What is an Author Website good for?

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What is an Author Website good for?

1LShelby
Mrz. 9, 2020, 10:31pm

I know authors build websites sometimes as an advertisement for their books. I remember going to these sites, and feeling... promoted at. Besides the book back-cover copy, they invariably had a page of positive review quotes, and nice views of the cover art, and a short bio and nothing else. Instead of this making me more interested in their books, it made me less interested. (But I may be an outlier there?)

I feel more at home on the sites of my writer friends who use webpages as yet another creative outlet. But although I feel more at home, I don't tend to spend much time on them. I look once, and say "isn't that cool!" and I might subscribe to the blog, if there is one, but I don't go back unless they announce on their blog that they've added something that sounds particularly interesting. (On the other hand, if the site is a creative outlet, that may be exactly what is supposed to happen.)

I do spend a LOT of time on my own website though. I don't mean building it, I mean using it. I store all my worldbuilding notes in a database, and the website is the tool I use to display that data to myself. But is this something that is useful to anyone but me? Do readers have a use for the maps and the family trees and the timelines, and so forth?

As far as I can tell, the part of my site that is used most by others has nothing whatsoever to do with my writing. It's the craft section where I post my tatting designs. On the other hand, maybe more readers are checking out the site than I realize, just, unlike the tatters, they don't post what they see on pinterest.

So...
What would YOU like to see on your favorite author's website. (If your favorite author died before websites were invented, just use your imagination a little, okay?)

I have been thinking about this, and after looking at the websites of some of the more prolific authors, I think what I would like the most on their sites (that isn't there already), is a little guide telling me how to figure out which book to start with/read next. Maybe one of those charts with the little choice circles saying things like "fantasy or science fiction?" and "dark or light?" and arrows that either take you to another choice or a book title.

And, coming from the other direction..
If you have a website what do you use it for? (You can answer whether you are a writer or not -- if writers are just blogging or being creative or displaying stuff to do with a non-writing related hobby, then why can't the non-writers do that too?)
Feel free to add a link. :)

(I'm not so sure I'm eager to link to my own site, though. It's due for a major overhaul, but I'm supposed to be ignoring that fact until AFTER I've got the next book ready to go to my copyeditor.)
::grits teeth::
http://www.lshelby.com

There. If anyone wants to kindly tell me all the problems they discover, I will make a list for later, but don't feel obliged.

2Cecrow
Bearbeitet: Mrz. 10, 2020, 2:34pm

I like following several author blogs about the craft. Especially entries that explain their approach to their work, their reactions to the ups and downs of seeking/obtaining publication.

I've followed Patrick Rothfuss' blog in his site since within a month or two of his starting it, and I've yet to read a single published word he's written. He's just a straight up awesome guy, and can't write a boring entry no matter what it's about. https://blog.patrickrothfuss.com/

Brandon Sanderson is worth following. I skip all the self-promotion (a lot more of that than there used to be, now) but read anything about the craft in detail. Sanderson's work ethic is insane. His annual summaries are a treat. https://www.brandonsanderson.com/

I keep checking in on George Martin as well, but he has little say directly about the craft and honestly I'm just waiting for the big announcement his next book is coming, lol. https://georgerrmartin.com/

I used to drop in on Terry Brooks as well, but he rarely writes his own content and his responses to reader questions are generally empty, unfortunately (e.g. "What do you think it means?" "I never really thought about that." "It's so long ago, I no longer remember," etc.) https://terrybrooks.net/

3lilithcat
Mrz. 10, 2020, 9:13am

>1 LShelby:

What would YOU like to see on your favorite author's website.

I'm probably odd, but I rarely, if ever, check out authors' websites.

4paradoxosalpha
Mrz. 10, 2020, 10:31am

I have an old static website that includes many early drafts of essays, papers, and rituals that eventually made it into my books. It was my original channel of "publication." I don't know if it sees much traffic these days, but I haven't updated it for a long time.

My publicist (i.e. Other Reader) maintains an "author Facebook page" for me, because I won't touch Facebook with a ten-foot pole. The principal content that she posts to it are:
a) my book reviews of other authors' books (daily--drawing on my bank of 1000+ reviews in LT),
b) general info and publication announcements for my books (weekly), and
c) notices about my public appearances and conference participation (monthly to quarterly).

If people try to "Facebook message" me, they get an automated response supplying them with a working email address.

52wonderY
Mrz. 10, 2020, 10:44am

Sometimes short works are posted on author websites that help to fill in storylines of their universes.

Kevin Hearne and Ben Aaronovitch are two that come to mind.

6reading_fox
Mrz. 10, 2020, 11:47am

I do visit author websites, if I've particularly enjoyed a book. I don't check back that often though. Mostly to see what else they've written and hopefully to find out timelines and storyworld connections. Hints on when new books will be available are always appreciated and insights from the writing life can be entertaining. I've read enough to know that authors are human too, so I'm not that interested in pictures of their cat, etc. but details of how and why the next book is/isn't getting done are always fun.

