Are you an author? That’s not a trick question. It’s important, so I’m going to repeat it: Are you an author?
If you’re answer is “Yes,” then your website should reflect that. My website design has been evolving over the past year because I’ve often married my day job and freelancing to my writing.
I’m in the process of a redesign and here’s why:
A website offers an impression of who you are and what you do. As you continue to grow in your career, you’re going to attract more readers to your website that are hoping to find what they need. If you’re an author, then the focus should be on your books, not your day job. Readers may want to get to know you, but that’s secondary to your stories. Your books, no matter how old they are, should come first.
The reason why I’m redesign my website, is because I’ve been trying to focus on my books by showing a picture of some of my recent releases and news in the sidebar. However, I did not do a good job of that. I got some feedback from another author who said that wasn’t enough because my blog is the first thing you see and I offer a lot of advice that’s not relevant to my storytelling. So, I’m changing it. Instead, the blog will be on the site, but it won’t be the main focus.
The other thing I did, was restructure the categories from generic advice buckets to more specific and, again, relevant to my books and games. Instead of using names like Tools, Writing and Publishing, I changed it to labels that were aspects of my work as an author. Events, Blog, Books & Stories, Announcements and Work-For-Hire. Since I am also a freelancer, I can tag posts and stick them in that category for people who want to read that.
All of the categories are part of my RSS reed, and they all have individual RSS feeds attached to them. What my new design will do, is put the emphasis on my books and games and not on the hierarchy. That way, the home page visual impression will be: “Yeah, okay. Here’s Monica’s new releases. And if I want to check out her blog, I can do that.”
Mind you, website design is very subjective and can be personal, but I feel that sometimes? We’re missing the big picture because we’re so focused on the articles and blog posts we’re writing. Websites aren’t just about words, they’re also about creating a lasting, mental image. You may not want people to picture you as an author right now, simply because you’ve only released one or two short stories, and that’s perfectly okay. The more you grow in your career, though, the more your website will need to reflect that growth — if you want to be known as an author.
If you want to see how other author’s websites have changed over time, visit the Wayback Machine and type in any website URL of your favorite author. It’s a digital archive of over 150 million web pages. A very interesting look at how the web has evolved.
Monica Valentinelli is an author and game designer who lives in the dark. Her hobbies include: tormenting her cats, designing jewelry, and hiking in the woods. In addition to her genre work, Monica has a professional background in online marketing with a strong emphasis on copywriting, web analytics, social media and search engine optimization.
Building or Designing a web site? You might also be interested in our series Web Sites for Writers (Link to first article in the series.)