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The Inside View – Good Copy for Author Websites

“It’s important for the author to have a hand in what the web copy says, yet some authors have a really hard time writing about themselves…” Lissa M. Cowan, Associate Copywriter for The Editor’s Desk

The Inside View’s first instalment features Lissa M. Cowan, Associate Copywriter for The Editor’s Desk. Lissa shares her insights on writing copy for author websites.

1)   What are some of the most important aspects of  an author’s website? 

Give visitors a taste of his or her latest book to draw them in right away. That might mean presenting them with a video teaser on the homepage that recounts or reenacts some of the book without giving away the ending, or maybe it’s a hypnotizing paragraph from the book that is prominently displayed on the homepage. Another important aspect is for an author to provide two or three testimonials from readers and media that clearly showcase his or her talents, and make people want to buy the book. And finally, an author needs to give readers a way to contact him or her, and to follow the author on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, Pinterest or Instagram. Choose just one or two of these social media. Also, don’t forget to ask them to share, share, share the website with their friends!

2)   Should an author write his or her own web copy or hire a professional copywriter? 

I think it’s important for the author to have a hand in what the web copy says, yet some authors have a really hard time writing about themselves and so, for something like a bio, it makes sense to have someone else write it, or at the every least, edit it. If an author does write his or her own copy, then I suggest having it edited by a professional, as even writers make writing mistakes.

3)   How often should an author update his or her blog? What kind of topics should they write about? 

It’s important to update blog content regularly as it will help an author’s website rank better online, which means driving more traffic to the site. I suggest posting once a week or twice a month. To determine what kinds of topics to write about, an author need to figure out who his or her audience is. For example, if it’s crime readers, then it makes sense to post on topics that interest these readers. It’s important for authors to remember that they don’t have to write a new post from scratch each time. Authors can comment on something they’ve read in the news, or post captivating pictures or illustrations. Depending on how long the author has been blogging, he or she can recycle and update content from previous posts, and can also request guest posts from other authors in a similar genre. If you’re not sure what topics to post about, then ask your readers via a survey. People love filling in surveys and it will give authors some useful information to draw from.

4)   Most authors are on some type of social media platform these days. Which, in your opinion, is the most effective for authors? 

I think this really depends on what kind of books the author writes, and also his or her readership. For Young Adult authors I would seriously recommend Twitter and Instagram, as young people are moving away from Facebook and spending more time on these social media. Facebook is good for some audiences, and makes it easy to set up a fan page and to send out invites for book-related events. Pinterest is really popular these days so I would definitely suggest that authors look into how this platform might work in their favour. As an example, if an author writes cookbooks then something like Pinterest or Instagram would be perfect as it is visually based. Although it’s important to be on social media for connecting to readers, I think one can overdo. Better to pick one or two and to post regularly than to be on all of them and not keep up-to-date.

5)   What’s the one thing you can recommend for an author websites that many authors haven’t thought of? 

I find that many authors still don’t have video on their websites, and video is one of the most popular ways of communicating online. In fact, experts say that in a few years it will replace social media altogether. Not sure about that, yet it’s super popular and super shareable so definitely worth doing. Author videos can range from an author reading his or her work, to a Q&A, to an animated video explaining a book’s storyline.

Questions for Lissa? Send them to