Some Tips For WattPad Users

I’ve been using WattPad for the past couple of weeks, and I thought that an article about it would be fun to write. Also, I found out this blog doesn’t have an article on WattPad yet, so I thought I’d break the ground and do a piece on it.

Throughout this article, I will try to give some sound advice on using WattPad and possibly getting some success through it. If any WattPad users have any additional tips they would like to…well, add in, please let us know. I’ll do a follow-up article with your words of wisdom.

So, first things first: What is WattPad? WattPad is a website where writers can upload and share stories with the public. It’s been in operation since 2006 and it’s been nicknamed the YouTube of storytelling. Writers can upload stories, gain feedback, create covers, and enter contests with their short stories or novels.

What sort of work is published on WattPad? Just about anything is published on WattPad. Novels, novellas, short stories, poems, non-fiction pieces, of all types and genres. Science fiction, fantasy, and YA stories tend to be the most popular, with horror and romance in a close second. There’s also a sizable amount of erotic fiction on the site, though I haven’t personally browsed that in any great detail. And technically erotica isn’t allowed on the website, but I won’t tell if you won’t.

Is it possible to get success through WattPad? Depends on what you mean by success. It is possible to spread your work to other writers and readers, maybe get feedback, and learn something from other writers by both reading and being read. And it is also possible to get the success that every author only dreams about (there’s an example of that in a recent issue of TIME magazine), but like anything in fiction, that is very hard to achieve and what can cause it is very difficult to predict.

How do you spread your work through WattPad? Tags and categorizing your work is very important, because it allows people with similar interests to search out and find your stories (and on that note, make sure to also rate your short stories appropriately. At the very least, an R-rating might deter some nine-year-old from reading a wildly inappropriate story). Also, networking with other authors, commenting on their stories, and even recommending works to authors you make friends with can be very helpful.

What are some ways to keep your readers interested in your work? Besides having interesting work, there are a couple of ways. One is to post frequently new stories or updates. Another is to post a novel on the site, but to do it in serial form. Posting new chapters on a regular basis keeps our readership up and it keeps them wanting to know more (especially if you end every chapter on a cliffhanger).

Should one copyright their work before posting? Well, that depends. Copyrights cost money and take time to process, so if you don’t mind waiting and shelling out money for the fees, then by all means get copyrights. At the very least, you should get copyrights for novels or for works you plan to sell in the future, and do it before you post it on WattPad.

I should also mention that WattPad allows users to post whether a story is copyrighted or not, so take advantage of that when you post a story. It could be seriously helpful.

If you publish a story on WattPad, can you put it on your resume as a publication? Again, that depends. This is a website where anyone can upload a story, so whether or not you want to include uploading stories onto an author’s YouTube on your resume is up to you. Some authors are comfortable, some aren’t. I know a few of both. If you are comfortable with it though, then only do it for stories that you’ve never published before in any way, shape, or form. And if you’re shopping for a publisher, definitely don’t do it!

What are these contests through WattPad you mentioned earlier? Wattpad holds a number of contests throughout the year. Most are small, but there are some big ones, including the Wattys, which are held once a year, and the Attys, which are for poetry and were started by author Margaret Atwood (yeah, she’s on the site. How cool is that?). The contests are open to all users with a WattPad account and who follow the rules of those contests.

If you are a regular WattPad user and have any other tips you’d like to mention, then please let us know. If I get enough tips, I’ll do a follow-up article on the subject with your tips in it.

CreateSpace’s New Distribution Options: Pros and Cons

Recently, CreateSpace added several new free distribution options to their distribution channels. This includes distribution to bookstores like Barnes & Noble and your local bookshop, academic institutions and libraries, and to CreateSpace Direct. These options, once available only to authors who were able to afford them, are now available to self-published authors with all sorts of incomes, writing styles, and fan followings.

Now there are definite perks to doing this. Authors would love more readers, and if they are able to reach readers in places previously unavailable to them due to monetary concerns, this can only be good for them. And bookstores, which have been suffering with the rise of the e-book and online distributors, will probably benefit being able to cater to the fans of authors whose works were before only available on certain online retailers. In a way, it’s a symbiotic relationship, both for authors and booksellers.

Not only that, but the books of self-published authors are sometimes rejected by libraries and academic institutions because they are self-publsihed in the first place, or their self-published status means that the books don’t come from certain distributors. If authors are able to get their works into libraries, that means people who don’t own e-readers or who can’t afford to buy books online can now read the books of self-published authors through this new distribution system.

