages......Nuh-uh.

Judg
03-16-2007, 05:07 AM
There was a fairly lengthy thread on this in the Novels forum two or three weeks ago. You might want to check it out (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=56370).

Maryn
03-16-2007, 05:09 AM
[QUOTE=Cathy C;1195601]So, which of these elements do you REQUIRE on an author's site in order to visit a second time?

1. In-depth information about the author? (and how in-depth do you like it? The author's hobbies and interests or National Enquirer-style dirt?) Call me cold, but I care very little about the author's private life, much less his pastimes. "Lives in Missouri with his wife, their three children, and a guinea pig, and whittles when there's time" is way too much information for me.
2. The books:
a. Blurbs and covers only? Necessary, but insufficient
b. Excerpt to read (is a chapter enough for you to know if you want to buy?) I like 2-3 pp., a teasing taste. A whole chapter's a bit much.
c. Reviews of the book from sites/reviewers you know? I only respect reviews from published, non-biased sources. Susie Creamcheese might be a most insightful reader who writes a kick-ass review, but I tend to assume any favorable review was penned by a friend, spouse, or the author himself unless it's from Publisher's Weekly or something.
d. Direct hyperlink to buy somewhere? Yeah. But not on every page, okay? I get that you'd like me to buy it.
e. Do you like ALL the books on one LOOONG page, or go from page to page for more depth? If the author has six or seven titles, one page is cool, although I don't object to a link for each title that I can click for more information (on a new page) than fit on the one page. When an author's prolific and the page gets really long, I still don't want to see a page per book, but a grouping by series, genre, decade, or any other way that makes sense.
3. Photo gallery? Signings only with fans and other authors, or at-home candid stuff (their office, pets, etc?) One posed photo of the author and maybe one or two candid small ones with fans or other authors. It shrieks both vanity and unprofessionalism to me to see a photo gallery. I don't give a damn how cute your kid or ferret is, or how photogenic you are.
4. Is a dedicated forum/message board a must or is a guestbook okay? Neither one bothers me, but I would never visit either. Unless I happened to know the author, in which case I'll sign a guestbook.
5. How far in advance do you like to see upcoming book tours or appearances show up on the site? As soon as the date's committed, up to a year in advance for a big-name author.
6. Do you like to play games or puzzles on a site? Ugh. No.
7. Are contests to win books/prizes important to you? No, even though I've won a few books and some cash.
8. Is there anything else you like/dislike when you visit a new site (music, "whistles and bells" like tracking cursors with bats or hearts, book trailers (movies about the books), or flashing/moving banner ads?) I hate all of the above. I mean hate. These are the web design features of bright middle-school students. Authors must remember the reader who has a slow connection (dial-up, or faster but shared with their entire dorm) who may be sitting, waiting for several minutes for all this unnecessary crap to load and may not know how to turn off any of it. Music in particular is inappropriate--the site's visitor may be at work, the library, or have a colicky infant asleep at last on her lap--until that damned midi started.

Next, how often do you visit an individual author's site if it's a FAVORITE author? Do you visit:

1. Hardly ever. I just like to read. Don't really care about the author's life. Yup, that's me.
2. Occasionally. Mostly when a new book is due out. Although once in a while this is me.
3. Pretty often. I visit favorite author sites every few weeks. Nope.
4. Nearly every day. I go to at least one author site a day and always look for new sites. Never.

How about if it's a NEW author you've only just learned about?

1. Do you visit their site to read excerpts to see if you want to buy the book? I might.
2. Does the design or ease of use of the site influence your purchase of their book? If the site's badly designed, I expect the book to be poor. Yeah, I know the author probably isn't also a web designer on the side, but his or her inability to have someone create a good site speaks of inattention to quality. Do you EXPECT multiple pages to wander through? Alas, I do. That's why I visit author sites so rarely.
3. Does WHERE their site is matter? For example, if the domain name is the author's name, does that matter to you more than say, if the author has a single page on a community site, like Authors Den? I'm an elitist snob, but I expect a legitimately published author to fork over the ten bucks and have a dedicated domain name, the equivalent of MarynBittner.com. I also expect a paid host/server, so the site has no advertising. The sharing of a communal site seems unprofessional, or perhaps simply unaware, to me. Worst of all in terms of professionalism are sites hosted by angelfire, geocities, or AOL.

Maryn, elitist snob, thank you veddy much! :D

DeadlyAccurate
03-16-2007, 05:37 AM
1. In-depth information about the author? (and how in-depth do you like it? The author's hobbies and interests or National Enquirer-style dirt?) Hobbies and interests are fine. I don't want to know they've been married three times, are in the middle of a divorce, and there's a custody battle going on for the kid. But hearing they live in Michigan, have three dogs, and race ostriches in their free time is a nice personal touch.

2. The books:
a. Blurbs and covers only? This is usually what I base my purchasing decision on.
b. Excerpt to read (is a chapter enough for you to know if you want to buy?) I might read a few pages. I rarely read even an entire chapter, even from an author I already know and like
c. Reviews of the book from sites/reviewers you know? Not at all interested.
d. Direct hyperlink to buy somewhere? Yes. I like for you to make it easy for me to buy. Preferably Amazon or BN.com. You don't have to make every single mention of your books link, though.
e. Do you like ALL the books on one LOOONG page, or go from page to page for more depth? I prefer a page per book.

3. Photo gallery? Signings only with fans and other authors, or at-home candid stuff (their office, pets, etc?) I usually look at them, but probably not more than about a dozen pictures.

4. Is a dedicated forum/message board a must or is a guestbook okay? I don't like guestbooks at all. I like message boards a lot, but I don't think they're actually required. I love blogs, though. That's one of my favorite features of personal websites.

5. How far in advance do you like to see upcoming book tours or appearances show up on the site? Couple months.
6. Do you like to play games or puzzles on a site? Not a bit.
7. Are contests to win books/prizes important to you? No
8. Is there anything else you like/dislike when you visit a new site (music, "whistles and bells" like tracking cursors with bats or hearts, book trailers (movies about the books), or flashing/moving banner ads?) Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, will make me close down a website faster than music, tracking cursors, or flashing/moving banner ads (though I have FireFox with AdBlock, so I'm not likely to even see the latter.)

Next, how often do you visit an individual author's site if it's a FAVORITE author? Do you visit:

1. Hardly ever. I just like to read. Don't really care about the author's life.

How about if it's a NEW author you've only just learned about?

