Tag Archives: Author website

Guest Post: Yes, Pre-Published Authors Should Have Websites, by Web Design Relief

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This article has been reprinted with the permission of Web Design Relief.  Whether you’re just starting out or a best-selling author, Web Design Relief will improve your existing website or build you an affordable, custom author website to support your author platform, boost your online presence, and act as a hub for your social media outreach. Web Design Relief is a division of Writer’s Relief, a highly recommended author’s submission service. Sign up for their free e-publication for writers, Submit Write Now! Visit the site today to learn more.

With most people spending an average of two hours a day online, it’s clear that an author website is an essential piece of any author’s platform. But what if you’re a new writer without any publishing credits? The website experts at Web Design Relief are often asked what pre-published writers should post on their author websites. Would anyone (like literary agents, editors, family, or friends) be interested in going to your writer website? Is it worth your time and money? The answer: Yes! Here are important reasons why pre-published authors should have websites.

Should Pre-Published Authors Have Websites? Here Are The Answers You Need

No publication credits? That’s okay! Every writer has to start somewhere. Having an author website in place before you have your first publication credit puts you in a good position to impress the people who can help take your author bio to the next level. Make an “About Me” page to show that you’re dedicated, interesting, professional, and enthusiastic. Offer visitors a well-written bio that will exemplify you as a person and as an author that includes: what your writing offers readers; what you’re working on right now; what inspires you; your interests and hobbies. Don’t be shy! Read this article for additional tips: 5 Tips On Writing An Amazing Author Bio If You’re Not Well-Published.

What if you don’t have a book to promote? An author website isn’t solely for promoting a novel or a collection of poetry, stories, or essays. It’s also for promoting and educating people about your writing as a whole. You can post samples of your work and the “backstory” that inspired them (just be sure that the works have already been published or are written specifically for your website before posting them online).

If you have a book in the works, it can easily be added to your site at any time. Consider a “Coming Soon” page with a teaser about your works-in-progress, and an e-mail sign-up form so visitors can be notified when your work becomes available. When your book is published, you’ll have your buyers ready and waiting!

Will people visit your author website? If you point them in the right direction, they will come! Social media is a great way to let your followers and fans know about your new author website. To learn which social media platforms are most effective for building your audience, read The Best Social Media Platforms For Building A Writer Fan Base.

What will you include on your website? You can take your author website in a multitude of directions and make changes as you gain more publication credits or add more pages. A bio or “About Me” page is always a good beginning, and, as mentioned above, it’s a great place to introduce yourself as a person and as a writer.

Many writers forgo having a blog on their author website—yet this can be a great marketing tool and is something a pre-published author can skillfully utilize. With a blog, you can give the world an idea of your writing style. It’s the perfect place to showcase your writing before being published!

What are the benefits of having an author website? Author websites act as your online business card. Even if you’ve yet to be published, you can begin building momentum for your writing career. Your author website provides a massive networking opportunity in which the number of people you can meet is virtually infinite. Then, when the time comes for you to query literary agents or submit your work to literary journals, you’ll have a substantial author platform built for agents and editors who want to know more about you and your writing.

It’s important to keep in mind that having an author website is so much more than just posting an excerpt here and there. It’s about promoting yourself as a writer and creating a space where people can come and learn about you. An author website provides the online hub you need to market your author brand.

At Web Design Relief, our tech-savvy experts specialize in creating websites that suit the specific needs of writers. Check out our portfolio and schedule your free consultation call today!

Question: Which author website is your favorite?

Guest Post: 5 Real-Life Elements that will Make your Author Website Appeal to Real-Life Readers, by Web Design Relief

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This article has been reprinted with the permission of Web Design Relief.  Whether you’re just starting out or a best-selling author, Web Design Relief will improve your existing website or build you an affordable, custom author website to support your author platform, boost your online presence, and act as a hub for your social media outreach. Web Design Relief is a division of Writer’s Relief, a highly recommended author’s submission service. Sign up for their free e-publication for writers, Submit Write Now! Visit the site today to learn more.

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.

How Featuring The Real-Life You Helps Your Author Website Appeal To Readers

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:

  • Don’t share anything you wouldn’t tell a stranger.
  • Don’t post photos while you’re on vacation, letting people know your house is empty.
  • Avoid the gross and grand aspects of your life (no pics of your recent appendectomy).
  • Details matter, but skip the second-by-second updates of your life (nobody needs to know that you are eating toast).
  • Never, EVER share your personal address or phone number, or email address (use a contact form instead).
  • This goes double for your social security and credit card numbers: Do NOT give them out.