And, using the expanded distribution channels means a potentially higher royalty rate for every copy sold.

However, there are drawbacks to this. Amazon, which owns CreateSpace and it’s print-on-demand services, determines minimum prices for all works published through them. They calculate these minimum prices by determining the length of the book, how much it’ll cost to print, how much they get from the sale of the book, and how much they need to give the author. Recently when I published my novel Reborn City, I saw that the minimum price they gave me was a little less than nine dollars, much higher than I’d expected. I wasn’t happy about it, but I decided to go with it and make the best of it.

When today I decided to try these expanded distribution options on RC, I found out that in order to use these expanded distribution channels, the list price would go up to at least thirteen dollars. In other words, the increase didn’t cost anything for the author, but it did cost extra for the reader.

I decided not to take these extra distribution channels because of the price hike it’d require. Some of my friends and family would not be able to afford a paperback copy because of a list price, or they’d be much more reluctant to buy it because is it not  their genre in addition to being over thirteen dollars. Plus, I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t want to make people pay too much for his work more than he wants them to actually read his work. Terrible character flaw, I know, but I live with it.

However that’s my own personal choice. If you wish to, go right ahead and sign up for these new channels. It’s your choice, which as I’ve said before is one of the best perks of self-pbulishing.

And who knows? You could see your sales go up dramatically, and your fanbase expand like a hot-air balloon. Not to mention the joy of telling friends and family that your work is now available in bookstores and libraries.  That’s always something to make you feel good. And for some books, the increase in the list price might not be too high, so if you have my problem with pricing books too high, it may not be so bad after all. I might still use these channels for my collection of short stories, which is already very low-priced.

What do you think of these new distribution options? Are you planning on use them? If so, why or why not?

*Note: Since this post’s publication, I’ve had a change of heart and I’ve decided to try distributing my books through these new channels in the hope of reaching more readers. Whether or not I’m successful, we shall see. Wish me luck, as well as everyone else using these options for the first time.

Do I really need a Blog?

I don’t think every writer needs a blog.

I don’t think fiction writers need a blog.

I don’t think most readers give a rats a$$ about writer’s blog.

I think telling writers that they need and don’t need a blog is plain stupidity. 😀

You are welcome to disagree with me. I won’t stop you. But I want to tell you why I believe the statements above.

I don’t think every writer needs a blog.

Every writer is different. The goals for their writing are different. No one author platform is the same.

This blog is about writing, publishing, and marketing books, the niche is self-published fiction writers. It was started to share our thoughts and opinions on self-publishing when it was still a shiny bright toy. This is a non-fiction blog. We get 50 to 4k+ hits a day. It works because it is geared toward readers looking for information on self-publishing and writing.

On a personal note, it fills my need to write about writing and publishing. It’s not here to sell my books (Probably because I’m a fiction writer, not a non-fiction writer.) It doesn’t build my platform, unless I start writing non-fiction. It’s mostly a blog for you and me.

Blogging was one of those things created for non-fiction writers and those who liked to share their personal journals online. What better way to build a non-fiction platform then by sharing snippets of information found in your books.

I don’t think fiction writers need a blog.

Fiction writers don’t need a blog. For the most part it serves little purpose other than to alleviate the guilt that we “should be blogging.” If a blog helps you hash out your thoughts and ideas, keep at it. However, if you hate blogging, can’t think of anything to say, and don’t want to do it, don’t. Create a website instead and use your blog as a latest news stream to let readers know that you have something coming out or places that you’ll be. Create an ‘Extra’ pages for fun facts and stuff for readers.

I don’t think most readers give a rats a$$ about your blog.

Before I became an author I never read a blog from an author. I visited plenty of their websites. But I didn’t care what they had to say about their daily lives, what contest they were running, what their life was like, if they were having trouble with the characters, if they’re busy or in need of a holiday, if they’ll be absent from the internet for weeks or why, or what their kids are doing.

Sorry, but I’m selfish that way and irrelevant information isn’t going to make me want to come back. And I’m not alone. Many readers don’t visit the author’s blog. They don’t care about the life of the writer. They care about the books. And reading a blog geared toward other writers is a turn off for many readers.

The top things a reader want when they come to your blog/website isn’t the blog. They want information on your books, what is available and what is coming out. They want to know about you, but not too much about you (About me page?). They want a way to contact you (Contact Me page). They want excerpt from the books (Books page). Possibly some fun facts about the books (Extras about the books). Maybe a FAQ page (Author FAQ or Book FAQ pages).

