Common mistakes authors make with their websites

I’ve blogged previously about the pros and cons of WordPress (WP) and Wix as Content Management Systems (CMS). I have mistake!
decided to make the move from WP to Wix and it wasn’t an easy decision – just ask my kids! As part of that process I began doing some thinking about not just what I wanted the site to look like, but also what I wanted the site to say about me as an author, and about the books I have and will have available.

I did (and am still doing) a lot of reading, learning, and analysing of other author websites, some indie, some mainstream, and I’ve come up with a number of key points that kept coming up. Here is my list of the most common mistakes some authors make with their websites in my opinion:

Focussing on design over content – I have fallen in to this trap previously, but there is little point in having a fantastic window display without the product to back up that promise. Within this, I have highlighted THREE KEY AREAS:

* Not edited – If you want to be seen as a successful author (whether you are one or not), you should give the same level of care to every post you write in your blog and every page that appears on your site. If I hit a typo on the first line, I am probably going to click elsewhere. We all make mistakes from time to time, but having a couple of read-throughs before hitting ‘publish’ can hopefully iron most of them out (that’s your cue to look over this post and let me know my mistakes). Imagine you were going to show it to a publisher. Would he/she be pleased with the result?

* Out of date material – If your site looks like it hasn’t been updated since the turn of the century, readers will see this and look elsewhere. If you had someone design your site for you, try to make sure that it is easy for you to update; if you are relying on someone to keep it updated for you, make sure they know what you are looking for, or do it yourself! There are many excellent CMSs available that are straightforward and easy to get to grips with, WordPress and Wix being two excellent examples.

* Using a blog page when a static page is needed – This relates to the above point. If you have no intention of blogging, don’t have a blog page as your landing page (the first page a visitor will see on your site). Both Wix and WP offer ‘static pages’, which are exactly that: a page that a visitor will see when they arrive at your site. Setting a WP static page is straightforward and can be used to direct readers to the interesting parts of your site, or highlight your upcoming book.

Focussing on yourself, not your readers – Readers care about themselves, not you. There needs to be something of value to get them to come back. I have recently started ‘A Diary of an Author with MS’ series of posts, which may very well break this rule, so might need reassessing. What do you think? Is that too self-centred?

No author bio – This could be the most visited page on an author’s website, and is certainly one that you should consider adding if you don’t already have one. It needs to be specific so editors, publishers and readers know what you are about and what you write. Include any successes you have had. If you have no credits to your name, consider submitting to one of the many online free webzines just to get those few lines of credits.

 

I’ll leave it there for now. I’ll post the final part this weekend.

Leave a comments to let me know if you agree or disagree with this list, or have identified any others not mentioned here.

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