When I post a book review I usually include a link to the author’s website. Perhaps because I’ve read more books than usual this week or perhaps because I’m seriously involved with web design in my work right now I’ve been struck by how few authors have decent websites.
- The first review I posted this week was of Alex Barclay’s Blood Runs Cold. Barclay’s website commits one of the cardinal sins of web design by having a slow to-load flash gizmo that you can’t skip through and for your trouble you get three lousy links to PDF extracts of Barclay’s books. Ho hum.
- My next review led me to Alexander McCall Smith’s website which contains some useful information but would not win any design awards in 2009, especially not from anyone with even a slight vision impairment given that its standard font seems to be about 6 or 8pt.
- At least those authors have some kind of web branding of their own whereas the only site I could find for Leah Giarratano when I posted a review of Voodoo Doll was a short blurb at her publisher’s site.
- Finally, yesterday’s review of The Red Dahlia led me to Lynda La Plante’s website and prompted this posting. Why on earth in this day and age would a successful author have a website that hasn’t been updated in nearly three years?
In some ways I guess Giarratano has got it right: if you can’t maintain a website properly then don’t have one at all. That’s certainly a better alternative than La Plante’s outdated site or Barclay’s singularly uninformative one. But the phenomenon of bad author websites got me thinking: why are there so many authors without a decent web presence? Do they, or the publishing industry in general, still believe that if they close their eyes and wish it to be so the Internet will disappear in a puff of smoke? Do they not realise that the old selling models are crumbling in the web 2.0 world and that making the most of social networking and new media will increasingly be the difference between putting food on the table and having to work a second job to pay the bills? Does no one see that today’s consumers want a little more than hundreds of advertisements for the books?
Of course I’m generalising. There are authors with web savvy including the six authors who collectively blog at The Kill Zone and talk about everything but where to buy their books. These are people whose work I will seek out because of their interesting web presence. Irish crime writers also seem to ‘get it’ if Declan Burke’s Crime Always Pays blog and Gerard Brennan’s Crime Scene NI are anything to go by. And new generation thriller writers like Scott Sigler and J C Hutchins are so enmeshed in new media that they don’t even bother with traditional publishers. They blog and podcast and participate fully in a range of online communities and are, undoubtedly, models for the new millennium.
What about your favourite authors? Any of them have a web presence to be proud of?