I think telling writers that they need and don’t need a blog is plain stupidity.

Yes, I see the irony of this statement and I still believe it’s true. I don’t think writers should tell other writers that they absolutely need a blog or that they don’t. Every writer is different. Their goals for their writing are different. Their author platform isn’t the same as another authors.

Besides, I didn’t tell you not to blog, merely that I didn’t think every writer needed to. I’m a blogger that shouldn’t blog. I can’t keep to a consistent schedule. I only blog when I feel like it and weeks can go by without a word from me unless I start feeling guilty or have a sudden burst of energy and write dozens of posts at that time. I have plenty of ideas for blog posts and title and no real passion to do most days.

Guest Post: Gaining Exposure through Free Downloads of Your eBook

For new authors, a great deal of marketing is needed in order to gain popularity. If the public doesn’t know who you are, how are they to buy your book? As the Internet has made it easier for authors to publish their works, it has also made it easier to gain popularity from downloadable content such as eBooks. However, the marketing doesn’t stop at offering digital copies of your material. A great deal of work needs to be put in to gain the respect of the reading community. There are ways to help your reputation grow aside from physical appearances at book signings or ads on the Internet.

There have been many writers who have found a wondrous opportunity to promote their works in order to generate sales and acknowledgement. Online locations that offer eBooks to users, such as Amazon.com, allow the author to set the prices of the digital download. While some may be reluctant to drop the price to a certain degree, there is a great deal of logic to promoting a free download of your eBook. You don’t have to keep the digital content as free forever. You just need it to increase your notoriety.

Systems used by such companies as Amazon.com display eBooks that are the most popular. As free eBooks are downloaded quite regularly, these websites record the amount of times each own is accessed. The more times it has been downloaded, the popular the eBook becomes. After a certain amount of time, your once unknown eBook can rise to levels that are equal to some of the most popular authors in the world. Once this rating has been established, you simply change the book from being a free download to a retail copy. Theoretically, this will drive your eBook to make more money in the long run as its popularity has already been established.

Not every eBook can experience this kind of growth, however. Reviews and content will still play a pivotal role in how well the population accepts your material. If you produce a substandard eBook, you could still feel the brunt of negative reviews. As many eBook buyers take popular vote and consensus into consideration before spending money on the digital copy, your book could still be less valuable than you’d like.

Offering a free “limited time” download of your eBook is akin to the free samples you see at grocery stores. Although the download of an entire book is more than merely a sample, it helps create popularity. While reviews can help increase the sales of your eBook, it is the word of mouth aspect that can help propel your name as a competent writer. Multiple blogs dedicated to book reviews could display your work without you spending a single dime for marketing simply because someone really enjoyed the experience of reading the material.

If you think about the amount of money you spend on a marketing campaign, is it really that different than sacrificing the sales of your eBook for a few weeks? If the material is well written and accepted by many readers, the amount you sacrifice during your free download campaign could be small compared to how well the sales could do after driving the popularity up. Your goal is to promote awareness of your eBook, and what faster way is there than to offer a free digital copy?

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Author Bio: 

Ken Myers is the founder of  http://www.longhornleads.com/ & has learned over the years the importance of focusing on what the customer is looking for and literally serving it to them. He doesn’t try to create a need, instead he tries to satisfy the existing demand for information on products and services.

Guest Post: Tips on How to Utilize Social Media for Content Distribution Without Being Spammy

The Internet today is mostly all about getting your research, marketing, social and business done. With this said, you cannot take the opportunity to spread the word about your products and services for granted. Sure, you can maximize the chance through mobile content delivery but not to a point that your content and updates sound and look gibberish and spammy. In this article, we will look at five tips on how to utilize social media for content distribution without being spammy.

1. Never Post Without a Target

The first thing to do is to plan which ones you are targeting as a market. The next is to reach those targets and speak to them. Join their discussions and ask them to follow you on social media. Once they become your fans or followers, do not tag them randomly or mention their usernames just to drop your sales pitch. Users never want to hear news and promos obtrusively. Make them relate to your brand more but not through “brute force.”

