Author Websites

I want to talk about author websites. 

Now, bear in mind, this is just my opinion and my personal experience.  I manage my website, along with two others, so I’m aware of how big a job it can be. I’m aware that a lot of things are trial and error. I’ve never taken any HTML classes or any other kind of web design course.  I use a program called Front Page on my website and I’m entirely self taught. 

Some people don’t want to do their own sites and that’s cool.  It’s a headache, even though I love doing it.  Sites like Millenium Promo or web designers like Jewel Stone offer affordable websites for somebody just starting out.  Another option is using a blog instead of a website.  WordPress offers the blog, but you also have the option of adding ‘pages’ that you can lay out to serve the same purpose as a website.

If you are going to do your own, or if you already do, keep a few things in mind.

 Keep it professional:

  • Flashing stars, blinking lights and moving flames generally aren’t very professional looking.  They tend to make the site look amateurish.  They also distract from the main subjects… YOUR BOOKS.
  • Try to use a simple background.  A busy background tends to take away from the site, again distracting the reader from the books.
  • A lot of readers are still on dial up… this means…a lot of graphics are going to make the page load very, very slow.  The reader might not want to wait.  Plus, too many graphics make the page look cluttered.  If you’ve written 30 books, try to figure out a way to separate them into several separate pages so you don’t have 30 jpegs on the cover.

For the erotic romance writer:

  • You might want tone down any risque material and I’m not talking about the excerpts.  If you have a bunch of pics of nekkid men all over the place, or a very explicit header graphic, you might lose a few readers, and not because you write erotic romance.  A lot of erotic romance (ER) readers have kids.  If a mom has her PC in the same room where her three year old plays, do you think that mom is going to stay on your website very long if there’s a couple getting it on at the top of the page?  If you like offering ‘eye candy’ maybe put it on its own page, clearly labeled, and that way the moms out there with kids don’t have to worry their kids are going to catch a peek at something they shouldn’t.  Totally your call, but I’ve left plenty of websites for that same reason and I rarely think to go back after the kidlets have gone to bed.  I don’t always remember or think about it.
  • About those excerpts~yes, you want to appeal to those who are avid (ER)readers.  But if you pick your excerpt carefully, you could pick up some readers who are still kind of on the fence.  (new readers = more money)  If you throw up a menage as your excerpt, you may well pull in the (ER) readers, but it’s probably not going to appeal to somebody uncertain about ER.  A well written, sensual scene, like the prelude to the actual love scene, could make all the difference in the world to whether or not you bring in some readers new to the genre.

Backgrounds & Fonts

  • Watch using excessively bright colors.  Don’t use a vividly colored background, like bright blue, and then put red font on top of it.  I’ve seeen this a million times and I honestly can’t tell if the website had anything interesting or not because red&blue trigger my migraines.  This isn’t uncommon.  Certain color combinations tend to trigger migraines in some people and they subconsciously avoid them…meaning they could leave your website without really looking around. 
  • I’d avoid very bright colors in general, or use them sparingly. 
  • Dark background, use a light font.  Light backgrounds, use a dark font. 
  • Another opinion, I’d steer clear of using too much red.  Red is an attention getter, it jumps out at you.  Used sparingly, this is all good.  But if you have a bunch of red on your website, it can seem like the entire web page is jumping out at you.  Those of us who suffer from migraines can’t handle the stimulation that comes from certain colors.  Red is one of the most common.
  • VAMP & GOTHIC ROMANCE WRITERS… I’ve seen soooo many of these using a black background with a blood red font.  I mean black and red and vamps seem to go together, but that red font isn’t always easy to read.  Just because it’s easy for you to read doesn’t mean it’s easy for others.  If you really want to use black, go for it, but maybe use a soft white font and use red as an accent or in the header or side graphic.
  • Fonts themselves can be a hassle.  Yes, that script does look very pretty but it isn’t always that easy to read.  A font that is too big is annoying.  A font that is too small makes it hard to read.  Experiment around, ask for some opinions and you’ll find something workable for everybody.

Like I said, doing your own website can be a lot of trial and error.  It can cost some money up front getting a decent web design program, but it can save the costs of somebody else maintaining.  Plus you dont’ have to wait your turn for updates.

I’ll do another post later on where to find some decent graphics & websets.