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Author Websites (and some book news)

April 4, 2007

Maybe my expectations are just too high, but these days I expect authors to have a website. So when today’s Publishers Lunch reported a deal for a new Kristen Tracy book, and since I’ve been meaning to read Lost It, I thought, “Oh, maybe I’ll go to her website.” Only I can’t find a website, or a blog, or even a MySpace page. And I can’t be bothered to continue searching for an author I’ve never read. If authors don’t want to blog, that’s their prerogative. But not having at least some web presence? In this day and age? When you’re writing for teens?

If you’re an author, please, please get yourself a website. Your readers will appreciate it, and so will librarians. I’m on the YA statewide picks committee for our library system, and our goal is to select those upcoming books we think will be popular and that each library should have (and we’re talking about 51 libraries here). Since we try to order pre-pub, usually three months ahead of time, often we’re just guessing at what’s going to be the most popular. There are some authors we’re pretty sure of (like Meg Cabot), but there are so few pre-pub reviews and you can’t always find blurbs on publisher or vendor websites, that sometimes author websites and blogs are my only source of information. And if you do have a website, can you please post information about your upcoming book more than a month or two in advance? Thanks.

Anyway, Tracy’s next book definitely sounds interesting: “follow[s] a clique in Kalamazoo, Michigan who set out to have an unforgettable summer while attempting to commit the best crime ever — and to prepare their college applications — as they contend with aggressive parrots, a knife-wielding psycho brother, their underdeveloped consciences, an unfortunate kayaker, and the long arm of the law.”

Two other YA deals were mentioned, a debut novel by Cecilia Galante (about best friends “forced to runaway from the religious commune they’ve lived in their entire lives”) and a novel by television writer Robin Epstein (“a 15-year old girl in the midst of an ethical dilemma”).

Update: Kristen Tracy now has a website! Go visit.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 5, 2007 2:31 pm

    I too recommend that authors have a website, more than just a one-page marketed-when-the-book-is-released, plus some sort of web presence. I am a freelance webdesigner and I am fortunate enough to have amazing clients who understand how important sites are!

  2. April 5, 2007 2:35 pm

    Yeah, I totally agree. I want to link to their posts when I write about their books. They are missing SO MUCH advertising and just simply connecting with their readers. Heck, hire LW to create one for you, authors! That’s what I’d do. David Wiesner’s site is WAY out of date, and when I linked to it, I netted a rather nasty comment on MY blog about how terrible DW’s site was…

  3. April 5, 2007 2:49 pm

    Jackie, wow, that was a rude commenter. When we link to a site, aren’t we doing readers a service? Like, “Here’s the link so you don’t have to look for it.”

  4. Kevin permalink
    April 11, 2007 12:10 pm

    Yeah, I stopped reading Dickens, Shakespeare, Twain, and Chaucer because they stopped posting on their blogs.

    I am not saying that Kristen Tracy is any of the above authors, but why must authors have a web presence? About 60% of the authors I bother looking up have out of date info on their sites. If I had to choose between my favorite author maintaining a website and writing more books, I would choose writing.

    You might be saying they should pay someone to create a website, but last time I checked first time authors are not always rolling in the dough.

    Give her a break!

  5. April 11, 2007 2:02 pm

    Maintaining a website costs money, but it’s marketing. Generally speaking, I also would prefer authors to spend their time writing, but if I want to continue reading books by a particular author, they need to keep being published. Some authors are lucky enough to become bestsellers without a website (or an up-to-date website), but if I were a new author, I wouldn’t want to take my chances on that.

    Basically, my opinion is that if authors can afford it, they should have a website. For established authors who were published before the internet, and especially for prolific mystery writers, so I know what order I should read your books in. For new authors, because there are so many books published these days that I want to know why I should buy your book instead of that other one that looks really interesting. When I buy books for myself, not the library, it’s usually from online booksellers, partly because of the convenience and partly because I tend to prefer midlist authors whose backlist isn’t always available in my local bookstores. Without having a chance to actually flip through the book, for debut authors, I’m more likely to buy their book if they have a website and an excerpt of the book that I can read. Royalties from my one purchase won’t pay for a website, but it’s a sale that probably wouldn’t have happened if not for the site.

    For my library’s collection, I’ll buy books without bothering to check if an author has a website. But it does come in handy when I can’t find the cover copy anywhere, or to see if it’s part of a series, and especially when I’m trying to decide whether or not it will circulate or deserves to be in my collection for another reason and any additional info will help make up my mind.

  6. April 11, 2007 3:31 pm

    Jeez, after I leave my comment I come up with a succinct way of putting it.

    Authors will sell books whether they have a website or not. Without a website, sales of their book to people who would have bought it anyway won’t be hurt. It’s those potential sales to people who are on the fence or who otherwise would not know about the book that may be affected.

    Of course, a website is no guarantee of success, and authors may have their own reasons for not having a website.

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