One of the things that I really don’t *get* about authors and their self-marketing is why an author bothers to have a website that isn’t updated regularly. It’s almost worse that having no web presence. It’s like a restaurant website that doesn’t have its menu on its website, or worse, requires Flash and thus can’t display on mobile phones. Lost sales, lost revenue.
After reading Sunita’s report about Bouchercon, I went to Lori Armstrong’s website to see what’s coming next. I was thinking that maybe a new Mercy Gunderson book or a stand-alone. And the Coming Soon page tells me about…Mercy Kill, offering the opportunity to pre-order the book. Except the book was released last January, eight months ago. Poking around the rest of the website, it turns out that’s not the most recent mystery-related piece published by Armstrong, but that serial novel, No Rest for the Dead, is mentioned only on the splash page and within the author’s blog, not on the booklist.
Doing a random search of other mystery authors I read: Julia Spencer-Fleming’s website greets readers with an invitation to join her during her book tour for One Was a Soldier…which ended in May; Tess Gerritsen’s blog is very slick, probably thanks to her series being picked up by TNT; Deanna Raybourn’s booklist is current but the presentation of the website includes scroll bars and smallish font and a large graphic that takes up half the page — every page; Chelsea Cain’s latest news…dates back to 2009 and is about her third book (her fourth was released in 2011); etc. Looking at romance novelist websites, particularly traditionally published authors, is similar.
If nothing is coming soon, why not say so? Or mention that there’s a WIP but no details are available? I know nothing about marketing, so I have no idea what would work best or sell more books or keep readers interested. But a coming soon page that’s out of date or a front page that invites readers to come see the author on her book tour that was over five months ago or “news” that’s two years out of date, none of it is encouraging to me as a reader looking to spend money on new books, either by pre-ordering or letting me know when I should check back.