Sunday, June 8, 2014

Author Website Bonus Materials: Online Stalking & Tasty Treats

By Jodie Cain Smith

Fred Fields pointed out in his post “Website Tips” that a website is critical to an author’s success. However, if you want to fully capitalize on this inexpensive and, in some cases, free marketing device, gone are the days that a stagnant online business card would suffice. Today’s author websites must offer readers much more than a bio and purchase links. If you want your readers to buy more, invite them through the looking glass, or rather laptop screen, to get lost in your bonus materials. After several minutes, or even hours, your customers will emerge from the rabbit hole filled with the inner workings of your brain and, hopefully, with a lighter wallet.

So, how do you turn your author website from stagnant to engaging? Add content! In addition to a regularly updated bio (Seriously, surely something has happened in your life in the last ten years. And when was that picture taken? 1993? Nice claw bangs.), available titles, contact information including all social media links, and event/appearance schedule, get creative with bonus materials.

1. Create a Virtual Inspiration Board

Allow readers to explore your world. What music do you listen to while writing? Does it change according to the specific project? Do pictures inspire you? Do you save research from past works? Share short posts and images that include anything and everything that inspire you. Divide your inspiration according to specific titles, so the reader can click on the title of the book you wrote that he is now obsessed with and dying to learn more. Feed his obsession.

2. Create Flash Fiction

Introduce yourself through short works. If the customer likes the appetizer (a brief story of 750 words or less), she may say, “Well, that just made me hungrier. Must eat more!” Before she knows it, her literary hunger pangs have resulted in binge clicking, purchasing everything she can make her little mouse icon grab.

3. Encourage Voyeurism

Emily Giffin, one of my favorite authors, includes a “Twenty-five Things About Emily” list. I read the list and decided that we should be close friends. Of course, moving to Atlanta in order to “accidentally” meet her would be costly and could land me in jail, so I downloaded her latest release instead. Our friendship may be imaginary, but her voice is part of my life regardless. Victory!

4. Blog and Share and Blog and Share and Blog and Share

Yep, this part is never ending, but it is the easiest way to keep your website fresh. And fresh content is the best kind to share. Would you offer a friend a spoiled apple, rotting and covered in fruit flies? No. So, why would you expect your readers to come back to the table time and time again for apples so old that even moronically naive Snow White would refuse a bite? That’s just gross and mean and your readers crave something new.

What other bonus materials can you think of to include on an author website? Share your ideas below.


Leigh Stevenson said...

Great ideas, Jodie. With your passion for what you do, it's little wonder you are publishing your first novel soon!

Anonymous said...

I like #3--encourage voyeurism.