Weeks of hard work and it's all up and running with a very clear theme and much simplification. My neck is killing me (all that peering closely at the screen to get the sizing right) but I’m delighted with the way it has worked out. At last I feel as if I know what I'm doing. I feel as if I’ve got some sort of recognisable brand going – not that I necessarily want to be branded, as it were, but trying to get noticed as a writer is a Big Thing.
Some tips and advice (that worked for me):
- Keep it simple. I studied other authors’ websites and the best ones were very simple, particularly the home page.
- My home page has exactly three elements on it: MY BOOKS, NEW and DIARY. These form the core of the website. MY BOOKS link takes you just exactly there: to the main books page. This is pretty much where you would expect someone arriving on your website to want to go. NEW takes you to my latest book. This image will change as time goes by, making the home page feel alive. (More about the diary later).
- You are less important than your writing. This is a grim reality to have to confront, but it’s true. There is no bio on my website and no picture of me (if you want a pic, you’ll find it on social media). There isn’t even the tiny bio on the home page (the one I use in all my novels). I deleted them all, along with a variety of articles about writing. Some of the better ones I’ll reblog at some point, so it’s not like I’m wasting anything. They cluttered the website.
- You don’t need a contact page. What’s that about?! I’m not a shop, nor likely to engage with anyone via my website. It was a wasted page of links that appear elsewhere. Both the Twitter and Facebook links appear in the header on every page. Those are, to date, the only places I engage with other writers and readers, anyway. Other links are all at the bottom of the home page and very pretty they look too!
- Books are key. As an author, that’s all that matters. There are only three links in the header on the home page: HOME, BOOKS and DIARY. The home page is a single page. The diary page is my blog (about which more later). There are no sub-headings under either. But the BOOKS link is huge – it goes to all my books with sub-headings and sub-sub-headings. I’ve tried to keep the same theme throughout so that it looks as professional as possible. And on all the book pages, there are links to shops (Amazon, Smashwords, etc).
- My diary and blog are now linked. In fact, they are the same thing. I’d intended the website blog (Diary of a Bloomsbury Writer) to be more of a diary thing, the day to day life of an author, separate from my writer’s blog, but it was just too much hard work, particularly as I wanted to spend more of my time actually writing. Also, you can’t follow the diary on the website, but a “follow” link takes you to the blog, which you can follow.
It’s not perfect. I’m not a professional website building. I can only work within the extreme confines of Weebly. But I feel as if I’ve learnt something over the years. A website that engages visitors and encourages books sales is about all you could ask for. Let’s see how it goes.