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What to put on an author’s website: your book page (with links!)

If you’re an author, you must have a modern website.  Modern.  Not something that looks like you made it in 2000 (sorry, old-guard science fiction authors, but it’s true.)  Relying on your Amazon author page is a huge mistake.

You may not want to do it, but a website is a basic requirement.  It’s a professional tool that shows your readers that you’re serious about your job (of writing books).  If you update it reliably, your readers will know that you are reliable, and you’ll keep their interest.

If you don’t give this assurance, you look unreliable.  Readers will wonder if you’ve abandoned your work.  There are many other writers who do have a modern, updated website.  This makes readers able to predict that you will release more in the future.  People need this comfortable assurance, especially if you are a series writer.

People guard their time very carefully.  A reasonably up to date website will help them make the “right decision” about investing their time and lives into your work.

This series of articles will help you do the minimum on a website and still meet the requirements… one page at a time.

Today, we’ll just be looking at your “books page.”

You must have a book page WITH WORKING LINKS.

If you only have one page, make it this one.  If you don’t have this page, it’s like going to The Gap’s website and finding nothing for sale.  Your job isn’t just to write books.  Your job is to write books and get paid.  Otherwise, you just have a hobby.

Your books page should be up to date and list your books in an organized fashion.  It doesn’t have to be fancy or use custom styling.  It just has to be organized and have working links.  Worry about the other stuff later.

Here are some sample book listings for your “books page:”

Eli and the Rainbow Umbrella

Series: Rainbow Discovery (#2)

Published: January 25, 2017

Children’s fantasy, grades K-3.  85 pages.

Eli sees something sticking out of a dumpster and can’t resist finding out what it is.  He and his friends pull out a mysterious glowing rainbow umbrella that they take turns using in the pouring rain.  They think it’s an ordinary umbrella, but it turns out to bring more fun than they ever dreamed.

Where to buy:

Sarah and the Rainbow Star

Series: Rainbow Discovery (#1)

Published: October 15, 2016

Children’s fantasy, grades K-3.  85 pages.

Walking home from school with her sister, 4th grader Sarah and her younger sister June discover something glittering in the bushes: a glowing rainbow star from another planet!  They put it in their treasure box, but when things in their house start changing around them, they know that the rainbow star is more than just a pretty treasure. A wacky, magical adventure.

Where to buy:

 

You need:

  • A small image of your cover (150 x 200 or whatever the dimensions are).  Most people will expect that when you click on the image, they go somewhere.  So make it a link to a sales page, like Amazon, or a “more info” page like this one.
  • The title, which should also be a link to Amazon or the “more info” page.
  • If it belongs in a series, and where it belongs.  If there’s a series, this should link to the “series page” on Amazon or your author page on Amazon, etc.
  • The release date.
  • The genre and number of pages or length (novel, novella, word count, etc.)
  • The 1-paragraph “executive summary” – they can get the full writeup on the sales page.
  • Working links for where to find your book (Kobo, Amazon, etc.)

Doing this sucks!  It’s boring, I fully admit it.  I get paid to do it because no one else wants to.

But it is easy.  You may not want to do it, but it’s not as hard as writing a whole book.  So suck it up, buttercup, as my mother used to say.

Do not be lazy!  Do it 100% or not at all.

Don’t be lazy about hunting up all the links.  You only have to do this once, so do it right.  If you leave some e-tailers un-linked, you will get an email from someone who will ask you to link to them on your website.

I know, you may think, “Do they actually use the internet??”

But it’s not laziness.  It’s that most people are afraid of doing the wrong thing.  Most people are looking for an authority to tell them what to do.  It’s a complicated world – these days, it’s often easier to trust someone else than trust yourself.

So, these readers somehow won’t trust their own research and want to get all their info from an authority source (you.)  Even if you give them the exact same -tailer page as the one they found themselves.

This is also where you list audiobooks.

Do you have audiobooks?  Definitely blow the trumpet about this one – some people are crazy for them and will want to know.  Audiobooks are pricey and you can make some affiliate money if you send them to Amazon with your own affiliate link.

That’s all for now!  Next, I’ll go over what to put in your single-book info pages.  You don’t have to have them.  But you should.  And it’s way easy with WooCommerce (WordPress.)

  • Katherine
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Imagining Your Audience

I have so many draft posts that are 80% finished, but aren’t ready to be released into the wild yet. Here’s something I thought of today, and would love to know if you have the same experience.

