Author Website Content: Keep the Blog and Website Going

This month-long series of blog posts will explain author websites and offer tips and writing strategies for an effective author website. It alternates between a day of technical information and a day of writing content. By the end of the month, you should have a basic author website up and functioning. The Table of Contents lists the topics, but individual posts will not go live until the date listed. The Author Website Resource Page offers links to tools, services, software and more.

Keep Your Author Website Fresh

WWW under construction building website
You’re done it. Your author website is launched. Now what?
The care and feeding of a website is necessary and part of your career now. Please, don’t abandon the website and let it wither on the vine–not after this month of hard work. Set aside regular days to write something for the blog and get it scheduled. When you have new books, update!

Also, you must plan ways to connect with your readers. Remember that these are things readers want from you.

AUTHOR WEBSITE CHECKLIST
Where on your website did you include these things? List the page(s)

Exclusive unpublished writing: ______________________
Author Schedules: ________________________________
Author’s Literary Tastes:___________________________
Insider Information: _______________________________
Freebies: ________________________________________
Regular Contact: __________________________________
Contests, puzzles, teacher’s guides, book club discussion guides, puzzles, coloring pages, etc.__________________________________

Resources

I won’t leave you without some resources! You can always look at my Author Website Resource page for ideas–and please send me ideas on what to include there!

For problems or questions about WordPress, refer to the WordPress Codex.

WRITING A BLOG – GOING DEEPER

31dbbb2After your website it up and going, you may still want some hints and advice on building a strong blog. Darren Rouse, owner of Problogger.net has this great tutorial that will keep you going for the second month. He is one of the original people talking about how to make money online with blogging and he’s still one of the best. This book is a simple, easy-to-do collection of tasks that will make your website even stronger. After two months of concentrated effort on your site, you’re well on your way to success!
Darren Rouse’s 31 Days to a Better Blog

EMAIL SUBSCRIPTIONS AND MARKETING

Every website needs a way to collect names of fans. After you finish your first month or two, you should look into getting this set up. Own your audience!

Mailchimp is my preference because it’s easy to set up and it’s free until you get 2000 subscribers. After that, the prices go up on $5 increments as your list expands, so it’s easy to live with.

Author Website Tech: Launch

This month-long series of blog posts will explain author websites and offer tips and writing strategies for an effective author website. It alternates between a day of technical information and a day of writing content. By the end of the month, you should have a basic author website up and functioning. The Table of Contents lists the topics, but individual posts will not go live until the date listed. The Author Website Resource Page offers links to tools, services, software and more.

Launch Your Author Website

WWW under construction building website

First and most important, make your website available to search engines.
under Setting/Reading: For Search Engine Visibility, UNCHECK the box for “Discourage search engines from indexing this site.”

You will waste LOTS of time and effort if search engines can’t see your site! Don’t do a launch without doing this step first.

Plan an author website launch with as much care as a book launch–it’s launching your career. Use all your social media contacts to send people to look around. Hold a virtual party, with book giveaways for prizes. Or quietly announce the site to a few friends and ask them to tell friends. It’s up to you. Are you a big party planner or a quiet, introverted writer who just wants to get it right? Plan the website launch your way.

As you get feedback, tweak. Websites are works in progress, always.
And finally, enjoy. A well-functioning website should bring in readers–who come back. Because you planned for them to come back.

Congratulations!
Tomorrow,is one last tip on how to keep your site going.

(And be sure to invite me to the party!)


Launch your author website carefully--it is launching your career.

Launch your author website carefully–it is launching your career.


Author Website Content: Beta Readers

This month-long series of blog posts will explain author websites and offer tips and writing strategies for an effective author website. It alternates between a day of technical information and a day of writing content. By the end of the month, you should have a basic author website up and functioning. The Table of Contents lists the topics, but individual posts will not go live until the date listed. The Author Website Resource Page offers links to tools, services, software and more.

Calling All Grammar Witches: Beta Readers for Your Site

WWW under construction building website

You’re just days away from launching your new and improved Author Website. Now’s the time to proofread, test links and make sure everything is working! Recruit friends (and enemies?) to click around and make sure the site works.

  • Links. Click on every single link to make sure it works.
  • Grammar and Spelling. Grammar Witches, i love you. I’ll do everything you tell me to do.
  • Photos. Add photos to every page, because it makes it more appealing.
  • Tweak posts. OK, you’re a writer. You will be tweaking every single post. Just don’t stress out over this; write the best you can and let it go.

Fix everything that is reported to you. Make sure everything is in order for launch.

