by Matt Lynn
I've just been getting the Matt Lynn website re-designed. Fire Force is out next February in hardback, then in paperback in May, and I wanted it to be re-done to reflect the fact there were now two books in the series to promote. And, of course, is has to be flexible enough to incorporate the two more books in the series that are scheduled for 2011 and 2012.
But it set me thinking to what author's websites should be trying to do.
I don't really share the general gloom about the books business. People have loved stories for thousands of years and aren't going to stop now. Unlike newspapers, which are in serious trouble because the internet has taken apart their whole way of delivering news, electronic books don't offer any real advantages over the traditional printed sort. But that doesn't mean we don't need to change.
The web is changing the relationships writers have with readers, and our websites need to reflect that.
We need to be a lot closer to our readers, and allow them to talk to us. We need to provide more details of the story, extra information such as research materials, background on the characters, maybe free short stories. We also need to unpeel what we are doing, so that readers can take a look at how the books gets put together, and comment or criticise if they want to.
What we don't want to do is just put up marketing blub, or expect people to download and read extracts. The web is all about conversations, not broadcasting.
So far my website is pretty standard. But over time I want to expand it and develop it, so that it fits in as part of whole experience of reading the Death Force books. Our websites will be the main way we get closer to our readers, and make them part of a community, and that is the way we'll stay in business.