Now that you’ve got the basics of your website set up, your focus should shift toward encouraging readers to visit—and persuading readers who’ve visited to visit again.
Here are some types of bonus content that will get readers to return to your website after they’ve stared at your fabulous book covers and read your scintillating bio:
• Deleted scenes
• Behind-the-scenes scoop
• Series FAQ, relationship trees, and/or character interviews
• Short stories or bridge stories
• Teaser preview material
If you’re not in the habit of doing it yet, set up a “snips” file for every book you’re writing, where you place any material you delete from the manuscript so that it’s not lost forever. From the material that didn’t quite make it into the final version of your book, you might find a gem of a scene that readers would enjoy. Sometimes it’s a version of a scene from a different point of view; sometimes it’s a scene that would have made the status of a relationship more obvious than you ended up with in the final draft, etc.
Either way, readers love this secret world, and there’s nothing better than realizing that scene you loved but had to excise (“kill your darlings!”) will see the light of day after all.
Behind the Scenes
What was the inspiration for a particular character, scene or entire book? Readers love to know if a funny scene was based on a moment from your own life, or if the mom in your book is actually your mom, or if what seems like the most unlikely crime actually took place (and was reported in the Daily Mail) by real-world criminal idiots.
Short Stories or Bridge Stories
Do you have material that is too short for a novella but too good to waste? Offer your readers a free story.
Consider offering an “exclusive” to newsletter subscribers.
You could also self-publish it first and then switch it to free for website visitors. Or submit it to a better-known blog or website than yours to attract a new readership, and then post it on your website later (assuming you have the right to repost).
Series FAQ, Relationship Trees, and/or Character Interviews
For series authors, consider adding material about the “family” (however you define that in your work) and the world of your books.
For example, if you are writing a mystery series, you could post case files corresponding to each book. If you are writing romances about a group of brothers, you could introduce a new man on the site each week. If you are writing sci-fi/fantasy featuring different clans at war, you could profile them one at a time and explain their notable characteristics.
Rolling out material slowly gives you something new to tout on social media, in your newsletter, or on the front of your website to keep things fresh.
Teaser Preview Material
Provide an excerpt from an upcoming book, something readers can’t get anywhere else. A great time to do this is during the pre-order window—when your book details are up at online retailers and readers can purchase a copy, but the official release and delivery of the book are in the future.
For bonus points, you can also add this excerpt to the end matter of your current release so that when readers finish the first book they start right in on the next one. It’s a great way to spur pre-orders!
This article originally appeared on The Verbs.
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