Admit it – what with all those Social Media for Social Good and guest posts, it was just getting a bit too nice. You were getting twitchy, and wondering what happened to me, right? 😉 After all, the tagline to the blog is “A Little Bit Tart” first, before “A Little Bit Sweet.” We all know I’m not that nice.
I know there are a lot of social media things out there – workshops, speakers, gurus, books, and on and on. There’s a lot of great advice out there. There is of course, also some bad. You of course don’t have to listen to me, as these are just my opinions. And I’m just a lowly reader. (The last said tongue in cheek. Cuz you know – I’m that person who also buys your books, and talks about them…) There are more like me, obviously, I’m just one who doesn’t know how to keep her mouth shut. And while I do have tumblr… I don’t use it. So you know, take away my social media card right now.
Some of this has been said before. I did a similar post at TGTBTU… and I’m pretty sure every blog has done a “Do’s and Don’ts” post at one time or another. It’s likely near and dear to our hearts, because we still see issues. Here are my gripes. (And of course this applies to other types of sites as well, but, my target here is authors, because it’s all about me, and what I like.)
First, do not, do not, do NOT have music that loads automatically on your site. Don’t do it. Just don’t. You know how you hate those company sites that make you go through an intro, and have various types of music, muzak, or strange house techno? Yeah. That reaction. Oftentimes it sends people running away from your page – and do you really want that red “x” clicked before anyone checks out the info on your awesome books? I hope not.
Next, newsletters. They can be great. Sometimes I read them, sometimes I don’t. I admit it. Perhaps I’ve missed out on the ones I deleted. But do not, and I repeat do not automatically subscribe people to your newsletters. There are some I’ve never signed up for, that I’ve been added to. Lucky for you, I’m flaky otherwise I’d be calling you out. Really, it’s okay not to send one out if you have nothing to say. It’ll stop people from unsubscribing, I’ll bet. I’m much happier to receive a newsletter with substance than a monthly one just for the sake of continuity. But then, I’m picky. (Blogging on the other hand, thrives on continuity… so you see? No “rule” can be applied across the board.)
Along those lines, however, please have a way for people to unsubscribe safely from your newsletter. There are one or two that don’t have that lovely “unsubscribe” link. I know it hurts, and you don’t like to see people leave you, but give them the choice. Otherwise, they’ll start reporting you as spam. (And yes, I know some readers do that automatically, without bothering to unsubscribe. Well, some people just suck, okay?)
Websites. Don’t have a flash based site. Just don’t do it. Regardless of what gadget you use to get online, it’s just annoying, even for flash enabled devices or computers. Probably the most widely used example would be Rachel Gibson’s site. I like her books. I love some of her books. I hate her site. Rumor has it her site is being updated, and I really hope so. I hope the flash is murderized. So flash and intros? Do your best to avoid them.
Now websites – have one. Look for deals for hosting, go in with a friend and split the domain. Something. I don’t know. And you know what? It’s not for me to know – but if you’re a professional, which as a published author you now are, there’s a certain standard expected of you. Don’t have a blogspot.com or wordpress.com site as your main site. A blog is not a website.
Make sure you have a book page. I’m zealous about asking for a book page, book blurbs, and an excerpt. Quite demanding, but it matters. Nine times out of ten – even nine point nine nine times out of ten, if there’s no excerpt on a website? I won’t buy the book I was considering. I can’t imagine I’m the only one out there who does that. Some authors have this part down, which is awesome. Now, this is something I didn’t even think I’d have to mention… but… also make sure your website is updated. If you’ve got a new book coming out soon, make sure it’s on your webpage. Ideally as soon as you know and can put it up… but at least three months before the release date. That seems reasonable, yes?
A hint? What with the digitizing of back lists? Please don’t take book information off your website. Why would you do that? Even before, when print was unavailable, someone might get your book at a library, or used book store, then look for other books. Just… leave that information there. It’s precious, and frankly the best selling point for your books – aside from the books itself. Not social media that you do.
Now here, I’m going to say something new. Have a comprehensive book list. I cannot emphasize this enough. Some authors have taken to listing books by series, which is nice. But how about this – I’m book browsing, and something looks interesting. Say, B&N, Amazon, word of mouth, has brought a book to my attention. It’s a few years old, but available for sale, in print or digital. I go to the author website… and I can’t find the damn book.
I don’t know the genre, I don’t know what series it’s part of. It’s not a damn scavenger hunt, and I shouldn’t get pissed off in the process of trying to give you my money. I try to wipe such things from my mind, because I’m angry enough as is. But this has happened at least a dozen times, when I wanted to buy a book, but got so annoyed I couldn’t find anything about it, I just gave up and bought something else. Or played Plants vs. Zombies.
With twitter? Talk to people. If someone tags you in a response, or asks you a question, respond! Sometimes it takes a few times, or you might miss a message. Twitter is rather ephemeral. But if your entire timeline is just you re-tweeting people talking about your books… not only will I not follow you (or unfollow you)… I’ll probably move your books down my “to be read” pile. Regardless of how much other people are gushing about it. This isn’t a post about twitter though – I’ve tried that before.
Now with books – have excerpts. I don’t know how many books I’ve bought because the excerpts got me. And take advantage of other situations and links! The more information, the better! (For once – usually, the caution is against over sharing. You know, I don’t… well there are things about you I just don’t want to know. Books, however, are an entirely different animal.)
A number of sites and blogs now share “exclusive excerpts.” Link to them on your webpage! A special scene might just be that little thing that pushes someone to click that “buy” button.
You might consider mentioning your activities – if you’re going to a signing, a conference, a blog tour. This last one, however, is less important to me personally. Have a way for people to contact you though. On your website – have your email address, or a form. And if someone asks you a relevant question about your book, do your best to answer! There are actually awards given away by certain conferences or groups for “most accessible author.” Not only that, but readers talk.
And there are a lot of nice people out there, who will buy your books – all your books – simply because you were nice to him or her. I know a number of them, in fact. (Sorry to crush your illusions, but I’m not one. Alas.) I will, however, talk up people I think are nice, just because they’re so awesome. Positivity breeds good things!
So there you have it. My opinionated little … rant? About what I’d like to see – or not see – from authors. Maybe one day I’ll do a shout out and point out the author sites etc I think are great. They do exist.
What about you? What do you like to see? What do you hate on sites? And, if you’re an author, if you want me to “grade” your site- leave a comment. I promise to respond (er, in regards to your site only if you ask me to check out your site). Even if you don’t want me to. :X