Your author website will likely change at different phases in your career. In the beginning, you may keep a website for yourself. Maybe you want to feel like a "real writer" or start getting some of your ideas out there. After you've published, it's a good idea to tweak your site to fulfill the needs of your fans and people looking for your books.
But what about that phase when you're querying agents or on submission with publishers? Although your site might not be geared directly towards agents and editors, you can bet any representative interested in working with you is going to check it out. Once you've got an agent interested enough to stalk your site, what is going to draw them in and land the deal?
The advice conflicts. Like so many things in publishing, it often comes down to personal taste. But I've been chatting with agents on twitter and scouring their #querytips to bring you the current trends many agents tend to be looking for.
Do you need an author site?
Some agents don't see the need for a dedicated author site as long as you have a professional profile somewhere online. For those agents, Twitter or Facebook will do.
Others want to see a website, and they want to see a clean, professional site that shows a positive representation of the author.
But some agents don't care about your author site or current platform at all. They realize that platform can be built after signing while working on getting published.
Confused yet? I warned you there isn't a uniform opinion on author sites. But if you do build one, what do agents want to see?
The Dirty: What Do Agents Want to See?
Some agents say it isn't a bad idea to have a page dedicated to your MS and query. (For me, that is my WIP page) This can be a helpful way to let a potential agent know if you have a second completed MS or where you are in your next project without the faux pas of querying two MS at once.
Some agents like to see that others are interested in your writing. An active blog (comments, likes, etc) can be one way to show this. While this is most important for non-fiction writers, even agents representing fiction look for it sometimes.
Links to your social media profiles. This can help keep your query clean. Instead of posting your social media tags in your query, just direct the agent to your website where your handles are easy to find (or you have a feed).
While what you put on your site is personal, many agents agree that less is more. Instead of filling your site with all the bells and whistles, you should concentrate on your writing, keeping the site clean, simple, and easy to navigate.
I know I go back and forth on having a blog on my author site. I actually just removed my blog and replaced it with a section for short stories instead. While it's hard to not share my writing process, I decided to keep that in my personal blog and keep my professional site a bit more professional.
What about you? What are your must-haves vs. should-never-haves? Do you ever tweak your site to appeal to agents and editors, or is it only for your fans? I'd love to hear your opinions, no matter where you are in the publishing journey.