Jasper fforde's was amazing, including really detailed continuity errors submitted by fans. As always once the author gets more popular they have to be a lot more careful about what becomes public facing, and the time commitment of responding to more people.

What's the general feeling about downloads and a tip jar?

As a fairly dedicated ebook reader, any legitimate source of ebooks is welcomed because they can be a pain to get hold of! But it's yet another time sink for an author to establish, verify and keep working.

7LShelby
Mrz. 12, 2020, 6:17pm

>2 Cecrow:
I like it when authors post about their cats, their house renovations, and so on. It makes them feel like a person to me. :) I prefer it when they post at least a little bit about their writing though.

>3 lilithcat:
It doesn't sound strange to me. I have a tendency to presume that a majority of readers don't visit author websites, unless they are looking for specific information, like how books have they actually written, if a series should be read in a particular order. That kind of thing. Maybe I'm wrong, but that would be my guess.

>4 paradoxosalpha:
That seems like the sort of website a publicist would publish on behalf of an author. It gives you a presence, and the reviews are good solid content.

But I dunno, your old website seemed more fun... there's this exploration element? A what shall we check out next... ooh songs, that sounds interesting. Like that.

If I made general information and publication reports weekly, Most of my weeks would go "The writing of the next book is in progress", "The writing of the next book is still in progress", "We regret to report that no progress happened this week."

>5 2wonderY:
Some of the authors who Cecrow linked to did this also.
I suspect its very common. There are fewer and fewer professional markets for shorts, it seems. So using them as bonus material is a way to get value out of them. Also something to do with the shorts you sold ages ago and now the right are reverted.

>6 reading_fox:
Jasper Fforde's site is a delight because there's no attempt whatsoever to be commercial, or visually stunning. It's like the web version of a whole-in-the wall curio shop. "Come on in, poke around, who knows, you might find something cool."

I've actually never looked into tip-jars and the like, so I have no idea how big a deal the upkeep would be.

If anyone reading this has insights, please share. :)

8Denscott
Mrz. 17, 2020, 12:35pm

>6 reading_fox: reading_fox:
>1 LShelby: LShelby
I created my web-site because that's what all the blogs I read on being an author told me I needed in this day and age.
The problem is like Shelby I don't like being 'sold to' so I feel hypocritical when I think that's what I'm doing to other people. In the longer term, I may just try posting and discussing anything that comes to mind (while trying to control my apparent self-opinionated personality, don't want to upset my two readers).

9LeonStevens
Mrz. 18, 2020, 9:56am

One of the biggest advantages of a website is that it enables authors to compile mailing lists which accomplishes two things.

1. You have a sense of how many readers are genuinely interested in your writing. I've had people subscribe, then unsubscribe, so did they just want the freebie or once they got it, didn't like it.
2. It gives the author a fan base for future sales.

I don't send out many newsletters because I don't want to to feel like a pest. If readers want to follow me on their own terms, there are other avenues for that.

I also like to blog, add bonus material that I have created, etc. If you develop a relationship with your readers, it is like they can come for a visit and find out what you are up to. My goal is to have a site that is entertaining and thought filled, kind of watching your favorite shows (it just doesn't take as long).

I'll visit anyone's site if they post it here - we can compare and give feedback on each others

Here's mine: www.linesbyleon.com

I'll start visiting from the top.

Leon

10LShelby
Mrz. 19, 2020, 10:57pm

>8 Denscott: "I created my web-site because that's what all the blogs I read on being an author told me I needed in this day and age."

I've heard that too, but since I've never bought a book from an author because they have a website...

...it must work for some readers. Just not me, right?

I do buy books because I know authors from forums, though.

(If you check my profile, for example, one of the tags I use on my books is "hobnob". Guess what that one is for.) :)

>9 LeonStevens:
I never thought I wanted or needed a mailing list because I never had anything to say in newsletters.

It finally occurred to me, that my readers might possibly want to sign up for announcements that I have new books out. So... oops!

Rectifying this oversight is on the list for the site renovations.

I got a real kick out of your Miniscules, BTW. The two weightlifting ones and the favorite kings cracked me up the most. :)

11reading_fox
Mrz. 20, 2020, 4:32pm

>10 LShelby:"I've heard that too, but since I've never bought a book from an author because they have a website..."

I certainly have - Not the first book, and not because they have a website, but as above I'll have visited because I enjoyed a book, and then if there are ebooks available to buy, especially if they don't come up in my normal bookshops, I'll quite happily buy from an author's website. They get 100% of the sales, so I feel better about it (although of course does count against publisher's marketing statistics).

