Every author and aspiring author is now encouraged to have their own platform and a good author’s website would be one of the main linking factors in a diverse range of activities that the author uses to build his or her platform.
In this Sunday’s Wash-up there are two posts devoted to what makes a good author’s website. In all, fourteen separate points are covered that, according to the posts, are “must have”. Both of these posts come from top sources so I should be treating the advice as gospel. The sub-titles in the advice are;
Contact information (authors)
Contact information publicist and lecture agent
Contact information literary agent
A media room
Additional information about yourself and the books(s)
A community/discussion function
Social media links
Search engine presence
Note; the list above is transcribed from these two articles in the order that they were posted. It was not my choice to put “your work” at the bottom of the list and one of the posts managed to forget it all together.
Before I go on, let me make it clear that I am NOT DISMISSING the value of the individual items of advice in these two posts.
Now as you read the list above, just who would you think that the website is designed for? The fans are in the bottom third of the list (your work and community), you as the author are a middling concern (as it ought to be), whilst the top is dominated by publishers, agents, publicists and media. By now you should be screaming at the screen.
An author’s platform is the collection of events built around a central information core that could be Facebook , MySpace, a blog or a dedicated website. This information then passes out to the fans of the author’s work, those who appreciate his or her art. A platform is built upon pleasing your fans and the new fans that they bring to you. A platform is not about friends, peer writers, family, followers, FB friends, they all are platform irrelevant. An effective platform is a collection of people who love your work.
What is wrong with Shack’s Comings and Goings? Well, as a website for my author’s platform it sucks. I never address content to anyone who might become a fan and who would then read my work just for enjoyment. To be honest, Shack’s C&Gs is written for writers and it will stay that way. Any personal ‘fan’ I might have would quickly leave due to boredom, it simply doesn’t serve their needs. (I know this as a fact).
My biggest gripe about the list above is that it is upside down. Next I become irritated by content for the fans being so undervalued. Put your fans at the top of the queue. When they arrive at the landing page of your site, let the first thing they see be artwork of your characters, scenes, and world. Use the back story that had no place in your novel into interesting info pages and other tit-bits scattered on your website. Pod cast chapters and teasers of your work. Produce more info pages of author’s commentary about the development of each character.
Use YOUR imagination and ENTERTAIN your fans with your art and about your art.
Oh, and then leave some personal information tucked under a button somewhere.
If you entertain enough people, eventually you will grow a loyal fan base that either like or have grown an interest in your art. Think of it as a numbers game, entertain a hundred and gain one fan, repeat and repeat, again and again, until the following starts to grow by word of mouth (or Twitter).
Once you have people who want to spend their money on your art, then that button tucked up and away but prominently displayed, becomes important. The button marked “All Contact Information”, the one that leads to the industry focused pages.
Always bear in mind who will be reaching inside their pockets to buy your Art.
If you can’t wait until Sunday, these are the two posts that were the muse for this rant.
Photo The young Fan cc Fuad