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?

Meet Kathy Temean, Illustrator, Author, and Children’s Literature Advocate

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Meet Kathy Temean, Illustrator, Author, and Children’s Literature Advocate

I first discovered Kathy Temean’s blog, Writing and Illustratingfive or six years ago, and I’ve been following it ever since. If you like to write or draw for children, you must check it out. Kathy has been a long-time member, speaker, and regional advisor of the New Jersey chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and is very knowledgeable and helpful.

I have since found out that she herself is an award-winning illustrator. She is also a consultant who helps companies (and especially authors and illustrators) develop marketing plans and websites.

I am so thrilled that Kathy agreed to be interviewed for ARHtistic License.

ARHtistic License: What books have you written or illustrated?

Kathy Temean: I wrote and illustrated Horseplay and illustrated Yogi’s Team, and various book covers, and have written and illustrated many articles for magazines like Highlights and Sprouts. Plus I have done artwork for Individuals like Jerry & Eileen Spinelli, major corporations like McDonald’s, Pfizer and Merck, and businesses like Mullica Hill Merchant Association have commissioned my artwork.

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AL: How did you first hear of SCBWI?

KT: To understand that, I need to tell you about my writing journey: I went to college to study art. My only connection to writing was my Dad who wrote short stories for magazines, articles for the newspaper, and love poems for me and my mother. I am sure he would have loved to write a novel, but he worked hard to make a living to provide for his family. I had to do the same, working full time to take care of my family and doing my art on the side. When my mother and father passed away in 2001, I had the task of cleaning out their house and found all the treasures of my childhood and Dad’s writing. Oh, how I wish I had found them earlier in life. I would have loved to discuss writing with my Dad. I started write so much that I really thought my father had taken over my body. All I could do was write. Maybe it was because I was an only child and I didn’t have a brother or sister I could talk to, or just grieve, but I poured my heart out writing for hours every day and night for many, many months. With my art background and so many cherished memories and the inspiration of my father’s poems, I started writing children’s picture books. One night I got up from my desk and couldn’t take a step and had to have my knee replaced. I started thinking I should use my artistic talents to illustrate the books I wrote. Then I realized I didn’t know anything about how to write or get a book published, so I read every book I could find and did everything suggested. One of those suggestions was to join the SCBWI. I did. Went to the SCBWI Winter Conference in New York, won an award for my illustration titled “Boys with Bear” and met other writers, illustrators, agents, and editors.

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Boys with Bear by Kathy Temean

I had worked for some major companies setting up corporate events, so I volunteered my talents to the New Jersey SCBWI chapter in order to create programs that would not only helping me navigate the road to publication, but others, too.

AL: Did you win other kudos for your illustrations?

1. BABES ON BEACH

Babes on Beach by Kathy Temean

KT: I did. “Babes on Beach” (Society of Illustrators in NYC), “Homework Helper” (SCBWI Summer Conference),  “Cinco de Mayo” (PASCBWI Conference), “Exploring the Garden” (NJSCBWI), “Boys with Bear” (SCBWI Winter Conference).

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Homework Helper by Kathy Temean

AL: You were the regional advisor for New Jersey SCBWI. How long did you serve in that capacity?

KT: 10 years. I stepped down at the end of 2013 and still attend the NJSCBWI events. I have conducted workshops and have done critiques at some of the NJSCBWI annual conferences.

12. CINCO DE MAYO

Cinco de Mayo by Kathy Temean

AL: Tell us about your passion for children’s literature and the authors and illustrators who create them.

KT: I love children and I love to write and illustrate. Seems like a perfect combination to me. The thing I loved about being the SCBWI Regional Advisor was how I got to see writers and illustrators grow and succeed. Having a little part in that success was special. That is why I have kept up my Writing and Illustrating blog.

4. EXPLORING THE GARDEN

Exploring the Garden by Kathy Temean

AL: Tell us about your illustration work. What software do you use?

KT: I have done a lot of traditional techniques, but when Photoshop came along, I jumped on board and taught myself how to use the software. It was instalove. I love that I can play around with the colors, correct anything I don’t like. I just wish I had more time to experiment more.

AL: You also assist writers with marketing and with author websites through your consulting business. Why is an author website important?