1. Do you visit their site to read excerpts to see if you want to buy the book? Sometimes.
2. Does the design or ease of use of the site influence your purchase of their book? Do you EXPECT multiple pages to wander through? Yes and yes.
3. Does WHERE their site is matter? For example, if the domain name is the author's name, does that matter to you more than say, if the author has a single page on a community site, like Authors Den? It does reflect on the author if they use a free site, and not well. I expect the author to have their own domain name.

I also like to see a list of books they like (like a currently reading list) or that help them in their research.

ChaosTitan
03-16-2007, 07:22 AM
So, which of these elements do you REQUIRE on an author's site in order to visit a second time?

1. In-depth information about the author? (and how in-depth do you like it? The author's hobbies and interests or National Enquirer-style dirt?)

If I've read the in-depth info once, I won't bother reading it again on a second visit. Not unless there was something particularly amusing that I'd like to relive.

2. The books:
a. Blurbs and covers only? Definitely need both.
b. Excerpt to read (is a chapter enough for you to know if you want to buy?) Generally I visit an author's site after I've read the book, so an excerpt wouldn't be helpful.
c. Reviews of the book from sites/reviewers you know? I do read reviews, though, even after I've finished the book. I'm curious to know what others think.
d. Direct hyperlink to buy somewhere? Makes no difference, because I either own the book, or would find other books by that author on my own.
e. Do you like ALL the books on one LOOONG page, or go from page to page for more depth? Page to Page.

3. Photo gallery? Signings only with fans and other authors, or at-home candid stuff (their office, pets, etc?) Not important to me.

4. Is a dedicated forum/message board a must or is a guestbook okay? I think a guest book is fine, but if I really like the author, I will add their blog to my favorites (if they have one).

5. How far in advance do you like to see upcoming book tours or appearances show up on the site? At least a few weeks, because I won't check an author's site every single week. If they post two days before the signing, I'm likely to miss the info (whether the author is nearby or not).

6. Do you like to play games or puzzles on a site? Rarely. Sometimes, though, I can't resist trivia.

7. Are contests to win books/prizes important to you? I rarely enter to win, but it does tell me that the author thinks about their fans and likes to support those who support him/her. It's a good sign.

8. Is there anything else you like/dislike when you visit a new site (music, "whistles and bells" like tracking cursors with bats or hearts, book trailers (movies about the books), or flashing/moving banner ads?) I hate music and funky cursors. When I browse online, I am often listening to my own music. Website music annoys me beyond words. Flashy, graphic heavy sites give me a headache, and often I will pass them by.

Next, how often do you visit an individual author's site if it's a FAVORITE author? Do you visit:

2. Occasionally. Mostly when a new book is due out.
3. Pretty often. I visit favorite author sites every few weeks.

I'm somewhere between two and three. I check when I remember, which can be anywhere from two weeks to two months.

How about if it's a NEW author you've only just learned about?

1. Do you visit their site to read excerpts to see if you want to buy the book? If I don't already own the book, yes, I would want to check out an excerpt. Just to test out their style, see if it's something I'd like.

2. Does the design or ease of use of the site influence your purchase of their book? Do you EXPECT multiple pages to wander through? No, it's about the book, not the website.

3. Does WHERE their site is matter? For example, if the domain name is the author's name, does that matter to you more than say, if the author has a single page on a community site, like Authors Den? If it's a community site, I will pause and wonder. I may check them out a little further (for example, to see if they are self published, POD, micro press, big press). Yes, I admit it seems snobby, but I think that personal domains are more professional for published authors.


Good luck with the speaking engagement, Cathy!

Rosamund
03-16-2007, 05:51 PM
Which of these elements do you REQUIRE on an author's site in order to visit a second time?

1. In-depth information about the author? (and how in-depth do you like it? The author's hobbies and interests or National Enquirer-style dirt?)
I'm fairly neutral on this one. If it's there, I like to know how old they are, their marital status (if they want to share this), if they have any kids (again, if they want to share this), their hobbies, what they like to do in their spare time, and anything they are particularly passionate about, BUT (and it's a big but), I'm also perfectly happy to get none of this information. I want it because I'm curious about people, not because I like stalking authors.

2. The books:
a. Blurbs and covers only?
b. Excerpt to read (is a chapter enough for you to know if you want to buy?)
c. Reviews of the book from sites/reviewers you know?
d. Direct hyperlink to buy somewhere?
e. Do you like ALL the books on one LOOONG page, or go from page to page for more depth?
None of the above. I like a list of all the books they have written, with the publisher and date of publication next to the name of the book. That's all I need. If I want to read the book, I'll check it out from my local library. If I want to buy it, I'll order it from my local bookstore. The author can add in a short (one paragraph) description of the story if he/she wishes, but it's not necessary.

3. Photo gallery? Signings only with fans and other authors, or at-home candid stuff (their office, pets, etc?)
No, thank you. An photo of the author is all that I need to see, and even that isn't necessary.

4. Is a dedicated forum/message board a must or is a guestbook okay?
I don't care if the site has none of these.

5. How far in advance do you like to see upcoming book tours or appearances show up on the site?
One to two months. Any earlier, and I forget. :) Any later, and I may not be able to arrange to attend (if I so desire).

6. Do you like to play games or puzzles on a site?
Oh, yes. Definitely. I love games and puzzles.

7. Are contests to win books/prizes important to you?
No.

8. Is there anything else you like/dislike when you visit a new site (music, "whistles and bells" like tracking cursors with bats or hearts, book trailers (movies about the books), or flashing/moving banner ads?)
I dislike all of the above. I like a simple, clean site with limited graphics so it loads as quickly as possible. I prefer all the book covers to be on a separate page, so I can decide whether I want to see them or not.

Next, how often do you visit an individual author's site if it's a FAVORITE author? Do you visit:

1. Hardly ever. I just like to read. Don't really care about the author's life.
2. Occasionally. Mostly when a new book is due out.
3. Pretty often. I visit favorite author sites every few weeks.
4. Nearly every day. I go to at least one author site a day and always look for new sites.
Occasionally. When I think about it, I'll wander over and see what is happening. I'd be more interested in visiting an author's blog, or a news-group if the author belongs to it and posts.

How about if it's a NEW author you've only just learned about?