12TimSharrock
Bearbeitet: Mrz. 21, 2020, 6:48am

>11 reading_fox: ditto - my use case is:
I came across a mention of an ebook,
...downloaded a sample,
...liked it and bought the book,
...finished it then wanted to investigate:

is it part of a series? or a world? how do other books relate?

librarything series can help, as can book suppliers, but some more structured and author-inspired bits can be very helpful

eg "I wrote this trilogy thinking about the implications of magical communications on economy, but then started wondering about the opposite situation: technological collapse of electronic communications, and started a new world, of which you can find 'this' novella in 'that' collection, but i hope to...."

13LShelby
Mrz. 21, 2020, 10:35am

I really do think that as authors we should take the responsibility of making sure all the reader-needed information about our books is available online. A complete list of titles and series information seems like the bare minimum.

Selling ebooks on a personal site can be a harder proposition than people realize, though. Sales tax of various shapes and sizes make international selling a nightmare for a really small business, and yet having books available to some of your visitors and not others feels inhospitable and unfair.

I liked >6 reading_fox: 's idea of a few free books and a tip jar, though.

>12 TimSharrock: eg "I wrote this trilogy thinking about...

I really like reading that sort of stuff too, but since I don't tend to look for it until after I've read the books in question, I've never thought of it as something that sells books before, just as a bonus for those readers who like knowing that kind of thing. :)

But the point of a reader who has only encountered one of the author's books finding more is well taken.

I can't help noticing that once again, its all about selling more titles to someone who has already encountered the first one. It seems the website as a marketing technique is mostly only useful if you have more books available.

My advice to new writers to forget about marketing and just write the next book, is once again validated. But I bet it will continue to be ignored.

14LeonStevens
Mrz. 21, 2020, 4:41pm

>10 LShelby: I signed up for a few marketing webinars and having a mailing list was always on top of the list. Get readers and keep readers. I didn't think that I would use it other than an update or two, but I have been sending out some bonus items such as a short story, links to blogs or articles that I have written. I believe that you need to be careful that you don't send out to often, or sent annoying stuff. If people are aware of what you are using it for then that's cool.

I'm glad that "The Miniscules" can make you laugh. It's easier to come up with humorous ideas than to draw... There is a Miniscules: Origins movie in the works, so look out for that!

15LShelby
Mrz. 23, 2020, 11:38am

>14 LeonStevens:
I can't imagine sending email subscribers anything often enough to annoy them.

I visited Denscott 's page also, BTW and it looked nice, but there's no extras to give me something to chat about. Still, the key information is still key -- thats what apparently really sells books. And sometimes I wonder if all my extras aren't more trouble than benefit.

Currently on my website there is a huge amount of traffic on my pirate paperdoll pages, but its probably all bots. I am getting as much traffic on them in the past 3 months as I did for the entire site last year. I assume they are trying to work their way through every possible combination of outfits, the poor things, but that's what they get for ignoring the instructions to robots warning them away from all my game pages.

Usually the busiest part of my site is the bingo card web-utility I made for people here on LibraryThing to play Bingo with. :)

...

One important piece of key information that all Author Websites need is series information, and I have been following the discussion on what changes to make to series for LT2 with interest, as insight into what info readers want.

Thankfully none of my series are particularly complicated as of yet, and I don't really need to build 'Show just the core series', and 'Show all the extras' views for my website. This is what I think I need:

Series description, that includes if it is one story in multiple books or standalone stories
List of published books in order, with covers.
Planned/upcoming books (Possibly with a link to a "Vote for which planned book you most want to see published" feature?)
Link to the World Info pages. (Separate links to any 'extras' pages, like the webgames?)
Keyword list
Image gallery
My personal note on the series. (Should maybe come before the gallery?)

Did I miss anything?

16LeonStevens
Mrz. 24, 2020, 9:11am

That's a good list. You have pages where people want to return to; a website shouldn't remain static. That was one reason I stared to blog a bit more often, and added bonus cartoons that I did not post on Instagram. I decided to post a short story on my landing page, so that people don't have to navigate anywhere (check it out-I'm sure you'll get a chuckle...)

I think personal comments on anything should come before the information. It's like you have opened the door to a guest and you start a conversation.

Just like the book market is competitive, so is having a popular website.

17paradoxosalpha
Mrz. 24, 2020, 10:29am

I omitted to mention that I maintain a YouTube channel where my book trailers constitute a minority of the content. Many of the pieces there are AV versions of material in my books. I'm due to roll out some new videos over the next month--overdue? Anyway, working on them now.

It's definitely true that a static website is no way to cultivate a following. But if it's been around since Web 1.0, like mine has, it has the virtue of being linked and indexed like nobody's business, so that's worth keeping in place.

18LShelby
Mrz. 25, 2020, 11:33am

>16 LeonStevens: "I think personal comments on anything should come before the information."

I see your point about being personable, but this worries me. I am afraid that people who are just looking for information will get annoyed if the have to scroll past my rambling every time.

On a big screen I can use columns to get them both what they want at once, but if anyone is visiting on a small screen I can't. Small screens cannot be ignored.

