Blog Archive - June 2014

Preorder Hell & High Water at 25% off!

Dreamspinner sale

Hello all! Dreamspinner Press is celebrating the release of their 1000th title with a fabulous sale! Which means you can preorder Hell & High Water at 25% off! Woot! Talk about a great way to start your Monday!

Two weeks until release. Can you tell I'm excited yet?

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5040

Celebrating the launch of THIRDSHQ.COM over at Lex Chase's!

Caelparty hatHello all! Hope you had a fab weekend. I'm a guest over at the awesome Lex Chase's blog celebrating the launch of the shiny new THIRDS website! Find out more about the site and enter the giveaway for some cool THIRDS swag!

Even Cael's got his party hat on, so come join the fun!

http://lexchase.com/


Building Your Author Website - Part 2: The Essentials

medium_6131642887Hello all! Last Monday we talked a little about getting started on  your author website. We discussed picking your platform and looking into hosts, the difference between Wordpress.org and Wordpress.com (for a more detailed comparison, you can go here). Today I'm going to go over some of the essentials.

Before I started my website, I visited hundreds of author websites. Not just in the M/M Romance genre.  I looked up authors from various genres, from the big names to brand new authors. I checked out their pages, made a list of what I thought were key elements. I also spotted a lot of things missing which were they implemented would make their sites much stronger. I also did a poll where I asked readers what they wanted from an author's website. Why? Because: Your website is not for you. It's for your readers. I think that's where some authors go wrong.

You author website is your hub. Your online home. It's where you give information and connect with readers. Everything you provide should be done so with the reader in mind. You'd be stunned by how many author sites I came across that didn't have a Books (or similarly titled) page. I heard you gasp from here. Your blog should also either have a Books page or a link to your Books page. You and your current readership might know what you've written, but what about new readers?

What should you put in your Books page? It's  up to you how you lay it out, but whatever you do, make sure your information is easy to find and clear. "Books" is a listing in my menu. It's a dropdown menu. I have a "Book List" page with all my titles, grouped together by series. Each cover takes you to that book's page. In the dropdown menu, it's broken down into categories: "Series", "Novels", "Novellas", "Short" "Stories", and "Anthologies". Under the "Series" heading, you'll see the list of all my series, and each one will take you to a page with information on all the books in that series. Under "Novels", you get a menu with my novels by title. You don't need to have as many pages as I do. It's just to give you an idea of how I break things down. It gives readers a choice of how they can search for my books.

WebsiteWordHeart400Book page

Key information you should have for each title:
  • Book Cover.
  • Title.
  • Blurb.
  • Book Details: Length, Publisher, Genre, ISBN #s
  • Buy links (Remember you also have international readers, so don't always assume all your readers are from the US.)
  • An excerpt or link to an excerpt on the publisher's website.

Additional information: Have you had some good reviews or testimonials? Why not include them to let readers know how your book is being received.

Have you received any nominations or awards for your book? That's something to be proud of. Is it a best seller? Include badges with your books.

Book Extras: Do you have some fascinating research you came across while writing your book? Is there a story behind the story? Why not include a Behind-the Scenes, or Cut Scenes. Extras are little gifts for your readers. When I love a book, I want to read everything about it.

About page

Another page that's essential is an "About" page or "Author" page. You want to tell readers a little bit about yourself. Have a fun Q&A or tell a little story about yourself. Let readers get to know you. Do you have an interesting hobby? Did you used to be in a rock band? Are you a goat herder by day?

Contact page

I was (and still am) surprised by the number of author websites I came across that either didn't have a contact page or it was at the end of some extensive maze of links. I have a dedicated email address I give out to the public. If you don't want to sign up for another email address or give one out, you can add a contact form. In wordpress, Jetpack has a super easy Contact Form you can set up and you decide what the requirements are. Readers should have a way to get in touch. Fellow authors might want to get in touch, or award organizations, blogs, etc.

Social Media: Make sure your social media links are visible and in several places. Each reader will come to your website from a different place. They may go straight to your blog, to a certain book page, to your main page. Wherever they go, you want to make sure your social media links are available. Whether they're in the form of icons or links, you want them in as many places as possible. If they're in your footer, they'll appear on every page. In your sidebar-depending on how your site is set up, it might be the same. Add them to your contact page.

