Rather than relying on overused marketing concepts, your author website should be designed with one goal in mind: to connect with the right audience for your work. At Web Design Relief, we know that once you’ve determined who your real-life readers are, you can then offer better, more targeted content. Don’t be afraid to share your personality with website visitors—they want to know more about the real-life YOU! (Discover your web personality here.) Sharing some personal details can help readers form a bond with you and keep them coming back for the long term.
Tell Your Story
Your author website is the best place to showcase your books, poetry, and short stories. But don’t stop there! When you also share personal moments, thoughts, and inspiration on your website (and your blog), visitors will see you more as an actual living, breathing person and less as an anonymous face on a book cover. Sharing personal anecdotes is one of the best ways to build your personal brand, create a following, and increase book sales!
Update Your Headshot
Standard headshots are often…well, standard! There is nothing wrong with a headshot that shows you in business casual wear in front of a plain background. But this is your author website, not your LinkedIn profile shot. Post a fun headshot, or even a series of photos that captures your personality. Website visitors will want to see your playful side, not just the let’s-get-down-to-business side. Help your audience connect with you on a personal level. If you write horror stories or serious nonfiction, you might want to choose a headshot that reflects your genre. But you can still crack a smile in another photo to show the person behind the pen (or behind the vampire fangs, if that’s the case).
Uncomfortable in front of the camera? Well, say cheese, because we’ve got you covered with Headshot 101.
Integrate Social Media
Do you often find yourself tweeting, scrolling through Facebook, or uploading your new selfie or food photo on Instagram? Odds are, your followers do this too! Integrate your social media into your author website through widgets and live feeds so that visitors can learn more about the real you and share your posts—helping to expand your reach with more opportunities to market your writing.
Share A Video
Clearly, your author website visitors love to read. But if you have a video camera, a GoPro, or a smartphone, you can also share a video on your website. This can be a vlog or welcome video, a guide to your writing process, a tour of your writing space, a reading of your favorite passage, and more. Your audience will feel more allied with you if they have a face and a voice to put with your words!
Write A Dear Reader Letter
If your website comes across as too generic or just the opposite, too over-marketed, maybe a Dear Reader letter is just what you need. This welcome letter can be the place to share insight into your writing process and/or what’s going on in your life in a personal, relatable way. For more tips on writing a letter that stands out, check out the anatomy of the Dear Reader Letter.
Don’t Overdo It
While sharing personal stories and information can be a great way to connect with your audience, don’t put every aspect of your life on display. It’s always best to keep your website tasteful and secure, and your identity safe. Here’s how to steer clear of getting too personal:
Final Thoughts On Appealing To Your Audience With Real-Life Elements
Sharing some parts of your life with your audience is great! It shows that you are willing to connect with them as real-life people, not just as unknown readers or potential sales. Author website visitors prefer author websites that aren’t heavy-handed with marketing buttons and purchase links. Be smart about what you share with your visitors—but don’t be afraid to have a little fun either!
Question: Which personal aspect of your favorite author’s website do you most like?
Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, or poetry, rhetorical devices are among your most useful tools. Use them, and your writing will have specificity, emotional impact, color, and memorability.
The term rhetorical device is hard to define. Vocabulary.com says it’s “a use of language that creates a literary effect.” Huh? What does that even mean?
Let’s look at some devices (they’re also called poetic devices) and some examples.
Simile is a figure of speech making a comparison, saying something is similar to something else, usually including the word like or as.
A pretty girl is like a melody.
Metaphor is a figure of speech making a comparison, saying something is something else.
A pretty girl is a melody.
Antithesis is the contrasting of two opposing ideas, often set up in parallel structure.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Proverbs 15:1 HCSB).
A character can also be an antithesis, such as a vegetarian who raises beef cattle.
Alliteration is the use in close proximity of words starting with the same sound.
The slender snake slithered in the sand.
Assonance is the repetition of same or similar vowel sounds within phrases or sentences.
He spent his summer mornings roaming and roving over the hills.
Oxymoron is the juxtaposition of two conflicting images.
Observing the cheerful chaos, he quietly shouted for it to stop.
Personification is the ascribing of human characteristics or behavior to something non-human.
The avalanche raced down the mountain.
Backloading is putting the most important word of a sentence at the end.
Jason’s dad exploded when he saw the damage to his car.
