Pub Rants

New Website Going Live On Nov. 12 or Nov. 19

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STATUS: I’ll be a much saner person then. Hey, I’m an optimist!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now?  YOU by Bonnie Raitt

Thanks for all the comments and feedback on FB versus blogging. Quite frankly, I had been sensing that blogging in general was becoming a bit passé. But it sounds like there is still a lot of interest in educational posts being delivered through the longer blog medium. Well, I hear you. I’m still debating on how practical it will be given my overwhelming workload. It’s much easier to throw up some insightful posts on Facebook. But I also get that a lot of folks aren’t on FB and have no interest in joining. And to be honest, I’m too verbose for twitter. *grin*

When I think of our new redesigned website going live, I start bouncing in my seat. It’s amazing. But it’s also good fodder for a blog entry.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned and some tips to share:

1) If you haven’t updated your website in the last 3 to 5 years, it’s time to take a look at your site and evaluate its effectiveness. I know from our site, it wasn’t highlighting all the different ways folks could learn or follow us via social media. Given how much has changed in the last couple years, our site was looking tired, old, and dated. None of that stuff was linked together. That’s not effective.

As an author, you can’t afford for fans to think the same of your site. They expect more. Is it fair, no, but there you have it.

2) Big question you must answer: who is your audience and what do you want them to learn from the site? The answer might be simple and then evolve into something more complex. For example, a simple answer for our site is this: our audience is writers looking for representation who might be interested in our agency.

So our site has to answer some basic questions – like how to submit to us, etc.  Well, that’s obvious.

But our site shouldn’t stop there. Writers who look at our website might also be enthusiastic readers (or at least I hope so!). So our site should also be a non-obtrusive advertisement for our client books in the sense that visitors to our site might also want to buy the books they stumble upon there.

Of course we “knew” that for our original site but we were not exploring the full potential there. The new site is going to be great for that without us coming across as used car sales people (or at least I hope that’s the case!).

So how does this apply to you as a writer? Well, I see any number of writer sites that don’t really answer this question well. How does it appeal to folks who are already fans of your work and then how might it rope in the possible new fan? I honestly don’t see writers doing a lot for that second question. If you’ve seen some good sites that handle it well, include the links in the comments. We can use those examples as learning tools.

3) For our new site, we are adding a “how they came to us” under each client so aspiring writers can literally see who sent us a query (and we found them that way) versus who was a referral or a current client recommend. I imagine including stories like this will keep visitors engaged in our site and may be motivated to click around more and spend more time with us.

As a writer, what have you got that might create that for your visitors? I see so many writer sites that tend to be a plug for the book or books and not much else. If that’s the case for your website, it’s not doing the right job for you.

4) Clean design – I’m a huge proponent of this. I see so many wordpress websites that have good intentions but as a visitor, I’m completely overwhelmed by the amount of links, buttons, images, or what have you. It may just be me but I can actually feel my heart rate speeding up when I’m confronted with too much info on a web page. It’s stressful.

So I can’t wait to show you the new site. And yes, I’m getting back to blogging even though that means more entries to migrate over to the new site. I pity our web designer.

16 Responses

  1. Lucy said:

    Ah, but we do like the blog. And shorter entries are ok, too. It’s just a nice way to check in with you and keep up to date. 🙂

  2. terri patrick said:

    I look forward to using is as an example in future Author Marketing 101 . com workshops.
    The Author website is the more valuable real estate for a writer today. It is your business office and retail bookstore. Incorporate Feng Shui simplicity, speedy links, and use colors and designs that are mirrored on all your marketing and promotional materials.
    Set up ALL social media activities link directly to your website. Then when you are out having fun you know if anyone is interested in you they go direct to your site that is the First Impression of you, by your design.

  3. Anonymous said:

    I agree blogging is passe in a mass sense…for most. But nothing helps build web presence like blogging, at least not yet.

  4. Natalie Aguirre said:

    I can’t wait to see your new site. The feature about how your authors came to you sounds awesome.

    I’ll keep your comments in mind if I ever get to the point of needing a website. If you ever figure out what makes an author website good and does more than promote their book, I’d love if you post about it.

    One thing I like is when an author posts links to interviews they’ve done on their website. I interview a lot of authors on my blog with book or ARC giveaways. I like to check out their interviews to help with interesting questions and it’s so much easier when I don’t have to Google for them. Not sure if fans would be interested in this.

  5. Jon Sealy said:

    Looking forward to the new site. If it makes you feel better, your web designer should be able to save your entire blog as a single XML file, then import it into the new site. They shouldn’t have to move each post separately, so blog as much as you want!

  6. Ellie Heller said:

    Looking forward to the new site!! Having just checked a bunch of these – IF you import the ‘agents who blog’ list there’s a lot who aren’t blogging any more.

  7. ペギー said:

    I’m glad to hear the blogs will be continuing! I have missed your entires in my Google reader. 🙂 I do have FB and have been following you there, but only grudgingly–I had to end my streak of never “liking” anything in order to do it. 🙁 (I figure FB already knows enough about me without having a handy spreadsheet of all of my interests).

    Excited to see the new site!

  8. Beth said:

    I think the best way a writer’s site can engage new readers or other writers is to provide something useful, writing advice, book reviews, something beyond self promotion, and then utilize this charm(whatever it is) to have a conversation with the people who drop by.

  9. Kristin Laughtin said:

    I’m excited to see the new site! Has it really been 3-5 years? I was always under the impression that 3-5 months was too long between updates!

    I’m excited about the “how they came to us” section because I love hearing about how writers got representation. It’s both informative and inspiring. (Especially when the stories are more complex than “I wrote a query and 395212950395 agents all wanted my book”. I like struggle!)

  10. HC said:

    I’m pretty addicted to your blog, and would miss it if you flipped to Facebook completely. Perhaps we could negotiate a 5 year weaning stage?

    Looking forward to seeing the new site and thanks for all of the great information.

  11. Hilary said:

    I love the idea of the “how they came to us” page! It is such a great way to encourage writers. I’m just finishing editing my manuscript. I am trying to be very realistic that I will not find an agent since I have no writing experience besides my blog. But seeing that other’s success will keep me hopeful!

  12. JB said:

    I’d be sad to see your blog go. It’s a great format for the longer, more informative posts. You could use your blog for longer bits now and then and link to them on Facebook so your audience there would never miss out.

    I want to thank you for making your posts so upbeat. I was worried that this part of the writing process would be a huge bore. NOT! At least not in your corner.

  13. Anonymous said:

    I do not think blogs are passé at all. You have far more readers than I think you realize for your blog. On Google Reader alone (where I subscribe to the RSS of your blog) you have 7842 subscribers. This does not take into account all the many other RSS readers or other ways for followers to keep tabs on your new posts. I do not comment very often, but I read every single blog you write (and also watch the videos)! So please do keep blogging!

    Looking forward to the new site design!