1. Do you visit their site to read excerpts to see if you want to buy the book?
2. Does the design or ease of use of the site influence your purchase of their book? Do you EXPECT multiple pages to wander through?
3. Does WHERE their site is matter? For example, if the domain name is the author's name, does that matter to you more than say, if the author has a single page on a community site, like Authors Den?
If it's a new author, I'll check out their books from the library and see of I like them. If I do, then (and only then) I will google to see if he/she has a website up. I'm mainly after the list of books the author has written at this stage. I prefer domain names that reflect the series or the author's name, as I find those easier to remember, but I won't be turned off if the web-site is part of another site. At this stage I'm just after that list of books, remember. :)

What I'm mainly looking for when I visit an author's site is how he/she is treating his/her readers. I'm asking questions like: Is the site easy to use? Does the author appear friendly? Is he/she interested in communicating with his/her readers, or is the site just one big advertisement for the books? Can I pick up any interesting snippets of information about the stories and characters in the books from the site?

Being a friendly author won't make me buy your books originally, but it will make me far more inclined to go on buying your books if I come across one (or two) that I think are below your usual standard. I will also be far, far more inclined to talk about you to my friends and to urge them to try your books.

I hope this helps, and good luck with the presentation!

MidnightMuse
03-16-2007, 06:21 PM
1. In-depth information about the author? (and how in-depth do you like it? The author's hobbies and interests or National Enquirer-style dirt?) :rant:
2. The books:
a. Blurbs and covers only? :)
b. Excerpt to read (is a chapter enough for you to know if you want to buy?) :)
c. Reviews of the book from sites/reviewers you know?:)
d. Direct hyperlink to buy somewhere?:)
e. Do you like ALL the books on one LOOONG page, or go from page to page for more depth?:Soapbox:
3. Photo gallery? Signings only with fans and other authors, or at-home candid stuff (their office, pets, etc?):Soapbox:
4. Is a dedicated forum/message board a must or is a guestbook okay?:popcorn:
5. How far in advance do you like to see upcoming book tours or appearances show up on the site? :Shrug:
6. Do you like to play games or puzzles on a site?:rant:
7. Are contests to win books/prizes important to you?:scared:
8. Is there anything else you like/dislike when you visit a new site (music, "whistles and bells" like tracking cursors with bats or hearts, book trailers (movies about the books), or flashing/moving banner ads?):box:

Next, how often do you visit an individual author's site if it's a FAVORITE author? Do you visit:

1. Hardly ever. I just like to read. Don't really care about the author's life.:snoopy:
2. Occasionally. Mostly when a new book is due out.
3. Pretty often. I visit favorite author sites every few weeks.
4. Nearly every day. I go to at least one author site a day and always look for new sites.

How about if it's a NEW author you've only just learned about?

1. Do you visit their site to read excerpts to see if you want to buy the book?:snoopy:
2. Does the design or ease of use of the site influence your purchase of their book? Do you EXPECT multiple pages to wander through?:Soapbox:
3. Does WHERE their site is matter? For example, if the domain name is the author's name, does that matter to you more than say, if the author has a single page on a community site, like Authors Den?

[/quote]

:D

Mae
03-16-2007, 06:37 PM
I like it when the website gives me the feel that I've stumbled upon the author in his or her natural setting. Like it's not a corporate production. Ursula K. LeGuin's website comes to mind. It's homey. And informative. And really reflects Ursula.

Exactly!

Shadow_Ferret
03-16-2007, 06:44 PM
I hardly ever go to author's websites. I didn't even know Stephen King had one.

But when I do I go for simple biographical info, like when they were born, where they live, if they're married and have children. I like to see a photo or two of them.

And I go to see what books they've written and hopefully that info is in chronological order, because I like to read books from the first to the most current.

And finally, I like to know if they are on any book signing tours or going to be at conventions, so a schedule of events is nice.

Everything else is fluff. I don't care about their blogs, or their forums, or any of that other stuff. But I also don't view myself as a typical fan.

WriterInChains
03-16-2007, 07:18 PM
So, which of these elements do you REQUIRE on an author's site in order to visit a second time?

1. In-depth information about the author? (and how in-depth do you like it? The author's hobbies and interests or National Enquirer-style dirt?)
I like to learn the basics, & the little things they think are important about themselves, but it's mostly about the books. Confessionals make me click away unless they're the "real backstory" for a book I love.

2. The books:
a. Blurbs and covers only? This is usually all I look at. Maybe a paragraph or two from the first page, but no more than that.

c. Reviews of the book from sites/reviewers you know? Nope, I usually go with my gut.

d. Direct hyperlink to buy somewhere? No, I shop at indie BM stores unless it's something rare/hard to find.

e. Do you like ALL the books on one LOOONG page, or go from page to page for more depth? I only use a dial-up, so however they can arrange it to load the fastest.

3. Photo gallery? Signings only with fans and other authors, or at-home candid stuff (their office, pets, etc?) All of this is cool, as long as it doesn't take too long to load.

4. Is a dedicated forum/message board a must or is a guestbook okay? I don't go to those pages at all. If I want to tell an author how much I love their book, I'll send an e-mail or a letter.

5. How far in advance do you like to see upcoming book tours or appearances show up on the site? Depends -- if I'll have to get time off work to get there or buy tickets, the earlier the better. A quarterly schedule would be great, if possible.

6. Do you like to play games or puzzles on a site? No.

7. Are contests to win books/prizes important to you? No.

8. Is there anything else you like/dislike when you visit a new site (music, "whistles and bells" like tracking cursors with bats or hearts, book trailers (movies about the books), or flashing/moving banner ads?) I hate it when music plays as soon as the site loads, and I have to turn it off. If they want to have music, let me decide whether to turn it on (I usually will -- music says a lot about someone, but it's annoying when theirs plays over mine).


Next, how often do you visit an individual author's site if it's a FAVORITE author? Do you visit:

2. Occasionally. Mostly when a new book is due out.
A couple of authors I like send monthly or quarterly newsletters. When I get one of those, I usually hit their site to see what's new, or read things I haven't gotten around to yet. Two author sites I like are Karen Brichoux's and Jennie Shortridge's.



How about if it's a NEW author you've only just learned about?

1. Do you visit their site to read excerpts to see if you want to buy the book? I usually only visit their site after I've read/liked their book, but if I stumble across an author & s/he sounds interesting while I'm online, I might check out their web site first.