2. Encourage Engagements

When you over publish self-promotional posts and don’t provide any useful information to your followers, you will be more likely to be marked as spam. However, when you get your readers’ attention with your posts and make them interact by posting comments and sharing your articles, others will view your profile with more respect. You will be seen as an authority. The more engaging your posts are, the more you reflect on your personality and the more you will be accepted by the public. So get people to talk about your brand and value your followers’ responses in social media.

3. Post Unique Content

You can share articles that promote your products and services. But you cannot do this and repeat sharing the same ones all the time. To capture the interest of your audience without looking spammy, you have to generate content that is related to your niche. For example, if you are selling technical gadgets, posting reviews and comparisons will help viewers decide which one they would buy. You can also post how-to articles like maintaining hardware, updating software and accessorizing the gadgets.

4. Keep Posts Relevant

If you are marketing contents using Facebook, for instance, make sure not to post status updates about your personal life which are not any relevant to your business. Spam is when they receive unsolicited updates from the channel or account they have subscribed from. Posting too much of your personal updates would make them think like they have spam in their newsfeeds. Think like a consumer! They are highly likely to be interested in your products and business services alone and not about you per se. They might unsubscribe immediately after a consecutive number of days. What’s worse is that they might report you as an abusive user and you get totally kicked out of the social networking site.

5. Check Your Spelling and Grammar

When you have too many spelling and grammar errors, most people would view your content as either copied or jumbled from other sites or just take it as a joke and mark it later as spam. When you produce content on social media, you should share something of actual value. Informative posts should be written well with no nonsense sentences in the middle.

 Conclusion

Social networking sites are largely becoming a favorite spam target recently, since many have recognize the power and influence companies would achieve from them. As a digital marketer, you have to take these points seriously to not appear like a spammer in social media.

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Author Bio:

Jamaica Sanchez is a Website Auditor with solid experience. She has been an advocate of cloud computing for improved work efficiency and performance. She also has a passion in dancing, cooking and playing golf. Follow her on Twitter or Google+.

Blogging, Social Networking, Answering Emails – Hey, when do I get the time to write?

Are you blogging? How often? Once a week, 3 times a week, every day?

Are you on social media? What ones? Are you posting every hour? Once a day? Are you talking about about what you ate for lunch? Or a link to your latest book?

How about answering emails? Are you answering them, or ignoring them? Do you read through all the email you get from newsletters and blog subscriptions or do you find yourself deleting them?

Now that you’ve answered some of those questions and I’m sure asked some of your own, here’s another: When do you get the time to write? Are you writing regularly?

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’d bet money that most of you are busy people with a day job or two, family, kids, and/or other commitments to take up your valuable time–like food, friends, and sleep. So fitting writing and book marketing into an already full schedule isn’t so easy. But it can be done. I’m going to share with you one way to help you.

The 80/20 Rule

First, I want to mention the 80/20 rule. If you haven’t heard about it, it’s basically 80% of your time should be on Marketing and 20% writing and other business related work. I’ve also heard some people say that the 80% is all business related work  that is not writing including marketing and the 20% is writing only.

Now some of the writing/publishing gurus tell you that you have to do this to succeed as an author, if you read authors like Dean Wesley Smith you’ll find his approach is very different. I’m going to suggest that you spend 80% of your time writing new fiction for your backlist, 10% of your time researching and book setup such as editing, rewriting, and setting it up for publishing, and 10% of your time on business related work like marketing, blogging, and emails. Before anyone protests, yes, it’s a slower process to making money, but if you aren’t writing, editing, and publishing new work then social media and blogging are doing you no good.

Hey, this is Ruth here. Stephannie’s letting me add my two cents to the post, so here it is. The important thing to remember is that you want to build a solid foundation.  Once you build a fanbase (even a small one), you want to get more books to that fanbase.  Why will someone keep coming to your site if you don’t have something new coming soon?  While it’s good to reach new readers, you shouldn’t neglect offering something new to your current ones.  

People get so hung up on authors who made it big like Amanda Hocking, but what they don’t remember is that she had a backlist already out there when she went into the social networking part of her career as a writer.  She didn’t just write one book and keep marketing it.  There are some authors who hit it big on one book, but if they can’t get the next one out there, then how will they satisfy their current fanbase?   Will you sell like Amanda Hocking if you have a backlist and social network like crazy?  The odds are against you.  We’re not promising that.  I have a little over 40 books total published, and I’m nowhere near making Amanda Hocking sales.  But I do know I wouldn’t have gotten to where I did if I never wrote the next book.  Plus, I started writing because I loved creating stories.  Little writing and all social media would ruin my joy.

