Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thursday's Pre-Publication Post: Consolidation Time

The Practicing Writer Web site is now approaching its sixth birthday. So much in my writing life has changed since it was launched in the summer of 2004. I've moved to a new city; shifted from freelancing and teaching to a full-time (albeit writing-and-editing-intensive) office job; added poetry-writing to my personal practice; established the Practicing Writing and My Machberet blogs; started a Twitter feed; expanded the subscriber list for The Practicing Writer newsletter from 400 to more than 3,200 readers; and, oh yes, finally found a home for my short story collection, Quiet Americans.

I don't believe that the original site has kept up with the times. I've often thought that if I were re-starting my online presence, I'd do it through a blog-based platform (Wordpress seems to be a common choice). And I've often wished for a single, easily-edited and super-flexible space in which I could base myself, my writing (of all kinds), and my services for writers. Consolidation seems most appealing!

I've also thought that it's probably time for me to add some kind of direct merchandising/sales capacity to my site; those of you who haven't been completely satisfied by Lulu's handling of the e-book sales will probably agree.

Now that Quiet Americans is on its way, it seems to be the perfect time to take a good, solid look at what my primary Web presence should be--and work to create it. So I've been reaching out to designers for ideas about their processes, products, and prices. I'm learning a lot, but I'd love to glean the benefits of YOUR experiences and insights.

Which author sites do you particularly admire? Why? Based on your own experiences as an author (or as a reader), what advice can you offer me as I pursue this? What do you wish someone had told you before you (or your designer) built (or rebuilt) YOUR main site? And are there any designers out there whom you'd recommend?

I am really looking forward to your comments. I say it often, but it can't be overemphasized: I am tech-challenged! I will appreciate all the help that you can offer!


John said...

These guys did my personal site. They're the best.

Theresa Milstein said...

Happy blog birthday!

I'm not in a position to offer advice, but I'm sure others are.

Sun Singer said...

The interesting thing I note in writer's sites is the wide difference between those of mainstream, well-known writers and those of unknown writers (of which I am one).

Sometimes, I think I should pretend I am known and do a site like that rather than one with all the usual "oh gee, I'm finally published" kind of stuff.

Good luck on your journey to figure it all out.


Osayi Endolyn said...

So, I know I"m super late to this post, but I can totally relate to wondering how to manage all the different channels of online communication and developing a site!

I started mine w/ trial and error and after a few months I've noticed what I want to do differently as I prepare to launch my new site (w/ Wordpress!).

I think the first step is to accumulate links to sites that inspire you - do you like one column or three? Lots of color or neutral? What info do you want to be immediately available for readers on your homepage?

Then, move slowly, take your time. And my favorite part - if you don't like it, change it! Getting a little tech hip won't hurt as much as you think.

Erika D. said...

I appreciate all of these comments!

gail said...

I apologize for being a month late commenting on this post, but I have noticed something regarding author websites that you might like to consider. I visit a lot of children's author websites, and the elaborate, expensive sites maintained by some of the bigger name authors are not necessarily very functional. They can be slow to load and difficult to navigate. Gimmicks and bells and whistles don't necessarily communicate info, they just take up readers' time. I have sometimes given up and left websites without finding the info I was looking for.

So I keep those things in mind whenever we're updating or doing a big revision on my site.