discussions news & reviews writing & publishing

Reviews Tab & What Works?

The really bored will notice a new tab on my main website, for reviews of Nights of Villjamur, so I could keep things tidy and in one place. You can also click the review tag to search for blog entries on reviews of the book from around the wonderful science fiction and fantasy community.

I wondered though – since I’m stepping into very whorish territory – what kind of things do people want from an author website? I mean, from the whole ‘Who is this idiot then?’ kind of angle to getting to people to part with cash. I appreciate it needs to subtly act as a business site too. But what works? What do people really need and want when it comes to author websites?

Feel free to bung any suggestions into the comments.

By Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.

9 replies on “Reviews Tab & What Works?”

Based on what i like in other author blogs, I usually like to hear about the things they do other than write and I also dig book updates. Not so much “I just wrote about character X” but more how they struggle with settling on a book title, what the cover looks like, will it have the controversial map etc. Commentary on books/film/tv is ok too. Joe Abercrombie and Richard Morgan both have blogs i enjoy.

Things to avoid. Never give the impression you are busier on the website or that writing is on the bottom of your list. Don’t turn the website into a portal for shilling out merchandise. Fans get their name for a reason and they can get pretty unpleasant if there are delays. Poor old GRRM probably gets the most flak for this and, while I don’t agree with some fans comments, I can see how GRRM inadvertently adds fuel to the flame.

That’s just me, others may have a completely different set of dos and don’ts.

Thanks, Neil. That’s useful to know. I’ve always had a view of this being a mixture of an electronic scrapbook of sorts, with updates (which have, admittedly, taken over this week). But it’s useful to know what readers read beyond the book.

I like to know what authors are reading/listening to/watching and what they think of it – it’s a great way to discover the sort of booksmusicmoviestv I’m likely to appreciate.

So reviews and long, analytical posts about books, mostly.

A mix of what you’ve been doing works fine for me. I don’t think you’ve come off as ‘whore’ for talking about your new book a lot – I expect that it’s a pretty big deal to you and on your mind a lot, so it’s just natural to talk about it.

Of course, be careful on responding to reviews, you’ve done well so far, but it is a mine field as you are well aware. I like Abercrombie’s snarky responses and I see you’ve gone a bit that way as well – this is good. Also, don’t only link the positive reviews – you don’t need to comment, but linking the negative reviews is good too.

What I really want to see, is something you absolutely shouldn’t do – jump on the third rail and comment/respond to the discussion going on over at Strange Horizons about the review of NoV.

Aishwarya: thanks, I hope that’s the kind of area I’m comfortably in at the moment, give or take a few indulgences.

Neth: It’s a fine line between giving news on the book / being chuffed with what’s been going on / being a whore. The snarky tongue-in-cheek response is a fun way of dealing with things, I have to say.

As for SH… I’m sure a lot of people would love me to see what I’d have to say. Maybe if enough people actually ask me to, who knows. πŸ˜‰

Hello Mark, a mixture and continuation of what you have already been doing. Maybe a little of what you have been reading, music you’ve been listening to.

Hello Mark,
I received NOV in today’s post and am already hooked.

What I primarily want from an author’s website? Detailed info on all their books, background info on characters & worldbuilding (where applicable) that’s not included in the books themselves.

News on your own upcoming books and a few genuine book recommendations, various genres.

When the subject warrants it, as is the case in both The Reef & NOV, a little info about your inspiration for the story would be welcome too.

One more thing: maps!

That’s right maps! Normally any good (even the not so good) fantasy books include at least one map and I am sorely missing one in NOV – it’s my only criticism in what seems a brilliant book so far (nearly finished). For visual people such as myself a map is a very helpful tool.

Most of these things you already cover here, it’s an interesting website. Just don’t forget about those maps ;))

Happy & speedy writing Mark,
waiting for the next instalment with bated breath.

Cat xx

Hi Cat: firstly, I really glad you’re enjoying the book! πŸ™‚

Thanks for your comments – all very interesting things for me to look at, and maybe once the book has been out a few months, I’ll expand on characters and background.

As for maps: you know, I did send Macmillan a map a year ago, so I might very well chase that up today. I have sketches of the islands and, in the second book, more detailed sketches of the new city.

Thanks: I’ve nearly finished the draft of the second book, so it’s on schedule!

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