Author Websites 101

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You want to be published? You want to have a career as a writer? Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re building your website. Because you NEED a website. And your website should show you’re a professional–even if you’re a goofy one.

INFORMATION:

YOU – A biography. On my site I have a brief bio on the front page, and a more in-depth one later on. You need an author photo that wasn’t taken by your child or by your phone held at arm’s length. Professionalism counts.

YOUR BOOKS – What they are and where to find them. I like to have one page with everything, and then individual pages for each novel so I can talk about inspiration or share bits of trade reviews – I LOVE it when other authors do this. If you write in different genres, separating by genres is smart. And just like a resume, put the most recent up first – you may argue w/ me if you’re writing a series, but otherwise? Most recent book gets top billing.

EVENTS OR APPEARANCES – Even release dates, or cover release dates… Sometimes it’s more about making yourself LOOK busy and/or important. Yes, I just said that. I’ve seen authors write up things like – attending launch party for XXX, which is promo for the both of you – WIN-WIN)

LINKS TO SOCIAL MEDIA – You don’t have to take on the whole world in social media. Choose what works for you and keep your audience in mind (Yes, this could be a post on its own. Maybe several).

LINKS TO BLOG – If you blog, if you group blog…

AN OFFER TO SIGN UP FOR A NEWSLETTER – If you have one. The pros and cons of this would be much better discussed by someone other than myself 😉

THE FEEL OF THE SITE:

You’re selling YOU. You need to have a website that reflects both you and what you write. Your website could/should follow the feel of your stories, but as more people branch out into more genres, the more important it is to have a website that encompasses YOU, and second, what you write.

A few examples:

I wanted to show Lindsey Leavitt’s site because she writes in several genres. Now, if she wanted to build a site specifically for a series, awesome! She can link to it from the site that is about HER.

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Her tagline, right at the top, tells you what you’re in for. Social media is easy to find, and her tabs help readers of different genres find what they’re looking for. The colors are bright and fun, and match the tone of her book covers. www.lindseyleavitt.com Just under her header – fab white space (I’ll show examples later on).

Maggie Stiefvater’s website is also fab. Her novels/series are all quite different, so her website is neutral. Want more info on a series? She has links for that. The rotating headers all involve MAGGIE and things she likes as a person rather than as an author. Just under the lovely headers is very simple with lots of white space.

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OK. We’re not all Brandon Sanderson, but this is his sidebar:

All of his upcoming events are right on the landing page. No one needs to hunt around on his website to find his fan club or where he’s going to be next.

Simple and brilliant. AND the artwork falls in line with his books without taking over the site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How beautiful is KATHRYN PURDIE’S SITE??? I know right away what she writes from the background, but it’s so subtle! I love it.

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And then it gets even better when you press ENTER:

All her links are interesting, and there’s some great info here without this feeling overwhelming.

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And now we’ll talk about – THE WHITESPACE. Cluttered sites are SO hard to navigate. Kathryn Purdie put this subtle background in instead of white space, which I think works SUPER well, but it’s so easy for a website to be so busy that visitors don’t know where to direct their attention.

Veronica Roth’s website does a brilliant job with clean white space:

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Jennifer Weiner’s site is gorgeous, simple, and you can see how effective white space can be – even at the bottom of her landing page (BELOW):

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I will readily admit that I’m a sucker for simplicity, but ANDREW HARWELL’S site? Simple & interesting. He wears a lot of different hats, so simple is going to be better.

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My best advice to you is this:

Go to a TON of websites of authors you admire. Authors who write what you do. Authors who write something completely different from what you write. Take note of what works. What doesn’t work. And then spend some time thinking about how you can tailor what works, to yourself. You may need to hire a designer. You definitely need more eyes than just your own.

My inspiration for today’s post came from the fact that I really want to re-work my own site. Something I’ll be tweaking over the holiday break 🙂

Happy designing!

