Okay. So, I’ve already written a couple of times that I believed I needed an official author website in addition to a writing/author blog. My blog, started in January of 2012, was titled The Dog Ate My Novel (a nod to all the questions from friends and family as to WHEN my first novel would be available). I had decided in December of 2011 to self-publish and the blog was started on the advice of Catherine Ryan Howard and her great book, SELF-PRINTED (a Christmas gift from my wonderful daughter). It was good advice. Through the blog, I’ve met some amazing writer friends and had the privilege of interviewing some talented authors. I’ve learned so much about the publishing industry (the WHOLE publishing industry) by following other writers, agents, and editors. The blogging world has been a boundless classroom for me and I would recommend anyone considering self-publishing to start their own blog. At the very least, you will quickly learn what you are getting yourself into…
However, I have also learned in the last several months to be more disciplined about blogging. Everything about publishing takes time – marketing, promotion, and blogging – which is also time not spent writing. Still, the benefits of blogging are too important to me and I will keep at it, just at a pace that works for me.
My debut novel, A GUILTY MIND, recently hit the one year mark. It was published in late September of 2012 and while I haven’t yet reached my personal sales target, I can’t complain. Admittedly, I set a pretty high goal and while my sales haven’t been blockbuster, they’ve been very respectable. I’ve had some months where sales were strong. Through some advertising, I was even able to reach the Top 100 in Kindle Crime and Top 100 in Kindle Hard-Boiled. Hooray! Even more than a year after publication, sales may not be best-seller, but they are steady. I still feel I can (eventually) reach my personal sales target. Publishing my second book will certainly be a part of my total sales strategy for both books in the series.
I’ve also been lucky to get some positive reviews and even luckier to have some readers reach out to me through my blog. Those readers got me to thinking. A reader who wants to know when my next book is coming out doesn’t care about lists of editors or how to format using CreateSpace. They want to know about my books and how they can get them. Another big hooray here! Conclusion: I needed an author website.
I started out thinking I would have two separate and independent sites. However, once I began looking at other author websites (sticking mostly to those within my own genre), I realized that many of them have a “blog” page. Some do maintain two (or more) sites but many had sites that accomplished both. Several I liked (some with blogs/some without) included those by Harlen Coben, Susan Boyer, Theresa Ragan, and Dina Santorelli. I was not as crazy about some by the BIG names in suspense. I already knew I had neither the expertise or name recognition to invest in a site that a Grisham or Child or Baldacci might have. But even if I did, while some were visually appealing, some left me feeling nothing. They were almost (brrrr) cold.
A site I really liked was that of Barry Eisler. It has a slick home page (appropriate to his books) but also many extras for writers including a page for “For Writers” and a blog page. Hmmm. This was more what I was after. Again, my expertise is limited and I’m not ready to pour money into my site, so I’ve attempted to create a site that incorporates what I like with what I think I need. What does that mean?
- A static home page focusing on my books
- More focus on my books/less focus on regional works
- Maintaining my blog (and connection to the writing community)
- Adding a page “For Readers”
- Adding a newsletter option
I’ve lightened my background, changed a few pictures, and basically created a revised version of my site which now serves as BOTH an author website and a blog, or as I like to call it, a Hybrid Author Website.
Even on Google, it no longer says “The Dog Ate My Novel” when someone googles my name. Instead, you see what’s shown above. Maybe it’s not as cute, but it is more professional. What do you think?