The truth is that I was healthy enough to get online months before I became fully active on LibraryThing again. So why the delay? While I was offline my laptop died, and we couldn't justify replacing a machine I could not then use. So I only had a tablet. Most of the administrative stuff I do here in Hobnob was so very difficult to do on my little tablet, that I gave up. (Mind you if 6 months of trying not to move at all hadn't turned me into an utter wimp I might not have given up so quickly.)

So now I'm wondering if there is any way to discern and divide the "I just want the facts" traffic from the "I'm here to browse" traffic, so that I can customize to both sets.

Buttons on the first page that say, "Explore my worlds", and "Book Info" maybe?

Ultimately they would lead to the same stuff, but prioritized and displayed differently.

>17 paradoxosalpha:

I watched one of your book trailers once, but I didn't think to check out the rest of your channel. Must rectify. :)

On my current site I have blog posts dating back to 2004, but the older ones were copied over from a previous site. My first website predated even those by at least six years. I used it to make webgames to amuse my kids. :)

When I started on this site, it was static, and the bones of a static site remain, but gradually I added more and more code, integrated the database, side-loaded wordpress...
And there's still also games, because the kick I get out of making those has not changed.

I don't currently have anything like a "vote for the book you most want to see published" but I have the skills: if the readers would like it, I can build it. >:)

19LeonStevens
Mrz. 25, 2020, 8:37pm

>18 LShelby: I think your site is set up well, although I view it on a laptop. Your blog is right there, which makes it personal immediately and if visitors don't want to read it, the links are straightforward. I think my site is viewed on a smartphone/tablet any menu buttons default to the top as a drop down. I never tried because I don't have either, but my editing page gives me different viewing. options.

Big thing to keep in mind is to clear it clean and easy - yours is.

20LShelby
Mrz. 26, 2020, 7:09pm

I'm glad you think its clean and easy.

I do try hard not to make it obvious just how huge it is. I'm hoping to lure people into the maze so that my pet minotaur can then eat them after they get lost. ;)

More seriously, I did put quite a bit of thought into the interface, but it's starting to show its age.

Creating a smartphone useable interface is top of the list of fixes I want to make to the site before I release my next four books.

Because some of the design choices I made will not convert well to a smaller screen, it will also need a bit of a stylistic makeover. While thinking about stylistic changes, I came up with a new title and tag-line:

THE WORLDS OF L.SHELBY
--An invitation to adventure!

How does it sound?

Most of the rest of the changes I want are about building a readership. Offering a mailing list for book release news, letting people become members, giving them membership privileges like seeing background info not available to casual browsers, voting on what order I write books in, and earning goodies by posting or playing the games, that kind of thing.

I like the free ebooks and the tip jar, idea too, so I've trying to figure out how to approach it. It's not like I have a backlog of professionally edited out of print books to draw on.

Amazon gets mad when you offer a book publicly for less than you are selling it on Amazon. But if it's availability is part of the membership privileges, that's not public anymore, right?

So... become a member and add your name to the mailing list, to gain access to free downloads of the first book in each series?

21LeonStevens
Mrz. 26, 2020, 7:53pm

>20 LShelby: THE WORLDS OF L.SHELBY --An invitation to adventure! I like it. Everything that you mentioned are the keys to keeping readers. We are in the entertainment business, aren't we?

22reading_fox
Mrz. 27, 2020, 7:50am

>2o "Amazon gets mad when you offer a book publicly for less than you are selling it on Amazon. But if it's availability is part of the membership privileges, that's not public anymore, right?

So... become a member and add your name to the mailing list, to gain access to free downloads of the first book in each series?
"

I would explicitly add that line about Amazon I probably wouldn't normally signup for membership, but realising it's just trying to avoid restrictions would help.

23LShelby
Mrz. 28, 2020, 11:22am

>21 LeonStevens:
I like to think that I'm entertaining people. If the two I am working on now are not entertaining, there isn't much of a point to them.

(I told somebody that I was working on a space opera, and she thought it was hilarious that I was willing to admit as much. I told her the situation was worse than that, it was 'pulptastic' space opera. There are some people who think that I'm belittling myself somehow when I admit that I write things that are just supposed to be fun. But as a long-term invalid I believe strongly in the positive power of fun reads. --Although I do try to write fun reads that aren't also stupid reads, because I'm snobbish like that.-- Maybe now that so much of the rest of the world is roughly in the same boat I am, more people will understand where I'm coming from.)

>22 reading_fox:
Thanks for that tip.

I too would be more likely to sign up for a membership if I realized the was some non-marketing reason behind requiring it. So I should have thought of that, but I didn't.

24WendyGamble
Bearbeitet: Apr. 12, 7:38am

>20 LShelby:
"Amazon gets mad when you offer a book publicly for less than you are selling it on Amazon. But if it's availability is part of the membership privileges, that's not public anymore, right?"

I've heard offering free incentives is a good way to go vs free or reduced books. ie a free art print with a book...

OMG you are all so full of great tips re websites. I have big plans, including games, vids etc but almost none of it has been implemented.