This leads us to the second point…

Don’t Neglect your Writing

Writing is the most important aspect of business, your book is the life blood of your career. It should be your main focus. It’s why I suggest focusing 80% of the time you have on writing.

Now I’m not the most productive writer or as self-disciplined as I would like to be. I love researching and reading stuff on the Internet. I’ve also gotten in the habit of opening my emails in the morning when I start the day. Once I finished checking emails, reading blogs and newsletters, sending or answering requests for guest posts and book reviews, answering emails and comments, writing a (daily?) blog post, leaving a meaningful comments on blogs, interacting on my favorite social networks, updating my website, etc., I’d lost a valuable chunk of time from my day. And lets face it, if we aren’t writing that book or the next book after that, then all the marketing and promoting we do on social networking and blogs won’t help.

My word count goal for the last few months has been about 300 words throughout an 8 hour day. Horrible, I know. I decided I needed a change this and recently downloaded a productivity app I’d heard of called Cold Turkey. This app doesn’t allow you to access certain sites and you can add your time wasting websites to it. I highly suggest it and I get nothing from if you download it.

Since I like to write in the mornings, each night after I finish working on business for the day, I set the app up for the next day. I can still access research sites I need, but everything else is closed to me. Which means I get more writing done in a day. I’ve been averaging about 800-1000 words in a 4 hour day. I’m hoping for more when I get into the groove of things.

Ruth: What I started to do is limit the days I’ll respond to blog, Facebook, and Twitter comments.  I take 3-4 days a week to answer them.   I’ll do it less often if I’m especially busy.  I’m not as active on Facebook or Twitter as I used to be in terms of interacting with people, but I do link up blog posts to those places.  Linking blog posts can help you social network with no extra effort on your part.  That’s why I like to set up my Twitter and Facebook accounts to WordPress to link automatically on those sites.  I hit publish or schedule to publish, and WordPress does the work for me.  I also link my blog posts (from my author blog) to Goodreads.  I will share a blog post I’ve done for a deleted scene or inspiration for the book or sample scene to Pinterest.  These are time savers for me.  I love those share buttons at the bottom of the blogs.

I also love those share buttons and suggest that everyone who writes blogs and have websites install them on their website and leads into my last point.

Don’t Neglect your Author Platform

Please don’t neglect your author platforms to carve out more writing time, that’s not the point I was trying to make above. Your author platform is very important, not as important as the next book, but a close second. Why? Because your website, Twitter, Facebook, other social media sites, and blogs are your way of telling the world, both readers and fans, that you are writing a book. It’s a way to get them excited about what you are publishing and it’s counterproductive to do a disappearing act to write. It can set back your marketing efforts.

What I am suggesting is plan you platform activities carefully. I’ll use my efforts as an example.

After I finish my writing for the day, I check my emails, reading through and answer those that need to be answered. Those from fans, people wanting to guest post, answering comments on my blog and other blogs, and answering questions from authors who need book cover designs done. I wait for Saturday to read through blog posts and newsletters. Since I find social media distracting, I wait for the blog muse hit and spend a day writing blog posts and tweets. I don’t schedule them ahead of time because I like to read through them one last time before they go live. I spend about 10 minutes in the late morning and evening on Twitter (posting tweets, retweeting, talking to people, etc), about 10 minutes on Facebook (updating my status and talking to others), and about 30 minutes rereading and publishing blog posts on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Once a month I like to update my website, though since me website and blog are one, every time I post I’m updating it too. LOL

I’m hijacking this post again. I’m not as organized as Stephannie on this one.  I love her idea, though.  It might be helpful to have a timer nearby.  Ten minutes on Twitter, Facebook, or another social network site is easy and doable.  The problem comes in when you get sucked into looking at pictures or reading articles that look interesting (this is where I end up spending a lot of time that takes away from my writing).  If there’s an interesting article off Twitter (a lot of good ones come from there, esp. ones that help authors), I suggest marking them as “to read” when you schedule time to do it.  (And this is all stuff I am going to mark down to do since my approach has been lacking in this area.  :D)

4 Steps to Creating Enjoyable Reader Experience on Your Fiction Author Website

About a year ago I decided that I wanted to attract more readers to my website, so I used my mad researching skills on the internet to learn more. What I learned is that there are thousands of articles on the subject and very few that have any useful information or helpful advice.