When Jason’s dad saw the damage to his car, he exploded.
Which of the two sentences above has more impact? The one ending in exploded. That’s a powerful word. It leads the reader on to the next sentence.
Anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of three or four successive phrases, clauses, or sentences.
Jill was tired of the shutdown, tired of wearing a mask, tired of staying six feet away from everyone, tired of not being able to go to a bar.
Epistrophe is related to anaphora; it’s the repeating of a word or phrase at the end of three or four consecutive phrases.
Sandra fed the dog, walked the dog, bathed the dog, and picked up after the dog.
Anadiplosis also involves repetition: it’s repeating the last word of a sentence at the beginning of the next sentence.
She was beautiful and smart. Smart enough to save the company from disaster.
Asyndeton is the omission of conjunctions in a series.
I came. I saw. I conquered.
Polysyndeton is the opposite of asyndeton in that it’s the use of multiple conjunctions in a series.
She came home from the festival with tacky souvenirs and leftover popcorn and cotton candy and a pounding headache.
Epizeuxis is repetition for emphasis.
Writing is hard, hard, hard.
Zeugma is the utilization of two different meanings of a word in the same sentence, often creating wry humor.
While waiting for his dad to come home, he killed time and his mother.
Rhetorical questions are questions which are not necessarily to be answered, but to make a point. They can sometimes be used as an end-of-chapter hook.
But isn’t that what every author does?
This list of poetic devices is by no means exhaustive. These are just my favorites. You are probably using many of them unconsciously (or purposely) in your own writing. If not, you can make your writing more musical and expressive by including some. Pick a few to utilize to take your writing to the next level.
Passing along helpful information and amazing art:
This article has been reprinted with the permission of Writer’s Relief, a highly recommended author’s submission service. We assist writers with preparing their submissions and researching the best markets. We have a service for every budget, as well as a free e-publication for writers, Submit Write Now! Visit our site today to learn more.
You may not be able to visit these museums in person right now, but you can always visit online. In celebration of International Museums Day on May 18, Writer’s Relief has rounded up a list of museums sure to delight every literary aficionado!
Grab a cup of coffee, get comfy, and start touring these literary-themed museums today!
Lots of fun, and one solemn thing:
Writing process is a topic of ongoing conversation among writers, whether just starting or multi-published. Plenty of books and articles have been written and workshops and webinars held to suggest this writing process or that one, claiming it’s The Way It’s Done.
While savvy writers out there reject the one-size-fits-all message, we still have certain presumptions that we mostly swallow. One of these can be summarized as…
There’s no end to the advice to simply turn off your inner editor and vomit words onto the page. Just get the story down!
Consider these quotes from some truly great authors:
“Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down.” ~ John Steinbeck
“Don’t cross out. (That is editing as you write. Even if you write something you didn’t mean to write, leave it.) Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar. (Don’t even care about staying within the margins and lines on the page.) Lose control. Don’t think. Don’t get logical. Go for the jugular.” ~ Natalie Goldberg
“Simply refuse to look at anything you have written until the last page is done. Period.” ~ James Frey
“Don’t get it right, just get it written.” ~ James Thurber
“Write the first draft as if you’re out for a spontaneous night with a devastatingly handsome man you met abroad. Run wild, take chances, and don’t even consider the possibility that you’re making the wrong choice. Just go for it.” ~ Christine J. Schmidt
Obviously, this works for many, or even most, writers. Too often, we don’t know enough about our plot and characters, and the first draft is our opportunity to discover, explore, learn, and hone our story.
If that process works for you, embrace it.
W. Somerset Maugham presumably said, “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
We don’t all write the same, and a process that turns out one writer’s best work could be the death of another’s work. Let’s look at four reasons why editing as you go is a terrific idea for some authors.
You may be writing along and reach a point in the novel where you feel unmotivated, stuck, or that something’s just off. Perhaps you can’t put your finger on it, but something isn’t working the way it should.
We talk about story structure because we understand that a novel needs a decent foundation to hold up well. That includes a plot without holes, a strong character arc, a compelling antagonist, and much more. But whether you plotted or pantsed this far, you might have a kink in your structure and continuing to write scenes would be like adding more stories onto a tilted house.
Going back and fixing the problem, or editing as you go, could keep your story from needing a total renovation later.