Join me in welcoming our guest, Vijaya Schartz!
recently redesigned my author website http://www.vijayaschartz.com and
learned a lot in the process. I’m sure other authors encounter the same
challenges. Although we all know our author website is important, it’s often
the last thing we tackle. Whether we fumble with our first site, redesign or
freshen up an existing one, we usually procrastinate. The task seems daunting.
Sometimes money is an issue if you are not a techie. Yet, an author should
rethink his/her entire website on a regular basis, and check that the
information is up to date, at least once a month.
an author website still relevant in today’s social media world?
you may spend more time on facebook or twitter, you have a blog, and you guest
post on many other blogs, your website should remain the primary source for
your readers to find your books. You should have total control of the
information your readers get about you and your books. Only you have the
correct information and can disseminate it through your official author
website. Your website link should be in your signature line, in your bio, on
your business cards, on every piece of promotional material concerning your
is it necessary to redesign and update an author site every other year?
evolve, mobile devices change the way we browse. You write more books and they
need to be featured. You want to provide your readers with new information all
the time. Keep a current calendar of your appearances, etc. When I visit an
author site that lists a book signing coming up two years ago, I wonder whether
this author is still writing.
you host your website on a blog?
Wordpress and Blogspot can be your official website. It’s preferable to still
get your own domain name (yourname.com or soandsoromanceauthor.com) and you can
use the blog with its easy templates. If you go that route, you still must have
several pages, one about yourself, one about your book (or books), upcoming
releases, new releases, one you use as an actual blog, etc. Using your own
domain name and having more than one page may cost you a little, but it’s very
your design friendly to the new technology:
large book covers and fancy backgrounds were the rave a few years ago, along
with video clips and moving widgets, these features have gone the way of the
dodo, because of the new ways readers access your information. No more small
print, book excerpts, either. They become unreadable on the tiny screen. Keep
those for the blogs.
I redesigned my website:
had my website since 1999 (my first book came out in 2000) and it went through
many incarnations. The last redesign was two years ago, but I have so many
books, it had become too cumbersome and a maze to navigate. I use a cheap
hosting company (Hostingmatters), and I had used up all the space allocated and
couldn’t add anymore book covers (unless I was willing to pay premium hosting
prices). Then one of my publishers decided to redesign fresh new covers for my
sci-fi romances, and I had more new titles coming this year. Some of my
backlist titles are now out of print. To compound the problem, I also had a
widget from Photobucket that streamed my book covers in a fancy little show,
but Photobucket stopped this feature, and although the widget still worked, I
could not change or add any new covers to it... It was time to rethink my
entire website situation and take action.
I did the redesign:
I had a fancy wallpaper background, which I loved, but mobile devices hate
those. Instead, I made a banner by
cutting a strip of it and used it as a header, and I matched the dark
background in solid color. It has the same feel as the full wallpaper graphic.
I limited all my book covers to a uniform, and much smaller size (200x300 pixels). They are still big enough to look
good on the large screen, and they easily adapt to the small screen of my cell
phone. I didn’t go for the stripped down mobile version. I’m a flamboyant girl,
and I do like color and graphics, even on my cell.
I reduced the number of pages to
simplify navigation. No more cats and fancy flashing banners. Not every book
has a page, now. I have a page for each genre (since I write in several
genres), and a page for each series. When you click on the covers, you get to a
place on the page with the full book information. If you only have a few books,
then you probably want to have an entire page for each book. But with over
twenty-five titles, not counting the boxed sets, anthologies and special
editions, I had to make a different choice.
I gave the new pages carefully chosen names and descriptions, as well as fresh
metatags and search words (in the file properties section of each page if you
design your own site). You want to make sure your site shows up on top of the
list when a reader is Googling your name.
I made the buy links and social media buttons part of the header, so each page
has a link to my media pages, and to my author page on Amazon, B&N, ARe,
Kobo, Smashwords, etc. Experts are divided on this, but as a small press
author, I still think a reader should be able to buy my books in three clicks.
That is the golden rule in Internet retailing. If your books are only in brick
and mortar bookstores, you do not need all these links front and center, but I
After the new site went live, I received rave comments from marketers and
friendly suggestions from author website experts, and I quickly implemented the
suggested changes I deemed useful. And voila!
site is now five times lighter than it was before, and I don’t have to worry
about increased hosting costs. The pictures load fast, even if you have a slow
Internet connection. It’s easy to navigate, and user friendly. It contains all
my books and has room for many more. It looks fabulous on a cell phone. I can
now send my readers there with the utmost confidence.
important basic tips to keep in mind:
1 - Get your authorname.com or
soandsoauthor.com domain name. No one ever checks .net .biz or .tv
2 - Be weary of website designers who are not
familiar with specific author business. Authors have different needs. Visit the
websites of the most successful authors in your genre for inspiration. It’s all
right to copy their ideas. They know the business and instructed their website
designer accordingly. They have teams of experts keeping their site up to the
new media and market demands.
3 - Always have at least one book cover
(latest release) on your front page if you are published. The reader should
know at first glance they’ve landed on the right author website.
4 - keep it simple, easy to navigate. Links,
5 - Use precise tags and search
words, so your site shows up on top of search list results.
hope this helps. This said, good luck redesigning your author website.
Swords, Romance with a Kick
in France, award-winning author Vijaya Schartz never conformed to anything and
could never refuse a challenge. She likes action and exotic settings, in life
and on the page. She traveled the world and claims to also travel through time,
as she writes without boundaries about the future and the far away past. Her
love of cats transpires in many of her books... and she has more than
twenty-five novels published. Her stories collected numerous five star reviews
and a few literary awards. Find her and her books at http://www.vijayaschartz.com
release from Vijaya Schartz:
CRUSADER, Curse of the Lost Isle Book 6 (standalone)
AD ‑ To redeem a Pagan curse, Palatina the Fae braves the Christian world to
embark on an expedition to free the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem from the Turks.
Pierre de Belfort, Christian Knight of Lorraine, swore never to let a woman
rule his life, and doesn't believe in love. Thrown together into the turmoil of
the First Crusade, on a sacred journey to a land of fables, they must learn to
trust each other. For in this war, the true enemy is not human... and discovery
could mean burning at the stake.