There was write about what you are passionate about, but don’t write about writing. Readers don’t read blogs. Fans come to websites looking for more books and blog posts are not our books so they aren’t interested. Pick a niche or topic to blog about, however be aware that readers of our niche blogs might not be interested in our fiction or that our fans might still be uninterested in reading our blog.

After the initial shock of “What the He!!” are we suppose to put on our empty websites wore off. I started to think that either no one has found the secret to attracting readers or we’re all doing it wrong. I felt so confused and stressed I screamed. Yes, you read that right, I didn’t want to scream, I actually screamed in frustration. Think about it. We’re all told about what we have to have and what we have to do, etc., etc., etc. It’s enough to make a sane person go insane. And I’m not the most sane person to start.

All the research has led me to my newest question. Why blog? I haven’t really found a good, convincing argument for doing it. Changing a blog into a news feed and writing articles seems a better alternative that has all the pros of blogging. It also frees me up to write, post to social media, and update my website articles.

But this post isn’t about blogging so much as creating a friendly and enjoyable reader experience for your fiction author website.

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Step 1: Keywords and Readers

Creating a website for fans to enjoy and prolonging the readers experience means that you’ll probably have to throw out all the misinformation you’ve learned over your career and start from scratch. Before you start throwing web pages together I want you to do this exercise.

On a piece of paper create three columns and label them keywords, topics, and readers. Now I’m going to ask you three questions and I want you to list anything that comes to mind. Don’t skip ahead. These are a very important questions that will aid in creating your website.

Column #1: What keywords would you use to describe you and your writing?

Column #2: What topics are you passionate (interested in) about? 

Column #3: Who are your perfect readers?

I’m going to use my answers as an example:

1. What keywords would you use to describe you and your writing? rancher, mother, wife, speculative fiction writer, romantic, mythology, coffee and book lover, randomness and macabre, a seeker of knowledge, crafter, short attention span, and book cover designer.

2. What topics are you passionate about? Cooking, books, mythology, criminology, writing, coffee, ranching, publishing, business, book design, reading, random facts, psychology, religion, and my kids. While I could find people who would love to read about these topics, having them all on one website could make it chaotic. Readers would never know what to expect when they came. Most readers would leave and it would defeat the purpose of a website.

3. Who are your perfect readers? My readers would be women between 25 and 40 who like  romantic and erotic speculative fiction. They like more of a plot with their romances. They are women who like mythology but are tired of the same old story being retold over and over with the same plot. They want to read a myth with a new twist. This is my target audience. I don’t always hit it, but it gives me an idea of who I’m writing for.

So when I combine the results of all three columns and narrow them to the keywords, topics, and reader characteristics common to all three, it means that my blogging topics and author brand should focus on speculative fiction, romance, sex, relationships, and mythology.Yeah, I can occasionally thrown in stuff about being a mother and rancher, my love of coffee, the latest romance or fantasy novel I’ve read, and writing. But focusing my efforts on my brand will bring quicker success.

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Step 2: Goals and Brainstorming

Now that you know your keywords and target audience, it time to make goals for your website and blog. Please keep your readers and author brand in mind as you plan, otherwise you’ll lose focus of where you are going and you’ll lose your readership. Also, sometimes you attract the wrong readership to your blog because your talking about mystery novels you love but you write erotica. Unless it’s an erotic mystery, then it could work.

1. What is the goal of your website? Is it to draw readers to you? Is it to share your stories? Is it to sell books? Once you know your goals, brainstorm some things you can do to accomplish this goal. You can using the list of topics you are passionate about and keywords to enhance your goals. The goal is to draw readers to your website and you need to  Brainstorm some ways you can draw your potential visitors to your website and reach your goals.

2. For those who have a website, what can you change to reach the goals for your website? Is there anything you could do better or add to help your readers find what they came to your website to find? Remember, you have seconds to catch and hold your reader’s attention before they click away from your site.

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Step 3: Basic Pages for your Website

This can either be the easiest or the hardest part. Write down all the pages of your website you think you need. Blog? Book pages? Store? Links? Biography? Newsletter? Contact me? You can downsize or expand upon this list later.

The five most important pages are:

#1 is the Home Page: The landing page is one of those controversial pages that no one can agree if you need or not. My opinion, you need it. This is the page that should have a welcome message, newest releases, coming soon, and links to various pages on your site. This page is a call to action for your readers.

#2 is the Book Page(s): A page or pages that show your books are a must. You are after all selling a product and your books are that product. There are different ways to set this up. Some writers like all their books on one page. Others like individual pages. Or use some combination of the two.