I am a dedicated amateur writer. I do it for love and fun, and mostly to amuse, embarrass, and horrify my immediate circle of friends. I have no real drive to “go pro,” mostly because I have a career I love already (entertainment marketing) — and I mean, I really really, love it.

On my birthday (Friday), I am getting two of my closest friends & clients together for drinks, and we are going to talk shop. Because that’s how much I like to do it.

But there are fundamental drawbacks to not being a pro, ones that might affect the quality of my writing. I don’t think of it as a job, because it isn’t one, for me. I do wait until I feel “inspired,” which no professional has the luxury of doing. And sometimes, I will want to write, but it feels impossible to connect emotionally with the story enough to make my writing feel true.

Today, I figured out the answer (for me): imagining my intended audience. I’m working on a private XXX-Mas story that is intended to horrify, embarrass, and amuse my friends. The first 1300 words came easily, and I cackled evilly with every paragraph. But today? I looked at the words and felt like I was writing a technical document. It’s not that the writing was bad; my heart just wasn’t in it.

But I realized my mistake: I was thinking, “Oh, I have to work on this piece.” My mindset, going into the story, was much different: “OMG, they’re not gonna believe I went there. What else can I do to make ’em squirm?”

Once I started envisioning the end result, everything in my mind just fell into place. It was easy to pick up where I left off.

It’s stupidly obvious to me now — it’s simple goal setting. My friend, a personal trainer, could have told me this in an instant; she always advises her clients to think of the end result (being thinner, stronger, etc) — not the going-to-the-gym part.

I am an entertainer. My goal is to get a certain reaction out of my audience. Without that, my work is meaningless. I don’t enjoy the actual work of writing, but the end result.

Is it the same for you? Comment below if you have something to add. (Gotta work on my story… XXXMas is coming, and my deadline looms.)

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Fanfiction & Idea Scarcity

This is going to be a quick and unedited post, but this topic has been on my mind.  Names omitted to protect the parties involved.

Here’s the situation, and I’m sure it has happened more than once.

Someone wrote a novel-length, pretty good fanfiction story in a well-established fandom.  When my friend went to look for it, years later, it was gone.  Not unusual, right?  Fanfiction archives come and go. But she rediscovered… it as original fiction!  The author had turned her fanfiction story into an original novel and is now selling it through one of the M/M niche presses.

Is this cool?

As I have discovered from my own efforts, some fanfiction is so far off from the original story that you can’t really say it’s fanfiction!  I couldn’t claim that my own story had any place whatsoever in the fandom (such as it is), but was only “inspired by” the original.  Many of the better AUs I’ve looked at fall into this category for sure.

I’ve always thought that fanfiction is 50% original, anyway.  FF writers bring their own ideas and life experience into the existing work, creating a synergy that is half theirs.  Is this part of why fanfiction is such a gray area?

Anyway, when I heard about this, my reaction wasn’t automatically, “OMG she’s trying to make money off fanfiction, that’s so wrong!” If the writer could sell the manuscript without her characters smelling like the originals, chances are, her story had very little in common with the parent work in the first place.

“I’m never going to have an idea as good as this one.”

I used to be a mass-market product marketer.  Now, I have become an art, entertainment, and info-tainment marketer.  I work with artists, and one of the biggest obstacles I run into is their belief in good idea scarcity.

They don’t want to give away anything for free because they’re afraid they will have nothing left.  Or that their next work may not be as good.  This is usually BS, of course, but that fear creates the reality.  One of the hardest parts of my job is convincing artists to offer free samples when possible… to give more of themselves and their work than they are comfortable with.

Writers are the worst offenders, but musicians are the coolest about this.  Some writers are totally cool, too, but they are usually the experienced ones used to deadlines.  The authors with the confidence and proof that their well will never run dry, even under adverse circumstances (like writing books “by committee” under a Big Name Publisher.)

My own reaction.

I don’t think it was morally wrong to turn what must have been a serious AU into original fiction.  And yanking what used to be a freely available story, making minor alterations, and putting it behind a pay wall… well, I would never do that, but I guess it was her right?  I’m not too sure about what I think about this — hopefully comments will help me clarify my own reaction.

What I felt the most was sorry. I don’t know the reality of the situation, but it smacks of “I will never write something as good as this again.”  If she were truly confident in her ability to write more good stories, would she have done that?

Dunno.  What do you think?