Although I call myself a writer (and after having published six books I’m cringing less and less every time I say that), between reading books to write reviews and reading for relaxation, I probably spend more hours a day actually reading than I do writing. The fact that English television in Turkey is limited probably contributes to all that reading as well. Because I’m an indie writer myself, I try to find self-published books to read and that often leads me to author websites. I’m in no way an expert on website design. I’m still struggling with my own site design! But I do know what I don’t like. Due to my vision, I also have specific complaints with regards to the visual layout. Because I love to compile lists, I went ahead and made a list of ‘do nots’ with regard to author websites.
- Do no use a huge picture as the top banner of your website. For those of us who live in countries where the government needs to slow down our Internet service so that they can have a peek at everything we’re doing, it’s really annoying. It takes forever for the picture to download. And I’m not really sure why a huge photo of the author playing with his dog is going to make me want to buy a book anyway.
- Do not use constant pop-ups to get readers to sign-up for your newsletter. I’ve got one word for this – annoying! I understand the desire to have newsletter subscribers. Boy, do I! But bullying a website visitor into signing up for your newsletter isn’t going to help with book sales. It may actually do more damage than good.
- Do not use a dark background. A dark background makes it nearly impossible for those of us with bad vision to see the actual content of the website. The same is true for a really light background. There needs to be enough contrast between the background and the content so that both are visible.
- Make it interesting. Why should I buy your books? I’ll often go on an author’s website when I’m on the fence about buying a book. I’m surprised by how often I’m disappointed by the website. It seems a bit silly. Writing a book is a lot of work. If you’re going to go the self-published route, than make sure you do everything you can to sell that book. I understand that not everyone wants to put in tons of effort with marketing campaigns, social media and so forth, but at least have a good website that makes readers excited about your books.
- Keep it up! There’s nothing more discouraging than finding a writer’s blog and discovering the blog hasn’t been updated in more than a year. Personally, I try to blog once a week, which a lot of experts out there tell me is not enough, but it’s what I can manage and so I stick with it. If for some reason, you’re not going to be able to update your blog for a while, tell your readers what’s up. If it’s too personal, just say that. But for gosh sakes don’t leave us hanging.