#3 is Blog or News Page: Either, or, or both. It’s important to have some way for your readers to know what is going on. Periodic updates or insights into your writing helps them.

#4 is the Author Bio: Readers want to know the author behind the books and the blogs. So write a bio. You could do an official bio that is more formal as well as an informal bio that is more friendly. I use both on my website.

#5 is the Contact Me Page: Some readers like to contact writers and you should have a way for them to do this, even if it’s just a form they can fill out.

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Step 4: Now its time to Create the “Enjoyable Reader Experience”

As interesting as the other pages are, they won’t be drawing in readers, unless you’re an exceptional blogger. I’m not. The hits on my blog in a year might equal the hits on one of my books in a month. You see readers seek out the author’s website because they want to know more about the book they read. They want to see inside the creation of that book. And I don’t mean a how you wrote the book.

I’m going to share a secret with you and I hope you tell all your writer friends about it. The best way to attract readers to your website is to pattern your website after movie website or DVD.

I don’t mean website design. I mean the content. I know it seems strange. But it works.

So I’ve already gone out and study some of the movie websites in various genre as well as the backs of every DVD in my collection. I found some common threads that I really think works for the websites and blogs of fiction authors and created a list of ideas that can be used as pages or blog posts to enhance the readers experience.

  • About the Series: If you write a series, tell the reader about the series or the mythology. You can also place links to books in the series or covers to…
  • About the book: this is your individual book page. Put more than the blurb and buy links on this page. Think of it like an about the movie page and put links to your special features.
  • Deleted Scenes, Excerpts from the Book, and Book Trailers: these should be on their own pages and linked to the books they belong to. These are like the movie trailers.
  • Behind the scenes, Inside looks, Author’s Notes: What was your inspiration for the book, the characters, and/or the world you created, why did you write a scene or add a character, the facts and fiction behind the story, etc. Think about questions The topics are endless.
  • Freebies: Who doesn’t like a free stuff. Games, trivia, galleries, wallpapers, icons, screensavers, printable stuff, scrapbooks using Pinterest, etc.
  • About the Characters, People, and Places in your world: Fun profiles about your cast of characters, or news updates from the characters posted, like cast and crew blogs for TV series can be fun as long as people know it’s for fun. Interviews. Information about the races in a book or series. A brief about the world it takes place in.

Word of warning, if you are doing behind the scenes/inside looks/author notes, be careful not to over do it. One or two per book is more than enough.

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Summary

Alright, we’ve come to the end of my long post, still unsure of why I have to blog if no one reads it, and if you are still with me, congratulations, you deserve a reward. I think a Truffle Kiss will be mine, maybe two, I did after all write this long post and edit it so that it was half the size it was and less tangent-y.

To finish, I would like to say that making your website fun for you fans isn’t hard. Use your writing talent and recycle your book research by making it count double for you.Have fun creating your website and if you have a question, ask me. I’d love to help. Or you can tell me what you think in the comments.

What Will Smith can teach us about sales?

 

Opened my inbox today and found “What Will Smith can teach us about Sales?” by Shannon of the Duolit team. There is some really great information in there for those looking to create a sound financial and marketing business plan.

The method she talks about isn’t for every author. But for those of you wondering how to make a profit from what you write, the strategy she mentions can help. Good luck!

K.I.S.S. Website Design

Websites can be a thing of beauty and selling power or they can hurt you. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve been to some poorly designed websites/blogs. Those sites that make you cringe at the design before you even get the chance to read the content, and that is if you can find the content you are looking for.

If you are serious about being an author, you need a website. This is your 24/7 web ad. If you have a blog, my suggestion would be to combine them. Number one reason is that your blog will keep the content on your website fresh and higher in the search. I use wordpress.com as my website and my blog. You might want to use something else and that is fine.

The colors, font, and pictures tell visitors at a glance what your site is about. So as an author you want your website to reflect the Author persona, your genre, and your books. Extra filly items are just that, extra, and they can distract from the professionalism you are trying to show. I suggest using the K.I.S.S. Principle when designing your website. Don’t know what the KISS principle is? It’s the Keep It Simple Stupid Principle.

The Side Bar(s)

The sidebar can be the most useful part of your website if utilized properly. Reduce the clutter by getting rid of ads. Oww! I can hear the screaming from here. I know some of you make money off those ads, but unless they are for your book or something you think will benefit your target audience, they are taking up valuable space and annoying people.

