Tuesday, January 30, 2007

More of What I Like to See...

Today's topic... WEBSITES. A quality website can truly make or break a buy, offer, or sign. Is it REALLY that important? Yes.



Queries:
When we look at queries and find something of interest, we immediately find your site (whether you give it to us or not). So, it is important to have a quality website because we can tell a lot about you just at a glance.

Just some hints:
1.) Choose an easy domain. The best? www.yourpenname.com or if you have a series it is cool to go with www.yourseriestitle.com
2.) Limit your glittery, spinning objects unless you are truly hitting that middle grades/YA girly audience and even then be careful.
3.) Find that balance between catchy/trendy and informative.

Wait! Before you freak out! These things are not that hard to accomplish. It either takes time or money or both. If you can find a pal or teach yourself, you can create a quality site on a tight budget. Hiring out the work is where the money comes in. Just be sure you like sites that your designer has done, that they have that good balance.

Let's focus on YA genre. Check out this brand new site and let me know what you think. What makes this site appealing or not? Are you interested in the books? Does it matter? Would you return to it? Just some questions to open up a little blog discussion over something I find quite important--quality web design.

Here's a site I recently received that I truly enjoyed. Good example (for me) of that balance I'm yammerin' on about. What do YOU think?

24 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great topic! As a former interactive copywriter and a new novelist, I agree. A good web presence is what many professionals look for when conducting business. All websites should have content that is informative without being wordy, and should be designed with clear direction. Having buried links or having to click too many times to get somewhere is not good. Simplicity is key.

Thanks for posting.

--Lori Oliva

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 2:09:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would really be nice if you could blog more often. I find myself loosing track of this agency. Especially when other agents like Miss Snark and Kristin Nelson are blogging on a regular basis. Since there are so many agents in this agency, can't they take turns giving us their perspective and insight on the industry? It would keep me coming back more. Thanks!

lc

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 3:59:00 PM EST  
Blogger Deidre Knight said...

Sure, LC! We all *want* to blog more often, but things have been crazy for us over the past months. Last year we placed some 200 titles. However, I *will* say that I've started blogging independently on myspace, talking about the industry and my observations etc. That's my author page, though. It's at www.myspace.com/deidreknight

We will do our best to blog more here as well! D

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 4:03:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Julie -
Perfect topic today. Thanks! Deanna

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 5:20:00 PM EST  
Blogger Kiki said...

I couldn't agree more! Having just launched the YA part of my website as well (http://www.kikianika.com/kikilon), I was amazed to see how many below-average websites there were.
Nyomi's looks awesome! I love the overall feel and the colours and the tone of voice. Excellent branding.

Word verification: fizmievl
"Fizz me Evil! With Devil Cola."

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 6:17:00 PM EST  
Blogger Liane Gentry Skye said...

::Bangs head against monitor::

:)

I am so utterly HTML impaired. So....should one hold onto the query until a book related website is up and presentable?

Thanks for the word up.

The sample site is cute. Very chatty, and I think her target audience would respond to that. Smart girl!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 7:17:00 PM EST  
Blogger Don said...

It seems a bit ahead of the game to me to create a web site before you've sold the novel. What would you put on it? Of course, that said, I do have the domain name reserved, and I figure I may just put up a blank page at it.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 8:23:00 PM EST  
Blogger Natalie Damschroder said...

I hate her, because apparently her "boys in blue" put the "smackdown" on my "Patties."

*pouts*

(translation: She's a Colts fan and they beat the Patriots, for whom I would open a vein and eat worms)

I do like her site as far as appeal to her target demographic and the clean, crisp, well-organized feel of it.

I'm afraid mine is a *little* dry. I have a Passions page, and I blog, which is very personality-oriented, but the blog is not yet hosted on my site directly (just linked). I keep it up to date with my releases and reviews, which is more than can be said about a lot of published authors. :)

But now I'm terrified my site will be the dealbreaker!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 9:58:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I bloody well didn't like it. It hung up my computer and I never did see any of the website.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 11:41:00 PM EST  
Blogger David said...

I didn't like that site at all.

I also think that any writer who wants to create a Web site should follow all the brilliant advice given here.

(Except for that damned white bar down the left-hand side. It's a figment of your imagination.)

Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 10:07:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The blog was well designed and there was plenty of content. I don't know that it is wise to have all that info about unsold books, but then I don't know that it is necessarily unwise either.