~ J0

Jolene Perry has written young adult titles for Entangled/Macmillan, Albert Whitman Teen, and Simon Pulse. She is represented by Jane Dystel of Dystel and Goderich Literary Management. You can find her on her BLOG, her WEBSITE, or chillin’ with her family in Alaska (pun intended).

15 Pinterest Board Ideas for Writers

Are you a writer and a Pinterest junkie user? Are you addicted to Pinterest like you’re addicted to chocolate? Or do you fear you’ll get sucked into the vortex and therefore shy away from Pinterest like you do from decaffeinated coffee? I’m a Pinterest user that stands somewhere in the middle ground. I love it for inspiration and find it very useful as a resource, but I admit that I use the mobile app to skim and quickly post things so I don’t get sucked into it for hours and hours (because the potential of that happening is real).

Bottom line: Pinterest is a great way to find and share writing inspiration and useful information, connect with other writers and readers, and make your brand (i.e., YOU) more visible to others.

Here is a sample list of boards that you might find useful as a writer. I’ve included examples of boards for each of these categories (some of which I follow and others that are mine). If you’re not on Pinterest yet, this comprehensive list might appear overwhelming, but I suggest that you start with one or two boards that you find most helpful to you and slowly build up your boards with time. The key to successfully using Pinterest is to pin things that are useful, interesting, and aesthetically inspiring to you.

1. Character inspiration board

Models, fashion, hair, style, other pins to capture your characters’ personalities and voices (for each project or character)


2. World-building/scene inspiration board 
Scenery, locations, historical settings (for each project)

3. Writing resources & tips board
Favorite writing tips, how to’s, advice on writing craft

4. Favorite quotes board
Writing inspiration, general inspiration, writing prompts

5. Favorite reads board
Books you’ve loved, books on your TBR list, book teasers, book reviews

6. Favorite writing songs/bands board
YouTube videos, playlists, song quotes, lyrics that inspire you

7. Writing-inspired accessories/must haves board
Shirts, scarves, mugs, bookshelves, furniture, other decor for your writing space

8. Blogging board
Links to posts from your blog (include a custom graphic with a watermark from your website or with your name if possible; see tips at the end of this post)

9. Writing conferences/author events board
Links to events you’re attending, on your wish list to attend, and/or meet-up places that you recommend to other writers and readers

10. Writing opportunities/contests/competitions board
Writing contests, writing competitions, writing and publishing opportunities

11. Writing retreat locations board
Locations, destinations, settings for your dream writing retreat (also serving as inspiration)

12. Your books/WIPs & press board
Your own books, works-in-progress, book trailers, and any press-related items

13. Writing snacks board
Recipes to satisfy your writing munchies

14. Quick-prep meal board
Shopping lists and easy recipes for when you need more time to write and are sick of take-out

15. Easy kid crafts
If you have kids, easy crafts for them to do, possibly even while you’re writing

A few additional thoughts for pinning:

You can designate any of your boards as “secret” if you don’t want to share the content of your boards.

Like all social media, everything you post publicly will reflect upon you as a writer and will influence the types of followers you attract.

For your original pins/images, it’s always a good idea to create a watermark of your name or website on the pin. Re-pinned pins often lose original captions, and a watermark will maintain your name/brand’s visibility.

Do you use Pinterest to help you with your writing-related activities? Do you have any other suggestions for boards? If so, we would love it if you would share them with us!
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Helen Boswell loved to get lost in the pages of a story from the time she could sound out the words. She credits her dad, an avid fiction reader, with encouraging her to read ALL OF THE BOOKS on his shelves from the time she was a teenager. An author of both urban fantasy and contemporary romance, she loves to read and write characters that come to life with their beauty, flaws, and all. She is the author of YA urban fantasies MYTHOLOGY, THE WICKED, THE ETERNAL, and NA contemporary romance LOSING ENOUGH. She is also one of the authors of the YA/NA crossover anthology LOSING IT. She is mostly on Pinterest when she needs to do book research or needs to find recipes.