Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tell me who you are

Maven Carrie Ryan

These days a lot of authors have blogs and often, the blog gets more hits than the author's website (or sometimes, the blog exists for way longer than the author's website). I've also found, that a lot of authors include links to their blogs in emails or posts to various groups (another good way to generate traffic). And many times, these blogs are the first glance a potential reader has of the author.

Which is why I'm always so surprised at how scant some of these blogs are when it comes to promotional information. For example, on one of my loops an author has linked to her blog twice in the past month -- once to show us her new cover (very cool) and once to ask for help choosing an author photo. I followed the link. I thought her cover was cool and wanted to know more. But there was nothing about this author on the blog other than her name. Nothing.

No links to webpages. No profile telling me how many books she had, when her books would be published, how I could learn more about her. Here I am practically begging to become a fan of hers, but how can I?

I'm constantly amazed when I stumble on an author's blog but can't find out more about him or her. Sometimes, I can't even figure out what name they write under because their blog just has a title like "Book Writer" or "I like to write books" (just for example). And they don't put their pen-name, link to a blog, etc. I even remember Miss Snark once saying that she had an agent email her interested in a crapometer submission, but when they clicked on the writer's profile and blog, there was no email -- no way to contact to offer representation.

Naturally, you are all calling me a hypocrite right now. Because I barely have any information at all about my book (I have some in the sidebar to my blog) and my website isn't even designed much less written. But to be fair, the moment my announcement hit Publishers Marketplace, I put at least *some* information on my blog -- my name, an email, a link to the blurb.

I still believe that if you have a blog, hoping it will help with marketing (which I argue it will), then make sure it works as a marketing tool. Make sure people who randomly find your blog get the information they need. For example, look at Diana's blog -- she has all her book covers (so if I forget the title I can recognize it in the store), a list of her books, and her website and email are listed in her profile (though I'd argue that information gets lost and they should both be clickable links). Diana makes it easy for people to learn more about her and buy her books. Sure, hers is fancier than most, but even the most basic blog can have that same information.

So, if you have a blog, take a look at it and think about the random browser who stumbles on it. Maybe links from another blog, maybe follows the footer in an email of yours. Ask yourself what you want that new visitor to know about you, and then make sure that information is front and center.

Which leads me to my question -- what do y'all look for in a blog? What do you look for in a website? What are your pet peeves?


* When I see an interesting deal listed on PM, one of the first things I do is google the author name and a lot of times that leads me to a blog (or livejournal or whatever). It's frustrating to find a blog that doesn't give me any info on the author. Because to me, marketing starts the day the announcement is listed. Seriously, what better marketing is there for your book and name than tons of publishing professionals reading about it and wanting to know more? You don't have to have a professional website or anything, but at least update the blog with current info.


Erica Ridley said...

Marketing starts the day the announcement is listed.

Amen! I absolutely agree with this. It's just as frustrating to Google an author's website in an attempt to hunt down the author's backlist (for example, to read a series of connected books in order), only to discover the author either has no web site, or doesn't use their website to list information about their books. (Then why have a website?!)

Sure, I can spend a bunch of time comparing Amazon publication dates and figuring it out on my own... but by that time, I've given up and clicked elsewhere.

It's the information superhighway, baby! Load it up with info! =)

B.E. Sanderson said...

Since I'm a pre-published writer, I like to think my blogs are whetting people's appetites for the day when I am published. Hopefully, they're getting to know me, my voice and on the 'branded' blog, getting to know my writing. Once I get some books in stores, I'll be shouting the information everywhere. It only makes sense.

Carrie Ryan said...

What's funny is that I swore the day my PM announcement went up I'd have all the information anyone could need about me. Even if I didn't have a website ready.

Yeah... didn't happen. And I'm starting to realize that while my blog has a lot of that info, my LJ doesn't and I'm starting to get more and more new readers and they probably know nothing about me.


Diana Peterfreund said...

My email is NOT a clickable link on purpose. I *hate* with a fiery passion "emailto" links. I use webmail and I like to type in my own damn email addresses rather than wait for my computer to search for an email program it doesn't have to launch and bring up an email window. Also, this makes it possible to copy and paste my email.

And I'm still a lot easier than some folks who, in order to avoid spambots, just have forms to fill in.

Carrie Ryan said...

Excellent point, Diana! I think I meant the link to your website and wasn't being clear. Mailto links are super annoying cause it launches my mail program I don't use and causes all sorts of problems.

Darcy Burke said...

I always look for the writer's bio/background information. And excerpts from their work.

Carrie Ryan said...

Darcy -- I've been wondering about excerpts. I'm not sure if/when to post those. I guess I can ask my editor :)

Hellie Sinclair said...

I look for entertainment on a blog. On an author site, I have more standards. I want to know details about my new favorite author: what does she like to read, what does she put in her coffee, does she live on the coast or midwest or timbuktu?

I do like when authors, usually established, give us little "extras" about beloved books. Elizabeth Hoyt does this; and I know Deb Macomber does too. Eloisa James writes "extra free" chapters after the book has been out a while--the fandom votes on it.

I love Hester Browne, but she absolutely NO website. It drives me bonkers. I hope she's using the time she doesn't devote to a website to writing the next book. I still buy her stuff.

Angie Fox said...

Yes. And I also like links to scenes or chapters that have been cut. It feels like getting a sneak peek into that writer's process.

lacey kaye said...

Excerpts, baby. I totally agree.

lacey kaye said...

Oh, and I like it when the blog and the website are the same thing. Like mine :-)

Jackie Barbosa said...

I think a robust website (with excerpts!) is an important promotional tool, practically a sine qua non these days. Mine is still pretty spare, though, and keeping up with it really eats into my writing time (though updating my pages is certainly an excellent procrastinatory diversion!).

Say, that reminds me...

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