One thing to remember is ANYTHING posted is pretty much permanent and archived.

I find it hard to believe that you would be on the fence about representing a writer and a website would put you over. While I agree that a professional looking website does say something, I wouldn't count it as a HUGE benefit.

I fall inline with Don. Once the first sale hits, it'll be up and professional looking. Book titles have been known to change during the editorial process, I wouldn't want to hang a domain name on that until the appropriate time.

But that's just me.

-Patrick

Thursday, February 1, 2007 at 12:56:00 AM EST  
Anonymous clarice said...

I think the website in question is very appropriate for the author's target audience. Here's a big ol' blanket statement: readers of YA and women's fiction are more likely than other readers to want to connect to their favorite authors on a more personal level. I imagine that the website and blog for a 60-year-old male suspense writer whose books sell mostly to men would have a limited viewing audience. But I, as a 26-year-old woman, nearly always hunt down some biographical information about the authors I read, particularly new authors and young authors. Finding an author's blog is a joy.

The new author's website works for me because there's a lot to draw the YA reader in right away. Photos. A blog that's updated frequently. Lots of things to click (though I would suggest that some of the links on the navigation bar aren't descriptive enough). I'm the whitest white girl you've ever seen and I know nothing about teen hip-hop slang, but it seems like the author is very attuned to that culture. Teens will click away if they don't find her voice authentic, or if they feel that she's being patronizing. At first look, though, I think her voice will appeal to her audience.

The bare minimum for an author website these days is a short bio (usually with a photo or two), a page about one's published and upcoming works, and a contact page. I regard everything beyond that as a nice bonus.

Thursday, February 1, 2007 at 12:13:00 PM EST  
Blogger Amanda Brice said...

Great topic!

Thursday, February 1, 2007 at 1:09:00 PM EST  
Blogger Julie Ramsey said...

Hello! Yes! I want to blog more often. Great comments and discussion everyone. I checked out that link, and it's a very nice guide to the big points for creating that balanced website. YA sites are special in that they get the leniency of being the least business-like.

Clarice made a WONDERFUL point about the author's voice. This is a biggie for YA authors on websites. Yes, another balance to achieve. The author must have a voice that YA readers will find real (and not patronizing or fake) but the author must not go too far in "pretending" to be a teenager because that can get wierd and misleading (especially on sites like myspace). I think this site is a superb example of exactly this. The lingo, look, music video aspect captures what a YA reader is looking for, but there is never a moment that the visitor loses sight of who the author really is.

I will try to blog more often! Promise! Great discussion!!

Friday, February 2, 2007 at 9:12:00 AM EST  
Blogger Julie Ramsey said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Friday, February 2, 2007 at 9:29:00 AM EST  
Blogger Julie Ramsey said...

A few more notes...

We don't make our decisions because of a website. Let me clear this up. When reading queries/submissions we are looking for of course for writing that has what it takes to soar. Still, another very important aspect is the writer's desire to truly make this craft a career. Being an author is SO much more than just writing. Numbers, promotions, appearances, money managements, options, foreign rights, etc... An author with a quality website to us (and this isn't the only way to display this nor the only thing we look at) states that she is serious about a career. Already taking that step.

So, you aren't published? Have a website? I vote yes. Work on the design, your bio, what you write. People most likely will not be seeking you out because you are not published yet. It gives you time to build and test you site on folks. You will have to update it when you are signed or published, but updating is the name of the game for websites. It will also be one less thing you have to worry about when you are signed. Acceptance money goes fast and there are a great many options for how to use it. Having your website ready to be updated and hit the promotions scene puts you one step ahead of the game.

Friday, February 2, 2007 at 9:29:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Nyomi said...

Hi all,

I'm the mom of four, two of whom are teen girls, so I feel like I have an inside peep on the lives of teens. When I thought up the site I wanted to have, I asked their opinions on content and language. In fact, both girls will be guest bloggers from time to time.

Also, nothing that I have posted is unsold material. Both books on the 'What's Down' aka Coming Soon, page have sold to Kimani TRU, the first of which, Gettin' Hooked, will be released in November 07. But I am a grown woman, and post as such. I wouldn't want readers to think I'm a teen nor would I want their parents to think I'm posing as a teen.

