I never really visited many authors’ Web sites until I started polling for AAR back in 2006. As part of the Favorite Books by Favorite Authors polling, we compiled lists of books by various authors and the best source was generally the authors’ individual sites. Since that time, I’ve visited many author Web sites, not just in my role as an AAR pollster, but also just as a reader.
Some authors have wonderful sites, while others are less than desirable. But, whether excellent or so-so, there are some features I believe are essential to every author site.
- A complete listing of an author’s books. If some books are linked in a series, it’s helpful to see those links, as well as the order in which the stories occur.
- News of upcoming books. I now routinely visit the websites of some of my favorite authors, to find out when their next books will be published.
- A brief bio of the author. It doesn’t have to be extensive, but it just gives me a bit of a feel for the person behind the words.
- A method to contact the author, through either an email link or a form.
Most of the sites I’ve visited have all of these basic features. But some authors go way behind the basics and have cooked up all kinds of fun features, ranging from pictures of their characters, to contests, to recipes from their books to message boards where fans can chat with each other, and at times, the author herself.
A number of my favorite Web sites provide sneak peaks at upcoming novels, or special materials published nowhere else. I love Susan Mallery’s site, as she provides excerpts for her books going back to 2003. Susan Elizabeth Phillips provides an unpublished epilogue to the popular Heaven, Texas on her site. Nora Robert has follow-up short stories to her Ardmore trilogy as well as a follow-up to the original Quinn Brother’s trilogy (pre-Seth’s story).
Julia Quinn’s Web site includes “deleted scenes” from various novels and, similarly, Lauren Willig’s includes “outtakes.” Tracy Grant’s site includes the delightful Fraser Correspondence, which consists of letters written by Charles, Melanie, and others.
I also appreciate supplemental material for historical periods. Tasha Alexander’s Web site has “Emily’s Environs,” featuring links to sites with information about the places Emily (her heroine) goes, as well as reference sites for historical information. Elizabeth Hoyt also has a fascinating section on her research notes for her historical romances, while Candice Hern has a wonderful section entitled Welcome to Candice’s Regency World filled with information about Regency England.
Several authors provide recipes for foods featured in their books. Susan Elizabeth Phillips includes a number of recipes, including the baked oatmeal cookies featured in This Heart of Mine. Among the food-related links at Julie Ortolon’s site is the recipe for brownies featured in Don’t Tempt Me. Susan Wiggs includes recipes from a number of her books and Carole Matthews has an entire section devoted to recipes from her Chocolate Lovers’ books.
So, what about you? Are there certain things you look for on author Web sites? What are some of the fun features you’ve discovered?