2. Does the design or ease of use of the site influence your purchase of their book? Do you EXPECT multiple pages to wander through? No to the first part, and yes to the second.

3. Does WHERE their site is matter? For example, if the domain name is the author's name, does that matter to you more than say, if the author has a single page on a community site, like Authors Den? Not really. It's their book that matters.

Birol
03-16-2007, 08:10 PM
I don't go to authors' sites much at all, but when I do, I like to be able to find books, with excerpts, and links to buy them, I like blogs/LJs/newsletters.

I dislike flashing banner ads (hard on the eyes), music (I play music on my computer while surfing and really get annoyed when tunes start competing with one another), and cutesy stuff. I don't mind movie trailers as long as they don't play automatically. Give me the choice of when and if to download and view them.

However, all the above said, I don't mind when the author gets a little creative, provided they keep the site navigable and usable. Robin Hobb's (http://www.robinhobb.com/) site is a good example of creative-usability to me.

Cathy C
03-16-2007, 08:20 PM
I didn't consider blogs as part of an overall site, so that's interesting. Someone else on another site (yeah, this is posted up on several forums) mentioned links to the AUTHOR'S favorite sites or "for more information" links, and one person WISHED there was a rating scale for books on authors' sites that was similar to movie ratings (G, PG, R, X) because they embarrass easily. http://www.romancedivas.com/divaforum/style_emoticons/default/icon_redface.gif Any thoughts on those?

PeeDee
03-16-2007, 08:21 PM
I'd never been to her site before. How cool. I'm totally going to do that with random pictures from around my home.

LilaDubois
03-16-2007, 09:20 PM
1. In-depth information about the author? (and how in-depth do you like it? The author's hobbies and interests or National Enquirer-style dirt?)
I do like in dept information. If i have gone to the trouble of finding their site I do want some juicy details in there.
2. The books:
a. Blurbs and covers only?
b. Excerpt to read (is a chapter enough for you to know if you want to buy?)
Excerpts are a must
c. Reviews of the book from sites/reviewers you know?
doesn't really matter
d. Direct hyperlink to buy somewhere?
yes AND a printable 'backlist' sheet that i could take to the bookstore.
e. Do you like ALL the books on one LOOONG page, or go from page to page for more depth?
I like one page showing all the covers that link to their own pages.
3. Photo gallery? Signings only with fans and other authors, or at-home candid stuff (their office, pets, etc?)
These are fun but not a major issue for me.
4. Is a dedicated forum/message board a must or is a guestbook okay?
It depends. If the author is going to maintain the board, be on it and make it interesting, then that is one thing.
5. How far in advance do you like to see upcoming book tours or appearances show up on the site?
As soon as they are acheduled.
6. Do you like to play games or puzzles on a site?
no.
7. Are contests to win books/prizes important to you?
YES. Especially ARCs
8. Is there anything else you like/dislike when you visit a new site (music, "whistles and bells" like tracking cursors with bats or hearts, book trailers (movies about the books), or flashing/moving banner ads?)

Next, how often do you visit an individual author's site if it's a FAVORITE author? Do you visit:


3. Pretty often. I visit favorite author sites every few weeks.


How about if it's a NEW author you've only just learned about?

1. Do you visit their site to read excerpts to see if you want to buy the book? Yes
2. Does the design or ease of use of the site influence your purchase of their book? Do you EXPECT multiple pages to wander through? Yes
3. Does WHERE their site is matter? For example, if the domain name is the author's name, does that matter to you more than say, if the author has a single page on a community site, like Authors Den? I think it speaks to the legitimacy of the author. If it is the first book in a new series i want to feel that the author is really going to put a lot into it, as reflected by their website, as so I, as a reader, should get invested too.

Edita A Petrick
03-16-2007, 11:17 PM
So, which of these elements do you REQUIRE on an author's site in order to visit a second time?

1. In-depth information about the author? (and how in-depth do you like it? The author's hobbies and interests or National Enquirer-style dirt?)
Not required
2. The books:
a. Blurbs and covers only?
b. Excerpt to read (is a chapter enough for you to know if you want to buy?)
Both of these are interesting to have
c. Reviews of the book from sites/reviewers you know?
Not required
d. Direct hyperlink to buy somewhere?
Useful
e. Do you like ALL the books on one LOOONG page, or go from page to page for more depth?
Page-to-page
3. Photo gallery? Signings only with fans and other authors, or at-home candid stuff (their office, pets, etc?)
No.
4. Is a dedicated forum/message board a must or is a guestbook okay?
Don't like guestbooks.Message board rather than forum
5. How far in advance do you like to see upcoming book tours or appearances show up on the site?
Not at all
6. Do you like to play games or puzzles on a site?
NO
7. Are contests to win books/prizes important to you?
Not really
8. Is there anything else you like/dislike when you visit a new site (music, "whistles and bells" like tracking cursors with bats or hearts, book trailers (movies about the books), or flashing/moving banner ads?)
I absolutely detest LOUD noises - whether startling or cute. Hate any pointers and tracking cursors that are SOFT or jiggle. Hate cutsey bats, harts and such. ABHORE flashing and moving banners and ads and trailers.
I like things that SIT SOLID and are VISIBLE - no horrible yellow script on ochre background that strains the eyes like nothing else...or worse, WHITE print on page that's gray-almost-white background...or black-on-black...idiotic at best

Next, how often do you visit an individual author's site if it's a FAVORITE author? Do you visit:

1. Hardly ever. I just like to read. Don't really care about the author's life.
2. Occasionally. Mostly when a new book is due out.
This would be my case
3. Pretty often. I visit favorite author sites every few weeks.
4. Nearly every day. I go to at least one author site a day and always look for new sites.

How about if it's a NEW author you've only just learned about?

1. Do you visit their site to read excerpts to see if you want to buy the book?
YEP
2. Does the design or ease of use of the site influence your purchase of their book? Do you EXPECT multiple pages to wander through?
Often accounts for 50% of decision.
3. Does WHERE their site is matter? For example, if the domain name is the author's name, does that matter to you more than say, if the author has a single page on a community site, like Authors Den?
Sites like Authors Den are okay for starting out but once the author is established I expect a solid, pro-designed website.

Any help appreciated! Thanks in advance for anyone who is willing to take the time to answer. :D
My pleasure....good luck.