KT: For the last two decades I have gotten upset with writers and especially illustrators for not thinking enough of their work to show it off. Facebook is nice, but not good enough. Having a website gives a writer/illustrator a chance to tell their story. Think of it as having a picture book about you. You need to put up something interesting, provide some unique content that will bring visitors back. Even if you don’t have a book out there, you want to put your best foot forward, show off a little, and get that editor, agent, or future buyer interested in you. You never know where your next opportunity will come from. Just make sure what you design and create is professional and interesting.

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Cover by Kathy Temean

AL: Besides a website, what are some of the most important things authors and illustrators can do to promote their work?

KT: Don’t run scared of having a blog. Just the word can make some of my clients faint. A blog is a great thing to include with your website. Why? Because it lets give you a place to put up pictures, notices, and stories about what you are doing to help build an audience. Your website designer will not be there 24/7 to put all the new things up on your site. With a blog, you will have complete control without having to depend on and pay someone else.

You don’t have to do something every day. Think about what you can reasonably do. Could you take an afternoon once a month to come up with four things to post? If so, you can schedule them to post on four different days during the month. Hint: If you see something interesting you would like to share, put it in a file so you can get your hands on it the afternoon you schedule to come up with your four posts.

Also get a Twitter account. You can set your blog up to automatically tweet what you post. That is so helpful. And people will click on the tweet and will be steered to your site.

If you have a new book coming out, make sure you put it up on your website. I know you are thinking Duh! But I have seen that happen too many times. Also, I know a debut author who did not have a website ready for their book launch. This is very bad. Don’t let that happen to you. You can’t expect to hire someone to do a site and get it up a couple of days. I have seen some sites take a year to finish and not go live until after the debut book has been out for months on the bookshelves. Make a marketing plan or hire someone to help you accomplish that. Don’t miss your window of opportunity.

AL: Your blog is one of the most helpful I know for writers. How often do you post?

KT: I started the blog in 2009 and have blogged every day since then. Even through major operations, pneumonia, and vacations, etc.

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AL: How do you keep up that blogging pace and still do everything else that you do?

KT: A lot of late nights and I try to plan what I want to feature a month ahead. Writers and illustrators should think about submitting something to me. Think about what they could send to get their name or books seen. I feature authors, books, illustrators, agents, and I am always looking for articles that would interest other writers and illustrators. I love to get submissions – an illustration I could use with a post or holiday post – poem — a how-to article – a new book with their journey – a good new announcement for a kudos post. It’s a win-win for them and me.

AL: My favorite feature is the weekly Illustrator Saturday. The posts are full of illustrations, some in various stages of completion, so that we can actually see the artists’ process. How do you find 52 illustrators every year?

KT: There are so many talented people out there. It really is amazing. I am in awe of all the talent. It is a lot of work doing Illustrator Saturday, but most illustrators see the benefit of being on a blog that gets thousands of visits every day from all over the world. Many of my visitors are agents, editors, art director, publishers, teachers, writers, and illustrators. All are lovers of children’s books.

I rarely get anyone send me a link to look over their illustrations or tell me about themselves. I think they should. Even if I don’t think they are quite ready, there could be an illustration that catches my eye and could use, which might be something that would catch someone else’s eye, which could lead to a job. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

AL: You also keep us apprised of upcoming new books in the children’s market and even run book giveaways. Do you seek these books out, or do the authors or publishers offer them to you?

KT: It’s a mix of both. In the beginning I asked writers if they would like to be featured, but now publishers are sending me books coming out, hoping I will feature the author and the book. It is funny how I have seen an author, illustrator, and even a publisher grow from posting this feature on the site. At first glance it might seem like it is just a chance to win a free book, but it is much more than that. I always ask the author to write up their journey with the book. Everyone loves to read what an author and/or an illustrator had to go through to get their book on a bookstore shelf and into the hands of a reader. There is a lot of knowledge being shared in those stories. Plus, we are all in this journey together, so we have support the new books coming out to keep the industry going. We want it to be strong when we submit a manuscript and have people see and buy your book when it comes out.

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Kathy Temean

AL: You profile agents who are building their children’s book lists and also feature an agent of the month, who critiques several submitted first pages of manuscripts. I am in awe of your contacts.

KT: I am glad you find the info about different agents helpful. If writers and illustrators read the features, it could save them a lot of time trying to figure out who is out there and may be a good fit for them. Just remember, the industry changes frequently, everyone should check to make sure the agent hasn’t left the company or that they are still accepting queries. Last month, I had an agent who decided to close submissions and I didn’t realize this, since I had just researched her. So things can change on a dime. One day they can be working for an agency and the next they can be working for someone else or traipsing around the world with a new boyfriend. I do my best to keep up.