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Those are the key pages every author website must have. Here's a list of additional pages you might want to consider:

Press

Media: As an author, you're likely to get involved in the media, whether through guest posts, interviews, radio interviews, blog tours, etc. You want a place to put these so readers can check out these great events.

Press Kit: A press kit includes information about you and your books which can be used by others for media purposes. Bloggers, reviewers, anyone who posts media might need one of your book covers for a review, or your bio for a spotlight post on you. You want all that information to be readily available and easy to access. Usually online press kits include an author's bio, author's image, logo, banners, book covers, links to books, links or snippets of reviews, awards, testimonials. It's up to you how much to include, just make sure it's all neat and easy to access.

Work in Progress

Let readers know what you're working or what's coming soon. This is especially helpful if you're writing a series. Readers will want to know when the next book is coming out.

Extras

Many authors like to offer extra goodies, such as free reads. Maybe you're also an artist and draw pictures of your characters, or create crafts related to your books. Maybe you knit. Your extras page can include anything you like. Do you write a specific genre? Your extras can include interesting info on that genre. I write historicals set in the 1920s and 1930s, so as part of my extras, I've included a slang glossary. You can include character bios, family trees.

Events

Do you attend conferences or conventions? Let your readers know where they can meet you. Book signings, appearances, meet and greets.

Newsletter

Do you have a newsletter? Where can readers sign up? Make it easy to find. Don't just stick it at the bottom of your website. I have my signup form in widgets on the bottom of my website, on the sidebar in my blog, and as a link in the menu. That way readers can find it easily whether they're on the main page or the blog.

Blog

It's been shown that websites with blog get more traffic. It's up to you whether you can commit to a blog. Blogging is tough, no doubt about it. You not only have to decide what kind of content you'll be blogging about, but who your audience is. You have to keep it going. Having a blog is a great way to interact with your readers or just let them follow you along your writer's journey.

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Whatever extra pages you decide to have is up to you. It's important you make information clear and easy to find. Don't make visitor's to your site hunt for what they're looking for. Also very important: update! Even if you don't have the time to update often, don't let your website fall behind months or even years. When I come across an author whose site hasn't been updated in a year, I wonder if they're still writing or if they've moved websites.

Next Monday is the start of the Hell & High Water Blog Tour, so Building Your Author Website Part 3: Design will be posted early, on Sat the 28th.

I keep promising you those list of free online image editors, so here they are. Next installment, I'll tell you a little about using them to design your website.

Fotor BeFunky PicMonkey Pixlr iPiccy

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photo credit: B.Garry via photopin cc

Book of the Week: What Can Brown Do For You?

CCochetBooksI love short stories. They're also especially difficult to write. Trying to tell a complete story with character development, plot, and romance in a span of just a few pages can be harder than writing a  novel. Which is why it's always a treat to come across one I really enjoy. Hunter Frost's debut story is fantastic, and I can't wait to see what she gives us next.

I admit, I love romance stories with geeks, seeing that I'm one myself. I might not play world of WoW, but I'm definitely geeky in other ways. I loved Sean. He was sweet, funny, and oh so awkward. I could certainly relate to his plight. And then we have the sexy UPS guy who's more than what he seems.

In 33 pages, we get everything a short story should have, and by the end, I wish there was more, so much more. But it's a short story and I accept that. The characters are well rounded, and Ms. Frost has a fabulous way of letting you know plenty about each man through his actions and reactions. We get description, plot, humor, romance, and some hotness. You might never look at the UPS guy the same way again. A very well written and thoroughly entertaining story. Highly recommended.

rosedivider miu-whatcanbrowndoforyou400What Can Brown Do for You? by Hunter Frost Genre: Gay Romance Contemporary Pages: 33 Publisher: Torquere Press ISBN: 9876543210754 Part of the Men In Uniform anthology, but available for purchase on its own. Blurb

IT geek Sean Barlow lusts after the dreamy UPS guy who charms the ladies in his office with his roguish smile and sinful brown shorts. The delivery guy couldn't be more out of Sean's league, even if by some miracle he was gay. But when a freak power outage finds Sean trapped in the elevator with his uniformed hunk, he learns first-hand that you can't judge a UPS guy by the size of his package.

