What librarians look for in author websites – Part 2
Last updated 01 June 2023
Written by Jin Wang
This is part 2 of “What librarians look for in author websites”. If you’ve stumbled upon this article without catching the first part, here’s what Part 1 covered:
- Who chooses the author for school visits
- 5 key criteria they consider when booking an author
- Google’s study on first impressions of a website’s design
- Tips for improving your website’s navigation
What other elements can you incorporate into your writer’s website to attract librarians and other potential speaking engagements?
Create a dedicated page for your speaking events
Teachers notes are pretty much a standard fixture of author websites. Take this a step further and develop a page specifically about what you deliver at school visits, or festival speaking gigs.
The design of this page should be clean, clear, and simple, with the focus on contacting you or your speaking agent.
Reviews and Recommendations
Julia Louise, librarian at Genazzano FCJ College says,
“Authors with reviews of their work, and a synopsis of the book is very helpful.”
Build your credibility and reputation by adding reviews of both your books and previous speaking engagements to your website.
Add these to your reviews and recommendations section:
- Librarians look for books that blend with school curriculum. Add resources specifically written for teachers.
- Include all of your awards if you have them.
- Add reviews from media outlets or book bloggers.
- Use ‘social proof’. Build credibility by including recommendations from schools you’ve visited, or any reputable organisations you’ve worked with.
- Include information from your profile on your booking agency’s website.
Librarians are looking for additional learning resources
Whenever librarians visit an author’s website, they usually look for any additional resources that can be used as supplementary materials for the author’s work.
“I think that the author’s website needs to have resources that are appropriate for student learning, as well as resources that guide teachers or teacher librarians with their preparation for student learning.”
says Joy Whiteside from Geelong Library, and former Head of Library at Overnewton Anglican Community College:
“Resources should be prepared based on current learning theory and pedagogy, with open-ended thinking, thinking routines, and engaged activity learning, rather than comprehension questions or lower order tasks such as word finds or puzzles.”
Help students who are aspiring to become writers themselves
As well as emphasising higher order thinking skill development, resources should also be informative and helpful to the students.
For example, Helen Gebus, a primary teacher librarian at Genazzano College, says “I like author websites that have some tips for young writers”. These resources will go a long way in helping students who are aspiring to become writers in the future.
They also help to show that you can contribute to the development of the students when asked to speak in front of them, and that you’re not just attending the event to promote and sell your work.
Interactive features and biography
Helen suggests a few good examples of what she likes in an author website.
“It’s great to see an author and illustrator’s processes. The site should have good visuals not just slabs of writing. Some of these features are evident in Graeme Base’s look inside feature for ‘Uno’s Garden’, Jackie French’s FAQ page, and Anna Walker’s website.”
Understanding an author’s background is also important to Julia. “On an author’s website, I would also look for biographical information that influences their writing”.
Librarians look for videos
Julia also suggests using video.
“A book trailer, preview or a promotional video also adds to the engagement and aesthetic appeal of the author’s site.”
Librarians will also check YouTube or video clips to get a glimpse an author speaking and presentation skills, and what they can expect if they were to invite them to the school.
Have someone record your next speaking event, upload to YouTube or Vimeo, and embed on your website to demonstrate your speaking and presentation skills.
If you’re making videos for student use however, be sure to make your clips short.
Susan La Marca, Head of Library at Genazzano FCJ College adds,
“We use a lot of video clip in our work encouraging students to read and I always want clips under 2 minutes for that purpose, anything longer is almost useless.”
- Add a page that caters specifically for teacher librarians, covering what your speaking events offer.
- Build credibility by including recommendations from reputable organisations, agencies, or other schools you’ve worked with in the past.
- Include resources that encourage open-ended thinking.
- Add a section that offers tips and advice for young students who are aspiring to become writers in the future.
- Add highly visual interactive ‘look inside’ type features.
- Show your process, and discuss your background, and inspiration.
- Link videos of your past speaking engagements to demonstrate your speaking and presentation skills.
Have you had experience with speaking at schools? Offer your advice to other authors via the comments section below.
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