Sunday Salon: Web not on publishing radar?

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 That’s certainly a better alternative than La Plante’s outdated site or Barclay’s singularly uninformative one.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?

This entry was posted in Alex Barclay, Alexander McCall Smith, Leah Giarratano (Aus), Lynda La Plante, memes and challenges, rant or rave. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Sunday Salon: Web not on publishing radar?

  1. Kerrie says:

    I get very annoyed with websites that have a page listing the author’s next signings etc. but haven’t got current information.
    And when they haven’t even listed their latest book (or the one before that) you do wonder why it exists


  2. benhunt says:

    I think this is an area that has improved considerably over the last five years or so, but it is still surprising to find many authors neglect what must now be considered such an important channel


  3. Barbara says:

    Jo Nesbo has a flashy website (and of course he’s very easy on the eyes…) but I was surprised how many Scandinavian authors don’t have sites. First links in a Google search are likely to be torrent downloads of their books!

    Colin Cotterill’s site is silly and fun.

    Though mostly I like sites that give me basic current info without a lot of fuss. Ones that look like homemade geocities sites but have a design credit are particularly maddening.


  4. Barbara says:

    Forgot the link to Nesbo’s site. Bilingual options makes some sense for an opening screen. If it’s just “MY SITE” (Click to enter) then I get annoyed, big time.


  5. Dani in NC says:

    Honestly, I never even thought about authors having their own websites until recently. The few sites that I have visited were unappealing, so I’ve gone back to my regular methods of finding out about an author. Really, the only info I look for is a description of a particular book or a list of the books the author has published. You all know that descriptions abound on sites like Amazon or Goodreads. As for lists of an author’s works, I’ve had good luck with Wikipedia.


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