The top 5 website mistakes authors make

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Top 5 website mistakes authors makeDon’t give your readers any excuse to hit the “back” button

Someone’s checking out your website. Pat yourself on the back; you’ve done something right — whether it was announcing your web address during a reading, optimizing your site for Google search, doing targeted advertising on Facebook, printing your URL on the jacket of your book, etc.

So, here they are, checking out your online headquarters, waiting to be dazzled by your literary brilliance. You’ve won the first half of the battle.

Now you need to KEEP them on your website for more than 5 seconds if you want that person to buy a book, invite you to a reading series, download a sample chapter, leave a blog comment, attend a book signing event, or sign up for your email newsletter.

If that potential reader or publishing industry professional gets annoyed, they’re going to back out of there in an internet minute.

Here are a handful of common website mistakes you should avoid making!

1. Leaving autoplay on — If you have music on your website (I’m looking at YOU, romance authors!) Do NOT leave your audio player on auto-play. People may have their speakers turned up to 11, or they might be in a place where they don’t want to hear music on their computer (work, library, airport, etc.)

2. Not updating content — Was your last blog post or news item from 2010? That’s a sure sign that your website is a ghost town. If you’ve quit updating your site, don’t expect visitors to stick around for long. Check out “10 Kinds of Content to Keep Your Blog Posts Funky Fresh.”

If you don’t have a lot of content to begin with, just be sure to put the important stuff front-and-center, and then get busy writing!

3. Using vague descriptions — Oh, so you write “post-modern literary fiction?” Great. Next!

Put some real thought into your bio and book description. Look at some of the blurbs for your favorites books, and aim for something similar. You need to capture people with soundbites before they’ll actually spend the time to read the first page of your book.

4. Not using clear call-to-actions — Contrary to most aspects of life, when we first visit new websites, we like to be told what to do. If you don’t have a call-to-action on your website, PUT A CALL-TO-ACTION ON YOUR WEBSITE!!! If you don’t know what a call-to-action is, check out “Boost Sales by Using Better Calls-to-Action on Your Website.

5. Forgetting to create a web store or “buy” links — If you don’t give people the ability to buy your books when they’re visiting your website, when do you think they WILL buy them? Probably never. So don’t miss out on those sales opportunities. Create a bookstore for your website, or embed links to your book on Amazon, iBookstore, Kobo, etc.

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What are your website pet-peeves? What mistakes do you see authors commonly making with their websites? Let us know in the comments section below.

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[Oops picture from Shutterstock.]

Chris Robley is an award-winning poet, songwriter, performer, and music producer who now lives in Portland, Maine after more than a decade in Portland, Oregon. His music has been praised by NPR, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, and others. Skyscraper Magazine said he is “one of the best short-story musicians to come along in quite some time.” Robley’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in POETRY, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Magma Poetry, and more. He is the 2013 winner of Boulevard's Poetry Prize for Emerging Writers and the 2014 recipient of a Maine Literary Award in the category of "Short Works Poetry."

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