Best Author Websites: Let's Make A List!

As I slowly begin to turn my ahead away from my manuscript and look out towards the horizon of my pub date (April 2015, which alternately seems ages from now and too soon for me to ever prepare for), one of the first things that clearly needs attending to as I freshen up my public face is...my author website. Please don't look at it right now. If you look at it right now, I will feel not so much like you have seen me naked, but like we were meeting in person for the first time and I had to show up at a trendy bar in Williamsburg wearing the outfit I wore to my eighth grade dance, and also wearing my eighth grade hair.

Actually my eighth grade dance outfit might be less embarrassing than my out of date website, so let me distract you from looking up kamywicoff.com with this party pic:

(Can you find me?) If you went to my website anyway, I forgive you. I certainly wouldn't have been able to resist. And I realize it's not that bad--I absolutely loved my site and its designer in 2005--it's just nearly a decade out of date, and it shows. (For one thing it appears very shrunken and teeny in my browser. What's up with that?)

I am a big believer in author websites, and that belief was further reinforced by some reading I did today, beginning with the excellent blogpost "Why Don't Publishers Believe In Author Websites?" by publishing expert Jane Friedman. Jane makes a convincing case that publishers, or at least authors, should not underestimate their importance. Darcy Pattison's follow-on post "Why Authors Should Believe in Their Websites" contained some convincing statistics regarding readers' strong preference for them. I wasn't surprised as I am one of those readers: I find it frustrating when an author I'm interested in doesn't have an author website and I am left trying to put the pieces together myself through Facebook, Twitter or a shoddy wikipedia entry, when what I really want to do is read a bio, buy books, and join an email list. 

But where to start? By looking at other author's websites, of course. But while I am perfectly capable of spending another three hours browsing author sites all by myself, without the bringing the collective wisdom of this community to bear, that seems stupid for two reasons: 1) I will fail to bring the collective wisdom of this community to bear; and 2) nobody else in the community will benefit from what I find, either. And the whole point of She Writes is to share what we know.

So let's make a list! Please add to the thread your FAVORITE author website, with a few words as to why. Please don't make it your own. (Sorry, the bias might trip us up here.) List two or three if you like, but do try to keep it short. I want this thread to be a valuable resource for all SheWriters, and easy to skim at any time.

I'll start:

Amy Krouse Rosenthal's site because it is simple, easy to use, beautifully designed, and heartfelt without being cloying.

Susan Conley's site for its elegance and how effortlessly it invites a visitor to immediately do the important things: buy the book, link up on Facebook and Twitter, and see video of Susan's talks.

Tiphanie Yanique's site for the crisp, convincing way it showcases her book--a great example for writers who only have one under their belts so far. (As a debut fiction author I kind of feel I am in that boat. Sites for prolific authors like Jennifer Weiner also function like mini-libraries.)

So? What's yours? I'm waiting!

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Comment by Nina Gaby on Tuesday

Good friend and writing comrade Alexis Paige has a dynamic and beautiful new website which makes me jealous and want to steal her web-guy.  www.alexispaigewrites.com  

Comment by Kamy Wicoff on July 17, 2014 at 12:36pm

Some great comments on Facebook that I wanted to add here: 

From publicist Lauren Cerand, www.ronnawineberg.com, stillhousepress.org, and laurencerand.com, designed by Bud Parr... 

From publicist Sarah Russo, http://www.juliafierro.com/author/ hooray for our own Julia F (she added that her designer was Lisa Brink, who she recommended as talented and affordable...

From Emily Waters Shearer, "I like Katherine Center's website"...

Keep 'em coming!

Comment by Avra Wing on July 17, 2014 at 11:49am

Can anyone recommend a not-too-expensive website designer, preferably in the NYC area? Thanks and Happy Summer!

Comment by Meredith Sue Willis on July 17, 2014 at 6:01am

Lots of inspiring and gorgeous websites.  But I'm a big fan of websites that are not display windows, but rather interactive and multi-use  (for teaching, sharing resources, etc.).

For people who want to do-it-yourself, what suggestions are out there for programs and software to build a website, preferably for free, and be able to make additions and changes easily?  A lot of people use Wordpress and Blogger, and I've taught myself enough to use Adobe Dreamweaver in a limited way (butI don't recommend it because of the price), and my brother-in-law uses the similar but free Blue Griffon). 

What else is out there?  

Comment by Elizabeth Enslin on July 16, 2014 at 7:40pm

I've been redesigning my website to gear up for my book launch: www.elizabethenslin.com. I use a customized theme from wordpress.org. I'd like to get back to doing a regular blog but struggle with the slowness and bandwidth restrictions of a satellite connection in my remote location.

Comment by Margaret A. Davis on July 16, 2014 at 5:01pm

http://www.lemodesittjr.com/ I'm usually the most interested in "What I'm Writing" because I can't wait for the next book by this author!

http://www.mercedeslackey.com/ This is a prolific author, indeed, and she tries to make it easy to find out which books are in which series

http://www.marthawells.com/ This one is not fancy but it gets the job done. Easy to see what new books/short stories/etc. are coming out soon in different formats.

Comment by L. Anne Carrington on July 16, 2014 at 4:12pm

My web site is www.lannecarrington.com, with my books, press list, latest news, and more. The site is updated on a regular basis, and includes a blog. I also profile books by other authors every Monday!

Comment by Melina Selverston Scher on July 16, 2014 at 12:15pm

Hi Kamy,

Meg Waite Clayton has a great website.  It is sort of mainstream - not too artsy.  What I love is that the website feels as generous as she is.  

www.megwaiteclayton.com

1st Books

Comment by Kamy Wicoff on July 16, 2014 at 11:55am

Awesome, keep them coming!

Comment by Ethel Lee-Miller on July 15, 2014 at 8:30pm

I am pleased and proud of my website  www.etheleemiller.com crafted by me and designed to showcase personal and professional information, graphics and downloads, events, and blog. The designers and colleagues at Groundwork Promotions www.groundworkpromotions.com work with your personal goals and your vision in mind. I can maintain all parts- blog, webpages, and graphics. It's organized, crisp, and appealing.

I totally agree with Kathi Stevenson -you need an online presence. I would piggyback on that with it's best to have more than one social media approach. 

My personal reminder that writers often forget/ignore/avoid is that public speaking adds to the flavor of new readers becoming loyal readers. Don't leave out personal appearance book events with groups, organizations, and just the old 30 second elevator speech when someone asks, "So what's your book about?"

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