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How should the homepage of an author website look? (1 Viewer)

sunaynaprasad

WF Veterans
I just signed up for Google ads to draw potential customers to my author site and have it listed as ads or in Google search results. However, I have a low conversion rate. Out of around 2,000 views, only 12 people clicked the site.
I just started a few days ago, so I'm expecting drastic results. However, I am wondering if I should make changes to my homepage.
Right now, I just have a welcome message and book covers of my published books that link to the Amazon pages should someone click on them. Maybe that's not enough.
I did have a popup where people could sign up for my mailing list. But that went away for some reason. And I had trouble trying get a new one. I tried every popup box and tried to link my Convertkit account to it. I even tested with with my own email addresses, but they didn't make it. I asked Convertkit for help, but I also need Wix's support staff for help, as well.
I researched big name authors, such as Cindy Callaghan, Neil Gaiman, and a few others to see their homepages. Many of them have a lot on their homepages, such as their books, summaries, author photos and blurbs from big name reviewers, like the New York Times.
I am wondering if I should add more to my homepage. I have an about me page, with a photo of me and a little biography. I was also thinking about adding a brief message on my homepage, which could, hopefully, draw potential readers in. My message would be something like, "I am a firm believer in helping people escape into fantastical worlds, especially when things are rough for them. I, too have lived a difficult life growing up, but I eventually ended up in a happy place. So, no matter how many tough times you go through, something positive may happen."
I might also add that message of wisdom about my books, but without spoiling anything, of course.
If you want to check out my author website, you may. But then again, you don't have to if you don't want to.
 

Lawless

Senior Member
IMHO, the most important thing is that the visitors can easily find what they're looking for.

Your website looks amazing. One rarely sees a site so simple and clear. I really like the colors and how things are placed. Navigation is very comfortable. Great job!
 

robertn51

Friends of WF
Out of around 2,000 views, only 12 people clicked the site.
Do you mean out of 2,000 views of the Google Ad, only 12 unique clicks through to your author's site?

If so, then, yes, that is low. Either the ads aren't being placed in fertile places, or their copy isn't moving people to click and see more. It would be good to see 5-7% click-through on the ads. (Getting close to 10% would be a marketing dream.)

But the Ad performance is not because of the website -- it's the Ad. People aren't seeing and responding to the site at that point in the funnel. It would be premature to think the site design and content are in the way.

So the Ad performance could be improved.

Once they get to the site, however...

I am wondering if I should make changes to my homepage.

I visited (but not through an ad-click) and have some maybe helpful comments.

First of all, yes, some authors have spectacular sites. And they spectacular budgets and spectacular teams of developers and designers to make it all a ... spectacle. I think key here, since your buyers are adults, most likely buying for a preteen reader, simplicity is best. Which you've got covered just fine. Everything works. Everything is where one would expect it to be. Does not feel like a careless site looking for quick disreputable sales.

As someone who purchases self-published books in select once-in-a-whiles, I look for certain things.

People can put up all sorts of texts of questionable quality when self-publishing and the buyer needs to be wary.

I look for...

Audience Identification

One thing I think missing from your site content is a statement about your target reading age and audience. Most kids aren't going to be buying books online from Amazon, so the site needs to answer an adult's questions. Reader age will come first. And, for some parents, the reader's gender. And then some consideration for what the child is already reading. So a simple statement about your intended audience will help.

Excerpts

Another thing I like to see is an excerpt from the book. I want to see a sample of the writing. You won't see this on the big-buck authors' sites because they have a publishing house in-between them and the customer. On a self-published book, however, there's no such thing. And, frankly, there's been quality disappointments that lead to resistance. Having a excerpt from each book would help alleviate some of that resistance.

Reviews

I know there are reviews over on Amazon. But we are on the author's site trying to nudge a potential buyer to click into Amazon. Might some of those reviews appear here on the author's site, too?

