Weekend Dialogue: What is your take on author websites?

I am sort of co-opting a Question of the Week for this. Someone was wondering about when was a good time for an author to get a website. I'll post the question and my answer on Friday, but until then I thought it would be interesting to hear from others about their opinion. Some peope I would specifically like to comment would be Alan, Greg and Greg K (if they happen to read this) because each of you started your blog at a different point in the process. Alan did his after publication, Greg did his Septina stuff before publication but after aquisition, and Greg K was fibbing before Levine acquired him.

I would also love to hear from everyone else including regular readers and librarians about what kinds of author websites they like, and if they frequent any unpublished authors sites or blogs.

My enquiring mind wants, no, needs to know.


Anonymous said...

And a futher question: if a writer is querying an agent or editor and the writer has a website listed, does the agent or editor ever look at the website, or only if the writer is published and even then, maybe not?

Lee said...

Here's my comment on author websites that I detest. I even refuse to buy books by authors who do this repeatedly:

Anonymous said...

Why have such harsh feelings against them? Sounds like an awful lot of negative energy for no good reason.

SilberBook-Blog said...

As asked - Alan here:

Before my response to the request - my 2 cents on the thread:

When I blog I am creating a "dialogue" (as it is) with readers, library folk, book sellers, writers, et al - and as it is designed to be from me and about my "journey" of course I will ring the bell with good news and complain (loudly) with the bad. Isn't that what the blog is for?

On to the question: I created my website first, before Pond Scum was published. It was a way to let educators, fans and anyone else I could bug make sure I wasn't kidding, that I really did have a book coming out! Websites are essential for establishing a legit presence and if done well, will give visitors what they need to know. Gotta have one.

On blogging: I wished I'd begun sooner. I jumped into it last May (the book came out in Oct.) I adore the community I've stumbled rather blindly into - the circle keeps enlarging and I find (from a self-marketing way) it is a help - And as for creating a much-needed social network? I am loving it!

Website: yes. Blog: a choice/but one I recommend

Jen Robinson said...

I usually find that I get more out of an author website or blog if I've already read books by the author (Rick Riordan's blog comes to mind, as does Alan's). But there are some exceptions. I love Gail Gauthier's blog,, and also Shannon Hale's Squeetus. In both cases, the blog has inspired me to want to read the author's books, but more because the author has interesting things to say, and therefore I want to read her books, rather than because the blog strongly promotes the books.

There are several other author blogs I read, too, and when I'm in the bookstore, and I see books by those authors, I have this friendly feeling like I know them. As a reader (and a blogger myself) I can absolutely say that a well-done blog will inspire me to seek out an author's books. But if the blog feels like it's purely a promotional tool, and not a conversation and a way to get to know the author better, then I won't visit.

The Buried Editor said...

Alan, thank you so much for responding. I apologize for implying your website came out after your book. For some reason I add the creation date of your blog and site linked in my head. I have no idea why.

And, Lee, I agree that authors who only do those things can get tiresome; however, I can't imagine not doing those things every now and then. Trust me should one of my books ever garner a SLJ review, you shall all hear about it.

Gregory K. said...

But of course I read the question!

First off, I blogged about this very question back on GottaBook: why bother to blog.

But a fast summary: my point in blogging as a pre-published writer was to join the community that I'd already found (and that Alan now talks about). Yes, my blog was also meant to be a professional site on many levels -- the biggest being I would try not do anything that would hurt me professionally! But along those lines, I viewed my blog as a place to write and show who I am. And I viewed it as a place I could do stunts like Fibs. But for me, at that point, it was the communal aspect that I liked so much.

That'll always hold true, even though I suspect that my blog will change when I have books out and attract different readers AND have something concrete to discuss. But I'm sure I'll keep blogging.

tem2 said...

I think of author blogs first as blogs: people keeping a journal of their daily lives and, oh by the way, they happen to be authors. So the events in their lives include writing, editing, submitting, and (hopefully) publishing and promoting their books.

Also, people who are good at writing books can be bad at writing blogs. It's so quick and informal and everything is a rush first draft. That's why it's not a good marketing tool for someone like me. Nobody is ever going to read my blog and think, "I want to sit down with 40,000 words written just like this!"

Authors also shouldn't blog in hopes of being "discovered" and published. That only happens when you stumble upon an attention-grabbing idea that catches fire like Greg K's fib poems. Authors also shouldn't blog if they find it taking too much time away from their productive writing.

But otherwise it's a great way to grease the writing wheels of the brain and a fun thing for the sake of itself.

Lynn said...

A well done author web site, especially those who write children's and young adult literture, is priceless. I'm an academic librarian and create online pathfinders (links to reference materials, library holdings of titles, and author information sites) of children's authors and illustrators for the children's literature classes. Students are required to do an author study and these pages often give them a place to start. Since there are good, bad, and ugly author web sites, it's often a case of take what you get.

I wish all authors would clearly state any contact information, even if it is their editor or publishing house, on the site. I get email every week from teachers, and often student teachers, looking for a way their students can contact authors.

As to author blogs, I tend to follow blogs on children's literature and also my own reading interests. I agree with Jen who said she gets more out of a blog if she has read the author's book already. But, stumbling across a good author blog also stimulates my interest in buying their book.

Blogs can be a double edged sword. If you love the author and the blog, because it is informal and personal, shows them to be very different from their writing, you may end up disliking the person. That may color your judgement on buying their books again.

(Sorry to be so lengthy!)

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