Monday, July 30, 2018

Websites for Authors

Terry Shames here. This week we are discussing our websites—how they work as a business tool and how we decided upon content, design and tone.

Long before I was published, I heeded advice to have a website all ready to go when I did get published. I hired a popular website designer who was expensive, but responsive to her clients’ needs. Here are a few things I wanted:

1)    The designer’s look was a little romantic for my taste and I told her I wanted a clean look. I wanted the tone to be conversational and professional.
2)    My sister is an artist, and I wanted her art to be part of the visuals.
3)    I wanted visitors to be able to find sections easily.
4)    I wanted a separate section for photographs.

It must have worked pretty well, because someone writing an article about good websites wanted to feature mine. Unfortunately, I wasn’t published yet, and they wanted to feature only published authors.

The only problem I had with the site was that I could not make changes myself—they had to be done by the web designer's team. Not only did that mean I had to lay out the edits carefully, but I had to pay for the updates.

Fast forward to last year. My son is in music marketing and he told me the look of my website was dated and that he could do a new one for me that would look fresh and new, and that I could revise myself. He made a few suggestions that I was a little hesitant about, but they turned out to be very workable. For example, he thought I should not have a separate heading for photographs, but instead write blog posts and put the photographs in the post. That’s the only part that has not worked for me—and that is my fault, not the design fault. One of my goals is to get used to posting a blog with photos.

I love the look of the new website. It’s clean and uncluttered, and easy to negotiate. I also like how easy it is to update.

As a marketing tool, it’s among the best resources available. When someone goes to your website she should be able to read descriptions of your books, short stories, and articles, including review excerpts and “buy” links. The visitor should be able to find out about events you will be participating in; read a biography; see some photos; link to your blog, both personal and professional (7CriminalMinds); and get in contact with you. The name of your agent should be on your contact page as well, for media, editors or publisher who might want to discuss professional opportunities. It should also be very easy to sign up for your newsletter. The website went live in February, and since then I have almost doubled the number of newsletter subscribers.

When I write emails, both professional and personal, in the signature line I direct people to the website. I’m proud of the website and I often get emails from fans via the contact page.

One thing I really like is being able to update things myself. Being able to do it myself means I don’t have to do double the work. I can go straight to the website and play it by ear. The only drawback? The same as with having someone else do it: I have to remember to update!

Here's a link to the website:

In other news, I’d like readers to know that I have a short story in Unloaded 2, Edited by Eric Beetner, out July 16. The story, “You Kill Me,” was mentioned in the Publishers Weekly review.


Rick Ollerman said...

Hey, Terry,

We met at Malice Domestic but I've seen you at other conferences...

Congratulations on the call out of "You Kill Me." I look forward to reading it. Are you still interested in possibly sending me something for Down & Out: The Magazine?

Come on, you know you want to....

Take care,

Rick Ollerman

Terry said...

Rick, that sounds like fun. Let me think on it! I'm just coming off of a week with my sister and her 7-year-old grandson. It will take a couple of days to recover.

Charlotte Liebel said...

Hello Terry ~ I needed to read the info you shared in your message. I have a couple of Wordpress blogs that need work. Thanks, so much.

Charlotte Liebel aka Sharliebel

Cathy Ace said...

Hi Terry - as you know, I liked your new website so much I had to get the same person (your wonderful son!) to do my new one for me. He's a joy to work with - and, yes, it makes a difference to work with someone who knows what they are doing ;-)

Terry said...

Glad to be of help, Charlotte. I can always use someone to spur me on, too.

And Cathy, I'm glad you like it. He is amazing. I just saw a video of him doing a Q & A with some wanna-be famous musicians, and I kept thinking, "Is that really my son?" He was such a lazy bum in high school. I guess he got it out of his system.

Cathy Ace said...

Terry - spoken like a truly proud mum :-)