Available from from Torquere Press | AmazonAll Romance eBooks

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Visit Hunter Frost at: http://hunterfrost.net/

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Building Your Author Website - Part 1: Getting Started

website building1Hello all! When I decided to blog about author websites and blogs, I realized there was no way I could fit everything into one post. Not if I wanted to go into detail. So I decided to turn it into a series. Today is part one and we’re talking about getting started.

I’ve been creating my own websites since the 90s. Anyone remember Geocities, Tripod, Angelfire? Yep, I used them all. Back then, I created everything in Dreamweaver and uploaded via ftp. Keep in mind, I knew next to nothing about html. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. I played around with site building on and off, creating graphics, trying new styles and platforms.

And then came the time to put those skills to use. I had just signed my first contract with a publisher and I needed an author platform. Before I could think about Facebook or any other social media, I had to establish an author homebase.

At the time, I had no idea what a blog was or what it entailed. A friend told me about Blogger, so I shopped around a little and went with Blogger. Slowly I started customizing, looking for themes outside of what was offered which would fit my needs. After that, I started playing with widgets and html. Google became my best bud. Anything I wanted to do but didn’t know how, I Googled. Everything I did with Blogger prepared me for the upgrade to Wordpress, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

With today’s technology, building your own website is much easier than it used to be, with website builders doing most, if not all, the coding for you. You don’t have to spend hundreds or thousands on a website. I know I certainly couldn’t afford to pay someone to build a site for me, and as I was just starting out, I couldn’t justify the expense. Though it’s far less expensive these days to get a really nice site designed for you. But this series is for authors who want to do it themselves.

Tip: It’s never too early to start your author platform.

Once you get published, you’re going to be busy with a billion other things: edits, galleys, production forms, marketing, promotion, and everything else. The more you have already done, the more you can concentrate on your release and your writing. It’s much easier to update your website once you’re published, than it is to build it up from scratch.  There’s a great deal of information you can include regarding your work in progress, your journey as an unpublished author, etc.

So where do you start? There are plenty of free website builders out there. I highly recommend having a website with a built in blog. If you already have a blog, let’s say with blogger, and you’re going to build your website in Wordpress, I would recommend linking your blog to your Wordpress site via your menu. I’ll be getting into that when we get to the design portion of the series.

When I decided to move on from Blogger to a website builder that was both easy to use and allowed me the freedom I wanted to customize, I tried out a few different builders: Weebly, Winx, Web.com, and a few others I can’t remember at the moment. They weren’t the right fit for me. Don’t be afraid to sign up with these free web builders and play around with the building tools. If they don’t work for you, delete or close the account.  Obviously you don’t want to link a domain name or start sharing links before you’ve decided whether the builder you chose is right for you.

worspressAfter trying several builders, I went with Wordpress. Now, there’s a big difference between Wordpress.com and Wordpress.org. Wordpress.com is rather limited in what you can customize, but again it depends on what you need and how much you want to change or be in control of. With Wordpress.com, if it’s not available in the theme you choose, there’s not much you can do, and certain types of coding won’t be permitted in your widgets. It also doesn’t allow plug-ins.

Wordpress.org allows you to upload plug-ins, customize html, and use scripts in your widgets. It’s not self-hosted like Wordpress.com which means you’ll have to have web host. If you go this route, make sure you do a good deal of research before choosing your host. The problem with cheap web-hosting is that the space is shared (unless you opt for the more expensive dedicated servers), so if your site uses up a lot of memory and causes spikes in their CPU, it will be shut down until you sort it out, and let me tell you, your blood pressure will skyrocket while you try to sort it out. With the amount of websites growing, companies providing shared web-hosting are overselling space on their servers. You don’t want to have the constant hassle of your site going down, so ask around and find a trusted web host. I’ve been told Dreamhost, Hawkhost, and Stablehost are good places to start.

Next Monday: Author branding. I’ll also list those free online image editors, since it’s relevant to coming up with your author/website brand.

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Have any questions? Just leave them in the comment box below. 

rosedivider photo credit: NathanaelB via photopin cc photo credit: ghwpix via photopin cc

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