Judg
03-17-2007, 04:57 AM
When it comes to the books, I definitely want to see a complete bibliography, with the years of first publication, and series clearly identified so I know what order to read them in.

Really, that's the only reason I visit an author's website, to get that kind of information. I do appreciate a good excerpt while I'm there. Two or three chapters is not too much to my way of thinking. At that point, I'm so hooked I go out and buy the darn book...

I do check out a few authors' blogs on a regular basis. I am most interested in those that will actually discuss the craft of writing, for obvious reasons.

Anything else is optional. Music and anything that flashes is a very good way to get me to leave ASAP. I loathe that stuff.

Sonarbabe
03-17-2007, 07:09 AM
1. In-depth information about the author? (and how in-depth do you like it? The author's hobbies and interests or National Enquirer-style dirt?)
I want to know about the author's hobbies and such in a relaxed tone--as if they're talking to "me". (Call me selfish, I think the world DOES revolve around me. ;) ) I don't like tabloids and since I wouldn't want people knowing MY deep dark secrets, I'd leave that out. Telling me they have 2.5 kids, a hubby/wife and a cat named Muffy is cool though.

2. The books:
a. Blurbs and covers only?
No
b. Excerpt to read (is a chapter enough for you to know if you want to buy?)
A chapter is a perfect excerpt. That gives me a good idea if I like the author's writing style/voice. I'm extremely fussy about what I read and just a blurb isn't enough. Some great books can be overlooked because I wasn't impressed by what the blurb had to say.

c. Reviews of the book from sites/reviewers you know?
I don't hold much stock in reviews (though I review books for a magazine) I usually trust my gut. There have been times where a reviewer has said that a book was magnificent and I kept thinking about the laundry I had to do the entire time I was reading. Know what I mean?

d. Direct hyperlink to buy somewhere?
Yes, ma'am. A couple of options would be good too. Allowing the reader to choose for themselves the more economical way to go. (Speaking strictly as a reader.)

e. Do you like ALL the books on one LOOONG page, or go from page to page for more depth?
Hmmm. You know, the best page I've ever seen was one where an author listed all of their books on one page and had links that took you to a seperate page for each novel. I believe our beloved Susan G. does that. This way you can choose which novel you want to explore and get an in-depth idea of the novel. Very informative and easy to navigate.

3. Photo gallery? Signings only with fans and other authors, or at-home candid stuff (their office, pets, etc?)
All of the above. Authors are human and readers like to see that. They want to see us in our element; ie: signings, fans, etc. But they also want to see the candid stuff on seperate pages where we're squatted down with big goofy grins and our arms around Fido and getting jiggy with it during conferences.

4. Is a dedicated forum/message board a must or is a guestbook okay?
A guestbook is fine. A forum is cool and all, but let's be realistic here. We have lives! Shoot, I rarely visit my own website and I'm fresh into the publishing world. I can only imagine how it is for authors who are "big".

5. How far in advance do you like to see upcoming book tours or appearances show up on the site?
Well... it depends on how well in advance YOU know. If you know 2 months in advance, then it would be a good idea to put it on your website, because you would attract more people. Personally, I have the memory of a steel sivve. Plus, I have a work schedule that's chaotic at best, so the more notice, the better. :)

6. Do you like to play games or puzzles on a site?
Yes, but not when it comes to my authors. I go to PoGo or something for that.

7. Are contests to win books/prizes important to you?
Those are just spiffy!!

8. Is there anything else you like/dislike when you visit a new site (music, "whistles and bells" like tracking cursors with bats or hearts, book trailers (movies about the books), or flashing/moving banner ads?)
NO MUSIC!!!! Okay, look. Chances are that I have my music player on in the background and there's also an amazingly good chance that I won't like the same music that you do, so PLEASE don't play any. No hearts or bat cursors either. The cute stuff is the sign of an ametuer. (My web design teacher would be proud of me) You want to put your best foot forward, so keep it professional LOOKING while giving the reader a little insight about YOU.

Next, how often do you visit an individual author's site if it's a FAVORITE author? Do you visit:

2. Occasionally. Mostly when a new book is due out.
If I like the author, I'll go check them out every so often.


How about if it's a NEW author you've only just learned about?

1. Do you visit their site to read excerpts to see if you want to buy the book?
Yes. Like I said, I'm very fussy about what I read. On top of that, I review books, so it helps me if the author has a website for me to look at.

2. Does the design or ease of use of the site influence your purchase of their book? Do you EXPECT multiple pages to wander through?
Not really. I'll admit, if there's only one page, I'm left wondering, "That's it?" However, if they're new and don't have much to offer, I can't really expect them to have more than maybe 1 or 2 pages. Though if their site is difficult to navigate, I won't return.

3. Does WHERE their site matter? For example, if the domain name is the author's name, does that matter to you more than say, if the author has a single page on a community site, like Authors Den?
Nope. I'll admit, www.soandso.com (http://www.soandso.com) is a lot easier to find than say a community site or in my case, my screen name dot com, but generally speaking, I'm not particular. As long as their website is documented somewhere, say their novel, I don't mind.

Hope this helps you, Cathy!!!

Rosamund
03-17-2007, 07:40 AM
Someone ... mentioned links to the AUTHOR'S favorite sites or "for more information" links, and one person WISHED there was a rating scale for books on authors' sites that was similar to movie ratings (G, PG, R, X) because they embarrass easily. http://www.romancedivas.com/divaforum/style_emoticons/default/icon_redface.gif Any thoughts on those?
I'd be very interested in an author's favourite sites, because it helps me to see them as real people (and I might find some good sites for myself that way).
Ratings for books aren't a bad idea. I wouldn't use them myself, but I can see how other people would find them useful, and I wouldn't object to them on a site. Of course, then you'd need a translation of the ratings for all the visitors from other countries (the movie rating scale I am familiar with is different to the one shown as an example).

JackieA
03-18-2007, 04:42 PM
So, which of these elements do you REQUIRE on an author's site in order to visit a second time?

A clean friendlly/welcoming presentation with easily accessible pages are the atrributes that keep me returning to a site once I've found it...


1. In-depth information about the author? (and how in-depth do you like it? The author's hobbies and interests or National Enquirer-style dirt?)
I like to know basic stuff about the author, but how and why they got into writing in detail. The breaks they got and the work involved in ‘making’ it.
There are a lot of wonderful, sharing authors out there who pass on invaluable information to their readers and other aspiring writers. These are the sites I'll return to.