I've had enough trouble getting basic info up. The Wordpress boxes don't always do what they're told. I've been itching to make some little video games...I've browsed a bit at templates, but I have so much else to get done. It's on my list!

Interesting about some of the opposite opinions re chatty stuff vs important info first an obvious. I suspect that just as we have different opinions on that, readers do to.

25slarken
Apr. 12, 12:37pm

Like many of you, I rarely look at author websites. However, at the other end of the spectrum, if I do look for a website and can't find one, I'm annoyed that it doesn't exist!

Consequently, I think it's important to have one. In fact, I believe it's even vital, if only to build a newsletter. But it can be a great way also to communicate info about your universe (note that I said 'universe' not 'books') to your fans.

It's not like it's that expensive to have either. There are some really cheap (even free) options out there. Of course, it helps if you know some basic html and can build it yourself.

Loving this topic. Gave me a bunch of ideas for stuff I could add to my own site.

Here's my link, BTW:

http://steffenlarken.com/

26LShelby
Apr. 14, 11:05pm

>24 WendyGamble: "I've heard offering free incentives is a good way to go vs free or reduced books. ie a free art print with a book..."

Aha! I always planned to, if I ever managed to do an in-person event, give out free hand-tatted bookmarks as a bonus for buying my dead-tree books. (The bookmarks may be worth more than the books, so maybe that would more accurately be a free book with a purchase of a bookmark?)

But the bookmarks are light and easy to mail, so I could probably use them as a website bonus as well. I must contemplate this possibility.

I admit that I find the new fancier Wordpress a bit of a pain. I don't need or want that many bells and whistles. Especially when I can do all the same stuff without help already.

If you have an idea for a very simple game, I might be talked into coding it for you, for the price of being allowed to put a slightly adapted variant on my own site as well. :)

27LShelby
Apr. 14, 11:28pm

>25 slarken:
You seem to have covered all the essentials in a nice compact space. :)

I'm thinking that a series description might be nice -- you know, explaining how it's a series of novellas, each with a complete plot, but also all following an over-arching plot, with maybe some world background expounded, or at least hinted at. But I'm not entirely sure where to put the link that wouldn't clutter-up your current stream-lined interface. Maybe in the banner? "Available Titles in (link)Name of Series(endlink)" ? ::scratches head::

It's all so very simple and 'elegant' as it is.

28LeonStevens
Apr. 15, 11:28am

>25 slarken:
I agree with LShelby, very clean website.

29slarken
Apr. 15, 1:42pm

>27 LShelby: & >28 LeonStevens:
Thanks guys, appreciate the feedback.

And yeah, I'm planning to add more stuff. Definitely world background info (including a map I still haven't gotten around to doing grmph).

Series description is a good idea. Especially since there will be multiple series, so it'd be a logical add.

All new links would just go into the menu, I still have some space there for a couple more entries ;)

30WendyGamble
Apr. 16, 10:44am

>26 LShelby: LShelby
I will totally get back to you about a little game. For sure you could use it yourself, adapted or not as you prefered.

I've added some basic links and things but I don't want to encourage critique yet. I will make a real effort on it after the book is totally ready to go.

I love the other sites I'm seeing from on here. I've always wanted a cool, movie-like website, but it doesn't really make sense for novels. I think you're right clean, neat, easy to read and navigate vs full of vids and even a lot of pics probably.

31LShelby
Bearbeitet: Apr. 16, 7:34pm

>30 WendyGamble:
If you look at what you posted, my name is at the top twice. This is probably because you wrote in the little header yourself instead of hitting reply.

Obviously it is possible to write in the headers yourself, I do it all the time, responding to two or three messages in one message. But all I write is the arrow and the number. LibraryThing automatically scans your messages looking for combinations of arrow plus number, and then it fills in the name of the person who posted the message matching that number, and turns it into a link.

"I will totally get back to you about a little game."
Excellent! If you wanat some idea of what I've already done, check out my Fun Stuff page

As for vids and pics...
I think graphic elements are totally a bonus, and they do make a site more appealing, but only if they directly relate to the books. Otherwise, they are clutter. Most authors don't have a lot of artwork available to post. Just book covers, and that's it.

I... have quite a lot of art, actually. If you browse through the world info pages you will find maps, charts, diagrams, illustrations, character portraits, etc. There is also an art gallery for each world. (And an integrated art gallery for the entire site, tucked away on the Fun Stuff page.)

I haven't really got any videos, though. :(
Making videos is on my "hope to do someday" list. A book trailer or three would seem most particularly apropo.

paradoxosalpha makes book trailers for his books, maybe he could give us some video making advice.

32WendyGamble
Apr. 18, 11:03am

>31 LShelby:
Thanks for the info on posting replies.
Your site does have a lot on it!
I'm excited now at the thought of working on my website, as soon as the book is in it's final shape for release.

