Best official author sites

Most authors are way behind the times when it comes to the digital world. These ones break the mould.

Authors seem to lag behind the rest of the world when it comes to embracing the digital age. If they do have a website (which many of them do not), it is often of a very low standard: poorly designed, badly organised, infrequently updated and paying little attention to the increasingly important use of Web 2.0. But there are some who break the mould. These authors, or their estates, lead the charge by embracing video, blogging, social media and clever website design to interact with their readers, market their books and share ideas in a way that should be commonplace in 2011. Here, we pick out some of our favourite official author sites; the ones that have embraced the 21st century and left the quill far behind.

Barbara Kingsolver

One of the most successful authors of her generation, Barbara Kingsolver has created some epic narratives in the form of The Poisonwood Bible and Prodigal Summer. Her friendly and attractive website has a pleasant and personal tone, offering information about Kingsolver’s background and interests, together with lengthy answers to questions about her two bestselling books and other topics in the FAQ section, as well as excerpts from her poetry, essays and less well known novels, such as Animal Dreams.

Roald Dahl

It would be disappointing if the Roald Dahl Official Site wasn’t up to scratch. Luckily it ticks the boxes on all counts offering an interactive, humourous and informative gateway to his books, richly illustrated with Dahl’s famous characters, as interpreted by Quentin Blake. Children can play games, test their knowledge of their favourite author and listen to interview. Meanwhile, teachers can log on to find some top tips for classroom activities and lessons. All Dahl’s books are available to buy here.

Stephen King

There’s much to explore on this official shrine to Stephen King. Search ‘The Library’ to find an ever-expanding digital record of his published works. Find out all about the author – his background, awards and nominations and tv and movie appearances – and browse all the latest Stephen King multimedia news and downloads. We love ‘The Office’ an interactive 3D flash module based on his real office and don’t forget to check out what new projects are in the pipeline.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Simple, unfussy and very effective, Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s website is by far and away the best author site there is, in our opinion. An author of children’s and grown-up books, Amy also makes short films, which can be viewed on her site. We love the homepage of this site, where visitors can dictate the mood and ambience they would like to have while they browse. Choose Rainy, Sunny or Windy to change the position of the yellow umbrella

Lesley M.M. Blume

Lesley M. M. Blume is an author, columnist and cultural observer based in New York. She has written three children’s novels and a collection of short stories entitled Modern, Fairies, Dwarves, Goblins and Other Nasties. Her website uses a clean white interface with old-fashioned black lettering, swirls and illustrations that lend it an Art Deco vibe. This is a very charming site and a great source of information, news and quotes.

Dan Brown

A site conveying all the mystery and intrigue of his novels, lists each of his books (The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, Deception Point). Click on one of them to be taken through to all sort of detailed information about the book, including excerpts, plot summary, reviews, Q & A with the author, bizarre facts, challenges, resources, international editions and an online shop where you can by copies.His style might be formulaic, but he's a savvy operator when it comes to the benefits of the web.

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie’s website may not be the most showy of author websites, but it does an excellent job nonetheless. This site is well laid out and informative, providing accurate historical details and information about The Queen of Crime and her many books and plays. Find out about Christie on Stage, Screen and Radio and on her travels to Egypt and on the Orient Express. Find out all about her stories, detectives and side-kicks, read the Agatha Christie Blog and discuss Christie’s work with other fans on Christie Talk.

Stephen Fry

You would expect the king of Twitter and keen supporter of all things web related to have a note-worthy website and so Stephen Fry does. Of course, Fry is much more than just an author, though he has written several books (all available to buy from his site), he is also a television presenter, an actor, a public speaker and an all-round national treasure. His site includes: his blog, audio video clips, an online chat forum for his many fans, details of future events and more.

Emily Jenkinson

7th April 2011