I don't feel it's a must to have a site before publishing, but I've heard from industry insiders over and over again how often they read queries they like, then go check out the authors site, both for pre-pubbed and pubbed works.

David, I didn't get your comment at all, because I don't see much of interest on your site. I'm sure for your target market it's fulfulling a need, but this discussion is about hitting and appealing to target markets. For teens, I believe I've done that. Even for the white girls *lol* I've included a scroll over which should explain what's meant even if you're not hip to the latest jive.

anon, sorry the site was slow loading for you. Bummer.

To everyone else who took the time to peep it out and leave a comment, thank you, thank you. I truly appreciate it.

Nyomi

Friday, February 2, 2007 at 1:54:00 PM EST  
Anonymous Patrick said...

Hi Julie,

So, to ask the reverse question, will a poorly done website or blog turn you off a potential client?

Now, I agree that a website and an email address is as necessary as a business card and is probably cheaper, I don't know what content is necessary.


Here's the thing, some people enjoy blogging and talking about their everyday and it can be a means of promotion.

I happen to agree with Ashton Kutcher, who I saw interviewed by Ryan Seacrest, when he said "I am interested in promoting my projects, not myself." Meaning that he is interested in talking about the movie not his wife.

Being unpublished, I don't like talking about the books I am working on either, because I don't know which book will sell first.

So, as an unpublished, who doesn't like to share too much personal, what do I put?

Would a basic three page template from MS Publisher be ok?

What if you do blog, but the content isn't right for YA, and you are selling a YA? Is that a problem if the YA is being sold under a penname?

Nyomi - Congrats on the sale!

Saturday, February 3, 2007 at 8:53:00 AM EST  
Blogger blissbat said...

Nyomi, your site looked cool, but it crashed my web browser, so I can't look at it. (I'm on a Mac...but so are lots of teenagers, so you might wanna check out your code and see if there's a glitch in there somewhere.)

Sunday, February 4, 2007 at 12:25:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Nyomi said...

Patrick,
I think if you plan on selling YA under a pseudonym you should be fine blogging under another name, even if it's not YA appropriate.

Nyomi Scott is my pseudonym and I write, publish, and blog under my real name as well, and it is not for teens, nor would I want teens reading it. But in reality, what teens (or most) know these days is scary, and in some cases, more than we (adults)do.

Blissbat, the site was built on a mac, but I'll still have my web gal take a peek and see if she can find the issue. So sorry you had trouble with it.

Thank you for the congrats, Patrick.

Y'all have a great Superbowl Sunday.
Go COLTS!
Nyomi

Sunday, February 4, 2007 at 11:26:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Patrick said...

Just tried on my Mac as well. It got hung up using Safari...

I'm torn. I'm not sure I want Peyton Manning to win a Superbowl. It's so much more fun to point to Tom Brady and say, hey Peyton may have better personal stats, but Tom is better. 3 Rings! :)


And thanks! Now I know Nyomi = Renee. :)

-Patrick

Sunday, February 4, 2007 at 2:03:00 PM EST  
Blogger Shesawriter said...

This has got me thinking about my own website and blog because I'm switching genres. If I sell in the new genre, then yeah, maybe I'll open another blog geared toward it. Frankly, it's not something I considered, but it sounds like a good idea.

Monday, February 5, 2007 at 12:18:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Nyomi said...

Patrick, ssshhhhh.....that info's supposed to be on the downlow. *wink

AND NO MORE TEASING MANNING. He has a ring and BETTER stats than Tom. I'm loving it.

Monday, February 5, 2007 at 12:49:00 AM EST  
Anonymous Joshua Minton said...

Your post has prompted a good question that goes to the heart of how publishing is changing. Does one create a website in order to get published in print or does one get published in print because they have created a website and published engaging and quality content which keeps people coming back? In my Creative Writing BFA program, the mantra was "get published, get published, get published." But I was always leary of the whole literary magazine route because it was so obscure. Why wouldn't I just create a quality website and put good content out there and build up my readership honestly online? By doing this, I can build my own audience which will be far larger and more diverse than that which any single literary journal could even promise an author. Plus, by controlling the content I put out through my own channel, I also give my readers different facets of my personality and creativity. In fact, being a big believer in the workshopping experience, a trusted online audience can become far more involved in the creative process which may actually result in a better product in the end.

Thanks for the post--good food for thought.

Monday, February 5, 2007 at 9:45:00 AM EST  

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