Friday, November 1, 2013

Cyber Inspiration--Great Author Websites and Bios to Kick Yours into High Gear

Nicki, a blog reader from South Carolina, is putting together a website for her book.  She wondered about great author websites or tips for putting together an author bio.   

Both are an essential part of an author's platform, a requirement for writers today.   

If "author's platform" is new to you, here's the short definition:  The stage you'll stand on, as you market your new book.  If your platform is solid, if it's developed at least a year before you publish, you'll likely garner more of those reviews, bookstore sales, internet sales, and interviews that will put your book in the hands of readers.   

You'll need to show agents and publishers that you're standing solid.  An engaging author bio and website are also part of your submission package to agents and publishers.

Do self-published writers need these?  Most certainly. How else will you sell your book?  But, you say, the self-publisher includes marketing and placement on amazon.  Yes, but will they actively market your book more than the hundreds or thousands of other titles they publish?

Building a platform is up to you.  And a good website and bio are the starting point. 

Crafting an Engaging Author Website
I went from homemade website to pro-designed with my last book.  Since I paint, I teach, and I write, I wanted a website that encompassed all three.  I interviewed writing colleagues and researched sites of authors I admired.  Luckily, the website designer credit is often listed at the bottom of the home page, so it wasn't hard.  Eventually I found a designer who specializes in multi-discipline sites.  Check her work out here. 

If you're not great at writing slick copy, hire a writer for this--it's worth it.  Most designers deal with the visuals, not the words.  And nothing's worse than typos or awkward writing on a site that's supposed to promote your skills with wordcraft!

On my Facebook page, I asked fellow writers about favorite author websites.  Below is the short list.  (To add your favorites or see more, please visit the Facebook discussion--scroll down to author website question--and feel free to Like my page!): 

Pete Hauptman (awesome fake book reports)
Research also revealed two helpful lists:  Bestselling Authors' Websites of 2012 and Beautiful Author Websites.  

Author Bios--What to Say, What Not to Say
Once you get an idea of your website, you'll need an author bio.  This is a short (usually 300-400 word) statement about your credentials and publishing or writing background--or real-life experience with your book's subject.   

Author bios must be friendly enough to reveal the real person behind the book.  But they must also be serious enough to give your writing credentials.  In other words, you are selling yourself, not just your book.

Rather than list the rules, this week's writing exercise gives you three good sites to browse.  Check out their lists of "secrets" to excellent author bios.  They will help you see yourself as a reader might.  It's a middle ground made up equally of accomplishments and availability as a human being. 
   

It's worth it to spend time and money on this, I learned.  My book sales have doubled since I got a good website.  That's more than paid me back for my investment.