Archive for the ‘ Authors ’ Category


How to Coordinate Your Book Website With Your Book Cover Design

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Categories: Authors, Books, Creating a New Website, Getting Started, User Experience

There are lots of things to figure out when it comes to creating a website, such as what information is best to include & how to position yourself/your brand. In addition, you’ll need to figure out what your website should look like, aka: the aesthetic of the site. And it’s easy to become overwhelmed. After all, there are so many examples of successful aesthetic choices.

But when you’re an author it doesn’t have to be daunting because lots of the work that goes into figuring it out has already been done for your book jacket(s). (more…)

Tags: author website design, author websites, book website design, book websites, case studies, website aesthetics

Website Positioning: What will your site do for me?

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Categories: Authors, Books, Creating a New Website, Website Content

In working with clients as a web designer, I often do more than just create layouts and make things beautiful. Mainly I help my clients figure out how to position themselves through their site so that they can meet the goals they have for their business. There are so many ways to go about creating a website, and deciding what to include and what to leave out is critical to a successful planning process.

On top of that, there’s a decision to be made about what voice you want your website to have. Along with the aesthetic of your site, this will communicate your brand. For example, should your website be casual and approachable, but still professional? Or maybe authoritative and more formal, but not prohibitively so?

Whatever you decide, your site users will be looking for one primary thing (and quickly) when visiting your site (more…)

Tags: author websites, book websites, small business websites, value proposition, website positioning, writing for the web

Author & Book Websites: What to Include?

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Categories: Authors, Books, Creating a New Website, User Experience, Website Content

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMany of the websites that I create are for authors and books. And while every project is different, and each project is tailored to the author or book in question, there are some similar elements I almost always recommend people include on their site Home pages – the most important landing page of the site. I’ll break it down by author sites and book sites… (more…)

Clever Internetizens: Sara Ryan

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Categories: Authors, Blogging, Books, Clever Internetizens, Creating a New Website, Facebook, Getting Started, Podcasting, Social Media, Twitter, Website Content

This post starts a new series: “Clever Internetizens” — it will be a series of interviews with people on the web who have a great web presence. They utilize their websites and social media effectively across a variety of disciplines. Today I’m talking with author & librarian, Sara Ryan (http://sararyan.com). Sara has written two novels, Empress of the World and The Rules for Hearts, and a bunch of comics including the series Flytrap. She’s currently working on a graphic novel for DC Vertigo called Bad Houses.


Did you have a website before you published your first novel? If so, what made you have one?

I was in grad school at the dawn of graphical web browsing. As soon as I learned how to ftp and change file permissions, I set up what was then known as a Personal Home Page. (Old. School.)

I used it mainly to recommend things I liked.

How long have you had the website that you have now?

I’ve had sararyan.com since 2001 (here’s a snapshot via the Wayback Machine: http://web.archive.org/web/20010219040125/http://www.sararyan.com/). The design has evolved considerably since then.

How did you decide what it should look like?

I knew I wanted a sort of collage/bricolage appearance, because I wanted to be able to add images relating to new projects without necessarily changing the whole design. And I think the site’s retro/antique look is paradoxically less likely to feel dated over time.

I also asked my readers; the Flickr and LibraryThing widgets and the prominence of the blog on my frontpage came as a result of their feedback.

And finally, I worked with highly skilled code monkey Space Ninja (spaceninja.com) to develop the details of the look-and-feel and make sure the site worked on different platforms.

How often do you update it?

It varies wildly — sometimes I post several times a week, sometimes I take a hiatus for as long as a month. Probably the average is about once a week.

How do you use it to publicize the work that you do?

Like most folks, I announce events and link to interviews. I also make a lot of work available on the site. I have several short comics that you can read online (you can also buy them as chapbooks), and I’ve recorded myself reading my first novel, Empress of the World, in its entirety as a series of podcasts. I’m working my way through my second novel, The Rules for Hearts, too.

How else do you publicize your work?

I like Twitter.

I’m on Facebook as well, in a low-key way. I respond to comments on my wall, but I’ve never set up fan pages for my books or used it to send event invitations. I can’t quite bring myself to cross that particular self-promotional Rubicon.

And I crosspost my blog entries to LiveJournal. It’s not as popular as it once was, but a fair number of folks still hang out there, especially genre writers, so there’s a certain sense of community.

My overall approach: I don’t force myself to participate in spaces that, for whatever reason, don’t feel right. Lots of writers are on GoodReads; I’m not. Lots of writers have Google alerts set up for their names and book titles; I don’t. And sure, I might miss out on seeing some nice reviews, but I also don’t have the stress of wondering whether a particular mention will turn out to be depressing or delightful.

