Feb 25, 2010

Effective Websites for Authors

Does your website reach its market?
Having a camera in your phone means on a whim you can make your pets do embarrassing things :-)
(note to self: next time I want a posed shot I'll just use the Border Collie first, went through twenty takes with my Miniature Schnauzer jumping on the keyboard, trying to eat the keyboard, trying to eat the camera...)

This week my youngest bought home a book from the library that she thought I would like her to read to me, it was 'Audrey of the Outback'. Did I? You bet! I'd heard about this book through a podcast interview with the author (Christine Harris) and I'd been very curious about the story.

Depending on the genre we write we often look for inspiration from accomplished authors who have published in that field. I've been reading many children's novels and mysteries to give me an idea of style and format for Dog Show Detective, but my next novel will be about a young boy who tries to solve a murder in a remote town during the 1930's. Audrey of the Outback is a an example of how to make a distant time and place seem interesting to kids.

While exploring the book together, Matilda and I noticed a website address for the author, so we went to have a look. There's a load of information on the net about promoting yourself as an author online and 'building a platform'. I blog and twitter (@charmaineclancy) but I hadn't seen the need for a website before I saw Christine Harris' site (possibly due to the fact that I have no completed novel to promote, but why let that stop me?). Now I owe a double load of gratitude to this author because not only am I gaining inspiration for my novel from her delightful book, but now I can see what a really good author website looks like:

Christine Harris

Do you have a dedicated site for your works? Know what should go in it to attract your specific market?
Kids are consumers in their own right now, early children's books were quite didactic filled with morals and consequences. These stories were marketed to the parents not the kids. Nowadays kids have more of a say in what they purchase and so clever authors are providing websites to inform and entertain them.

I'm still a ways off having a product to promote, but I've taken the step to register charmaineclancy.com for my future home of my fiction. It's probably a good idea to register your domain name early, especially if your name is something like 'Paul Smith' or 'Sam Jones'. Joanna Penn from The Creative Penn says if you wait until your book is published to promote it then you've left it too long. Build that platform now.

Here's some more author websites I found impressive (I also came across a LOT of boring ones, cluttered and confusing sites, so I think it's worth having a professional help you build a great website). Have a look and see what tools they use to appeal to their market. If you've seen another effective author website, add the link in the comments!

Meg Cabot
The 39 Clues
Blank Graphic novel published online. Dark and intriguing the line "John Blank must die" makes you wonder about the protagonist. I am also impressed that there is a link for "interested publishers"
R L Stine Added bonus of teacher resources.
Dave Pilkey
Paul Jennings
Anne Fine
Cynthea Liu
Karen McCombie
Ridley Pearson overcomes the difficulty of marketing to two very distinct markets - adults and YA.


  1. I checked out a lot of the author's links and some of the websites are amazing. It must have cost some money getting those prepared. I loved RL Stine's website...

    I will post a link to your site on my blog tomorrow.


  2. Great list of links, Charmaine! I love the way you are always researching and looking for ideas - that's such a writing strength of yours. I need to be better about it, I think. :-)

  3. Ann - Thanks so much, I've been enjoying your blogpost what a great site.

    Shannon - Thank you hun, but a better writing strength for me would be to stop surfing blogs and start writing ;-)

  4. Thanks for the encouragement and links.

  5. These websites are amazing. I imagine it would take more than grabbing the nearest available teen to set up at site like those.

    I second your thoughts about the need to do less surfing and more writing.
    Thank you for stopping by and following. :)

  6. Thanks Mary & Elaine - I think it's important to consider your audience because some of those awesome sites are very memory hungry and if someone was accessing them from a slow computer it could have the opposite effect and get frustrating. Still, websites should be fun :-)