There's one review over there that just thrilled me and made me want to get out the credit card:
"Even though I’m an adult, I enjoy YA fiction once in a while, especially as a way to preview content and make recommendations to my preteen kids. It’s easier to get them excited about a book when I can tell them a little about the main characters and plot. I really appreciate that Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions is a clean adventure for older kids/early teens. There is no bad language or inappropriate situations. It can be hard to pick fiction for kids in the 10-14 age group, because while they are ready for longer books and more grown-up themes, a lot of books targeted to them also feature teen characters who use alcohol, shoplift, and engage in other risky behaviors in a way that appears glamorous to the reader. This is not the case with Alyssa McCarthy."
--Reviewed in the United States on February 16, 2018 (later: that link worked before, I swear it! Fixed: Scroll to reviews; first one)

Sure it was on the previous edition, but this kind of high quality praise is sheer gold. Can some of those reviews be copied from Amazon onto the author's site? Would you need the customer's extra permission?

Also, a wild thought: We are sitting in the middle of our own gold mine here on Writing Forums. How about posting requests for review of the books (not all of them at once) here on the site? Along with the clear statement the gratis review might be used for promotional purposes. I don't think there are site rules against this. But one might check.

So. Those three things came to mind, looking over the site.

One Last Delicate Thing

And there was one difficult, delicate, thing I am not certain how to handle. In the Characters section?

First, I absolutely love the character text. The backstory. The motivations. All of that is extraordinary value and a big plus -- shows much care and professional work.

However, the artwork associated with the text are naïve and not indicative of the story's authority and professional quality. The images add resistance to engage a self-published work. ("is the writing going to be like this?")

I mean, if the artist came to me with art like that I would sincerely praise in a heartbeat. But that is personal and private. Here, I think the images, without their accompanying context, would temper the buyer's urge to click onward to purchase.

So, assuming I've not upset things too much, to summarize:
  • Revisit the Google Ads copy and placement. (Tween audience but adult buyer, etc)
  • On the site:
    • Add Audience Identification
    • Add Excerpts
    • Add Reviews
    • (and maybe think about the artwork on the Character pages? Or at least indicate some connection with an engaged and inspired reader?)

Oh, and a PS, remembered after I pasted and proofed:

Were this my site, I would not link to Amazon from the Home page. I would instead link those covers to my own internal pages for each book. Then, from each book's internal page, I would link out to Amazon.

Why? Because jumping right to Amazon is like throwing them off to a bookshelf. I'd want to do a little telling and selling of my own, first, before flinging them out into the Store and whatever's there. Link the home page covers to the books' internal pages on the author's site. Slow the buyer down a little, show them the good stuff, the difference, get them thinking... Then flick them, engaged, to the shelf.
 
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robertn51

Friends of WF
However, the artwork associated with the text are naïve and not indicative of the story's authority and professional quality. The images add resistance to engage a self-published work. ("is the writing going to be like this?")

Which artwork with the text are you talking about?

The artwork on the two Character pages:

I mean, if the artist came to me with art like that I would sincerely praise in a heartbeat. But that is personal and private.
Here, I think the images, without their accompanying context, would temper the buyer's urge to click onward to purchase.
 

sunaynaprasad

WF Veterans
Yeah, that is because I illustrated them myself. I have done art forever and got a BFA in fine arts.
The reason I didn't hire an illustrator was because I didn't want to spend a lot of money. Should I just take down the images and leave none at all? Do new illustrations? Or hire an illustrator that doesn't charge too much?
 

robertn51

Friends of WF
I illustrated them myself

And I am terribly sorry to have critiqued your art. That was way out of bounds for me. I don't know art.

Here: My comment was my opinion about how the art might affect the prospective buyer's appreciation of the books.

Opinion. So maybe let's say we follow sage Rilke's advice about opinions. That is, to not "...take this more seriously than anything else you might find in their mouths." (ew!)

Besides, it doesn't take much for the buyer to read on, read the text describing the characters. Once the buyer sees the text, any concerns about the quality of the book's text will be alleviated.

In the end it is your site, your content, your labors and motivations, and, therefore, it must satisfy you, first.

So ignore me on this please.
 

Ralph Rotten

Staff member
Mentor
The ultimate purpose of an author website is to get customers to a portal where they can buy your books.
In most cases that means getting them to an Amazon BUY link.
Too often new authors get wrapped up in a self-centric page that soothes their ego...but sells few books.
When you are a new writer, focus on selling the books.
Someday when you are a celeb, there will be a demand to hear your life story.

PS: That personal section on your site is a bit cringy...the whole "I'm handicapped and picked on..." just doesn't work for me.
Comes off as whiny.
 
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