How do you balance and prioritize the tasks of writing and self-promotion?

In a sense, the balance is easier for me to maintain than for some of my friends who write full-time on a book-a-year schedule. They always need to simultaneously promote the current book and write the new one.

I have longer stretches between books, so the level of self-promotion ebbs and flows fairly organically. And sometimes I’ll take a hiatus from the blog (as I did in August) to devote more time to writing.

I love that you’ve posted individual podcasts of you reading your work – what prompted you to do that?

I noticed that my computer had GarageBand!

Seriously, I like reading out loud, and podcasting seemed like it would be easy and fun — which it has been, in part because I, um, don’t worry too much about sophisticated audio production values, e.g. I just record and post.

I started the Empress podcasts as a way to build up to the publication of Rules, and continued because people seemed to enjoy them.

You regularly blog about other authors and books you recommend – what prompted you to do that?

I read a lot; I like talking about what I read with friends; I like treating blog readers as friends.

How much do you share about projects you’re working on before they’re published? Does it help your process at all?

I share much less than I once did. I’m less likely to report on word or page count, more likely to discuss process in a broader sense. I wrote a while back on the differences I’ve observed in revising a graphic novel script vs. a prose novel, and I have a post in the works about unexpectedly useful reading.

I think the danger of talking too much about a project-in-progress is that readers may wonder what’s taking you so long (!) and/or get tired of it before it even appears. And publishers often move a book’s release date, so if you’ve said Hey, it’s totally coming out on September 1st!, and then you find out it’ll actually be February 27th of the following year, well, that is no fun for you or your readers.

What’s your advice to authors when it comes to their online presence?

Have one. At minimum, basic information about your books, a bio, upcoming events. Make it easy to contact you if you want to be contacted. In terms of social media, do what interests you. Don’t blog if it feels like homework, don’t tweet if it feels like a waste of time.

That said, don’t be afraid to try something new, either. It took me a while to get the point of Twitter, now I find it nigh-indispensable.


Thank you, Sara, for your thoughts and advice to those looking to create or optimize their web presence!

The Holding or Coming Soon Page

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Categories: Authors, Books, Creating a New Website, Getting Started, Website Content

Most people are under time constraints – they have lots going on and not enough time to do it.  So things sneak up on them and then need to be done in a hurry.  We’ve all been there!  But what are you to do when you need a web presence ASAP, but don’t have the time to plan and implement the whole site before your deadline?  Create a page that has the critical details on it and then plan out the rest of your site knowing that your web presence, while minimal, is still working for you.

Do not settle for an old school “under construction” page, or for the domain parking page that your registrar puts up there to make money off of you while you get your site underway!  The page you create should have some basic, but critical information on it. Read on to find out what to include on your Coming Soon page…

Usability tips for author websites

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Categories: Authors, Books, User Experience, Web Marketing, Website Content

User Experience comprises many aspects of a website, including the navigation, the content, the design, and the staying power.  While there are some blanket rules for web usability (from Wikipedia)…

  1. Present information to your users in a clear and concise way.
  2. Remove any ambiguity regarding the consequences of an action e.g. clicking on delete/remove/purchase.
  3. Organize your content so that it’s obvious how to use the site.

…there are also specific usability & user experience guidelines for each web niche, including author and book websites.  Having designed many author and book websites, and tracked analytics to determine design success, here are some guidelines I’ve come up with that help create a great user experience for author and book website:  Read on to learn about usability and user experience tips for author and book websites…

Ask a Reviewer: Marc Schuster of Small Press Reviews

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Categories: Ask a Reviewer, Authors, Books

This week in “Ask a Reviewer” I’m delighted to feature some quick tips from Marc Schuster of Small Press Reviews, where Marc and Tom Powers review works from small and independent presses


My biggest “do” is to keep the pitch concise. It’s good for authors to remember that we reviewers usually have day jobs! If I get a query that goes on and on, I begin to wonder whether the book will have a tendency to ramble incoherently as well. Basically, I’d like a sentence or two that tells me what the book is about and why I might like it. If that brief description of the book intrigues me, then I’ll ask to read a copy.

My biggest “don’t” is to avoid asking a reviewer to read a PDF copy of the book. I spend so much time in front of a computer all day that when I read for fun, I prefer to do it the old fashioned way–with an actual book, words on a page.


In addition to the books he reviews on his blog, Marc’s first novel is The Singular Exploits of Wonder Mom and Party Girl. You can learn more about Marc Schuster at his website: http://www.marcschuster.com.

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