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Use Widgets to Add Interactivity to Your Author Website

David Marshall Posted by David Marshall, Vice President of Editorial and Digital , Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.

David Marshall heads the editorial department, which is responsible for 40-50 new titles per year and 5-10 digital products or initiatives. 

Use Widgets to Add Interactivity to Your Author Website

US Navy, Public Domain

What: Widgets can serve unlimited purposes--clocks, calendars, comic strips, notepads, etc.--and thousands exist for free use by users. Widget code is created by the software used and is immediately ready for embedding into you website.

Why: Many authors use the widget to link their readers to a purchase site that has been set up on some affiliate program or their own website. The code created for your widget will be small and easily implanted into any website, blog, social profile, etc. Anyone can grab the widget code and place it on their desktop or spread it elsewhere on the web. It's a great promotional tool simply because of its "copy and paste" nature, which is convenient to the author and the readership.

Reccomended Widgets:

  • Goodreads Button Linking to Your Book - Visitors to your website can add your book to their Goodreads shelf with one easy click. To create this widget, simply replace their example ISBN with the ISBN of your book within the code. Then, copy & paste the code into your website: https://www.goodreads.com/api/atmb_widget
  • Goodreads Shelf Displaying Your Latest Reads: To get this widget, log in to your Goodreads account, select “Edit Profile,” go to the “Widgets” tab, decide what display options you want, then copy & paste the code they generate into the HTML of your website.
  • Twitter Widget : If you tweet frequently, make sure you embed your Twitter timeline on your website using this handy widget: https://twitter.com/settings/widgets/new That way website visitors will see the very latest from you and feel encouraged to follow you.
  • Facebook Widget: This widget is great for encouraging people to like your Facebook page- all while staying on your site. https://developers.facebook.com/docs/plugins/like-box-for-pages/ If you simply LINK them to your Facebook page, they leave your site, get distracted by their Facebook notifications, and forget to buy your book.
  • Amazon Widgets: Amazon has a pretty extensive selection of widgets to create fun connections between your site and Amazon’s site. https://widgets.amazon.com/ If you’re part of the Amazon Affiliate network, make sure you set up your widgets to get the commissions from the traffic you drive to their site.
  • Countdown Widget- If you have an important event coming up, you can build excitement for it by having your website count down the days, hours, and seconds. http://www.google.com/ig/directory?synd=open&hl=en&url=http://seanregan.com/countdown/countdown.xml

How to Make A Customized Widget: If you want to customize a widget even more, that’s possible too. Try the WordPress custom widget builder. https://managewp.com/how-to-create-wordpress-widgets-widget-builder.

  • Set up the interface you want to create by working with the widget templates available. They are heavily customizable, so find a style that you're happy with and go for it.
  • Most widgets offer the option to show links to your website, purchase sites, social network profiles, etc. so have in mind what links you want to provide to your readers.
  • You'll end up putting information into the widget, but it's most likely on hand. Information such as book marketing copy and author blurbs go here.
  • Load it on your website or through the website that your widget application was created on. 47 -Spread it around! Put it on your profiles and websites and allow others to link to it from your emails.

How Much: The services vary from free to cheap. Most are free for the basic services and charge less than $10 a month for the more advanced services.