Five Important Website Issues

Five Important Website Issues

Perhaps you are a new author and have decided to build a website or you have one up and running. There is much advice floating around about website design. Some is very good and some not so much. After fourteen years of working my own website, I have identified five critical website design issues.

You may have additional ideas and I welcome your comments. But here are mine.

The Home Page

This is regarded as the most critical page because this is where your visitors will most likely land. And this is true whether you have one or more home pages.

More than one?

Yes. As an Independent author I am also an independent publisher. Therefore, I have designed my website as a publisher’s site, and every author (all two of us) have their own Home page, plus more.

The Home page is where you want your usual visitors to come to. Therefore, you will have most or all of your marketing linked to that page. If the visitor Google’s your name (author’s name) it should bring the potential customer to your Home page.

On this page it is always wise to employ good SEO practices. As you build your site you may want to see how well you are doing. I recommend Website Grader, which you can use for free.

The Url

The Url is critical. Put a lot of thought into this. Among the things to consider is whether you are a one book author or you have or will write more books. If you write multiple books, you will want to use your author’s name in your url. The exception would be like a publisher’s site. But even then you want a url that goes to the author page, such as r.-frederick-riddle-books.html. If you are doing your own publishing don’t forget the primary site. Click on the link above to see the full url.

Most of you will have your own personal site. You might wonder why it has to be your name and not the name of a book. Simple. As you write more books you want people to know your name. People may seek a particular book title, but as your name recognition grows they will seek your name.

The About Page

The About page is very important because you want the visitor to know as much about you as you can reveal. How much you reveal is up to you, but a variety of experts say we should include our bio (of writing career), education, awards (if any), and a peak into your personal life.

Only reveal that which you want people to know. And please don’t include your Social Security Number or other potentially vital information.

The Store Page and/or Book Page

A Store page is very important if you sell on site. I would recommend that you also have a Book page where visitors can learn about your books. If not selling on site, it is important to have links from each book to the site(s) where it is sold.

A Book page should include a Cover photo, a description of the book, important stats (such as publisher, author, title, ISBN, and ASIN) and, of course, the links.

Media Page

Aside from potential buyers, you also want the media (newspapers, radio, tv, etc.) to also visit. This page is designed to provide them as much information as possible without their having to search the site. Some of the things included is a listing of every book you’ve written, a photo of you (a professional photo is recommended), links to any blogs you may have written, links to such things as Press Releases and other marketing sites where you are active.

Contact Page

Even if not selling directly, you need this page. It provides an opportunity for your visitors to talk to you. Perhaps they have questions about you, your books, or even an opportunity for your book to be marketed or turned into a movie.

These are only five ideas, but you might want to also include a Blog page (assuming you write a blog). But the five listed above are absolutes. You need these. Seek expert advice and don’t be afraid to visit other authors websites. This will combine a visual with the technical advice available all over the web.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.

Show, Don’t Tell!

Show, Don’t Tell!

SHOW DON’T TELL!

When I first began writing I received the advice: Show, don’t tell. But what does that mean and is it good advice?

It pretty much means what it says. When writing a scene, it is often better if your character or characters describe or act out what you want the reader to see. This might mean the character’s thoughts reveal what he is seeing. Or possibly, the conversation reveals a picture of the setting. Or the action. In any case the author is unobserved and the characters are doing the telling.

Sometimes when I want the reader to see the landscape that the characters find themselves in, I reveal it through their eyes, speech, and/or action. Most of the time such an approach enhances the scene.

For example, maybe a character is approaching a house. Instead of simply describing the house, I might have the character silently admiring it. Like this, What a beautiful house! I’ve always liked homes with white picket fences. And look at the those flowers lining the sidewalk! It’s so beautiful and relaxing.

I made that up on the spur of the moment, but you get the idea. The reader’s imagination is triggered and pictures the scene. Sometimes a character can show the scene better than you can tell it.

But not always!

While that advice revolutionized my writing, I am glad that I haven’t followed it to the extreme. The simple truth is that sometimes it is warranted that the narrator (you) gets involved.

For example, in Refuge: The Genesis Chronicles I described the Majestic Mountains at least in part in a narrative form. While I did use ‘show’ from a character’s viewpoint it would have been almost impossible to describe the mountain without straining the character. In the end I did both. I described in broad, colorful terms the overall view, while later on characters were able to expand or even expound on that view.

In Perished, I described a scene introducing the death of Adam. It went like this:

‘Word spread quickly in whispers, shaking heads, and tears. Visitors walked softly. Outside the news spread house to house, to the shops and soon ships were sailing forth with the news.’

 Could I have done that through the characters? Of course I could. But it would have taken longer to get it out. This was only to set the stage for the events that followed. By opting for this approach I created a sense of action that quickly set the stage and prepared the reader – all in one paragraph.

To answer the question Is it good advice, I answer yes, with moderation. As the author you have ultimate control. A general rule of thumb would be to show not tell, but be aware that sometimes telling can be more effective.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.