Often this question goes unresolved and children’s authors and illustrators revert to the most basic of content – trying to appeal to all, but end up engaging none.

Knowing your audiences and the reasons they visit, should determine the content of your website. Here are 6 tips that will have you providing engaging content for all of your target audiences.

1. Offer fun stuff for kids

Add some fun stuff for kids to your website, such as links to download activities and free stuff. I recently spoke to Lian Tanner, author of The Keepers Trilogy, about her page dedicated to freebies for kids.

“In my experience, kids really like extras - things like free bookplates, quizzes, bits of the story that didn’t make it into the final book etc.” Lian said. “It’s a way of engaging even more with a book or series they’ve loved, taking something away with them, providing a bit of story-after-the-story.”

   

Lian Tanner offers bookplates, games, and lesson ideas, free for download.

   

Amy Dominy’s ‘Kid Friendly Fun!’ activity kit is packed with mazes, puzzles and colouring pages.

Showcase character cards for kids and parents

Dr. Bob's website has a dedicated page showcasing the various characters of his children's picture book series Dr. Bob's Tales, including illustrations and character traits. These offer engaging learning material for kids complementary of the main book, and parents can get an idea of the values each character represents before deciding to purchase.

   

Dr. Bob's Character Cards

2. Tell your story visually

For younger audiences, drive exploration of your content through visuals. New Zealand based YA author Cath Mayo, tells her life story using large personal photos.

“I think engaging with a website is a very visual process.” Cath says.

“I’ve used this technique a lot on my website – especially on my About page, “Thirteen Interesting Things About Me” and for my ‘The Greek Bronze Age‘ page and ‘Odysseus’s Dagger’.”

   

Cath Mayo says, “The Greek Bronze Age is so different from our own world, and the pictures really help to set the scene for my two novels.”

   

Glenda Millard’s Home page is made up of illustrations of her home and writing retreat.

3. Answer Frequently Asked Questions

Rainbow Rowell, author of the 2015 Inky Award shortlisted, Fangirl, has a brief ‘About’ page, but also uses a (humorous) ‘FAQ’ page to give fans snippets of trivia and links for further reading.

Here are more FAQ examples by Fiona Wood, G.J. Stroud, Karen Tayleur and Vikki Wakefield.

   

Fiona Wood

   

Vikki Wakefield

Showcase letters and artwork you receive from young readers

Chrissie Perry has a special page for children to write messages to Penelope, her popular children’s book character. When kids write in, Chrissie publishes them to her website for all to read.

   

Chrissie Perry's ‘Letters to Penelope’

4. Take the work out of hiring you for school visits

Teachers in schools are always looking to book speakers, especially around Book Week. Add a page that covers your speaking events in detail. Although children’s book authors don’t like blowing their own horn, your bookings may benefit from thinking more like a sales person.

School speaking events are often tied to a theme or part of the curriculum. Librarians also book authors across year levels. Show teachers and librarians how your book and workshop, aligns with what schools are doing, and what year levels it would be suited to.

5. Create content that spans multiple audiences

If you’re an illustrator, your website isn’t just for children, teachers and parents, it’s also for prospective clients – other authors and Publishers.

Including your work-in–progress sketches, gives people a reason to ‘follow’ you, and offers insight into how you work. Give people access to your work space. Melbourne based author and Illustrator, Anne Ryan, produced a video to invite people into her studio.

“I made the video to catch the publisher’s eye by projecting my professional commitment to my trade as an author/illustrator.”

“Through my work in schools I could see that teachers were looking for short grabs to present to their students that would not take up a whole lesson.”

“Students enjoy researching through YouTube. Videos are easy to access and they can gain a lot of information quickly through this visual platform.”

By investing a bit of time in the video, Anne was able to create a piece of content that inspires kids, helps schools book her for school visits, and lands her more illustration commissions.

“The video has been a very successful tool for raising my profile and sharing my work across different platforms.”

   

Anne Ryan

   

Emily Gale

Children love music. Add a soundtrack to your book and website.

Emily had an original song written especially for her book called ‘The Other Side’, performed by Tim Reid and Emma Heeney. Tim offers a guitar tutorial to learn some of the basic chords and strumming techniques. The lyrics and guitar chords are also in the back of the book.

   

Emily Gale and Tim Reid's ‘How to play The Other Side’ YouTube video

6. Demonstrate the values behind your work

Another segment in your target audience could be parents that purchase books for their children and friends.

Simon Sinek, author and motivational speaker, suggests that people buy what you ‘believe’, not what you ‘sell’. In a subtle way, weave your values into your biographical information. If you can communicate your world view and values, like minded people will seek out your work. Parents don’t just buy books for entertainment. Your books are valued development tools for their children, teaching them important life lessons.

   

Like children’s book characters, Anna Branford loves to make dolls. “I love the way dolls’ personalities form as they’re being created and it is so much fun trying to think of interesting and unusual things to make them out of.”

   

Rachael Craw, author of the ‘Spark’ YA Sci-fi Trilogy, has a glossary for the rich world she’s created.

Summary

  • Centre your website around great content that’s tailored to your website’s audience segments
  • Offer fun and free activities and downloads for kids
  • Tell your story visually, with personal photos
  • Use an FAQ to give fans a fun way to find out more
  • Make it easier for schools to book you. Get your sales hat on and ‘pitch’ your speaking events
  • Give people a look into your creative world
  • Content that spans multiple audiences can be a great investment
  • For parents communicate your values and why your work is important to their child’s development

Have you had success with any of these techniques? Post a comment below.

Know someone that might like this article, I’d love you to share it.

A look at a recent author website success story

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Belinda Murrell

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