Marketing Tips for Authors: Engaging Readers with Dynamic Website Content
Author websites are among the most accessible places for fans to celebrate an author’s work and for authors to captivate a reader’s ongoing interest. A website is a well-understood friend in some cases: familiar options for promoting a new book, for example, include sneak peeks to raise anticipation and a countdown to the big release day. How to fill the open stretches of road between projects is less obvious. Is reader interest simply elusive during the many miles of an author’s journey to a new work?
Actually work you’ve already done can be key to avoiding a stagnant website. Bring your fans back for updates, giving you the best chance for their attention when you are ready to release a new work, by trying some of the following:
1. Include social media streams on your website
Displaying the content of your social media updates, rather than just links to your streams, allows you to update your website with every new Instagram and Tweet. These small infusions of personality allow new visitors to connect beyond your publication information, and give existing followers the chance to catch something that was lost in their clogged feeds.
A variety of plug-ins offer the ability to integrate your social media updates automatically into your website, so this means no extra work on a day-to-day basis.
2. Create discussion forums or dedicated fan space
Remember all those notes and scenes that didn’t actually make it into your book? Use some of them to generate new fan discussions of your existing works on your website’s own fan forum page. Just offer topics, tidbits, or musings and let the fans respond in comments to you and to one another. Once you get it started, fans might take over and offer their own topics.
Fan space will help readers connect to you, as well as forming connections with fellow readers. It can be a space where your most enthusiastic readers feel a bit special when you share exclusive updates and extras.
For a bit less content management, try highlighting Goodreads.com discussions about your books instead. Save a space on your homepage for the “Latest fan topics” and include some of the discussion content with links to help readers easily join the conversation.
3. Highlight your blog
Already blogging? Put your latest blog posts or headlines on your homepage. The freshness of new blog content, that
you have already done the work to generate, will reach every new visitor. Readers connect with the latest news without a special trip to your blog, while sparking their interest can mean they will head over for more.
Using your blog instead of any other fixed homepage content, as seen on author Catherynne Valente’s website, might even be the best use of this primary space if you are blogging a lot.
4. Make sure you save room front and center for new book covers and new releases!
A new book cover design and updated release of your book can garner newfound excitement for a previous work. Plan your web design for easy updating when the new cover comes around by placing your latest work at the center of your homepage.
For example, my recent redesign of author Priya Ardis’s website places her current book cover prominently on the main screen of her homepage. This layout ensures that a new cover release will be the first thing fans see after a simple update of the existing image. Trumpeting the exciting news of her cover art by updating the main text is also a quick change.
5. Do something fun that can be easily updated—like make your homepage a photo diary
This idea follows the lead of Juliemurphywrites.com, which has a playful take on dynamic content—her photo diary homepage can be easily updated with new pictures to feel like an evolving conversation.
Pictures aren’t the only content that allow for this kind of continuous
change. Try creating blocks of quotes from your books, or from whatever you’re reading at the moment, that can be updated as your mood changes. Or display the doodles you create as you are drafting. Choosing something that is already a part of your life or work makes it easy to give fans a natural connection to you.
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