AL: What else would you like readers to know about you?

KT: I would like to let writers know I am currently working on organizing a Virtual Writers Retreat. I have done a full manuscript critique retreat for the last seven years. It has helped so many writers get published or opened doors for them with an agent. This COVID-19 and everyone being locked down and afraid of flying, I decided going virtually would be a good idea. If you write a novel, where would you get a chance to have an agent or editor read your full story. Plus, everyone gets assigned to a four person critique group and everyone gets a 20 page critique with one of the other agents. The retreat is open to picture book writers, too. Their cost is less. They get a total of four PB critiques and a PB critique group. Here is the link for more details.

Children’s authors and illustrators, now it’s your turn. Check out Kathy Temean’s websites. You can learn so much there! And take advantage of Kathy’s offer–she’d love to have some submissions about your work and your journey.

Guest Post: 3 Marketing Strategies Literary Agents and Editors Love to See; by Web Design Relief

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This article has been reprinted with the permission of Web Design Relief.  Whether you’re just starting out or a best-selling author, Web Design Relief will improve your existing website or build you an affordable, custom author website to support your author platform, boost your online presence, and act as a hub for your social media outreach. Web Design Relief is a division of Writer’s Relief, a highly recommended author’s submission service. Sign up for their free e-publication for writers, Submit Write Now! Visit the site today to learn more.

There’s only one thing literary agents and editors enjoy more than discovering great unpublished writing: discovering great unpublished writing that’s backed by an author who is an enthusiastic self-starter.

But what exactly do literary agents love to see in a new client? How can a writer do more than merely promise enthusiasm for book marketing?

Believe it or not, there are three simple marketing strategies that can make a huge difference for writers even before they get a book published.

Lay the foundation for your future as a successful author right now, even before you start seeking publication.

Here’s how.

Writers: Three Marketing Tactics To Implement Before You Seek Book Publication

First: Define Your Author Brand

A writer with a well-defined, recognizable brand is a writer who can expect to build an audience that will buy book after book for years to come. But how can writers build their brands even before getting published?

Simple. Learn the core concepts of author brand development and how this strategy can work for you.

A strong writer brand starts with the author’s online personality and builds a focused outreach campaign based on the author’s select literary interests.

In other words, who you are as a writer—and what you love to write—makes up the spine of your author brand. With focused effort, a writer with strong, specific branding will develop a unique voice and style that pervade book after book, delivering on the “promise” of the brand with each new title so that readers can expect stories of a consistent quality. A writer’s social media posts, marketing materials, and writing all reflect the core tenets of the author’s brand.

But a word of caution: Writers may have a natural tendency to love many sorts of books written in many different styles, but a strong writer brand is usually only big enough for focusing on a single selected genre. Writers who hop around among genres tend to take on different pen names for each style of book—but that means marketing each pen name with “new author” status and building a readership from the ground up for each new book.

How will agents and editors know you have a well-planned author brand? You can certainly bring up the details of your plans and strategies in conversation. But you can also hint at them in your query letter.

Second: Have A Fabulous Author Website

New writers often wonder: What is the point of having an author website if there are no books to sell, no publishing credits to brag about, and—generally speaking—nothing to offer potential fans?

Friends, let our years of publishing experience AND web design smarts reassure you: New writers are as much in need of great websites as established veterans. Here’s why creating a website before publication can be a benefit to literary agents, editors, readers—and, of course, to you.

  • A well-designed author website shows that you’re actively paving the way for the future—a future that you’re willing to invest in. And if a writer is meaningfully investing, agents may find it easier to follow suit. After all, an author website shows that the writer has a strong expectation of publishing success—as opposed to a vague hope that someday, something good will happen. I’m going to be great at this, the subtext screams. So why not start now?
  • An author website with integrated social media feeds, a sign-up form for email subscribers, and freebies that encourage connections with fans makes it clear that you are READY to build your readership. Plus, having fan-building functionality on your author website may surprise you: You might find more people than you ever imagined are signing up to learn about your writing. But you won’t know who might become a fan until you give them the opportunity.
  • An author website lets you tell your personal story—which is HUGE for personal marketing and branding. If you’re a new writer, your author’s bio page gives you the ability to show industry pros that you’re dedicating real effort to the craft of writing by taking classes, attending conferences, and soaking up knowledge like a bookish sponge. Even if a writer has no publication credits yet, an author website is a chance to show that it’s only a matter of time.
  • Creating an author website makes you googleable—when literary agents and editors type your name into a search engine, something will actually come up. Read more: How Writers Can Be More Googleable (So People Can Find Your Writing Online) | Web Design Relief.
  • Not having a website seems shortsighted and passive. Literary agents and editors expect their writers will be active promotional partners. In fact, having an author website is as de rigueur as having a business card. Writers who don’t have author websites imply that they are simply not interested in promotion.

