Fran Cannon Slayton - The Wild Ride To Publication (Children's Book Version!): Author Websites: Useful, Changing Content is King

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Author Websites: Useful, Changing Content is King

What brings you back to an author's website?  More importantly, what will bring readers back to YOUR website?

Lately, I've been looking at author websites with the express intention of finding what works and what doesn't work as I designed my own website.  There's lots of cool stuff out there, but 
the more I look around the more I realize that "content is king."  How do you get someone to come back to your website over and over and over again?  The answer is simple:  change your content.  And make it USEFUL!

But when you change your content, you also have to ask yourself this question:  who am I changing the content for?  Who's gonna find this information useful?  I think these questions are crucial with regard to blogging as well: who is my audience?  And what do they need?

For example, in this blog (and on the "For Writers" page of my website), my stated audience is children's book writers.  But writers go to websites (and blogs) for different reasons than readers do.  Readers go to websites to find out about authors and their books, to read reviews, and maybe to learn something on a particular topic.  Kid readers might go back sometimes to enjoy a game on the site, too, or perhaps to contact the author.  Writers go to websites not only for these reasons, but also to see what other writers are doing, to check out what's working for them (and what's not), to feel like part of a writing community, to learn about book marketing and writing techniques, to find out about conferences and seminars, to watch book video trailers, and to encourage others in the same profession.

In order to get writers to return to websites or blogs, many authors provide author interviews.  This is a GREAT idea.  Everyone wins - the interviewer because she is gaining content that will draw people to her site; and the interviewee because she is gaining publicity for her book.

Editor Harold Underdown has a great site that has lots of articles on writing, as well as a "Who's Moving Where" page which outlines various moves by editors and agents in the children's book publishing industry.  It's a fantastic resource for authors, and a fantastic idea for getting authors to come back to his site!  Definitely check out his site if you haven't already.

I've seen other authors provide other sorts of content on their sites - everything from political commentary, to listings on publisher's lunch.  

I've recently added content to my site in a different way.  I've created a Children's Book News Email that goes out bi-weekly and provides a summary of the latest topics of interest in the kidlit world.  Things like books that are being censored, literacy initiatives, and unique (and copy-able!) ways authors are promoting their books.  I also provide links to full articles for further reading.  (If you are interested in signing up, you can visit the "For Writers" page of my website).    
Have you seen authors provide other kinds of useful content on their websites or blogs?  If so, leave a comment and tell us about it!


Ghost Girl said...

Fran, I love this post! As I consider putting together my own website, these are the very questions I've been asking myself. I love Harold's site. I've used his articles with my own writing students as well.

Meredith Sue Willis has several pages dedicated to resources for writers at

A lot of writers contribute to the site.

I really love finding tidbits on industry issues like promoting your book or when and where to find an agent, etc.

Fran Cannon Slayton said...

Thanks M.A.! I appreciate the info on and ! Can't wait to take a peek! - Fran

S R Wood said...

Fran -- it's great to see you online. Nice work and congratulations!


Fran Cannon Slayton said...

Thanks Seth! As you can see, I remodeled my website entirely after you and I talked. I like it much better than the old one! Thank you! - Fran

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