Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Scarclaw Says

I'm working on an author website. This is a daunting task. Mostly because I feel like I belong in this conversation:

Besides being a Luddite, I am discovering that there are so many options out there.

Authors seem to do all sorts of things with their websites. Some post long personal bios, whereas others keep a standoffish updates-about-the-book-and-that's-it-approach. There are sites focused solely on the book's content and those that highlight the author herself. A lot of Middle Grade websites have games or quizzes or trivia. All that to say: I'm a wee bit overwhelmed.

As a reader, I've checked out an author site or two, but mostly only for information: When is the next book coming out, that sort of thing. I suppose there was also that time that I got sucked into Meg Cabot's blog archive. And it could be that a few minutes checking out Erin Hunter's site turned into ... a little more than that. Okay, okay, I'm a member of Shadowclan, and my Warrior Name is Scarclaw. (How cool is that? How much more could I accomplish if I prefaced everything by: Scarclaw says you must..." While I'm confessing, I should say that I'm still mad I haven't figured out how to unlock that stupid door at J.K. Rowling's site.

If I'm honest, those games and quizzes and quirky blog posts are what drew me to the author's site. From a writer's point of view, I've found it interesting to read about another author's journey to publication. But, as a reader, the authors that hooked me were doing more than just saying something about themselves. They were offering me something as well, and now I'm trying to figure out how to apply that to my own fledgling website.

Here's where I need your help!

Readers: Why do you go visit an author's website? What things keep you there? What are some of your favorites?

Writers: How did you decide on the essentials of your site? Any other thoughts?

C'mon, don't be shy. Scarclaw commands that you share your wisdom. Or else.


  1. I go to find out about publication dates, other books by an author I've recently discovered, etc. Key (age 8) goes to play games - over and over and over again. The more involved the game, the longer he visits the site repeatedly. He reads on a middle school level, but he is maturity wise still just an eight year old, so the games and puzzles hook him easily. Teachers will put them on their approved lists for free time if there is enough "educational" content, so some of the sites Key visits have been introduced at school. And, by the way, a lot of your audience will be advanced readers that are in elementary school. Key's peer group mainly reads these fantasy chapter books. Then they reenact the stories in birthday parties and on the playground. One of the best b-day parties he went to was held in a library at night with a Harry Potter theme. For "nerdy" kids it was the best ever! Hope this helps!

  2. Patty, this is great! That's just the sort of thing I'm wondering - why kids go back to a site. And I love the idea of implementing educational content that make a site school friendly. Thanks SO much for the input. M

  3. I might not be quite the audience you want, but I saw it on facebook so browsed on over to check it out. Normally, I don't go to author's websites. When I do it is typically for something specific, like a publishing date or list of other books by the same author (assuming there isn't a list on wikipedia or similar). I'll also go to find related works or other authors that they found inspiring, insightful, or enjoyable.

    I'll occasionally get caught in a blog archive, but it typically lasts a day or two while I peruse what seems interesting and I rarely become a long-time follower. For instance, I'll likely browse this site off and on for another hour or two... >.>

  4. As an undiscovered (I mean, unpublished) writer I love author sites that dig into craft and publishing insider tips. But I think you need a balance for the fans and not just the writing community. I love Janice Hardy.

  5. Austin - Thanks for stopping by! I do the same thing over at George RR Martin's site, but I'm skeptical he'll EVER announce that his next book is coming out. Ha!

    Brooke - That's a good point. Maybe it's worth making space for a page just devoted to writing tips.

  6. Oh, I want Scarclaw! He is sooooooooo cute! ;)

  7. Hi,
    Oh, thanks! Anne is an awesome character!

  8. I wander MG author sites just looking for fun. Have fun with your site and you can't go wrong!

  9. My first thought when I wrote about going to an author's site to check publishing dates was GRRM. >.<


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!