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Cameron Allie

Creating a Website

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I'm getting together with my tech buddy this weekend launch my website. I've got a few ideas I've gathered from research, workshops, etc. but I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts, tips, hints they wanted to share about the creation of their own website.  What did you find difficult, what was easy, what's a must have (besides: book lists, bio, mailing list, and contact)

Thanks!

Cameron

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I went the simple route.  (Simple for me because I have a technical background, but with the help of your tech buddy, this should be do-able.)  Some of this might help.

To find a Wordpress theme, I looked at an author site that had a layout that I liked, and the link to the theme was at the bottom of the page.  I used MailChimp for the mailing list, which easily connects to WordPress with the MailChimp for WordPress plugin to make the newsletter subscription form.  I went to publicdomainpictures.net and searched for lightning to get an image, which I turned into the banner and the background.  To post a writing sample that was in Microsoft Word, I used wordtohtml.net to convert the Word text into HTML formatted text, which I then added directly to the Wordpress page.  That conversion makes non-breaking spaces out of paragraph indentations.  If you use a converter that turns Word paragraphs into <p> tagged paragraphs in HTML, you can manually added this style tag in wordpress to set the indentation for <p> tagged paragraphs (this goes before the text):

 <style>             
p {
    text-indent: 6ch;
}  
</style>

If you want to see the end result:  www.tordendar.com

MailChimp, like all email services, requires you to put your real mailing address into your emails.  This is required by US law (the CAN-SPAM law, I believe).  If you don't want to include your home address, you might want to think about an alternative.  If you have a publisher, it could be your publisher's address.  I use a rented mailbox.  Something to think about.

Good luck.

Dan

Edited by TordenDar

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By the way, I just stopped by your website.  I'll take a longer peek when I have more time, but your chapter one excerpt starts with a really strong hook.  It pulled me in, I definitely want to read more!

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I appreciate your encouraging words.  I'm polishing three chapters for an agent request.  Let's hope she is also pulled in.

When you're done, let us know how the website building went.

Edited by TordenDar

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Hi Cameron,

I and another author actually did a presentation on author websites. This is what we found when we did research (but I haven't actually taken all this advice on my site, so it's totally a do as I say not as I do). But here are some of the basic things that you'll want on a site:

 

What should be on my website?

1.     Newbie: Basics

2.     Querying: Brochure

3.     Contracted/Published: Full Site

 

1. Basics:

      Home - tagline should be in the header of this and all other pages

      Social Networking links (on every page)

      Copyright (on every page)

      Contact Information or Form

      If you post your email address it can be harvested by spammers

      But you can mask your email if you’re careful

      readers like to contact you

      Bio (including picture)

      Readers like to feel like they know the author

      Refer to yourself in the third person

      Be fun, entertaining and interesting

      List awards and publication highlights

      Optional: if you have a newsletter, put a signup form at the end of this page. If readers really want to get know you, they’ll sign up

      Update your bio every few years

 

Good Bio

 

Harriet Ann McGillicuddy is the author of three books, including the award-winning new adult romance, Krissie Falls In Love. She is a regularly guest speaker at Portland University on romance culture and writing. When not writing or teaching, you’ll find Harriet at Portland area craft fairs where she and her children sell handmade coasters and lawn ornaments to benefit local bird-watching charities.

 

Bad Bio

 

I am Mrs. Carlton Stanley Whitson, III. I write romance books. I once visited the lions at the zoo and have a tabby cat named Mr. Whiskers. We live at 200 Pine Level Street in San Diego. And except for my trips to visit the dermatologist on every second Tuesday, you can find me sitting on my porch glaring at the neighbors across the street. I don’t believe in writing blogs or participating in social media.
Buy my books.

 

 

2. Brochure:

      Basics +

      A page for each book you are querying

      Blurb

      SHORT excerpt

      Anything else you’d like to share about the writing of the book

      Coming Soon/WIP

      Information on what you’re writing now

 

3. Full Site:

      Basics +

      Brochure +

      A page for each book contracted/published

      Cover

      Title

      Publication year and ISBN

      Series (if applicable)

      Blurb

      Excerpt (check your contract for word count limits)

      Buy Links (list your publisher first)

      Awards

      Reviews

      News

      A page for announcements (new books, appearances, blog tours, contests, giveaways)

      Appearances

      Schedule of appearances, book signings, lectures, etc.

      Newsletter signup (accessible from every page)

      Free stories or tidbits- readers love these and the idea of “exclusive” content. Often they’ll check to see if you have something extra about a book you’ve published like background on a character or a deleted scene or even research you did on a book

      Printable list of your books

      Have a series? Put a listing of the order they should be read in

      To blog or not to blog: that is the question

      Only if you REALLY want to AND will do it consistently (does not have to be daily but should be weekly at minimum or at least on a regular schedule)

      It takes time to write blogs but it’s an instant writing sample for readers to see

      Readers like interesting blogs and will return to them and as a result your website

      Have a way to let visitors subscribe and search your blog

      Search engines like blogs and will give you higher rankings

 

Pros

Cons

Brand/Book advertisement

Just more social media

Search engines notice blogs

Must be done consistently

Build a community

No instant following

Updates your website 

Comments must be moderated

Readers often love it

Already interact with readers

Inexpensive

Time intensive

Cool guest authors visit your blog

Questionable ROI

Displays an instant writing sample

It’s no fun if you don’t like it

THIS IS A PERSONAL DECISION

 

CAVEAT AUCTOR:  Websites cannot be created and then just ignored.

They need to grow and change with your career. Readers come to your site to get to know you better. Although most readers will only visit your website once for a few minutes, they will know if you never update your website. 

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Thank you Aidee! 

Very helpful.  I think I have most of those things already. I've been peeking around on other author's websites to see what they've been doing. 

It's an insane amount of work, and I really don't know what I'd do if my husband's buddy wasn't helping me out. He's gone way above and beyond. I'll keep checking back to this list to ensure that I have everything.  Although I think I'll save the printable list of books until I have more than one! 

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Hey guys! All this stuff is great. Just thought I'd throw it out there that I'm using Wix. It's more of a "professional looking" alternative to wordpress (which is where I am now). Also, it's free/pretty cheap depending on your hosting options. 

Great tip about mail chimp....totally gonna look into that. Wix has an auto email feature built in, which is nice, but as i expect HORDES of people to sign up right away, i'm going to need to manage that somehow. Definitely looking into mail chimp.

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I've heard good things about Mailchimp.  And I think it's free up to the first 2,000 subscribers.

 

I've used Wix in the past, although Andrew (my tech guy) is a big Wordpress fan, and that's what we'll be using.  Although I'm starting to get the hang of it.  He also set me up with this thing called Disqus, it's for the comments. So rather than use Wordpress' built in comment feature we'll be using Disqus.  What's cool about it is that to comment people have to log in, or use their Facebook or Twitter profiles to comment.   I hope it doesn't discourage people from posting, but the reasoning is to help keep trolls at bay.  Hopefully people won't start shit, or post mean things because their anonymity is removed. 

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