Have you noticed that some author websites have a ton of interaction, while others are little more than book advertising pages? Building an online community may be the key to increasing your audience and ultimately increasing your book sales.

Depending on your romance genre, your website community could offer any number of features. You might, for example, have a chat room. Or you could create a members area where members get the opportunity to read short stories for free or be beta readers for new chapters or book projects. Fun, right?

Here are some tips and ideas to help you create more engagement and interaction on your author website.

* Determine What Technology You Will Use – One of the most important aspects of starting an online community is choosing which technology you will use to build it. There are many options to choose from. Base your choice on your technical knowledge, your budget, and what features you want the community to offer.

* Choose the Niche You’ll Focus On – It’s best if the online community you build is based on one target audience and not too widespread. Just like you focus on a niche with your business, focus on the same niche with the community. For example, if knitting is a theme that is pervasive in your stories, or martial arts, you might share knitting patterns or have a discussion board about all things martial arts.

* Create Content Specifically for the Community – Once you have a community it’s important that you create content specifically for that community on a regular basis. Consistency is the key to ensuring that you attract new members and keep the old members satisfied and interested.

* Invite New People on a Regular Basis – You want to have regular new members showing up because it keeps the group fresh and brings in new questions, thoughts, and conversation.

* Connect Your Community to Social Media – Social media is the best way to market your online community. You can even start with an online community first on Facebook with Facebook Groups.

* Be Engaging and Caring to Your Members – Your personality will show through if you participate on a regular basis in discussions with the community. Let them see how caring you are.

* Interview Members on a Regular Basis – A great way to add content to the community is to choose a special member each month to highlight and interview. You can do these interviews in podcast form and put them on iTunes as well, for another way to promote your community.

* Interview Experts in Your Niche – A great benefit for your community is to be able to learn from movers, shakers and other experts within your niche.

* Promote Members of the Community or Other Authors – Once in a while allow the members of the group to promote their offers by having a something like a yearly fire sale that enables them to benefit from the entire community sharing.

* Keep the Conversation Going – Don’t let the community fade away. Keep the conversation going. Maybe eventually hire someone to monitor the group and to contribute to the content and discussion – so you can spend more time writing and selling books.

Building an online community can help you create an entire community of raving fans that are not only ready to purchase your current books but who will also stand in line to purchase your new material. They’ll also promote you to their friends, family and associates. It’s a wonderful way to get to know your audience better and to improve product development.