Simple Website for My Books and Stories

I really need to create a website where the emphasis is on my published work. I did this once before, but hated my design, and didn’t think about it again. I have a pretty good idea of how it should look and could do it either with one of the WordPress templates, or by using a site like Wix. The main question is which is more likely to be seen. It might be good to get out of the WP environment into a new one. But using the same tags and meta description, would one be more visible than the other?

Any suggestions? Your experience?

Building a Website

Once I decided that I really need a high-quality author’s website, the work began. My Weebly site was okay, but I’d never put as much thought into it as I should, and I always felt uncomfortable with Weebly. I didn’t really want to spend money on a site, but I wanted maximum design flexibility, among other things, and free sites just don’t offer that. I’ll probably go with Squarespace, but I won’t use the free introductory period until I have the content well worked out, and a solid idea for the design.

In the meantime, I’ve been looking at other author’s sites to get ideas, and haven’t been impressed by many of them. Trying to see them as a reader would, I wound up wondering why readers would bother to come back after one visit. So I’ve been picking up ideas, always keeping in mind that I want the site to be well-organized and easy to navigate, offer reasons for readers to keep visiting, and, above all, that it be representative of the kind of writing I do, both fiction and nonfiction. That’s a pretty tall order, but it’s beginning to take shape.

Of course I’ve also been reading articles on website design, particularly on what an author needs for a successful site, and some of those have been very helpful. One of the best is Amber Ludwig’s Make Your Website Do the Work: The 6 Site MUST-Haves to Sell More Books, Improve Your Credibility and Grow Your Following. It’s a quick read. If you are considering building a website to promote your writing, I’d consider it a must.

Doing the Splits: Writers / Readers

Writers read books, and readers sometimes write books. I’ve been lazily depending on that overlap to avoid the work of setting up a genuine author’s website. Some of you might have taken a look at the half-assed effort I developed on Weebly, and which I deleted recently. I made a start, but then it bogged down, for very good reasons. And I had to spend some time thinking about what I’ve been avoiding, what I should be doing, and why I should be doing it.

Why not just combine the writing blog and the author’s site? But Tracking the Words is a blog for writers. That’s what it started out to be, that’s mostly what it’s been, and it shouldn’t take a big finger coming down out of the sky and thunking me on the head to make that perfectly clear. This isn’t where I should be promoting my writing and saying “Hi” to readers. It took some time to work through the important differences (for me) between a writing blog and an author’s website, but that’s done now.

One thing that was holding me back, aside from the aforementioned laziness was insecurity. Is my writing interesting enough to justify a site devoted exclusively to promoting it? Have I written enough? The Weebly site seemed to say that it was a waste of time. But I didn’t give that site my all, and I wasn’t even sure about what approach I wanted to take with it. My thinking is still a bit cloudy, but I’ve learned enough about promotion, and about my own failure to increase my readership that it now seems like a good idea. And it’s still going to be a pain in the butt to accomplish.

The next decision is about where to locate the site. WordPress is easy, and it’s free. But it has definite limitations. Paying for hosting is a real risk because there are months when my sales would hardly cover it. But everything about this indie writer thing has been a risk, right from the moment I dared to publish my first book. If I’m not willing to take one more risk, then maybe I shouldn’t have bothered to start writing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Checkin’ in

Just odds and ends. Editing on A Perfect Slave is going well, and I’m beginning to get a glimmer of an idea for the cover. I have seven articles up on Wizzley, and that’s just about all the actual writing I’m doing. I’m finding Wizzley a nice site for getting to know people interested in some of the same topics I am. The forums are set up for casual conversation as well as the usual information and “help me” stuff, so I’m glad I dropped Squidoo in its favor.

I hope to have Perfect Slave ready for May publication, and it’s probably going to be one more bit of pressure to stay with the hand slaves universe, which sells better than anything else I’ve written. Hidden Boundaries has sold over 200 copies now, but since June will be two years since I first posted it on Smashwords, that isn’t exactly spectacular. It’s still encouraging because sales may be very slow, but I can see that if I get more work published, I can probably expect small increases in my income from writing.

I’ve been thinking about ways to expand the scope of Dark Fiction, my website, and make it more interesting. I have a section for free reads, with only one story so far, but I’m going to take a look at some of my undeveloped story ideas and see if some of them would be suitable for flash fiction, under 5,000 words.

Another idea that I haven’t gone deeply into yet, is a section to promote other dark fiction writers. That means psychologically dark, not horror, paranormal, etc. I’d thought about doing something like that here, but it doesn’t really fit. The only writer I know of with the requisite quality that I’d be willing to promote, and an oeuvre large enough to make it worthwhile for readers to explore is Dusk Peterson. There may be some more rattling around in the back of my head, but if any of you have some suggestions, I’d be glad to consider them. I want to focus on writers who don’t fit in the mainstream and who deserve a larger readership than they’re getting.

