In a previous post, we established why authors should have their own website. An engaging author website is the gateway to multiple audiences: agents, editors, the media, readers, and reviewers, and thus, it should showcase your work and ideas and give people a sense of your personality. Setting up a website yourself or hiring an affordable designer does not mean you’ll have to spend a significant amount of time or money. In fact, you’ll expend more time and energy on your Twitter and Facebook accounts than your website in the long run because once set up, all you have to do is update the site with fresh content.
In the next two posts, we highlight features from several nonfiction author websites that we think are effective in engaging readers and building traffic. We hope these ideas inspire you to be creative on your own site. All of these can be developed by you, without spending more money on a web engineer or designer.
1) Crafting an Effective Tagline: A tagline, which should feature prominently on your homepage, does two things: it either summarizes you and your expertise or it describes what your book is about. It signals to the reader that you are an expert and your website contains the best information on a particular subject. We also find that a tagline sets the website’s tone. Check out the following:
- On author and entrepreneur Chip Conley’s (Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow) main website (Conley has two other book-related sites), the first thing you’ll see is the following tagline: “Creating Transformation at the Intersection of Business + Psychology.” (The tagline is placed next to Conley’s inspirational TED Talk.)
- “The Movement That Is Transforming How New Products Are Built And Launched.” This simple yet effective line is what introduces the visitor to author and entrepreneur Eric Ries’s (The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses) website. Similar to the book’s title the website is “lean” with minimal but effective content and features.
- Journalist and author Daniel Pink’s (Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us) website tagline is: “The one-stop shop for all things Pink. Articles, videos, and interviews on big ideas shaping our work, transforming our business, and changing our lives.” Pink’s easygoing style and tone permeates the site. For instance, the section titled, “How Dan Works,” offers a personal look into Pink’s world by describing how the author works and writes.
2) Engaging on the “About” Page: In the “About” or “Bio” section of your website, share information that readers won’t find on Amazon, your publisher’s, or any other site. Remember that this is also the go-to page for members of the press so it’s important to be as engaging, informative, and interesting as possible.
- Speaker and author Michael Gelb (How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day) makes it easy for people to learn about him by posting a two-page factsheet on his website. The factsheet includes information about his work, services, and contact information, making it easy to share, download, or print.
- You will find author Chip Conley’s (Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow) bio in a section on his website titled “Living.” Conley’s focus is on seeking “transformation” in all that he does; this openness and curiosity is reflected in his writing style—and by extension, his website.
3) Encouraging E-newsletter Signup: Many websites we looked at offer free e-newsletter sign ups, giving the author a readymade list of readers to tap. A former speechwriter to Al Gore, author Daniel Pink (Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us) has amassed an impressive 71,000 subscribers to his e-newsletter (he highlights the number next to the sign-up). His e-newsletter is “full of ideas, excerpts and freebies on working smart and living better.” This is an effective tactic because you’re inclined to sign up for the e-newsletter that 71,000 other people think is useful.
We’ll present three more ideas in the next post. And let us know what features you think engage and keep readers coming back to your website.