2. The books:
a. Blurbs and covers only?
No

b. Excerpt to read (is a chapter enough for you to know if you want to buy?)
Yes. I like to get the ‘feel’ of a writer before I buy if it’s possible.

c. Reviews of the book from sites/reviewers you know?

d. Direct hyperlink to buy somewhere?
Yes

e. Do you like ALL the books on one LOOONG page, or go from page to page for more depth?
The quickest method of downloading (not everyone is on broadband)_ I just hate having to wait an age for a page to download.

3. Photo gallery? Signings only with fans and other authors, or at-home candid stuff (their office, pets, etc?)
Yes if the pics are not to BIG for downloading.

4. Is a dedicated forum/message board a must or is a guestbook okay?
No, but I might visit if it’s there.

5. How far in advance do you like to see upcoming book tours or appearances show up on the site?
A couple of months seems good.

6. Do you like to play games or puzzles on a site?
NO

7. Are contests to win books/prizes important to you?
Fun but not essential.

8. Is there anything else you like/dislike when you visit a new site (music, "whistles and bells" like tracking cursors with bats or hearts, book trailers (movies about the books), or flashing/moving banner ads?)
Dislike whistle and bells. Music, a waste, hate tracking cursors etc. Some book trailers are OK depending of time factor for downloading.

Next, how often do you visit an individual author's site if it's a FAVORITE author? Do you visit:

1. Hardly ever. I just like to read. Don't really care about the author's life.
Fairly regularly once I find sites I like and author’s I find interesting and encouraging.

2. Occasionally. Mostly when a new book is due out.

3. Pretty often. I visit favorite author sites every few weeks.
Yes
4. Nearly every day. I go to at least one author site a day and always look for new sites.

How about if it's a NEW author you've only just learned about?

1. Do you visit their site to read excerpts to see if you want to buy the book?
Yes

2. Does the design or ease of use of the site influence your purchase of their book? Do you EXPECT multiple pages to wander through?
The size and number of pages don’t bother me, it’s the time factor for downloading them. If they take too long, I’ll only visit a couple of pages, then never go back. If they’re simple to download, I’ll stay longer and visit more often

3. Does WHERE their site is matter? For example, if the domain name is the author's name, does that matter to you more than say, if the author has a single page on a community site, like Authors Den?
If I’m looking for a specific author’s site, I will Google that person by name, or the name of the book that interests me. If I find the required site, I don’t mind where it is.

jjo826
03-19-2007, 07:25 PM
1. In-depth information about the author? (and how in-depth do you like it? The author's hobbies and interests or National Enquirer-style dirt?) I like basic information, but in particular I love to know a little about how they write and how they got published. I liked this information even before I started writing.
2. The books:
a. Blurbs and covers only? That's enough for me.
b. Excerpt to read (is a chapter enough for you to know if you want to buy?) A couple of paragraphs are enough.
c. Reviews of the book from sites/reviewers you know? This doesn't matter to me. The author is only going to post positive reviews, if I really want to know about a book I'll look at reviews on my own.
d. Direct hyperlink to buy somewhere? That is fine as long as it is not excessive.
e. Do you like ALL the books on one LOOONG page, or go from page to page for more depth? Page to page. I also really like it when an author gives you background or a little trivia about the book.
3. Photo gallery? Signings only with fans and other authors, or at-home candid stuff (their office, pets, etc?) Meh. Doesn't bother me, but I don't really look at it.
4. Is a dedicated forum/message board a must or is a guestbook okay? I like a forum if it is active, I do visit a couple of Author's forums on a regular basis.
5. How far in advance do you like to see upcoming book tours or appearances show up on the site? Don't care.
6. Do you like to play games or puzzles on a site? No.
7. Are contests to win books/prizes important to you? No.
8. Is there anything else you like/dislike when you visit a new site (music, "whistles and bells" like tracking cursors with bats or hearts, book trailers (movies about the books), or flashing/moving banner ads?) I despise all cutesy stuff, I agree with the other posters who said it is the mark of an amateur. I don't like when it looks like a website a 14 year old girl would put together. I like professional, easy to read, easy to navigate websites.

Next, how often do you visit an individual author's site if it's a FAVORITE author? Do you visit:

1. Hardly ever. I just like to read. Don't really care about the author's life.
2. Occasionally. Mostly when a new book is due out. This would be me.
3. Pretty often. I visit favorite author sites every few weeks.
4. Nearly every day. I go to at least one author site a day and always look for new sites.

How about if it's a NEW author you've only just learned about?

1. Do you visit their site to read excerpts to see if you want to buy the book? Sometimes
2. Does the design or ease of use of the site influence your purchase of their book? Do you EXPECT multiple pages to wander through? No, if the book looks interesting, I'll read it regardless of their website.
3. Does WHERE their site is matter? For example, if the domain name is the author's name, does that matter to you more than say, if the author has a single page on a community site, like Authors Den? Doesn't matter.

BardSkye
03-21-2007, 11:06 AM
So, which of these elements do you REQUIRE on an author's site in order to visit a second time?

1. In-depth information about the author? (and how in-depth do you like it? The author's hobbies and interests or National Enquirer-style dirt?)
Don't care about the author's hobbies/interests/family
2. The books:
a. Blurbs and covers only?
b. Excerpt to read (is a chapter enough for you to know if you want to buy?) Maybe, but probably not a whole chapter
c. Reviews of the book from sites/reviewers you know? Their opinions don't matter to me.
d. Direct hyperlink to buy somewhere? Helpful, but keep it to one.
e. Do you like ALL the books on one LOOONG page, or go from page to page for more depth? I like one page with thumbnails of the books that link to a separate page for excerpts and info. That way I don't have to scroll and scroll and scroll to get to something that interests me.
3. Photo gallery? Signings only with fans and other authors, or at-home candid stuff (their office, pets, etc?) Not interested.
4. Is a dedicated forum/message board a must or is a guestbook okay? If you must... But I'm very unlikely to use either.
5. How far in advance do you like to see upcoming book tours or appearances show up on the site? As soon as possible.
6. Do you like to play games or puzzles on a site? No.
7. Are contests to win books/prizes important to you? No.
8. Is there anything else you like/dislike when you visit a new site (music, "whistles and bells" like tracking cursors with bats or hearts, book trailers (movies about the books), or flashing/moving banner ads?) Hate 'em. Especially music. And tracking cursors drive me buggy.

