It’s not easy building an author website when you haven’t released any books. I swing between hilarity, feeling like a fraud and playing the role of Serious Business Woman.
Building the website is part of my backstage planning phase. It is one of many promotional platforms… the most important one, in my opinion. Social media is great for finding people and making connections but the author website is supposed to be an extension of yourself and your work. It is the face we present to the world, a place for your connections to land, a place from which your work can launch. Because I am a writer, I am my own brand. I should care more about my website than corporate giants care about theirs. We are both in the business of promoting and showcasing products and identities but here is where we differ: my online identity, my brand, is not separate to me as a person. As much as the how-to manuals of indie-publishing recommend that we as writers should separate the ‘business of writing’ from the ’emotional writer’ –something I agree with– it doesn’t change the very real fact that we are still human beings and it’s our name that we’re pitching to the public.
This is why I don’t understand why authors are willing to put up websites below the standards of their own writing. The website itself doesn’t have to look fantastic–people aren’t expecting flashy or super-swanky websites from authors, it would probably be overwhelming if they found one–but the navigation should work, it should be visually easy on the eyes (eg., purple text over a busy background picture would be difficult to read and look at) and certainly the content shouldn’t be full of typos and grammatical errors. If you want to be a writer and your spelling or grammar is atrocious then get someone else to proof your site.
I’ve mentioned Squarespace before and am currently in the process of building my website with them using the 14 day trial period. I’ve already made up my mind to go with them but it’s an uphill battle to get my head around how their site works. It’s WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get), it’s editable, it looks awesome in the preview/how-to and it’s doing my head in. It’s not difficult, just different and a little bit fiddly. The learning curve is not terribly steep but can be frustrating because of the multiple preview options. The biggest problem is not about the build itself though… I’m staring at the ‘books’ tab on my menu and am seriously underwhelmed with the two books on there.
Femme is going to be released soon (first half of this year, I’m planning), and the Infusco (vampire) book is planned for release at the end of this year. Do I put the Wanderer of Worlds series on there too? It’s a trilogy I’m co-writing (a fantasy set in the worlds-link that Femme is a part of) that is a massive project (each book in the trilogy could easily reach 120K+ words so we really have to compress this tale into manageable chunks). Do I mention it even though it won’t be released 2015 (and we would have to work hard and fast for this)?
When I work on it I feel pretty upbeat though. When the progress is slow I get a little disheartened. I’d rather be working on my line editing than wrestling with the website–but it has to be done.