Out of date author websites

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 But a coming soon page that’s out of date or a front page that invites readers to come see the author on her book tour that was over five months ago or “news” that’s two years out of date, none of it is encouraging to me as a reader looking to spend money on new books, either by pre-ordering or letting me know when I should check back.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Out of date author websites

  1. The all time king of not updating their webpage about a book is George RR Martin, who didn’t update his webpage for A Dance With Dragons for over three years. One of my favorite authors is Brandon Sanderson, and he does a wonderful job with his website. He posts something to his blog on his website at least once a week, but one of the best parts about his website is a progress bar. When he starts writing a novel, he has an idea of how long it’s going to be, and he updates his progress bar once or twice a week to show his progress on the project he’s working on.

    • I have only read Game of Thrones, and didn’t like it enough to be willing to invest the time in the series, so I’ve never checked his website out. Sanderson sounds like an author who is comfortable with the internet as a marketing tool for his work.

      It’s not that I expect constant updates from an author, and I wouldn’t want website maintenance to overshadow the writing of new books. But there must be a happy medium somewhere, I think (or hope). While I believe that writing or storytelling is an art/craft, it’s also a business, and it makes business sense to have current information included in your advertising, which is essentially what an author’s webpage is.

  2. library addict

    I agree out of date information is my biggest pet peeve.

    Another is when authors don’t bother to have a description of ther books on their own site and instead when you click a book title are taken to Amazon.

  3. My other biggest pet peeve is when there is a button proudly announcing a blog that hasn’t been updated in two years. I don’t care if you don’t have a blog but it looks like you can’t be bothered to make an effort if there is one and it isn’t being used at all!

  4. Hey, if they can’t be arsed to keep their website updated then I can’t be arsed to keep up with it or their books for that matter.

  5. Carmela

    Wow, you guys are hostile. :) But really, you’re right.
    Writer’s can be moody and introverted folk. However blogs should be an author’s bff. Thanks for the reminder.

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