Author Website Content: Blog Posts 11-15

This month-long series of blog posts will explain author websites and offer tips and writing strategies for an effective author website. It alternates between a day of technical information and a day of writing content. By the end of the month, you should have a basic author website up and functioning. The Table of Contents lists the topics, but individual posts will not go live until the date listed. The Author Website Resource Page offers links to tools, services, software and more.

Mine Your Interests for Blog Posts

WWW under construction building website

Running out of ideas? Here are 5 other suggestions on how to do riffs on your topics.

  • Write a list of 10 titles for blog posts. Ex. 10 Things to Include on Your Author Website.
  • Turn that around and write the negative of the post, as a warning. Ex. 10 Things to Leave Off Your Author Website.
  • Turn in around again with humor or sarcasm. Ex. Top 10 Worst Author Websites.
  • Look at the list and find something timely to write about each. Ex. How Google’s Hummingbird SEO Update will Affect Your Author Website.
  • Take a topic from your list and predict the future. Ex. Why Pattison’s Website Topped 2 Million Hits in 2014.
  • Look at the list and take a historical slant. Ex. Then and Now: Darcy’s Author Website. This image shows my website on November 7, 2001. WOW! Even then, I liked red and black to brand a site.
  • Snapshot of my website from November 7, 2001.

    Snapshot of my website from November 7, 2001.


    Your goal for today is to write 5 most posts, for a total of 15. Get them scheduled. You don’t have to schedule one for every single day. Spread them out! Maybe 2 or 3 a week. You can fill in with spontaneous posts, of course, but this should get your site up and going for a month or two. Write!

    Author Website Tech: Checklist #2

    This month-long series of blog posts will explain author websites and offer tips and writing strategies for an effective author website. It alternates between a day of technical information and a day of writing content. By the end of the month, you should have a basic author website up and functioning. The Table of Contents lists the topics, but individual posts will not go live until the date listed. The Author Website Resource Page offers links to tools, services, software and more.

    WWW under construction building website

    Way back in the first week, of the month, I suggested that you go and look at the websites of other authors in your genre. Now that you’re almost done with your site, go back and look around again and this time, see what else you need to tweak. Which author websites you admire the most? Which do you–as a fan–visit the most often? What do you GO BACK for? That’s the real question–what will keep a fan coming back to your site? How do the websites stack up against the Codex checklist?

    Start looking for author websites here:

    Author Website Checklist: Fiction Notes blog. 28 Days to a Fantastic Author Website.

    Last time: Author Website Planning Checklist

    Where on your website did you include these things? List all the appropriate page(s). Can you add something now?

    Exclusive unpublished writing: ______________________
    Author Schedules: ________________________________
    Author’s Literary Tastes:___________________________
    Insider Information: _______________________________
    Freebies: ________________________________________
    Regular Contact: __________________________________
    Contests, puzzles, teacher’s guides, book club discussion guides, puzzles, playlists, coloring pages, etc.__________________________________

    In other words–don’t launch before you are ready! Take the time to get it right before you let the world know that your website is live!

    Author Website Content: Blog Posts 6-10

    This month-long series of blog posts will explain author websites and offer tips and writing strategies for an effective author website. It alternates between a day of technical information and a day of writing content. By the end of the month, you should have a basic author website up and functioning. The Table of Contents lists the topics, but individual posts will not go live until the date listed. The Author Website Resource Page offers links to tools, services, software and more.

    Write 5 More Blog Posts

    WWW under construction building website

    Before your website goes live, I recommend that you have at least 10-15 posts written. So, on this writing day, I’ll suggest that you write five more posts and schedule them. Believe me, getting posts scheduled ahead will make the process easier. Blog posts can be 240-2000 words, however long it needs to be.

    For the first 5 posts we concentrated on giving readers what they want from the Codex group. Here are other ideas.

    1. Interview. A classic post is to interview another author about a forthcoming book, an award, a surprising thing in their career, or a forthcoming book. An easy way to do this is to send 5 questions for the person to answer. Did you get that? You only have to write 5 questions! Your friend writes the post for you. In return, they get to borrow your audience for a day. Make sure the post will be something that your audience will be interested in.
    2. Review. Likewise, a review of a friend’s book si ALWAYS welcome. Support your friends and their carrers by doing an honest review. Update your audience on your literary tastes by talking about what you’re reading now.
    3. Event report. Are you traveling, attending a conference, speaking at a school, or teaching a class? Give a report, complete with photos of the event. Your readers would like to know what was the most fascinating thing to YOU. Filter everything through your point of view. Doing a booksigning? Add photos to your blog post.
    4. Post a video. Is there a uTube video that speaks to something you are talking about on your blog? It’s easy to embed a YouTuve video in a post or page.

