Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Little Rant About Author Websites (Or Lack Thereof)

I think that every author needs a website. Nothing big and elaborate. No bells, no whistles. Mothing that would cost you an arm and a leg and a left ear.

Just a space with a short and current biodata and a photo or two. A single page is enough, with perhaps a link to another page or pages for the book(s).

A website - not a blog: although I love author's blogs, of course, I often need information in a rush and I don't want to be sidetracked or have to wade through more material than I need.

And if you want to get really elaborate with your website, you could add a book extract or two ... perhaps an essay about a topic close to your heart or some stuff about how you write or how your book came about ... perhaps some reviews.

As a blogger, as a sometime writer about books, as a reviewer, as an organiser of events, I am so frustrated when I look for information on an author or a book and there is none or when I am looking for an author's photo to download and find nothing online.

Local authors are not much better. I come across recently published books and cannot find anything about them online. It makes me ask myself if the author, and in many cases the publisher, is serious about promoting the work.

But as I write this I also realise that I need a web page apart from this blog and never seem to get round to it, though Chet registered a domain for me some time back. I have no right to preach ... or maybe I am talking to myself as much as to you.

So which author sites do you think are the most effective? Nominate them and then we'll take a look when I'm not so frazzled.


Madcap Machinist said...

Check out Seth Godin's Squidoo lens, and explore the Authors' group...

Seth's book 'Everybody Is An Expert' gives a useful overview of Squidoo...

Madcap Machinist said...

excerpt of above mentioned e-book:

If I were an author, I’d include links to all my books on Amazon, together with a pithy abstract on each
one. I’d also include links to other authors who I thought were interesting. I’d have an automatically
updated link that inserted my three most recent blog posts. I’d also include the RSS feed from a technorati
search, showing surfers recent blogs that have mentioned me. I’d include links to conferences where I was
speaking, and perhaps a top-ten list of the best ways to understand my writing. And I’d certainly have a box
pointing to my best (and my worst) reviews.

Chet said...

I have three for you to check out:

Isabel Allende
Author of The House of Spirits

J A Jance
She has a blog on her site, and replied my email when I sent my condolences over the death of her dog.

Sue Grafton
Author of the Alphabet series - A is for Alibi, etc.

KayKay said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
KayKay said...

My favourite naturally is John Connolly's website:

In addition to the usual info about his books there's a discussion forum,his articles as a journalist and a link to his blog which is interesting for his thoughts on the writing and publishing process.

Janet said...

The only one I check out sometimes is Jeanette Winterson's - not too shabby, you get lots of other stuff in addition to the promotion of her books (recommended readings etc.) She has a monthly column as well so that's a pretty good way to 'speak' to her readers apart from her books. Now I think I'm going to sound really old-fashioned here but is it really necessary for writers to have websites/blogs to promote themselves? I think it might work if their agents/publishers set one up for them and use it to focus on promotion of the books, but to have an author constantly being in touch with readers (say via blogging) to talk about their everyday lives might distract the reader from their books and instead focus on the author's personal lives/personality. Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that - just my own personal preference of having my favourite authors being enigmas!

Yvonne Lee said...

Hi Sharon! Yes, I absolutely agree that authors should have a website.

Our local authors too know of the importance of web presence. Many have blogs, if not website e.g. Lydia Teh, Xeus, Dina Zaman, John Ling and others.

I don't have a blog but a website to promote The Sky is Crazy and have been told it's quite well done.

I think a good book website should have all the info about the author, the books, listing (if any), excerpts or at least content chapters of the book (if non-fiction), media publicity, reviews, book talk/signing schedule/gallery, contacts and a professionally taken photo.

Finally, the author should take the effort to update her book website if there is new development/promotion.

Hope more readers can post comments about author websites to look out for.

