by: Joelle Charbonneau
The “job” of the author has changed a great deal over the years. Years ago, the author’s job was to write a good book, edit said book and then write another. Sometimes the author would be asked by the publisher to do a book tour or some promotional things when the book was launched, but mainly the author’s job was to write.
With the advancement of technology, a published author’s job has become much more. Publishers want their authors to be involved in social media – be it Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, Goodreads or whatever else is out there. They want authors to attend conferences, sponsor their own tours, take out their own advertising and do the heavy legwork to get noticed by readers. They also would like authors to have their own website.
Author websites always confuse me. Do I have one? Yeah, although I admit I haven’t put a great deal of work into keeping it new and fresh. I update it with my new titles and release dates and have an excerpt up and a new one will be posted soon. I even have a FAQs section although it isn’t nearly as cool as Steve Weddle’s. However, that being said, I struggle with viewing my website as a weekly destination point for readers. As a reader, I've never gone to an author’s website to read an excerpt or check out their tour photographs or just to drop by and see what’s new. Why? I have no idea. I just don’t.
Now, I realize not everyone is me (thank God for that!) and I realize that a website is important to many readers. But this week I heard someone say that they were angry at authors who had websites but did not provide an e-mail address for the reader to contact them directly. This reader was incensed that after taking the time to read the book and then look up the website they could not reach out and have immediate access to that author. They even went so far as to say the author was arrogant and clearly didn’t appreciate their readers.
I mean, I have an e-mail address on my website and a surprising number of readers have actually used it which always brightens my day. But that is my choice. Isn’t it? When did being an author mean that the public has a right to be able to reach out and touch me whenever the urge strikes them? What if an author has a sick family member they are tending to or is holding down two jobs while writing in the dead of the night and doesn’t have the time to answer e-mails? Does that mean they appreciate their readers less than one who is happy to post their contact information?
What am I missing?
Is the author website really that central to an author’s career and more important – do you feel slighted when an author doesn’t provide an e-mail address for you to write to them? Has that really become part of today’s definition of being a published author? And while we're talking about it - what kinds of things do you want to see on an author website and which ones drive you nuts? Here is your chance to let us know how we are supposed to be doing it. I'm taking notes.