If you don’t have a website yet, be sure to hire a company that truly understands your goals as a creative writer and how those goals matter within the larger publishing industry. Start by checking out Web Design Relief.

Read more:

Unpublished Writers: Strategies For Creating An Impressive Author Website | Web Design Relief

How To Help Your Author Website Designer “Get You” And What You Want | Web Design Relief

In your query letter, be sure to tell literary agents to visit your author website so they can get to know you as a writer. Instead of including a basic URL address, try: If you’d like to learn more about me, see pictures from my research and travels, or check out my popular blog posts, visit my website: URL here.

Third: Create A Foundation For Social Media Success

If you enjoy posting new pictures and thoughts on social media, count yourself lucky. You’ve got a natural advantage when it comes to marketing and promotion. You’re probably already out there sharing the ups and downs of your publishing journey and inviting potential fans into your life—and that’s exactly what literary agents and editors love to see from writers.

And here’s a secret about social media for writers: It doesn’t matter whether you have fifty Facebook friends or five hundred.

What matters is your attitude: invigorated, enthusiastic, and active. You’re already laying the foundation for a thriving community of fans, friends, and followers. And this counts big when literary agents are assessing your potential success as an online personality who can command a large fan base of readers.

But if you’re the type of writer who would rather be writing books than social media posts—who breaks out in hives just thinking about sharing any information on social media—take heart in knowing that you’re not alone.

Let’s address some common insecurities (and a few straight-up excuses) that tend to hold people back from developing a strong online social media platform.

Excuse: There’s no point in trying to gather ANY fans since it’s so difficult to gather LOTS of them.

The truth: Literary agents prize the quality of your social interactions more than they care about the quantity. A writer with 5,000 friends who rarely interact doesn’t have more marketing power than a writer with only fifty friends who actively engage regularly.

Excuse: Social media is only for young people who care about frivolous things.

The truth: Though social media is certainly popular among students, older generations of adults are also active online. In fact, the majority of people who use the Internet are using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and similar platforms. And though cat videos are perennial favorites, posts that have more poignancy or substance are welcome too. Writers can choose how to make social media their own. Learn more: Tips For Targeting Older Demographics On Social Media.

Excuse: I’m worried about posting anything personal online—it’s not safe.

The truth: It’s possible to post information that isn’t personally revealing but is still engaging and interesting. All it takes is a little creativity and an eye for intriguing, sharable content. Read more: Safety Tips For Social Networking: A Writer’s Guide To Staying Safe Online.

Even if you don’t have a huge following yet as a writer, working with what you already have puts you in a great place to expand and grow.

In your query letter, you can brag to literary agents about big numbers of fans and followers if you have them. But equally as powerful is this simple statement: I’ve been active on social media and am looking forward to continuing to grow my following.

Build An Author Platform That Will Give Your Book Every Advantage

You only get one chance to make a first impression. Take the time to build a marketing infrastructure now, and you might see a bigger payoff when you do finally submit your book for publication.

And remember, we’re here to help!

Question for writers: Which of these marketing strategies seems simplest to implement? Which seem hardest?

Guest Post: How to Revamp your Author Persona and Grow your Fanbase, by Web Design Relief

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This article has been reprinted with the permission of Web Design Relief.  Whether you’re just starting out or a best-selling author, Web Design Relief will improve your existing website or build you an affordable, custom author website to support your author platform, boost your online presence, and act as a hub for your social media outreach. Web Design Relief is a division of Writer’s Relief, a highly recommended author’s submission service. Sign up for their free e-publication for writers, Submit Write Now! Visit the site today to learn more.

It’s the start of a new year! What better time to give your brand identity a facelift? The experts at Web Design Relief know that a fresh approach to your online author persona can help you achieve your goals as a writer, increase the size of your fan base, and find the right voice for your author website and social networks.

5 Ways To Revitalize Your Author Website And Online Presence

Make A List: Check out your favorite authors and how they portray their personas online; then create a list of the qualities you want to exemplify through your online activity. You’ll be able to use it as a reference every time you make a website update or put up a new post. This will help you maintain consistency and develop your author brand.

