From Digital Book World:
For some writers, their author website is a thing of pride of beauty. It’s an active well of new material, a place of engagement and connection, an extension of their books, even an invitation into their writing life. It gathers email addresses, expands audience, benefits SEO, and is their personal beachhead on the Web.
For others, the author website is an annoyance, an obligation, and a static reminder of all they hate about digital media’s encroachment on their writing life. The landing page is three books old, and the author photo three years outdated. The blog page whose latest post is dated 6 months ago makes them feel both guilt for not updating weekly as they’d promised, and resentment that anyone would expect them to.
. . . .
During the pre-lunch panel at Digital Book World’s Marketing and Publishing Services Conference (DBWMP), Rachel Chou of Open Road, Kristin Fassler of Penguin Random House, Brian Parsons of Houghton Mifflin and Peter McCarthy of McCarthy Digital debated the value of the author site.
Their consensus: for most authors, it’s not very valuable at all.
- Parsons: Facebook has replaced author sites — especially for comments…
- Chou: I don’t believe in author sites for most authors. I’d rather them spend time on social…
- McCarthy: I think about the first page of Google. Author websites don’t often help you get there…
. . . .
The difference in perspective derives from where you’re sitting. From a publisher’s chair, there’s very little to gain in the near-term from most author websites (big author brands are exceptions, of course). Author websites don’t often sell books, they don’t often drive traffic to retailers, and they don’t often find their way into conversations on the web. Social does. So it makes sense that, when asked, publishers would privilege management of Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, etc over an individual author site.
But in an author’s calculation, short-term gains are weighed against long-term results. In an email exchange after the panel, Jane Friedman: wrote me:
I have a hard time endorsing a social-only approach when you, the author, are at the mercy of the social media tool for reaching your audience. You can never control what Facebook or any other site does—with its design, with its user interface, with your likes/followers, with its functionality, with its ad displays. And if and when it goes out of favor, you’ll have to rebuild somewhere else—whereas with a website, you only get stronger and better over time, assuming you don’t abandon it (and why would you, if you’re still writing and publishing?). This is part of being a capable author in the digital age, if you want to grow your career over the next 5, 10, or 20 years.
Link to the rest at Digital Book World
This item will probably generate comments about author web sites pro and con.
PG’s only observation is that he doesn’t think big publishers know much about effective websites.
Exhibit A supporting his argument would be the websites of big publishers.