Once you get into the rhythm of maintaining your author site, one of the fun things you can do is offer extras to your readers. Depending on your skills, interests, and genre, you may want to offer audio or video clips, extra scenes, maps, or some other bonus content. Personally, I hope to offer choose-your-own-adventure games based on my novels on my site someday. Bonus content can be a great way to get readers to visit your site and sign up for your newsletter.
But while extras can have several benefits, they can also be stressful for you to deliver. They can take up your time and creative energy, making it more difficult for you to focus on your writing. How many extras you can offer before they begin negatively affecting your writing depends on your personal situation. For example, a full-time writer may be able to offer more extras than a hobbyist. Similarly, an artist may be able to create character sketches with relatively little effort compared to someone with little or no artistic ability.
How do you know when you’re dedicating two much time and effort to website extras? Here are the three main signs.
You Feel Stressed Trying To Maintain Your Schedule
Extras should not only be fun for your fans, they should also be fun for you. They should be a natural way for you to connect more deeply with your stories and characters that you happen to polish and share with your readers. They should not feel like a chore that you need to release on a given schedule.
However, the need to constantly produce new content and push it through social media is deeply ingrained in the modern world. So it’s no wonder that website managers of all types are stressed to produce something new and innovative on a daily or weekly basis. One of the biggest culprits of the schedule is a blog. Most authors feel like if they have a blog, they need to update it daily or at least weekly. Otherwise they will look like they’re not serious about their career or let readers down.
But honestly, if you’re stressed out by the content schedule you set for yourself, you have every right to change it. Lighten your load or throw out the schedule altogether and only post when you have something you want to share.
While this goes against basic SEO rules, it’s important to remember that most visitors to author sites do not stumble there on accident. They go to author sites because they’ve heard about you and they are interested in your books. So giving up constant content in favor of better content less often won’t hurt an author the same way it can hurt a small web shop selling hiking gear or beauty products.
The Quality Of Your Extras Starts To Deteriorate
Extras don’t have to be as polished as your published novels. In fact, sometimes an extra can be more charming with rough edges. For example, an unedited chapter can show your writing process or reading an excerpt in one take can feel more intimate than an edited video. But this doesn’t mean you should slap up extras without any thought or consideration to their quality and how they represent you as an author.
You should always have a reason for sharing an extra. Maybe it adds more to your book, maybe it creates demand for a novel that will be coming soon. Maybe it showcases your expertise in a certain area. Once you start losing focus with your extras, they will likely lose quality. Then, instead of getting more people to come to your site or sign up for updates, you will likely lose followers.
If you notice your quality slipping, cut back on the amount of extras you offer so you can spend more time creating content your readers will truly value.
You Can’t Find Time To Write
Extras can be fun to make. They can provide a great break from writing, especially when you have writer’s block. However, at some point they can become too much of a distraction. If you notice you haven’t worked on your next book for the past week, but you have released two or three extras on your website, you should consider cutting back on your extras. This will allow you to put your energy back into your writing.
While saying this, it’s important to note that some writers evolve and go away from writing for periods of time. Maybe you want to concentrate on visual art or making online games. This is fine if you make the conscious choice to redirect your energies. But you should not let your extras accidentally push out your writing.
While extras can be a great thing to add to your site, you should keep in mind that they should be just that: an addition. Before you start tweaking your extras, make sure you have a solid basic site and plenty of time to write.
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