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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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Why I support the un-sellable (erotica)

Even today, my parents don’t know exactly what I do.  They know that I “support indie authors,” but they don’t know exactly what that means.

This is because, well, they’re conservative and tetchy about sex, and if they found out that I am an adult fiction and sexual expression advocate, it would open up a bewildering tangle of conversation.  They’d end up thinking, “She’s so smart.  So normal.  What is wrong with her that she prefers to support indie EROTICA?  Why, if she just used her skills in the corporate world, she’d be making boatloads of money.  Why does she read ‘that trash?’  Why does she want to help people sell it?!”

They’re not unusual.  As we’re seen from B&N, Twitter, and Amazon, a lot of people are weird about even fiction that contains sex, such that they make it un-sellable.  So, why do I continue to support it?  Why do I throw my lot in with the low-margin, hard-to-advertise, blacklisted books that people want to write, instead of going back to my old job at an ad agency?

A lot of reasons.

1) I want to read it.  Since I was a young teen, sexual expression through fiction has been important to me — just as it is for any teen!  As an adult, I want to read stories in a world that includes adult matters, which includes sex.  This is the world I want to live in, so I must help create it.

2) The corporate “content police” are everywhere, and it’s worrying.  Today, it may be “deviant” sex.  Tomorrow, it may be the most innocent of romance novels.  Without every advocate spreading the word about this, anyone who writes adult content is in danger of being unjustly shut down.  I want to help people stop depending solely on Amazon and B&N, etc, so that this doesn’t happen.

3) But most of all, I want to help sell something that I think is worth buying.  That doesn’t take advantage of people and make them shell out money they don’t have because they want to believe in a fantasy future that doesn’t exist.  That I buy, myself.

When I discovered Anais Nin’s work, it not only entertained me, but made me aware that all humans are sexual creatures, and gave me insight into the complex subject of adult sexuality.  It actually helped me think about and get comfortable with my own sexual nature long before I was ready to actually have sex with another person.

I am interested in supporting entertainment that enhances people’s lives and make life more worth living.  This means art, and it especially means indie entertainment.  No one is holding people’s emotions hostage when they buy a book, nor are they spending their children’s college fund in the wild hopes that they will be creating a better life for themselves.

So no, though I’ve thought of jumping ship for the corporate world out of social (and material) comfort, it’s probably never going to happen.  I’m one of those annoying “activist” type people… who just happens to have some hefty skills in advertising, copywriting, marketing, and branding.

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Sexism in the SFWA ~ a handful of semi-related, semi-organized thoughts

I’m not an SF writer, nor do I read a lot of it, so I am not really in the middle of the long-standing SFWA disagreement between their old-guard (sexist?) old-man members and what seem like a lot more modern-day thinkers.

In this latest episode, a couple of old guys (Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg) past their physical prime (don’t know about mental/creative prime) wrote a column about “lady writers” and their appearances.

Though this is not really my fight — even “as a woman,” because I just don’t write or read SF — I am still reading through the major reactions from E. Catherine Tobler’s departure from the organization to president Scalzi’s professional and personal response to Vox Day’s almost-rational defense of the old guys — being near to one of them himself.

From my position as a distant newcomer to this conversation, it looks like a case of “people will be people” — old people who have golden memories of the good old days (when men were men and women were secretaries who wore chainmail bikinis?)  It sounds like these two people used to be in power, got used to their voices being the majority, discovered that they were becoming obsolete, and so started trying to rewrite the world by harkening back to their old views and making them seem current.

The gender issue is probably a smokescreen.  It could be race, culture, age — gender is just the issue of the day.  I think the real basis is fear.  Fear of becoming null and void, going from somebody to nobody.  Fear of death.  Without having the miraculous, rare ability to reinvent yourself, your day will be done — and anyone can succumb to fear of that.

I suspect that everybody wants to feel in control of their lives — even though nobody really is.  I have my own neurotic ways of coping.

Perhaps if I were in the SFWA and this directly affected my sales, I would be personally offended and up in arms.  But instead, I am just sad and embarrassed.  It’s especially embarrassing to see this particular human trait exposed so openly in a professional publication.  Though I support the right to these guys’ being able to say what they want in their own op-ed column (correct me if that’s not what it was), I think Livejournal is more the place for this emotional, self-focused processing.

I read the Resnick & Malzberg’s whole thing, and it made me want to cry.  Not for the slight against women, but because they look like fools, holding onto the point of the relentless, speeding arrow of time, trying to slow it down.