Watch Your Words: Because almost all of our online communication is through text on websites and social media, your words and phrasing are incredibly important. Whether you are trying to appear friendlier, more approachable, or dark and mysterious—adjust your word choice to uniformly reflect this and stay on brand. Your blog updates and social media posts should all sound like they were made by the same person. Here’s what Neil Gaiman has to say about writing in your own voice.

Change Your Imagery: The images you use to engage with your fans online are also key elements of your author persona. Consider Instagram: Successful Instagram accounts tend to focus on a theme. Your theme should relate to your books or the genre in which you write. Make sure your images embrace your overall author brand, are high quality, and are tasteful!

Engage, Engage, Engage: Any author who’s been reaping the benefits of online success is one who actively engages with fans, friends, and followers. Be sure to answer questions, respond to messages, and acknowledge comments so that your visitors and supporters feel heard. Keep all of your responses kind, courteous, and as interesting as possible. Remember to interact in the same way you’d want your favorite author to respond to you! An active social presence will keep fans and followers returning to your accounts.

And if you end up with a few trolls to deal with (it’s an unfortunate reality of the Internet today), here’s how to keep your cool and protect your online reputation.

Keep It Real: It’s vital to keep your online persona sociable and interesting, but that doesn’t mean you should over-embellish. Your fans will be able to tell if you are being inauthentic. Also, if you put on a performance or establish yourself as an incredible character, your marketing attempts might actually backfire and turn off your target audience. Instead, be the best version of yourself. By being genuine and thoughtful in what you share and write, you’ll create a realistic persona that can enhance your author brand.

Once you decide to revamp your online persona, be careful that you don’t overwhelm your followers with too many changes all at once. Gradually incorporate any new elements and strategies to your online usage, and success will follow.

Question: What is the most important element to update on an author website?

Guest Post: 5 Real-Life Elements That Will Make Your Author Website Appeal To Real-Life Readers by Web Design Relief

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This article has been reprinted with the permission of Web Design Relief.  Whether you’re just starting out or a best-selling author, Web Design Relief will improve your existing website or build you an affordable, custom author website to support your author platform, boost your online presence, and act as a hub for your social media outreach. Web Design Relief is a division of Writer’s Relief, a highly recommended author’s submission service. Sign up for their free e-publication for writers, Submit Write Now! Visit the site today to learn more.

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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.

How Featuring The Real-Life You Helps Your Author Website Appeal To Readers

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:

  • Don’t share anything you wouldn’t tell a stranger.
  • Don’t post photos while you’re on vacation, letting people know your house is empty.
  • Avoid the gross and grand aspects of your life (no pics of your recent appendectomy).
  • Details matter, but skip the second-by-second updates of your life (nobody needs to know that you are eating toast).
  • Never, EVER share your personal address or phone number, or email address (use a contact form instead).
  • This goes double for your social security and credit card numbers: Do NOT give them out.

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?

Guest Post: Why You Need an Author News Page on Your Website

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This article has been reprinted with the permission of Web Design Relief.  Whether you’re just starting out or a best-selling author, Web Design Relief will improve your existing website or build you an affordable, custom author website to support your author platform, boost your online presence, and act as a hub for your social media outreach. Web Design Relief is a division of Writer’s Relief, a highly recommended author’s submission service. Sign up for their free e-publication for writers, Submit Write Now! Visit the site today to learn more.

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Have you considered creating a News Page on your author website? Don’t be too quick to dismiss the idea, even if you’re not a famous writer (yet!). Web Design Relief knows that all writers—from newbies to best-selling authors—can benefit from having an Author News Page on their websites.

But what if you think you don’t have any news to post? You may be surprised how much you really do have to share, and how much a News Page can help you!

What Is Considered “Newsworthy” For Your Author Website?

New publications. Do you have a new book about to hit shelves? Did a literary journal pick up one of your poems, stories, or essays? Announce this to your fans! We know authors tend to be more on the shy side and not naturally inclined to brag. But think of it less as bragging and more as sharing your good news—your readers are sure to be just as happy as you are! And they’ll want to celebrate with you.

Updates on your publication journey. There may be a long gap between when you announce your poem, story, essay, or book is going to be published and when it is actually published. So when publication finally happens, be sure to update your readers. You can also share important steps on your path to publication. Some ideas: signing your contract, learning your publication date, revealing your book cover—all newsworthy moments!