33LShelby
Apr. 21, 10:18am

>33 LShelby: "Your site does have a lot on it!"

And you thought my comments about getting lost in the maze were mere exaggerations! ;)

Apparently my daughter just dragged her boyfriend over there recently so he could find out why he got kicked out of fantasy hero school, and could read a few of Peluge's Preposterous Adventures. So it seems my games are not solely played by bots after all.

...

My latest thought on web-design, by the way, is that with touch screens tabs become a less awesome a metaphor (for the record, my web design experience predates tabs --darned newfangled concepts!) and pages that are flipped as you swipe would be better.

But does that mean I need to create different visuals for a touch version and a mouse version, or can I get away with clicking on a page corner to turn pages?

34WendyGamble
Apr. 22, 7:45am

Hmm. I know some hold-outs who don't like touch screens. You're right, though about needed pages, not having things needed scrolling down. Something to work on. So maybe an arrow to click with a mouse option as well as touch friendly?

35slarken
Apr. 22, 8:45am

I'm not sure I understand the issue? Scrolling down on a touchscreen isn't that difficult, you can just slide your finger across the screen?

36tbarton
Apr. 22, 12:18pm

Hi, I'm new here. I built my own website using bootstrap. I wanted something with no cookies. I also wanted to be able to choose how it was hosted, so that I could run it on an environmentally friendly server. The one I found runs on solar panels and tesla batteries.

I'm happy to answer any questions about bootstrap (if I can), or the host I used.

What are author sites useful for? I like the frank answers already given; a necessary evil, build a newsletter. They will never shift books by the crate load, and we wouldn't want them to either, would we? Such would be a crazy, unworkable world...

37LShelby
Apr. 23, 6:26pm

>36 tbarton:
I think I would start my questions with 'What is bootstrap'?

I'm not sure why having cookies is evil. It's just a way of letting the user store their information on their own machine instead of on my server. I haven't really done much code involving them, though. Some bookmark code for the stuff that's available to read online, that's about it. (Although, my site does have Wordpress side-loaded onto it, so that may have generated some cookies also.)

But if I did make a different interface for touchscreen vs mouse, storing the user's interface preference in a cookie would be ideal, wouldn't it?

...I think I'm okay with my books shifting by the crate load, as long as I'm not the one moving the crates. :)

38WendyGamble
Bearbeitet: Mai 6, 4:46am

>35 slarken:
I've heard people don't scroll down on a website. They click to get there, and what they see on their screen is what they see a lot of the time. It has to be REALLY easy for people to find things.

>26 LShelby:
I've been browsing for inspiration on little games for book websites. What do you think of using the free or maybe later paid ones on https://gamescreate.com/ . Basically, you can write a story with multiple choice options, and they make it look good. My husband said, why couldn't I do it myself, but I think it's more complicated than he thinks to make it work well.
I've made cryptogram puzzled, and would like to put them up but instead of just printable, with people able to type in letters. There are existing sites for that I might be able to use. Your match-up game is fun, nice artwork too.
I like the idea of a game where if a word (from the fictional universe or related term) is unscrambled, the space ship (in my case) moves a stop closer to the goal. If making something like that, that you could use too interests you let me know.

39LeonStevens
Mai 6, 9:01am

>38 WendyGamble: "I've heard people don't scroll down on a website. "
I think this is very true. Put all your good stuff right there and make sure the menu is easy to find.

40LShelby
Mai 8, 10:27am

>38 WendyGamble:

I went to gamescreate, and looked briefly at one game (that didn't seem to be a game at all, just a story where you had to click a "choice"--but only one choice was offered--in order to get to the next page), and then when I tried to look at a second one it told me I'd used up my free play time.

But a multiple choice story is super easy to do. One of the first things I ever put up on a website was a story like that. (About a baby dragon looking for the song its long lost mother used to sing to it).

For those sorts of story games, it's writing of the story that is the real chore. So if you want to write and post a multiple choice story, I would be happy to do the technical end for you. You would just need to send me the text files of the story, with the choice links clearly delineated. (Using page numbers usually works best. I can remove/hide the numbers when I put it together for the web.)

A word scramble game also sounds fun, easy to "theme" to a particular story or author, and not particularly difficult. (But unlike the multiple choice story it does involve actual coding.) I will get to work on one, and let you know when the demo is ready for you to view and critique. :)

...
The matchup game came about because I already had the artwork, btw. I built a mini-dragon breeding game first, and it generates a nearly endless supply of "jewelwyrm" dragon artwork by recoloring and recombining the graphic elements I created for it. So I asked myself... what else can I do with all these little dragon pictures?

"I've heard people don't scroll down on a website."
Obviously they do...

...But ONLY if something they have already started looking at is holding their attention well enough to do so. If you have a blog, and they read the first half of a blog post, they will probably scroll down enough to see at least the second half of that same post.

