Friday, May 2, 2014

Storyteller's Journey

This Writer's Thoughts on Websites
                     (Part II)

Last Friday I listed some of my thoughts on the subject of websites for writers.Today I'll add a few more personal preferences about that topic.

*When and how to create a website is definitely a personal choice. The choices I'm making for my website may be just the opposite from the choices you might make. One of the most important things I've learned about websites is that they're a great way to show the world who you are, not only as a professional, but as a person. Are you disciplined and businesslike? Are you funny and spontaneous? Do you have a thing for the color blue? (That would be me!) Whatever sets you apart, make sure that your website reflects at least a bit of your unique personality.

*Determine the website's purpose. That may seem quite obvious, but some authors have written one standalone novel; others have multiple standalone novels; and still others are writers of a book series. The design you choose should reflect your site's purpose. Since I've written a standalone book you might think I'd feature a web banner ablaze with the book's title and design. However, I know I have several other books churning in my creative cauldron, so I thought about the similarities all my story ideas share. For me it wasn't quite a feeling of fantasy, but more a sense of magic and mystery. My web design will reflect those general themes to allow me to use my website for a long time. (Also, my publisher is setting up a web page for my storybook. The site will be at www.thescandinaviansanta.com - I'll let you know when it is launched sometime this summer.)

* First impressions are powerful things. (When I first began blogging I really wanted a unique blog design. However, the templates available at that time were pretty lame. I decided that I'd create a design myself and have an artist friend bring it to life. Needless to say, that while our family friend is a gifted artist, I am not! For over a year I kept the blog design, and in hindsight, I really think that it was doing me a disservice. I don't want to repeat my mistake, and so I have a pretty strong opinion about designs for online sites.)

In the course of visiting numerous author websites I've seen varying degrees of: style, quality, artistry, organization, and even accuracy. Some writers have poor or outdated sites. It's a shame. In a few of those weak sites I visited, I could tell that the author was a skilled writer, but her online presence was shooting her in the foot. Then there were the authors that had no website at all...not even a blog! It was very frustrating wandering around the web searching for information to include on my blog's book review of their novel. Speaking of blogs, a few writers - including an accomplished YA author - were still using their blogs as a website. In a couple of cases that seemed to work (including the author alluded to above), but in most cases I felt that, once again, those authors without an effective website were doing themselves a disservice. For writers of middle grade books, it seems to me that a colorful and creative web design is essential. What kid would enjoy looking at a site that could double for a dental office's website? That may seem unfair, but it's the truth. Why make it less likely for a reader to buy our books?

On the flip side, I have also visited many wonderful websites! The strange thing that I discovered was that some of my favorite authors are the ones with the most awesome websites. I've been pondering for days why that might be, and I'm still not quite sure. Here are a few of my favorite authors, with the links to their websites:

Stefan Bachmann - author of The Peculiar and The Whatnot http://www.stefanbachmann.com/home.php
Colin Meloy - author of the Wildwood Chronicles http://www.wildwoodchronicles.com/
Tone Almjhell - author of The Twistrose Key http://www.thetwistrosekey.com/
Kit Grindstaff - author of  The Flame in the Mist http://www.kitgrindstaff.com/ 

Lastly, I'd say that if you're hoping to be traditionally published - without the possibility of taking another path to publication - then you could probably wait until you gain agent representation to launch a site. But, if you're even remotely considering independent or hybrid publishing, I would recommend setting up your website when your manuscript is written, revised, and edited. Don't make the same mistakes I did. Obtain a professional website before your life gets super crazy.

I'd love to hear any advice you might have on this subject.

6 comments:

  1. I agree with you about this entire post. It is the same for visual artists..the website is such an important thing, but many artists abandon the project, because it is so time consuming, or too confusing, or too (fill in the blank!) I have an outdated website, and every time I think to work on it I find something else to do. Your post here has me really thinking about how to get to it and get it done. (p.s. I am confident that the owl graphic on your original blog is equally happy to be released from his contract. haha!)

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    1. Celeste, I feel your web design is classic, but then, you're an artist! Hope you have an awesome weekend! (I still love owls! ^_^)

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  2. Great advice. I'm waiting (hoping) to have an agent before I set up a website.

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    1. You're an accomplished writer, Theresa; it's just a matter of time. Have a fantastic weekend!

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  3. Yes, websites are important for a writer to have...and it's great you're concentrating on a theme instead of a single book for yours, especially if you have more ideas in the works! A lot of author websites I see have a link to a blog (or have the blog as part of their website), but my blog is for writers rather than readers, so I didn't do that.

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    1. I know what you mean, Carol. When I set up my blog, I attempted to meet the needs of readers and writers. As it turns out, it's been more of a blog for readers, and a journal of my personal path as a storyteller.

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