|Angela Quarles- Author / Photo credit: Keyhole Photography|
Building Author Steam Part Deux
(Yeah, I’m working with my “Cool” angel this morning)
We writers are often a solitary breed, who create worlds and people them in their heads. Getting out into social media and self-promoting can be more than a big deal it can be almost overwhelming for some. Then we are constantly told that not only do we have to have brilliantly written, perfect prose (aka our job as a writer), but we also have to have professional covers, captivating head shots (the photo kind not the killing kind – we can handle that!), a “web presence”, and a “solid fan base”….. BEFORE we are even published! No one asks these things of an actor or a musician, of a PhD or a doctor. No one asks a chef for head shots and his fan base stats. Ok, logic and fairness aside, this is the digital age and people want easy access and cheap thrills now. As authors, we can accept this as a creative challenge and I suggest strongly that we do. I’ll have to ask Angela sometime how long it took her to get to this point. Did she have it all together before her first book, or is it just all coming to its shining glory now that she is ready to release book three? Now that I’ve vented, let’s get back to a writer’s website.
We spoke last week about having a great writer promo packet and an excellent example of a book release and promo, but I didn’t want to leave you hanging there. After I looked over Angela Quarles’ promo materials for Steam Me Up, Rawley, I had to go look at her website. Have I seen fancier? Haven’t we all (there are some crazy good visual graphics/web gurus out there)? However, most of what makes a website excellent is more than over-the-top, state-of-the-art webtastic effects (unless you are a webtastic graphics guru and programmer :D ). A website’s primary purpose should be communication. It should give the person visiting the most information, in the best and easiest way possible. In a marketing world it should also entice visitors to action. In order to do this you need to know the audience you are working for and what they might want, need, and be interested in. Again, Angela is in great form and miles beyond many top pub’ed authors, let alone fairly newish ones.
HomeFirst off: It’s clean and simple with a touch of the whimsical (I noticed she now has snow gently blowing across it for December). Her home page has her current book information and current news, social media ways to connect with her, a sign-up for her newsletter. Excellent!
Media KitLet’s hit her “Media Kit” next, since we saw a portable snapshot last week. Anything that anyone could want to promote her, or grab to promote her, is there for the easy grabbing. Need a picture? Grab one (multiple sizes, color, BW, with or without pet, etc.) Need book info for posting? Check. Need a blurb with built-in links to tweet quickly or add to an article? Book trailers, side bars, graphics? Yep, it’s there. Go, feast upon its goodness young writing promo padawan. Best part? You can do it too!
BooksYes, you are a writer you should have a section where you can display all of your good works, a virtual book shelf of your own personal awesomeness. This would however, be fairly pointless if you didn’t also give information about the books, and where people can easily get a hold of them for purchase. You may also proudly display your awards here (book awards, not swimming certificates – those go elsewhere). If you have quotes about your book’s awesomeness, this is also the place to put them.
AboutThe two things new fans (or publishers) are going to want to know about are YOUR BOOKS and YOU! So even though most authors would rather post a picture of their cat and talk about the weather than themselves, this is about “self” promotion, not cat and weather promotion. Share. Think of it as practice for the Big-Time when your legions of adoring fans want to know how you’ve been telling stories since you were three years old, and how all of your best ideas come to you while you’re shaving in the shower, trying not to accidentally slice your own arteries with a quad-stacked razor.
Notice this is Angela’s longer bio, with some additional info about her writing groups and such. Her’s is pretty straight-laced (i.e. clean, simple, short, mostly professional), you can add more or less flair, it’s YOUR page. Think of it as a character description – the fun, meet my character kind, not the overly detailed if he sees a potato bug he’ll shut down in a fit of despair because when he was little his brother replaced the cheese puffs in his lunch with them one time when they were ten. [Insert> swimming certificates can go here :D ]
News & Events/Mailing List/ContactOr, “How to keep up with your favorite author”. These should be givens, right? Enough said.
Street TeamI’ve seen this more with romance writers than other genres – but it can be fun. Real, insider’s info for a fan to keep up and share their fandom, of YOU, with others. Street Team members generally get insider information first – like cover previews, sneak peeks, pre-release excerpts, ARCs, promo goodies, etc, and the street team members share their love of you with others, by writing reviews, twitting about new releases, etc. It’s giving your super-fans more, and getting more feet out there pounding the street- for YOU! Shared awesomeness, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
BlogThere are those magical “they” people out there that say authors should blog – as part of their “being out there”. But I think there are no hard and fast rules on this – it should be what suits you. I think some people feel better blogging and some people feel better “promoting” – both promote and give fans and others access to you. If you can, and have the time, it is double the potential exposure. Many think blogs are fading, while others think they are just evolving. Often, blogs and news can be folded together. It is also an ongoing way of being accessible and interacting with your fans or potential fans.
For WritersAs a writer, I love these sections, especially when I can get writerly gems from my heroes. These sections vary as much as individual writers but you can find some real gems out there for specific items ranging from publishing questions, to scene building awesomeness, to how to boost up a sagging middle (in your book!). Again, this section can and is often included in the writer’s blog as often as it is alone.
Your writer’s website is your online lair, be creative, make it an extension of you and the worlds you create. What was that movie – Oh yeah, Field of Dreams- “If you build it, they will come.” We craft our worlds with care, why wouldn’t we create our online world with the same care?
Again, as an example, Angela’s website is pretty straight forward in its authorial goodness. Everything in her website is designed to give you anything you need to know quickly, and make it easy to grab that information and share it. If you need an example to steer by, you would do well to spend some time there – and visit your favorite author’s pages, jot down the things you really love as a fan and include those items to make your own super fans!
Go forth and create!
*Disclaimer – Now, all of this does not mean that you personally have to design, do the graphics for, program, and maintain your own website. There are those who can help you with that. You will however, Mr./Ms./Otherworldly Author need to know what you want and “write” the information that will go in there.