    Today, write five more blog posts and schedule them. Try to make one of them a pillar post.

    Author Website Tech: Checklist #1

    Now is the time to do a check of your site to make sure you’ve covered everything!
    If you feel like you’re lacking in some area, then click on the link and re-read the appropriate post.
    Or go back to the Table of Contents to review material.

    General Good Practices for a Website

    1. In 3 seconds, can a reader figure out where they are and what they can do here?
    2. Is there a search box on every page so readers can find what they need?
    3. Is the site attractive, easy to read–a clean usable design?
    4. Do you use great titles on your posts so they will be found by search engines?
    5. Does every page have a Call to Action?
    6. Are your social media links easy to spot and use on every page?
    7. Have you clicked on every link to make sure they work?
    8. Did you include a way for people to contact you through a form or by email?
    9. Are you tracking statistics for your site?
    10. Did you include a privacy page? Are you COPPA Compliant?
    11. Author Website Checklist: Fiction Notes blog. 28 Days to a Fantastic Author Website.

      What readers want from the Codex study

      Remember that you have choices about which page will hold this info. Where did you put these things that readers want?

    12. Is your ABOUT page interesting and fun, yet informative?
    13. Did you include a downloadable bibliography and/or biography?
    14. Have you provided exclusive writing only published on your website?
    15. Is your Author schedule listed and UP TO DATE?
    16. Are you letting readers know something about your literary tastes?
    17. Have you provided any freebies or bling for your fans?
    18. Do you have a newsletter or someway for fans to connect and stay connected?
    19. Did you include any of these: contests, puzzles, and games, with prizes like autographed copies of books?
    20. Are you providing a way for readers to buy your books, either on your site or through a link to an online bookseller?
    21. If you have series, do you provide a list that explains the order for reading that series?
    22. Are your recent books on the Home page, or easy to find?
    23. PET PEEVES: Why Readers Hate an Author’s Website

      DearAuthor.com has a great post on the Top Ten Peeves From Booksellers and Readers about Author Websites. I’ve summarized the list, but you should read the whole article. Insightful.

    24. No printable list of your books.
    25. No ISBNs.
    26. Series not identified and books not put into a series list.
    27. No contact author on front page
    28. Having to hunt for most recent releases.
    29. No list of future releases.
    30. No list of awards.
    31. No links to order.
    32. Not friendly.
    33. Nothing to bring the reader back.

    How are you doing? Is your website stacking up? What’s the hardest/easiest thing you’ve done on your site this month? What would you add to this checklist?

    Author Website Content: First Blog Posts

    This month-long series of blog posts will explain author websites and offer tips and writing strategies for an effective author website. It alternates between a day of technical information and a day of writing content. By the end of the month, you should have a basic author website up and functioning. The Table of Contents lists the topics, but individual posts will not go live until the date listed. The Author Website Resource Page offers links to tools, services, software and more.

    Write 5 New Posts!

    It’s a writing day.
    WWW under construction building website
    For the first time, we’re doing to work with the WordPress Posts. Remember, WordPress Pages are like a website; WordPress Posts are the blog pages in reverse chronological order. The blog posts are more fleeting, while the pages are more long term. Posts are perfect for announcing information and creating some excitement; the pages are best for the data that always needs to be there in the background. Sometimes, you’ll want to announce something on your blog, but then also put it on a page.

    (Note: It’s tempting to put something on the front page of your site and think that everyone will see it. Not so. Any page or post of your site could be the entry point for a reader because they are all indexed in a search engine.

    You’re going to blog about something.
    Have you decided on a strategy for blogging? Will you mention names, be the first to comment on news, inform or teach or something else? Whatever your strategy, you can always fall back on the same Codex report.

    List five titles of blog posts for each category; and let’s call this the Codex strategy.:

    Exclusive unpublished writing: ______________________
    Author Schedules: ________________________________
    Author’s Literary Tastes:___________________________
    Insider Information: _______________________________
    Freebies: ________________________________________
    Regular Contact: __________________________________
    Contests, puzzles, teacher’s guides, book club discussion guides, puzzles, playlists, coloring pages, etc.__________________________________

    List five titles of blog posts that follow the strategy you want to follow. For example, if it’s a Names Strategy, who can you interview or feature? What conference can you discuss? If your strategy is News, then list five timely items.

