6 Things Readers Want from Your Author Website

Strawberry cupcakes

If you build it they won’t come. The only way to get people to visit your author website is to give them something they are looking for. But what is that?

This article summarizes research done by the Codex Group about what readers want from author websites.

1. Exclusive Content

43% of respondents to the Codex Group Survey want exclusive online content.

This is an untapped goldmine. Provide special goodies exclusively on your site and watch your visits blast off. Give them fun stuff they would be willing to pay for. MP3’s, short stories, whole books. Go crazy. Also, Google likes exclusive content so this gives you and SEO boost too. Here are 10 fiction website content ideas to consider for your website.

Seth Godin gives more stuff away for free on his blog than most other authors. He also sells more books than most other authors. He gives stuff away on his blog only to his blog readers. He has no “goodies” page.

2. Your Speaking Schedule

36% want speaking schedules, book signings, and appearances.

This is really true, particularly for guys. I check Mark Cahill’s website often just to see if he is coming to Texas.  Posting your speaking schedule can also increase your appeal as a speaker. If event planners know you bring your own crowd they will be willing to pay you more.

3. Recommended Books

36% want to see recommended books; “explainers,” or inside information about the book.

This is also a great way to make a little extra money on the side since amazon will give you a commission on any book sales you refer using their affiliate program. Garr Reynolds does book recommendations well. He doesn’t just recommend a book, he explains the gist of the book visually. He also has a list of recommended books along the right side of his site. The MyBookTable plugin is a great way to recommend books.


4. Book News

33% of respondents said they want weekly e-mail news bulletins with updates on tours, reviews, and books in progress.

Let your website visitors feel like they are on the “in crowd”; they get to know about stuff first and get special perks by visiting your website.

Here are some email tips:

5. Your Contact Information

Nothing is more frustrating for readers than to dig up an author’s website only to not be able to contact that author. Setup an email address just for getting reader feedback. The practice of corresponding with readers is centuries old. C.S. Lewis used to spend hours hand-writing responses to his readers’ letters. If he can do that, the least you can do is give people your email. As Rob Eagar says, “Don’t Play Hide & Seek with Your Readers“.

5. Your Social Networking Information

Are you on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter? Make sure to include buttons so that your readers can connect to you on those networks.

6. Good Photos

People don’t want to see piles of text when they come to your site. They don’t want to read a welcome letter. They also don’t want to see that snapshot your husband took of you in the back yard. You don’t need photos of you necessarily but you need photos of something. Use photos that relate to your topic. Here are 11 places to get free (and legal) photos. Get some professional photos of yourself. Remember, nothing says amateur like an ugly author picture.

If you have questions about what makes up a good author website, sign up for a free website consultation from Author Media.

What do you like to find on author websites?

15 Responses to 6 Things Readers Want from Your Author Website

  1. kyle g December 15, 2009 at 2:44 pm #

    thanks great info

  2. Sarah January 7, 2010 at 7:54 pm #

    Good tips. I'd love for anyone whose seen this to take a look at my site and tell me what you think. The link is TheSarahAndresonIdentity.com
    My recent post Welcome to my site!

  3. e.lee February 8, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    good post. especially the last point about photos. a professional headshot works best
    My recent post Compelling Readability

  4. Helen Hanson April 16, 2010 at 6:25 pm #

    Thanks for the tips. My site needs new paint, so this was a timely find. Take care.

    psst. you spelled husband wrong under Good Photos

  5. P.I. Barrington December 7, 2010 at 12:55 am #

    My site needs structure and this list fits that bill! Thanks for posting it!

  6. Spor January 9, 2012 at 12:01 am #

    I just like the helpful information you supply on your articles. I will bookmark your blog and take a look at once more here frequently. I’m somewhat sure I?ll be told plenty of new stuff proper here! Good luck for the following!

  7. Terry Baker Mulligan February 27, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

    Your Tweets are among the most helpful that I receive.

  8. James Moushon March 25, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

    Tom: After reviewing thousands of author sites for the HBS Author’s Spotlight, your item 5, contact information, is the item that needs the most work. My primary focus, when I visit an author’s site, is contact information. I can not believe how some authors go out of their way to hide this information.

    Your list is a good starter list for the beginning author. But more important, authors who have spent the money to develop a site to interface with their readers need to go back and take your list and revisit their sites and modify them.

  9. Bill Peschel March 26, 2013 at 9:01 am #

    Excerpts from your books. That’s the #1 thing I look for when I visit an author’s website. It can be available as a web page, plain text, PDF and available for sending it to the Kindle.

  10. Alan, Wirral Writer May 15, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

    As a published Kindle author who has just set up my own website, I found your article very interesting and informative.

  11. Silke June 5, 2013 at 2:28 am #

    I’m in the middle of restructuring my site, which is too messy at the moment, so –while I keep the general layout — things will move / disappear / be added.
    Some very good suggestions on here. Thanks for that.
    Looked at the “MyBooks” plugin, unfortunately it seems to be WP only, and I’m not planning to have the blog be the main website. (I blog too infrequently. I have actual writing to do lol)
    Definitely will have a “Books I loved / Books I loathed” page. (Okay, maybe not the “loathed”, although… I prefer to tell it like it is.)

    Would you link to Fanfic?

  12. Mary June 11, 2013 at 7:01 pm #

    Thanks for sharing the information. This will help me in developing my website.

  13. Chris Norbury July 10, 2014 at 12:15 am #

    Thank you, Thomas. Good information.


  14. Paul Coneff July 10, 2014 at 10:52 am #

    I have a very, very busy schedule. And Thomas’ articles are always worth the time investment, giving me lots of great information in a short amount of space….practical information I can apply quickly and easily. It’s the only blog I read for marketing because I can pick and choose the topics I want to know more about and I always come away with great idea’s.


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