NaNoWriMo is definitely not on my schedule this year. 2013 is for finishing WIPs, not starting a major new one.

Weekend Notes

A quote worth taking note of in a Smashwords interview with writer Jonathan Maberry. ”

“I count myself fortunate in that I studied journalism rather than creative writing. Journalists learn good writing habits. Journalists don’t mythologize the process of writing. They research, they write, they revise, they submit, and they move on to the next thing. One of the first things I learned in journalism class is that writer’s block is largely a myth. It’s the end result of have no practical writing process.”

In other news —

Editing for Gift of the Ancien is still slogging along. Only nine chapters to go, but today feels as if it’s going to be a no-accomplishment day. The book is improving greatly, so I hope the delay will seem worthwhile. I’ve also worked out a compromise between Amazon exclusivity and letting folks buy the book from Smashwords without having to wait three months. Because, yes, I do intend to go with Select as an experiment. But I won’t renew it, no matter the results.

The Weebly website is coming along nicely. I’m following the general layout from Dark Boundaries, but have changed the title, will be adding a header, and doing other tweaks that WordPress doesn’t allow for. I wasn’t going to include a blog, but realized that’s it’s the most sensible format for a “What’s New” page. I’ll probably change the theme I started with, and scrounging around with that intention, I discovered a nice feature. As you look through the themes, you can mark favorites, so it’s easy to find them whenever you want to change again. wp.com ought to add that.

There was an interesting discussion on Kindle Boards about using Weebly for a writer’s website. http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php?topic=120105.0 There were lots of pros and cons, of course, with one or two people coming down pretty heavily for self-hosted sites, particularly using wordpress.org. The main reason given for that was better SEO (Search Engine Optimization), but I found that Weebly allows descriptions and tags for each page, so that would seem to counter the idea that this type of site would be a marketing handicap. I’m not big on the technicalities of search engines, so there may be other factors involved.

New “Gift” excerpt, Website-hosting Debate, etc.

An excerpt from Chapter 9 of Gift of the Ancien is now up. Look under the tab at the top of the page.

Looking Professional — Do you need a website and should you host it yourself?

The two following links feed into discussions about whether authors have to have a website. They don’t refer directly to the question of whether you do or don’t need one, but there are a lot of implications in the second post that lead to “Yes, you must have a website and if you don’t self-host, you’re not being professional.” Needless to say, I don’t agree. As I mentioned in the comment to my last post, I probably wouldn’t even bother to put up a website if I didn’t want to sell my books directly to readers. 1. A WordPress blog is flexible enough to give the same professional impression that you would gain from a website. 2. I’ve seen any number of author sites, some for very well-known writers, that are hosted on either WordPress or Blogger. Apparently those authors don’t worry as much about it as they’re supposed to.

Blogging – should authors go self-hosted or not? Part 1: two bloggers who don’t

Blogging for authors – should you be self-hosted? Part 2: two bloggers who favour self-hosting

Little things that make a writer’s heart leap with joy

This is why I don’t worry about the number of WIPs I have piling up. A science fiction story (probably a long short) has been stalled after a decent beginning of 2,000 words. Internal details to be worked out, and an ending to be discovered. So it’s been sitting on that very large back burner, keeping warm. Every once in a while, it pops to the foreground of my mind and I take a good look at it to see if anything has developed. If not, back it goes.

This morning, it popped out without any warning, with the most troublesome details worked out and the perfect ending. Happy, happy, joy, joy. I made notes and put it away, knowing that when I have time to work on it again, I’ll be writing, not banging my head against the wall, trying to figure it all out.

Author Website

For the last couple of years, I’ve been thinking about developing a website for my writing, but laziness and lack of real motivation have gotten in the way. But the time has come. I’m ready to get more exposure, and I want to be able to sell my books directly. I thought I’d be satisfied to use Word Press indefinitely, and I have no complaints about the way I’ve been able to set up Dark Boundaries, but it does have its limitations. In fact, I’m fairly happy with the design, so I’m going to duplicate it as closely as possible.

I made a start today, at Weebly, which is free, and seems more flexible than other free sites I’ve looked at. It isn’t high on my priority list right now, so I’m not in any hurry to complete it. A little bit at a time whenever I’m in the mood. I’ll make it public when it’s complete, and I’ve upgraded it and bought my domain name. Once that’s done, I’ll probably delete the WP version and let that domain expire. Or I may convert Dark Boundaries to a straight blog. How long till everything’s done? Months. Maybe not until next year.