    It’s OK to combine the Codex strategy and another strategy. The key is to get multiple ideas.

    Now, write. Each post should have 250-2000 words.

    Pillar Posts: Sticky and Explosive

    As you’re writing, be on the lookout for Pillar Posts. These are long, in-depth articles, or articles that contain timeless information. You need pillar posts because these are the ones that will continually pull in traffic to your site. They are Sticky (they keep pulling in traffic) and often, they get tons of traffic right away (Explosive). And, they are usually specific to you, no one else could have written this article. Don’t stress out over this right now, but keep it in the back of your mind as you troll for ideas. What would bring visitors back to your site over and over?

    Here’s some of the posts on Fiction Notes that continually pull in traffic. How do I know this? Because I have statistic programs on the site.

    1. 12 Ways to Start a Novel
    2. Picture Book Standards: 32 Pages
    3. 30 Days to a Stronger picture Book
    4. 30 Days to a Stronger Novel
    5. 29 Plot Templates
    6. 9 Traits of Sympathetic Characters
    7. Character Checklist
    8. 15 Days to a Stronger Character
    9. Marketing with Book Trailers
    10. Opening Chapters

    Publishing your first posts

    You can publish immediately, or you can schedule the posts for a future date. By now, you’ve forgotten, so I’ll remind you: we set the blog/website to NO-Indexing by search engines. You can change this at any time, but you may want to wait until you’ve got everything set up. If you do want to change it, go to Settings/Reading and UnCheck the box that says, “Discourage search engines from indexing this site.” As soon as you do that, search engines will start looking over your site. Be sure you’re ready! We just have another week of writing posts and tweaking technical stuff, so be patient, if you can. Just write and schedule the posts and plan for a Big Launch of your site.

    Author Website Tech: Posts

    How to Add a Post to WordPress

    It’s time to start on your blog by using WordPress Posts. Here’s the information from the WordPress Codex, the first place you should look for info.

    If you’ve written a page, it’s essentially the same. You use the same editing screen.

    Here are a couple other tips:

    Kitchen Sink. In the editing screen, you should see a full set of formatting options for your text. If you don’t see two rows, click on the last item in the top row. When you hover over it, it says, “Show the Kitchen Sink.” Click this and you’ll see more formatting options.

    Click on the last item in the top row to reveal the Kitchen Sink.

    Click on the last item in the top row to reveal the Kitchen Sink.

    Schedule the Publication of a Post. You can write posts ahead and schedule when you want them to appear with the Publishing options. You can Preview the Draft, Save the Draft or Schedule it. I often write a couple days ahead and schedule the post to go live at a certain time on a certain day. One caution. Just because you’ve set up a time for it publish–as in the image–does not mean you have published it! You have to click on the SCHEDULE button to actually publish and post.

    Import. If you need to import posts from another blog, click on Tools/Import for options and instructions.

    Categories. As you add posts in the next few days, you’ll also want to think about the Categories of posts. Categories The editing page displays a list of categories you’ve used before. When you first set this up, though, you’ll want to go to Posts/Categories. On that page, you can set up the categories as you wish. Be especially careful with the category slugs, or the way a category is listed in a URL. For example, this post in under the category of Book Marketing, but the slug for the category is “marketing.” I want to keep the slugs as short as possible so they aren’t a pain for my readers to type in. See more about Categories on the WordPress Codex.

    Menus. It’s also time to revisit your Menu and make sure it shows the Categories you want visitors to see first. Go to Appearance/Menu and set it up as you wish. Here’s WordPress’s Guide to Menus.

    It may seem tedious to worry about categories and menus when you are ready to write that blog. But believe me, if you get the skeleton down, the blog will stand up straighter and look smarter.

    Tomorrow? You’ll write blog posts and write blog posts and write blog posts. Make sure your blog is ready.

    Author Website Content: Blog

    This month-long series of blog posts will explain author websites and offer tips and writing strategies for an effective author website. It alternates between a day of technical information and a day of writing content. By the end of the month, you should have a basic author website up and functioning. The Table of Contents lists the topics, but individual posts will not go live until the date listed. The Author Website Resource Page offers links to tools, services, software and more.

    Should You Add a Blog to Your Author Site?

    WWW under construction building website

    We’ve talked so far about doing an Author Website through WordPress. Now that you’ve built the thing, you need to decide if you will add a blog or not.