Next, how often do you visit an individual author's site if it's a FAVORITE author? Do you visit:

1. Hardly ever. I just like to read. Don't really care about the author's life. Yep.
2. Occasionally. Mostly when a new book is due out.
3. Pretty often. I visit favorite author sites every few weeks.
4. Nearly every day. I go to at least one author site a day and always look for new sites.

How about if it's a NEW author you've only just learned about?

1. Do you visit their site to read excerpts to see if you want to buy the book? Possibly.
2. Does the design or ease of use of the site influence your purchase of their book? Do you EXPECT multiple pages to wander through? If the design of the site irritates me enough, I'll remember not to buy the book. I expect maybe two or three pages but some single page sites can be very elegant.
3. Does WHERE their site is matter? For example, if the domain name is the author's name, does that matter to you more than say, if the author has a single page on a community site, like Authors Den? Doesn't really matter to me, but the first pop-up will be the last time I ever visit.


Hope that's helpful.

L M Ashton
03-21-2007, 12:18 PM
1. In-depth information about the author? (and how in-depth do you like it? The author's hobbies and interests or National Enquirer-style dirt?)

I really don't give a rats patootie what kind of toothpaste or soap anyone uses. I might be convinced to care about basic details if it's done humourously a la Dorothy Gilman, but mostly, I don't care. If the author can write, then I'm in. Nothing else matters. I also don't care if they're attractive or not, fat or skinny, male or female, or anything else. I'm in it for the writing. Quality is king. :)


2. The books:
a. Blurbs and covers only?
b. Excerpt to read (is a chapter enough for you to know if you want to buy?)

A chapter's enough, and yes, I prefer a chapter. It's enough to get me hooked, which means I'll spend money. Blurbs and covers are nice in that, if they catch my eye, they can lead me to read the excerpt.

c. Reviews of the book from sites/reviewers you know?

Taste is so personal. It doesn't matter if ten million other people like or hate the book - I'll either like it or hate it on my own preferences, and reviews only register with me if they're by my absolute favorite authors.

d. Direct hyperlink to buy somewhere?

Since I live overseas, no. When I lived in Canada, no. The hyperlinks (almost) always lead to US stores which are useless for the rest of the world.

e. Do you like ALL the books on one LOOONG page, or go from page to page for more depth?

Good grief, don't clutter the page. Seriously. You have 25 pages worth of info on one page and that guarantees I'll leave your site and never bother to come back. Organize it well, make the info easy to find, and I'll love you forever. Make me have to work to find what I'm looking for and you're written off.


3. Photo gallery? Signings only with fans and other authors, or at-home candid stuff (their office, pets, etc?)

No interest for me.


4. Is a dedicated forum/message board a must or is a guestbook okay?

(Guestbooks are, generally and of course depending on the type, so easily hackable to use to send spam that no, they don't impress me or attract me. They tend to make me wonder what kind of an idiot that person is for using unsecure components. Unless it's a type of guestbook that isn't hackable, in which case I notice that the site was designed well. But I'm not your typical reader, and I fully acknowledge that. I'm too geeky for my own good. ;))

Neither a forum nor a guestbook are essential for me. I probably won't leave a comment either way. Usually. Mostly.


5. How far in advance do you like to see upcoming book tours or appearances show up on the site?

Since they're not going on tour to Sri Lanka, it makes no never mind to me.


6. Do you like to play games or puzzles on a site?

Nope.


7. Are contests to win books/prizes important to you?

I used to say no. Then Hal Spacejock sent stuff all the way to Sri Lanka, and now I say Cool! Especially since Hal used over the top obnoxious humour to pull it off. That was uber cool.


8. Is there anything else you like/dislike when you visit a new site (music, "whistles and bells" like tracking cursors with bats or hearts, book trailers (movies about the books), or flashing/moving banner ads?)

You put music on the site and I'm gone. I will not tolerate music automatically playing on any site. Period. I hate having stuff foisted on me without my permission. It's amateurish and obnoxious as far as I'm concerned.

Fifty million fonts and colors and overloading graphics are real turn offs. If you want to have blinking text and all that other crap, do it on a personal site that only your family and friends will look at. Don't subject your readers to that. And don't make any video play automatically. Tracking curses are the bane, as is anything flashing & moving...

Ick! Don't get me started!



Next, how often do you visit an individual author's site if it's a FAVORITE author? Do you visit:

1. Hardly ever. I just like to read. Don't really care about the author's life.
2. Occasionally. Mostly when a new book is due out.
3. Pretty often. I visit favorite author sites every few weeks.
4. Nearly every day. I go to at least one author site a day and always look for new sites.

Um. I have one author, admittedly one of my all-time absolute favorites, and he's got a forum on his website populated with intelligent witty interesting people. Try addiction. Seriously a huge addiction. I'm on HatCrack (http://www.hatrack.com/cgi-bin/ubbmain/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=forum;f=2).


How about if it's a NEW author you've only just learned about?

1. Do you visit their site to read excerpts to see if you want to buy the book?

Yup. Hey, ya gotta hook me somehow, right?


2. Does the design or ease of use of the site influence your purchase of their book? Do you EXPECT multiple pages to wander through?

I expect easy to use. If I can't easily find what I want, I'll leave in frustration and never come back and won't read the excerpt or buy the book. The site has to be easy.


3. Does WHERE their site is matter? For example, if the domain name is the author's name, does that matter to you more than say, if the author has a single page on a community site, like Authors Den?

Yup, it matters. It's much more professional to have your own site, and it's cheap and easy, too. Well, it's more accurate to say that it matters in the sense that if it's on a community site (or tripod - egads!), I'll think they're flaky and will probably think less of their intelligence levels. Yeah, not nice, but it's the truth.

Here's what it boils down to. Either they're a professional, or they're not. Either they make it easy for me to take them seriously, or they don't.

Gillhoughly
03-22-2007, 10:04 PM
1. In-depth information about the author? (and how in-depth do you like it?

Public info is enough. I really don't care where they got their degree, how many kids they squeezed out, or their favorite flowers. I am there for BOOKS.

2. The books:
a. Blurbs and covers only? YES

b. Excerpt to read (is a chapter enough for you to know if you want to buy?) YES

c. Reviews of the book from sites/reviewers you know? No--smacks of egotism.