Book signings and readings. Giving public readings from your book and having book signing events are great ways to boost your sales and build your fan base. Plus, they’re fun (once you get the hang of them)! Of course you want as many fans—and potential new fans—as possible to attend your events, so get the word out on your Author News Page as soon as you know the details. You can also promote the event again as it gets closer.

Speaking engagements. You can also build your reputation as an author by sitting on panels, speaking at writing conferences and seminars, and so forth. These events let you use your expertise as a writer, and they’re excellent fodder for your author website’s News Page too! Just like book signings, nudge readers about the event as it gets closer—and remember to post the details as early as possible so that everyone interested can put it on their calendars.

Social media posts. If you’re worried about having enough “news” to regularly post on your author website’s News Page, consider integrating a social media feed or two into the page. Depending on which programs and widgets you choose, this could also ease some pressure on you—especially if you’re busy or not totally comfortable with social media. You’ll be posting updates in fewer places because your pages will sync automatically!

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How To Keep Your Information Safe On Your News Page

Host events only in public places. Bookstores, libraries, and even venues like cafés are perfect for author events. Once you plan them, definitely announce these events on your author website’s News Page right away—but be sure to only share the address of the event, not your own home address or contact info.

Be careful when you post photos. If you’re going to share photos of yourself at home—signing a contract, for example!—make sure the location can’t be accessed. Though geotagging can be incredibly helpful in the modern age for public events, it’s just not a good idea concerning your home address. To protect your safety, you shouldn’t post the town your home is in. This is something to also be careful about when using social media sites. Some social media sites strip out location info, but some do not. For example: Be sure to turn off Tweet Location if tweeting from home! 

For more tips on protecting your personal information on your author website—such as your email address, phone number, and legal name—check out this article! 

And Remember—You Have More News Than You Think!

Sure, a handful of best-selling authors will have national tours and fancy awards to post about—but literary agents and literary journal editors won’t expect that from every writer. Even smaller news is worth sharing—genuine connections and fan interactions matter so much more in the long run! Plus, these news items make readers feel like they’re really getting to know you.

Ready to build an author website with a News Page? Don’t worry if you’re not tech savvy—Web Design Relief is always here to help! Reach out for your free consultation to talk us through your vision and get a price quote today.

 

Question: Would you consider adding a News Page to your author website? What would your first post be?

Guest Post: How To Make The Most Of The Cover Art On Your Author Website by Web Design Relief

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Thank you to the people at Web Design Relief for these excellent ideas for making your author website show off your book cover to best advantage.

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Your book’s cover art is an invaluable marketing tool. A well-designed book cover will seriously boost sales by attracting more potential readers. And using cover art in smart, creative ways on a website will make your author branding instantly recognizable and effective! You can find the following author website examples, and more, at Web Design Relief’s website portfolio.

How To Amp Up Your Website With Your Book’s Cover Art

  1. Keep the design simple—let your book cover be the focus.

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If your book cover has bold, striking colors or visuals, keep the rest of your website design simple to let the cover art really stand out. When people visit your website, their eyes will immediately be drawn to the image of your book, making them more likely to click on the link to purchase it online! To make sure your book is the main focus on your homepage, consider a minimalist design for your site.

  1. Feature an image from your book cover as your website’s background.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Guest Post: 6 Cool Ways to Incorporate Your Favorite Quotes into your Author Website by Web Design Relief

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Thank you to the folks at Web Design Relief for today’s tips on including quotes on your blog or author website.

 

Who are the Internet-savvy marketing experts who are often quoted as saying, “Posting a quote on your author website will make it more personal and unique”? Okay, it’s us—but it’s true: Sharing your favorite quotes on your author website will offer your visitors a window into your interests, beliefs, and aspirations. If you’re wondering where quotes will work best in your website design, we have some great suggestions! (And you can quote us on that!)

Where To Feature Quotes In Your Author Website Design

1. Homepage

Since your homepage is usually the first page a visitor will land on when checking out your website, it’s a great place to feature one of your favorite quotes—especially right at the top where it can’t be missed. For extra impact, consider using a program like Photoshop to create a graphic banner of your quote!

2. Sidebar

Your sidebar can feature more than just the navigation to your recent articles and social media links. A short quote can liven up an otherwise mundane sidebar and make your website more memorable.