But they aren't likely to scroll down looking for something to interest them. If they aren't already interested, they are gone. So I agree wholeheartedly with >39 LeonStevens: put the good stuff at the top. :)

Also, long scrolls can get awkward. Endlessly scrolling pages are currently considered a design no-no. It's too hard to get back to any particular part of the page. (I know I find them annoying. I don't usually complain much, but I just reported a bug in one app I use where I am sent to an endlessly scrolling calendar, and it always brought me in at the beginning of the calendar, January 1971, with nothing to allow me to jump to today's date. Scrolling up to 2021 from 1971 is a waaaayyyy too much scrolling. It made that particular feature essentially unusable.)

41WendyGamble
Bearbeitet: Mai 8, 11:05am

>40 LShelby:
Ok, thanks so much, I'll get to work on it.
Let me know what I can do in return for you. I don't know if my art style suits you but I could try something if you like. I could certainly critique a story if you want.
I have ship art, planet clip art to use in the scrambled word game described.

42LShelby
Mai 9, 8:49pm

So I have a very basic, very ugly version (using artwork I had on hand, and a list of fruits) working at:
https://www.lshelby.com/Utilities/Scramble/scramble.php

I'm thinking it needs some kind of settings file so that a non-coder can set up the word list, and other options...

...and maybe a hint system, a points system, and a cool drag and drop interface?

But that will probably have to wait for another weekend.

In the meantime I guess I'll drop you my email on your profile, Wendy, so that I can get the art, and start skinning it. (Unless you want to use my art... I would need to shrink down a spaceship picture to the right size, but I've got a few of 3D spaceship renders wandering about, so that's easy enough... it's just that I don't know what suits your story universe.)

43WendyGamble
Mai 10, 5:51am

>42 LShelby:
Wow that was fast! How cool! Lol took me longer than it should have to unscramble, but it's fun. It's actually fine as is with the typing, but any of those extras you feel like adding, go for it. I love it. I'll send you stuff and be patient. I do have ship drawings I bought rights to that are specific to my setting/universe. Not in 3d though. Anyway, I'll email.

When there's a version on my site I'll post the link in here so people can see (and play).

44LShelby
Mai 16, 9:58pm

I have made it so that the webpage owner can change the word list and adjust some of the settings by editing a simple text file, and I have added an optional points/lives system. I have also added WendyGamble's spaceship art, and done a little bit of additional work in the aesthetics department. :)

In the process I may have made the game a bit harder (the new word list, mostly), although I did adjust some settings to make it shorter in compensation. (After all, what's the use of having adjustable settings if you don't then adjust some of them?)

I was tempted to duplicate the folder, and then do a completely different set of images, words and settings to show how much can be changed without needing to recode anything, but I ran out of time.

45WendyGamble
Mai 21, 4:05pm

That sounds really cool! I see it's at the above link
https://www.lshelby.com/Utilities/Scramble/scramble.php
Let me know if I can put in on my site or link to it from there. Have fun!
I finally had a review come in on Goodreads for the new book. I'll catch up here later, been doing family mail about a little emergency. People are so nice, and interesting on here!

46rchapman1
Mai 26, 7:39pm

I think readers expect an author to have a website, if they are serious about their writing, even if they don't want to visit!

My website, http://www.ritaleechapman was built on Crazydomains - my only disappointment is that it doesn't have an archiving feature.

I enjoy interviewing a different author on my website each week, after which I move the interview to a Previous Authors page for a few months, thus overcoming the lack of archiving, to a degree. I am fascinated by other authors' working style, how they came to write their first book, pet stories etc.

As I love travelling I also include some photos of my last trip. At the moment there are photos from many different places as I wait (patiently?) to travel again.

Of course, there is also lots of information on my books!

(Any authors interested in being interviewed can contact me through the website).

47LeonStevens
Mai 27, 11:57am

>46 rchapman1: "I think readers expect an author to have a website..." - I believe that is true about most things now.

I have a few main pages (other than my main page). Purchase links, my blog, my music, and a page where I can promote other writers works.

48WendyGamble
Jun. 2, 1:20am

>44 LShelby:
You're amazing! I'm itching to try out making a word list etc but am trying not to pester you lol. You have my email. Thanks!

49WendyGamble
Jun. 10, 4:22am

>44 LShelby:
Very cool! I can pay you something to let me post it on my site. I put another post but I for got to do it as a reply to you. Sorry! And thanks so much!

50LShelby
Jun. 23, 3:38pm

I apologize for disappearing. I unfortunately do it frequently. :(

>49 WendyGamble: Did you get the game working on your site?

Back to the original topic...
>47 LeonStevens: "and a page where I can promote other writers works."

This attracted my attention. In theory I have a page that lists some of my writing friends, but in actual fact its probably buried so deep that nobody but the bots ever find it, and I bet its out of date too.

I'm trying to figure out how much use I have for it as a reader. If I were on someone else's site, would I actually care about "List of Writer Acquaintances The Author met by Random Chance and thought were Nice People"? I'm not sure I would. But a list of "Other authors that people think my books are similar to", might have a pretty strong appeal.