Links to on-line interviews with the writers are good.

d. Direct hyperlink to buy somewhere? YES

e. Do you like ALL the books on one LOOONG page, YES, but with links to more detailed pages on separate titles if I want to know more.

Post series books in the order of publication. Have a 1-line synopsis of each so readers have a point of reference. Assume we've never heard of you.

3. Photo gallery? Signings only with fans and other authors, or at-home candid stuff (their office, pets, etc?)

Public appearance stuff is fine.

Pictures of family--especially children--are a bad idea because of stalkers/predators. Pets are okay, but you still takes yer chances.

NEVER post information a serial killer might want to know.

Go to professionally done sites for actors. Those often have examples of how to put out "safe" information.

A blog can be a good thing, but monitor replies for spam.

And never, EVER dis your readers with "You didn't like book B because you just DON'T get what I'm trying to say." (Call it "Anne Rice syndrome.")

Readers pay for the food on your table.

They don't have to buy your books.

Thank them often and treat them with respect.


4. Is a dedicated forum/message board a must or is a guestbook okay?

Not a must. I return for updates on new releases. I don't care what other fans are saying.

5. How far in advance do you like to see upcoming book tours or appearances show up on the site?

A month.

6. Do you like to play games or puzzles on a site?

I have better ways to waste my time, so does the writer.

7. Are contests to win books/prizes important to you?

Not really, but they're fun for others.

8. Is there anything else you like/dislike when you visit a new site

ALL OF THIS CRAP: music, "whistles and bells" like tracking cursors with bats or hearts, or flashing/moving banner ads?
It's bloody annoying and screams irritating, insecure, brainless amateur.

book trailers (movies about the books),

A link to the page is fine

Next, how often do you visit an individual author's site if it's a FAVORITE author? Do you visit:

2. Occasionally. Mostly when a new book is due out.

How about if it's a NEW author you've only just learned about?

1. Do you visit their site to read excerpts to see if you want to buy the book? YES

2. Does the design or ease of use of the site influence your purchase of their book? NO, but I do expect it to be proofed and someone bothered to use the spellcheck!

Do you EXPECT multiple pages to wander through? YES, but with working links back to the home page.

CLEAR READABLE FONT. The fancy stuff may look cute, but use for effect, not to convey basic information.

3. Does WHERE their site is matter? For example, if the domain name is the author's name, I prefer that.


does that matter to you more than say, if the author has a single page on a community site, like Authors Den?

Don't like those. Gives the impression the writer is too cheap to do better for herself. If she's published she can deduct website costs from her taxes. Freebie sites have ads. I hate ads. Also, such sites are used by non-pros to pimp their self-published efforts. I tend to go with the guilt by association thing.

And write your own copy for the website. DO NOT COPY/PASTE from another writer's site.

Someone pulled that on me, and I hit 'em with the copyright infringement brick. She was lucky I didn't give her name to every editor I know.

Julian Black
03-23-2007, 12:21 AM
1. In-depth information about the author? (and how in-depth do you like it? The author's hobbies and interests or National Enquirer-style dirt?)

I'm much more interested in the books than the author, so I'm happy with bare-bones author bios. If they write frequently about a certain subject I like knowing what kind of personal or professional background they have in it. However, I honestly don't care about their childhood ambition to be a writer, their children, their pets, their hobbies, or their spouses.

2. The books:
b. Excerpt to read (is a chapter enough for you to know if you want to buy?)
Blurbs might tell me what the book is about, but is it worth reading? A first chapter is ideal.
c. Reviews of the book from sites/reviewers you know?
I don't care about reviews. If the first chapter is good, that's all I need to know in order to make the decision to buy it.
d. Direct hyperlink to buy somewhere?
I prefer to buy books locally, so I never use them.
e. Do you like ALL the books on one LOOONG page, or go from page to page for more depth?
If there's a logical way to divide them up--genre, publisher, etc.--and the author has written more than, say, 20 or 30 books, separate pages are nice. Either that, or feature the five most recent books on one page and the rest of them on another.
3. Photo gallery? Signings only with fans and other authors, or at-home candid stuff (their office, pets, etc?)
I honestly don't care about the author's vacation photos, which celebrities s/he's met, or what the family dog looks like. The author has to be a really outrageous personality if I'm going to bother looking at pictures from booksignings--and I mean "Oh, look! She wore a chain-mail bikini to the signing in Boca Raton!"-level outrageous.
4. Is a dedicated forum/message board a must or is a guestbook okay?
You know you're finally big enough for a dedicated forum when your fans start them on their own. A guestbook is fine until then. Or even a blog, as long as you're willing to update on a regular basis.
5. How far in advance do you like to see upcoming book tours or appearances show up on the site?
As soon as the author knows. A couple of weeks' notice is best; longer if it's an event that requires tickets or an admissions fee.
6. Do you like to play games or puzzles on a site?
No.
7. Are contests to win books/prizes important to you?
No.
8. Is there anything else you like/dislike when you visit a new site (music, "whistles and bells" like tracking cursors with bats or hearts, book trailers (movies about the books), or flashing/moving banner ads?)
I despise every single thing you've mentioned. Ditto busy or bright-colored backgrounds, splash pages, and low contrast between the text and background.

Next, how often do you visit an individual author's site if it's a FAVORITE author? Do you visit:
1. Hardly ever. I just like to read. Don't really care about the author's life.

How about if it's a NEW author you've only just learned about?

1. Do you visit their site to read excerpts to see if you want to buy the book?
Yes. In fact, that's just about the only reason I visit a new author's site. If there's no excerpt (again, preferably a first chapter), I'm going to forget about the book really quickly.
2. Does the design or ease of use of the site influence your purchase of their book? Do you EXPECT multiple pages to wander through?
If there's a lot of cutesy, gimmicky junk on my hate list (see above), I might not bother clicking into other pages. Show me a splash page, play music, and clutter up the site with sparkly, shiny, blinky crap and I'll hit the back button. However, even the most beautiful, best-designed site ever won't influence me to buy a book if there is no first chapter, or if the first chapter doesn't grab me.
3. Does WHERE their site is matter? For example, if the domain name is the author's name, does that matter to you more than say, if the author has a single page on a community site, like Authors Den?
I do think that having a page on one's own domain is preferable to an AuthorsDen page. AuthorsDen pages strike me as cheesy. They make everyone's books look self- or vanity published, no matter who published them.