To give you an idea of what should or could be there, I made a list.

  • About the author blurb that is about 100 words. Think Twitter profile. At the end of the super short bio have a link to your bio page, blog, and/or media kit so people can learn more about you.
  • Email subscription to blog and RSS feeds. For the love of your readers, please have both. If you don’t, you lose potential readers. Not having these can be your biggest blogging mistake. Don’t believe me? Then let me say it this way. If I happen upon your blog and you don’t have an email subscription, you’ve lost me. If my friend happens upon your blog and you don’t have an RSS feed, you’ve lost her.
  • Sidebar Images: This can be images of awards you’ve won, covers of your books, your author image, word count meter of your current work-in-progress, banners for blog tours and giveaways, recent posts or comments, archive of posts, search, links to other places to find you on the web, etc. Just don’t over clutter the sidebar or readers will have a hard time finding stuff.

Most people suggest putting the most important information above the fold. I’m going to say put the important things above the fold and make sure what you have put below the fold is just as interesting. You want the readers eyes to be drawn down and bright images catch the eyes and make the fingers twitch.

Pictures and Text

Having pictures in your posts, on your pages, and in your sidebars are great, but too many can be way too many. You don’t need hundreds of pictures (unless it’s a portfolio for artwork). Use pictures to break up text. Make sure it relates somehow to your topic. If possible downsize your web images into 72 ppi/dpi or 96 ppi/dpi for faster loading. You can finds some free image places from this post.

Color

Simply put, color orients the reader where they and evokes emotions in people. Certain colors and types are better for some genres while others are better for another.

White: clean, pure, new, peace, innocence simplicity.
Gray: conservative, traditional, seriousness.
Black: elegance, sophistication, mystery, thrillers, strength.
Red: strength, bold, excitement, determination, desire, courage, leadership.
Brown: endurance, relaxing, confident, casual, reassuring, earthy
Orange: enthusiasm, cheerful, stimulation, creativity.
Yellow: attention-grabbing, lively, intellect, happiness, energy.
Green: durable, reliable, optimistic, harmony, freshness
Blue: depth, stable, professional, loyal, reliable, spiritual, trust
Purple: power, luxury, mystery, royalty, elegance, magic.

Want to know more, visit the Designer Handbook of Color.

Headers and Backgrounds

Your header and backgrounds says a lot about your blog/website. It’s the first thing people notice upon arriving and it feeds their impression of where they are, what they are seeing, and possibly what they will be reading.

Be careful about making them too busy or textured. Some backgrounds seem to be popular and I’ve never figured out why. They are distracting and remove readers from what they are reading. Now Joleene has broken the textured background rule and she’s done it with style. She wrote a post on blog backgrounds and appearance.

For fun, take a look at the headers below and guess what genre these author’s write. The answers can be found at the end of the post. 😀

1. http://joleenenaylor.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/cropped-header-44.jpg

2.

3.

4.

5. http://stephanniebeman.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/bookheader1.jpg

Summary

I could write a book on website designs do’s and don’t, but I’m really not interested in writing what others have written to death. There are a lot of great books out there on blogs and websites, my favorite comes from Problogger (non-affiliated link). I’m sure you could find others that fulfill your needs.

Any Questions?

5 Questions to Ask before Creating a Website

If you are looking to create your author website or update your website and are near frustration because you can’t find anything on author website content or suggestions on what should be on your website, I want you to start by ask yourself the following five questions. If you already have a website, use these five questions to evaluate your website.

1. What is the goal of your website?

Is it to draw readers to you? Is it to share your stories? Is it to sell books? Brainstorm some things you can do to accomplish this goal.

2. Who would be your perfect visitor?

Writers, readers, or any random person that comes along. Be as specific as you can be. Now think up some things that can draw in these potential visitors to your website.

3. What are you going to have on your Website?

Blog? Book pages? Store? LInks? Write down everything that comes to mind, you can downsize or expand upon this list later.

4. What are your passionate about?

What topics do you find interesting? What topics would enhance your goals? List everything you can think of.

5. What can I change to reach said goals for my website?

Is there anything you could do better or add to help your readers find what they came to your website to find? Remember, you have seconds to catch and hold your readers attention before they click away from your site.

Now take the answers to these five questions and brainstorm some ideas on an interactive, entertaining, and informative website and blog for your readers. Create pages that reach your goals.