In my last column, I mentioned I was going to occasionally cover
author promotion tips, including how to promote yourself and your work through a Web site. In this column, we're going to look at
the Web site of Shannon Hale, the author of young adult fantasy The Goose Girl and other titles. I adored The Goose Girl when I read it recently, so was curious about checking out Shannon's other titles.
I could have done this through Amazon.com or other online book directories and stores, of course, but I'm also curious about whether an author has a Web site or not; you often get more of a glimpse into the author's personality and life that way than you would from a bare-bones book listing.
From the main page alone, without clicking on any of the navigational links, you immediately know about one Shannon's recent projects as well as being able to read a snippet from her most recent blog entry. This site has the look of being frequently updated; I'm more likely to check back sooner than later.
Navigation is straightforward, with the FAQ and "Who Is Shannon" links prominently displayed at the bottom. The leftmost navigation bar looks as if it uses Flash. While it looks very cool, I've always been somewhat torn about the use of Flash...a 3rd party plug-in is required to view it (though most users do have the plug-in) and because many search engines (including Google) can't index Flash animation files. Flash-based pages are also somewhat harder to maintain.
However, use of other text on the page helps with the search engine limitation, and I had no trouble finding Shannon's Web site. The site also wisely offers the reader the option of text-based navigation links along the bottom of each page.
Exploring the site more closely reveals a wealth of interesting and useful information on this site, not just about Shannon and her books, but also about writing. Having this extra content is not only a boon to writers, but it also gets more attention from search engines and more people linking to this site. Someone may come across one of Shannon's articles about writing without knowing anything about her work, but then might get curious after reading the article, decide to explore the rest of the site. There's even a choose-your-own fantasy story!
The info about Shannon's books is also excellent. Take the page about The Goose Girl, for instance, which includes info about how the book got started, deleted material, the original Grimm tale, awards and reviews, discussion guides and exercises, book quizzes and how to buy the book. My only (very small) quibble would be that the page could have used a tad more colour, and would be the perfect place to post the gorgeous cover of The Goose Girl.
And now that I've perused Shannon's site, I'm dying to read her other books.