Writers' websites that work?
April 3, 2010 5:14 PM   Subscribe

What makes for a good author/writer's website?

I'm considering revamping my homemade website (link in profile, if you're curious). The main things that I want to accomplish is to provide as much of my work online as I can in as readable and attractive manner as possible, and to keep my (microscopic) fanbase apprised of the latest developments. Do you know of any kickass writer websites? What other features have you seen on an author's site that you liked?

I am planning on hiring a designer, which in and of itself will probably lead to another AskMe. For now, I'd just be happy with links to writers' websites that you think are good or bad, with reasons why.
posted by Bookhouse to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
You could go functional and simple, and it could be good.

Or you could do something totally inventive and fun, and it could be fantastic.

I like that you, like Susan Orlean, plan to put a lot of your work on there. But Miranda July's is still my favorite author website.
posted by sallybrown at 5:26 PM on April 3, 2010

posted by Jaltcoh at 6:53 PM on April 3, 2010

I have noticed a lot of writers have bios that are very "I'm a special snowflake!" (and that have CLEARLY not been vetted by the publisher, or even by an honest friend) and on occasion have actually so turned me off the author I quit reading their books, because I could not get over how precious and twee they were. (As an example off the top of my head, Libba Bray's isn't as bad as it was, but it's still pretty cringe-inducing for me.)

One can be chatty and informal and personable without being quite so ... cringe-inducing. But several times I have read the bio of an author whose books I enjoyed and been just so DISAPPOINTED in their self-absorption, or their dismissive attitude towards their fans, or their naked greed, or their deep belief in their own ubermensch-ness. Very off-putting.

This seems less prevalent when the bio is in third person. And definitely have a friend vet it!

I also really like cover art galleries, especially when an author has multiple editions. I recognize my books very visually, so being able to see the cover is helpful for me.

An RSS feed of *just* new releases is helpful (whether those are online, in hardback, or the later-released paperback edition), as well as an RSS feed of more general news. Some authors I want to read their ongoing feed; others I just want to be reminded when they have a new book out so I don't forget to buy it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:07 PM on April 3, 2010

Response by poster: Crap. I guess this is more or a less a double.
posted by Bookhouse at 7:12 PM on April 3, 2010

I dislike the bios that list fifteen to twenty-five occupations the writer has had. "[author] has worked as a dishwasher, taxi driver, short order cook, Alaskan tour guide, porn theater floor swabber, EMT, etc etc etc." Way too twee.
posted by jayder at 7:31 AM on April 4, 2010

One site from that previous question deserves another mention: johnaugust.com is not the prettiest writer's site I've ever seen, but it's super functional and lays everything out right fine and easy. He also recently mentioned hiring a 'Director of Digital Things' and how well his application process worked out for him.
posted by carsonb at 7:35 AM on April 4, 2010

If you haven't yet, check out Jeff Vandermeer's Booklife (I'm reading it now.) What to put on a website and a higher-level view of publicity strategy and tactics are a big chunk of what it talks about.
posted by Zed at 11:36 AM on April 4, 2010

Best answer: I highly recommend you check out Neil Cross' site. Especially his blog. I'm not a fan of the type of novels he writes, and yet, his blog makes me want to read them... not because he promotes them. God no. Too many people use their websites as nothing more than a frigging ad for themselves. Neil Cross uses his blog to let readers follow along on his journey of writing his next novel.
posted by 2oh1 at 12:45 PM on April 4, 2010

P.S. I'm not a fan of his home page because it's just an ad. A great author website is more of a way to connect with readers (and potential readers). Personally, I'd have made the home page more of a greeting and quick guide to the site for newcomers. Put the ad on a separate page so readers can find where to get the books.
posted by 2oh1 at 12:50 PM on April 4, 2010

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