3. About Me Page

Many writers like to include a short “About Me” page that features a formal bio that mentions published works along with details about hobbies, interests, or other personal info. If there is a quote that holds special meaning for you, share it on your “About Me” page—and maybe even explain why it is so significant to you. This is a great way to give your fans insight into your own personal story so that they feel a stronger connection with you and your writing.

To continue reading this article, click here.

34 Issues That Will Scare Readers Away From Your Author Website

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34 Issues That Will Scare Readers Away From Your Author Website

Thank you to good people at Web Design Relief for today’s guest post.

This article has been reprinted with the permission of Web Design Relief, a highly recommended author website design service. We understand writers and their marketing goals and seek to design websites specific to those needs. Visit our site today to learn more.

Posted on October 15, 2015 by 

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Would your author website pass the blink test? According to marketing specialists, you have about three seconds—the approximate amount of time before one blink—for visitors to judge your website and decide whether to stay or move on. If the answer is “no,” your potential audience will quickly leave and be off to the next site. So it’s vital that your website doesn’t have any issues that will frighten people away, such as unattractive, dated design elements; super-slow loading speed; or confusing navigation. And a homepage that greets visitors with a black background and flashing advertisements will have people clicking away from your site in seconds flat.

Don’t scare your potential readers away! Here are thirty-four issues to avoid on your author website:

  1. Your site has no clear purpose. Visitors must click through several pages and read too much text to figure it out.
  2. Users are forced to read something or watch something before they can move on.
  3. It’s unclear what you write, what your genre is, or what you’re promoting.
  4. Your site doesn’t have an author bio so that visitors can learn more about you.
  5. The design elements of the site don’t reflect you or your work: For example, your thriller’s cover is featured against a flowery backdrop with lots of hearts.
  6. You don’t allow visitors to buy your book on your site, and there’s no link to an external sales page.
  7. There’s no way to contact you—which means you have no way to harvest interested readers’ contact information.
  8. Readers can’t comment or interact with you and other visitors.
  9. There’s no current activity on your blog—all the entries are weeks (even months!) old.
  10. You’ve copied and pasted articles from other websites onto yours without permission.
  11. Your content is displayed in huge paragraph blocks. Remember: Using headlines, bullet points, and short paragraphs helps visitors to read through and take in your information.
  12. The website doesn’t have any social media buttons. See our article on How To Cross-Promote Your Author Website And Your Social Media Pages For Max Results.
  13. There’s nothing to engage the reader. No contest to enter or sample chapter to download. No sign-up for mailing lists. No way to follow you on social media or “like” your site.
  14. Your favorite song immediately starts playing—and your visitors immediately leave.
  15. You have no press kit or information for literary agents who may be checking out your site.
  16. The domain name doesn’t make sense. It’s the name of your first book (but not any of the others), or you’ve chosen some “writerly” name like WindWhisperer.com that has nothing to do with your work. (Learn more about choosing a professional domain name.)
  17. Your author photograph is unflattering, unprofessional, or cropped from an old (bad!) Halloween photo of you. (Check out how to create a flattering headshot.)
  18. You’ve made the wrong color choices…really wrong.
  19. Your site has been proofread by a friend, who needs new glasses—not by a professional.

Other design problems that will send visitors running:

  1. An all-black background with white text.
  2. Teeny, tiny text, unreadable fonts, or ALL CAPS! (See How to Choose the Right Font for Your Website.)
  3. Too many images and not enough text.
  4. Too much text and not enough images.
  5. Text is overloaded with keywords.
  6. The writing is unnatural; heavily SEO-driven.
  7. No links; broken links.
  8. Links that aren’t underlined or a different color, so they don’t stand out.
  9. Overly long links that are 10 to 20 words or more.
  10. Too many pages to navigate.
  11. Too many pop-up ads, animations, whistles, and beeps.
  12. Amateur, poorly done photographs and cartoonish images.
  13. Too many unnecessary design elements cluttering things up.
  14. The site isn’t mobile-device friendly.
  15. Readers are forced to install plugins.

Most of these mistakes may seem like no-brainers—things even brain-deficient zombies would know to watch out for. But the design issues that might scare visitors away from a website aren’t always so obvious to you, the website’s owner. So don’t be afraid to ask trusted friends or total strangers to give you some honest feedback about your site before it goes live. Your author website is a reflection of you and your work—make sure it passes the blink test!

At Web Design Relief, we design author websites with readers in mind—the people who will actually use them—and we know what converts visitors into fans. Contact us if you need a spook-tacular site to showcase you and your writing!

QUESTION: What design issue scares you the most in an author’s website?