For the last several years, I've been the webmaster for my friend Chitra Divakaruni, a mid-career novelist and poet. Her website talks a bit about her and each of her books. It's pretty simple, and hasn't changed dramatically in a long time.
Chitra has the paperback of her latest novel coming out soon, as well as a new book for young adults. This, along with the ongoing death of US newspaper book sections, has lit a fire under us, and we're trying to think beyond the website, embracing social media to better reach readers where they're at. We have a mailing list set up, and are syndicating tour dates on BookTour.com; a blog and an expanded Facebook presence are on their way. It's been exciting to see the kind of positive feedback Chitra's already been getting from readers able to connect directly to a favorite writer.
The New York Times recently ran a piece on the new business of big budget author websites, online book launches, and author promo videos. As much as I'm into this sort of thing, some of the tactics just seem excessive. Is it really worth spending $35,000 to launch a promotional website for a novel? Does a website for a book really need an original score? Apparently I'm not alone in my confusion; publishers, bullish as they are, also seem to be a bit fuzzy on the ROI. (The article does mention that in a specific study, 8% of readers had visited author websites in the past week; by extension, 92% hadn't.)
How are your purchases swayed by author or book websites?