    No, I don’t want a blog

    First, let me quickly says that you do NOT have to have a blog. It’s just an option.
    Blogging requires a commitment to writing that can be a strain on writing projects, family time and other time commitments. I’m not worried–really, I’m not–about whether or not you can find enough to write about. That’s the easy part. Time is the hard thing to find. If you commit to writing a blog the most important rule is this: be consistent in posting. You can NOT post just once or twice a month. Instead, just update your website. Or post on Facebook, Twitter or a social network. Don’t waste your time and your readers time by starting something you can’t keep up with.

    Embrace uncertainty. On the other hand, when I started blogging six years ago, it was with uncertainty. Would I like blogging? Would I draw in any readers? Would I find topics to write about? And so on. I made a commitment to TRY. And here we are. You can do the same.

    OK, I’ll try a blog!

    Great! You will find an audience beyond your usual boundaries.
    You will find topics that fascinate you and you want to delve into deeply. You will have a platform for doing that.
    You will find the blog a task-master that you both love and hate.
    You will find your audience to be an amazing group of people.
    And when your first book/next book comes out, you’ll find people cheering for you. (Here’s my latest novel. Thanks for caring!)
    You don’t blog to sell books. You blog to make friends.

    What will you write about?

    As I look around the blogosphere, I find bloggers using different strategies for content.

    1. Up-to-date news. One strategy for blogging is to keep your ears to the ground and as soon as you hear something, you blog about it in depth. Did Facebook just update it’s home page? Provide the killer tutorial on it before anyone else. As I am writing this, I got an email that Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press is going international. If I cared about the hottest publishing news, I would jump on this!
    2. Names. I once read about a small-town newspaper publisher who saturated the market with a single strategy: publish as many names as possible. When a baseball team played, the newspaper listed the name of every single team member. And the managers. And the coaches. Of course, people bought the newspaper to see their name in print. Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Cynsations blog uses this strategy by listing everyone’s good news, interviews with almost everyone in children’s literature and generally spreading the love.
    3. Teaching. This blog, Fiction Notes, is about observing my own struggles and the struggles of my friends and colleagues and writing about how to solve problems. In a word, I teach. (My friend says that I can’t NOT teach; she’s right.)
    4. Diary. Some people live a transparent life online and don’t mind the glass walls. If that’s for you, you’ll find many who’ll take the trip with you.
    5. Thoughtful or thought-provoking analysis. Maybe you only want to post once a week, but you want it to be a longer, more thoughtful piece. That would be great. Don’t think you must post daily. But be consistent. On Thursday, I look forward to reading Kristine Kathryn Rusch‘s thoughtful posts about the publishing industry. I don’t have to agree with everything she says to look forward to the posts, because they always make me think. For example, a thoughtful person could write an interesting post about the Children’s Book Council 7th Annual Children’s Choice Book Awards. One of the awards is for the Author of the Year; the five nominees are always based on best-seller lists. The controversy this year is that Rush Limbaugh’s book, Rush Revere and the First Patriots: Time-Travel Adventures With Exceptional Americans, is a best-seller, which put him on the list for Author of the Year. A thoughtful or thought-provoking blogger could write about this in depth. Lots of issues to delve into there! (Should children’s book awards be based on best-seller lists? How easy is it to manipulate best selling lists? If we reject the bestseller list as a starting point for awards, where SHOULD we start?) This isn’t something I would do on my blog; I avoid the controversial. But if you’re up for it. . .
    6. Topics for which you have a passion. Maybe you don’t want to blog about books, publishing, or other authors. One author friend is interested in true stories of ghosts. Since she writes mysteries, it sounds like a great topic for a blog! She could interview people who have seen a ghost, joke about ghostbusters, include photos of ghosts (NOT!) and so on. What’s your passion? Bulldogs? Kidnapped kids and how they survive? Whatever your passion, it’s fine–no, it’s GREAT–for an author blog to take off on a tangent. You’ll find readers beyond your books and that’s not such a bad thing.
    7. Photos, video or audio. Maybe you are a cartoonist and can provide a humorous 3-panel cartoon daily. Maybe your hobby is photoshopping dog portraits. Great. Just post one picture a day. Or post one a week and explain how you photoshopped it. Use YouTube and pull the videos into your blog. Or do a podcast. There may be platforms that are better for each of these areas (For video, you need a YouTube Channel.), but they can also feed into a blog.
    8. Your Ideas. You may have another strategy for writing a blog. Please share it!

    Notice: These strategies are about giving an audience something interesting to read. Entertain. Inform. Persuade. Provoke. It’s not about you. It’s about your readers. What type of content can you write about that others would want to read on a consistent basis?

    It’s time. Decide. Will you try a blog or just stick with your author website?