Meanwhile, please check out my book website at

Burhan said...

i thought most of the big american and british publishers take the initiative to create elaborate websites for the new authors they publish.

bibliobibuli said...

thanks for the recommendations and will check them out and will add one or two favourites of my own

yvonne - i think your site is very good indeed - everything i need to know about you and your book is there

janet - i'd say it is essential, absolutely essential. as i said in the post i often need information about an author quickly for articles, for promotional purposes if i'm organising something. let me tell you that i ahve been emailing frantically to try to get photos of 3 of the writers for the event on wednesday. three days later i still haven't got them and have had to glean them from other sources inc scanning from book covers and using google image search. how much better if they's had a blog and i could have done a simple cut and past of a photo i know they themselves had chosen.

also, i am not sure if i have a version of their biodata they would most like me to use - i've had to cobble something together from the bits and pieces i found in various places. it takes time and energy. i have to get a write-up out about them quickly.

and so often i come across good local books, want to blog about them ... but there's no photo of the book cover, no info about the author, anywhere at all

you want to sell books? play the game! the game has shifted to the internet. ignore that fact at the cost of book sales

blogs are fine - xeus and lydia for e.g. are doing a great job, but it's best to have at least one page of info that can be lifted by the press and other interested parties

how much time, effort and dosh is involved? very little compared with the payback

as for big UK and UK publishers giving authors a webpage. yes, they do. and this does the job just fine.

how much support do local publishers give? not much so it is up to the individual author.

Lydia Teh said...

Sharon, good point. I should have a page specially for the press. Yvonne Lee's website is really cool. I've come across many foregin author websites while googling and they're pretty good.

Anonymous said...

It's all PR fluff. Like lydia said, they have pages for the press. There's nothing there really that I want to know (ie. how do you feel about life as a writer, do you ever feel depressed that you can't put down what's in your mind exactly as you imagine it, whether you write for money, what motivates you to write etc.)

All there is, is lots of "press release" type stuff. What would be the point of that except to sell books ?

bibliobibuli said...

anon - as lydia says ... for the press and for idiots like me ...

Chet said...

Yvonne Lee's web site is great, but it's named after the book. What happens when she publishes a second book? Have a second web site? Then info about her will be scattered on the Web. Better to have it under the author's name, and watch it grow with the author's bibliography.

Another thing - once you register a domain, you need to keep renewing it, otherwise someone else would come along and get it and use it for something totally different. Where I work, one of the subsidiaries registered a domain name a few years ago which lapsed when the subsidiary became dormant. What became of the domain? XXX site. ARGH!!!!

Yvonne Lee said...

Hi Sharon. Glad that you liked my website.

I agree with your reply to Anon. Indeed, for some people, the website is mainly for promotional/publicity purposes as they might not be ready for more personal sharings.

One good thing about such website is that distributors and publications can access to it without waddling through other personal stuff. With a website, even big name like Aviation Megastore ( based in Amsterdam) discovered my book and ordered for them to be sold online. Hence, website is also important for book sellers to know the marketability of the product.

Chet, hello! Thanks for your views. Good points to ponder. But at that time, I thought my book title is a more catchy name to remember than an unknown Yvonne Lee....hahahaha...

amaruhizat said...

In my list (effective as well as Well-designed, easy on the eye):

Nick Hornby

As to note, most in the list are writers for comics. So that might sort of hint something about book writers' awareness on website savvy-ness.

amaruhizat said...

Woops, please excuse the above post Sharon. Seems like the url I posted had gone hangwire for no reason. Sorry very much.

I get it now, only blogspot account holder can post url html (perhaps a failsafe device to evade spam messages)

So here's the url again. And in case this won't work as well, again, my apologies to you Sharon.

In my list (effective as well as Well-designed, easy on the eye):

Anthony Johnston -

Ben Templesmith -

Brad Meltzer -

Brian k. Vaughn -

Brian Wood -

Scott McCloud -

Nick Hornby -

Neil Gaiman -

Warren Ellis -

Brian Keene -

Brian Bendis -

amaruhizat said...

okay, I give up. The url works in other comment box in other blogs. strange.


bibliobibuli said...

thanks a lot for the links and sorry you had such a hard time posting