What should a children's book author's website contain?
May 27, 2014 7:34 PM   Subscribe

I'm building a website for my wife, who's written a half dozen children's books and is currently working to get them published. I've searched the web and looked at sites like Judy Bloom, Beverly Cleary, and currently reviewing this list of websites on pinterest. I'm hoping to get a list of things the hive mind thinks a children's author website should contain, outside of the obvious list like a page for the books, blog/news, and about the author.
posted by herda05 to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

Very clear links to online purchase options, like Amazon, B&N, separate link for Kindle edition, Nook edition, etc. I'm always floored when I visit an author's website and I have to dig for these links, or the books are linked to the publisher's site so I have to search even further for a purchase link.

If the books are in a series, a very clear list showing the order.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:03 PM on May 27, 2014 [3 favorites]

If this is for younger children, some children's book author pages have suggestions for activities that can be done that are related to the book. You might also want to have some sort of "ask the author" function. You could also have some information about how the book was created (how the story idea came about and what was the writing process). You could also include a schedule of book signing locations and dates.
posted by Dansaman at 8:44 PM on May 27, 2014

What is the goal of the website? Who are you expecting to visit it? What are the outcomes you hope to create? Spend some time answering these questions, and the answers should help you figure out what to include.
posted by Leontine at 8:54 PM on May 27, 2014

If you want kids (and adults!) to have fun on the site, I'd say include some content that's not in the books. Maybe the lead character from her most recent book could have an ongoing "blog", or there could be a pretend newspaper from a town where one of her books is set. Bonus chapters could also be fun, or new, short stories set in the same world. She needs the practical stuff, but for a children's author in particular I think it would benefit her to really have fun with it.

A blog of some sort would be good. It updates your content and helps keep the search engines interested, and some of her fans may bookmark it and keep coming back.

Depending on how old her audience is, reader art could also be good. Maybe some contests. Relevant Youtube clips, maybe. Ideally I think you'd want kids to land on the page and say, "Ow, wow, there's so much cool stuff here!" If the kids are thinking that, adults will probably appreciate it too even if they won't get quite the same kick out of it.

To start with I'd suggest avoiding anything that could reveal how little traffic you're getting. For instance, it'd be fine to have a big EMAIL THE AUTHOR button and maybe post some reader mail, but I'd say avoid a blog where readers can comment because if there is entry after entry with NO COMMENTS at the bottom that just gets sad.

A lot depends on what kinds of books she writes. Maybe a little more info would help inspire people here to offer more ideas.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 9:42 PM on May 27, 2014

If there is a series of books, list them in reading order.

If there is any food in the books, include recipes.
posted by AllieTessKipp at 9:43 PM on May 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Depends on what kind of books she writes. If they might at all be usable for homeschoolers in some way, printable freebies to encourage it. Homeschoolers online are a major part of the mommyblog phenom, they tend to like books, and in general, they like to share info about the stuff they like, online and off. (I *might* be able to make suggestions based on what I've seen done before if I had a better idea of what kind of books she writes.)

If she enjoys social media and doesn't mind spending some time interacting with potential readers, consider that and/or a blog. Comments or lack thereof aren't necessarily an issue - I know of one (multi) NT Times bestseller with 50+ books in print and a Google PR 5 (good for an author - Nora Roberts' site is a five, too) that some days, she has a comment or two, others, she has thirty. The biggest thing is regular - not necessarily daily, but minimum 1-2 a week - posting, and having something to say.

There's the concern that it can take too much time away from the writing, too - so if that might be an issue, it's better to dip the toes in with one thing, then to go whole hog for several.
posted by stormyteal at 12:17 AM on May 28, 2014

You say she's working to get them published -- is this a site you're hoping potential publishers will visit to help them make publishing decisions? That will change the answers you get here pretty significantly.
posted by AmandaA at 6:42 AM on May 28, 2014

Here in the Netherlands, children at basic school ( up to age 12) have to write bookreports. They also need to write something about the author and other books he / she has written.

I often find that the about is written for adults only. So a "kids corner" with some information about the author, her books, where you can buy them would be a great help.
posted by kudzu at 7:33 AM on May 28, 2014

If the books are illustrated, coloring pages! Printable line art of characters and settings is easy to implement, and fun for young visitors.
posted by Sullenbode at 8:01 AM on May 28, 2014

Best answer: If the goal is to get exposure to help her sell the books, creating an author website could seem presumptuous and premature to potential agents and publishers. I'd focus more on creating a narrower social media presence that would give her a platform from which to blog/tweet/post about the subject matter of her book. If the books are sold, then you can focus on a bigger web presence--and hopefully you'll have a publisher weighing in.

My wife recently sold two children's books to Macmillan and honestly, at this point the book concept, the writing and the pitch are more important than anything you can do online.
posted by bassomatic at 1:10 PM on May 28, 2014

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