It might be a nice section to use for fan interaction (assuming I ever get fans coming to my site.) -- Allow reader comments on what similarities and differences those authors' books have with the Author's books. I'm thinking such a section would be interesting and informative for both people wanting to know more about my books, and people who are already avid fans of mine, looking for "more like me'.

As a writer, though, I'm still sort of in favor of supporting my writer friends, even if their books have nothing in common with mine at all. So that a bit of a quandary.

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

51WendyGamble
Jun. 24, 4:19am

>50 LShelby:
Thanks for asking and making such a cool little game. It's not working yet, I think I might need to try loading it somewhere other than my free wordpress site. I'm not sure I tried all the ways to load it yet, I was hoping my CS son or brother might have advice, but no suggestions from them.

My daughter really liked your novella Velvet Lies, she gave it five stars.

52LeonStevens
Jun. 24, 4:13pm

>50 LShelby: As a writer, though, I'm still sort of in favor of supporting my writer friends, even if their books have nothing in common with mine at all.

It is still a work in progress. I put all my cross-promotion campaigns there, plus books that I mention in newsletter swaps. I do a Free Book Friday post each week. I get 10 - 20 views/month. Not a lot but every little bit helps.

http://linesbyleon.com/discover-new-authors-and-free-books/

Wendy, I have sci-fi readers subscribing to my newsletter, if you are interested in doing a book mention.

53WendyGamble
Jun. 25, 7:23am

>52 LeonStevens:
I'm not sure how I can help you yet, but let me know the details, I would be happy to have the chance.
You're welcome to email be : wendy at wendygamble.com or put info here or in a profile message.

54LeonStevens
Jun. 25, 9:44am

>53 WendyGamble: Done! (emailed that is...)

55LShelby
Jun. 25, 10:51am

>51 WendyGamble:
I seem to recall that free wordpress sites are a bit limited in what can be put on them and how. I will look into it and get back to you via email.

"My daughter really liked your novella Velvet Lies"
I'm glad she enjoyed it. Tell her I said thanks!

That series is a shared world series, and the two novels can be read in either order. Cantata is a bit more romance-y and Pavane is a bit more intrigue-y. Both of them are written from the first person pov of a Borgim, so (especially for Cantata) instead of getting the court-speak filtered through an outsider viewpoint, you are exposed to it directly. The narrator of Cantata lies incessantly: "I naturally did not notice how attractive the high lady was, the great hall was not filled with scornful tittering, and my lord most certainly never said anything inappropriate about the moral worthiness of the mother moon." This amuses some readers a lot, but other readers find it too difficult to deal with when simultaneously trying to follow the plot and get used to a very unfamiliar setting. Pavane is supposedly compiled from a private diary so it's a little bit more forthright. :)

56LShelby
Jun. 25, 11:04am

>52 LeonStevens: "It is still a work in progress. I put all my cross-promotion campaigns there, plus books that I mention in newsletter swaps. I do a Free Book Friday post each week. I get 10 - 20 views/month. Not a lot but every little bit helps."

Having interacted with me for this long here, I am sure everyone has figured out why I shy away from anything with a regular schedule. I already know I won't be able to stick to it, no matter how hard I try. (I did post my graphic novel as a webcomic regularly, but that is because it was entirely pre-written, and the posts were automated.)

I gotta admit, though, I really like the notion of your a free book Friday where you let your readers know about other people's free books. Very nice! Listing other people's book releases I also like, but don't think would work for me either. I would need to come up with some form of promotion that isn't as time sensitive. :(

57LeonStevens
Jun. 26, 8:56am

>56 LShelby: I didn't think I would blog as much as I do when I started, but I do enjoy coming up with entertaining/informative posts. It also makes me hit my goal of writing everyday. My blog topics are:

Music Monday- I talk about my compositions and techniques or something music related
Tuesday Tidbits / Tuesday Tirade - Depending on my mood, something funny or I may decide to rant a bit.
Weird Wednesday - I post my cartoons and observations
Thursday Thoughts - Maybe something deep, maybe something humorous. Usually humorous
Free Book Friday - We all know what that is
Weekend Wrap-up - I highlight my posts for the week and link other people's posts that I found interesting
Second Chance Sunday - I go back a few months to boost an underperforming post

Now, I don't often do all 7 days, usually 4 or 5. But Wednesday/Friday/Saturday I always do.

Some of my posts are written before hand, but many are spontaneous, which I prefer.

58WendyGamble
Jun. 28, 5:31am

>55 LShelby:
I will buy her more of your books, probably in Sept for her birthday. She was happily chatting about it.

I noticed when I was on Amazon that you don't seem to have a series page set up. I really would recommend you (and everyone else) do it, it's free. You can see what I did with mine at
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08Y71CSHT

If someone looks at one book, the rest are very visible. Just go to your Amazon author bookshelf and click to start a series.