Wednesday, May 6, 2015

IWSG: Ask PZM revised July 2010 Website Elements


It's that the first Wednesday of the month, which also means it's Insecure Writer's Support Group Wednesday. Thanks to our noble Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaughit's time to share our fears and insecurities, or support and assistance. Doesn't matter which.


If you'd like to join Insecure Writer's Support Group, click hereBe sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.

Our hashtag is #IWSG

Your awesome co-hosts for the May 6 posting of the IWSG will be Eva Solar, Melanie Schulz, Lisa-Buie Collard, and Stephen Tremp!

Please stop by and thank them for their time. Yay co-host/minions!




Ask PZM:



Q: What are the most important elements for a book author website?

The most important element of all is the ability for you the author to make changes yourself at a moment’s notice.  If you have an unexpected book signing come up or a fabulous book review that you want to post asap, then you need to be able to do that.

This ability in the past was usually out of the question for people who didn’t know website coding (or whose spouse, child, parent, etc. didn’t know it).  People had to wait on – and pay – their website builder to make even the simplest changes.

In recent years the ability to use WordPress.org (known as just WordPress) for both a blog and a website has changed the landscape so that the power can now be in your own hands. 

Once a WordPress self-hosted site is up, you can make changes as easily as you make changes in Word.  (Of course, there is a similar learning curve as with Word.)

First, a clarification.  I am NOT talking about WordPress.com, which is a hosted site the same way a blogger site is a hosted blog site.

Second, you still usually need a web person to set up your self-hosted WordPress blog/site before you take over the management yourself.  And what’s more, just any WordPress website isn’t necessarily ideal for your purposes. 

You need a site created by a web person who understands search engine optimization, keywords, etc. as well as arranging user friendly navigation on the site.

Third, your website address (the URL or domain name of the site) is important.  When you use your website address on social media sites, you want it to reflect what your site is about.  If you want to use a book title as a website address and the book title is not very specific, such as the imaginary “Having Fun,” you might want to get an URL that includes “thebook” as part of the domain name.   

(All is not lost if you have a site now without an effective website address.  You can get a better URL and have it redirected to your site.)

Another consideration before choosing a book title as your website address: If you have written or are writing more than one book, perhaps it would be better to have one website with your author name as the address rather than individual websites each with a specific book title used as the website address.

I learned this the hard way because I started out with a book title website for my first self-published book, MRS. LIEUTENANT.  Eventually I added that site to my new author site of www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com and then redirected the www.mrslieutenant.com website address to the book’s page on my author site.

Fourth, of course, you want to make it very clear where someone can buy your book – and make it very easy for people to do so. 

For example, you do NOT want to give a link to the home page of Amazon.  After all, when people get to the home page of Amazon, they can get easily distracted and forget what book they are looking for or actually try unsuccessfully to find your book.

Make sure that the link to purchase your book is directly to the book’s page on a site and make that link very obvious.  Have the link near the top of the page and not where people have to scroll down to find it.

Fifth, make sure that people coming to your book author site know exactly what is on offer.  Is the book fiction or nonfiction?  The first of a trilogy?  An award-winning book?  And the cover of your book should be featured prominently. 

Here are examples from my author website – I have a fiction tab and a non-fiction tab on the nav at the top of the site:



Sixth, if at all possible, have a blog as part of your website (using WordPress for a site automatically includes the opportunity to have a blog as part of the site).  A blog is usually the best way to continually add fresh content to a website, and search engines love fresh content.  Thus fresh content on a blog can help your site rank higher in the search engine results.

Also, have a sign-up on your site so that people can automatically get your new blog posts either through email notification or through an RSS feed. 

In addition, while the above are what I consider the most important elements for a book author website, a bonus element would be offering a free gift in exchange for having people join your email list (different than your blog feed signup) so that you can keep in front of your potential fans through email marketing. 

This email list should be run through an email marketing service rather than you adding people to your own email account.  Two main reasons for this:  An email marketing service helps get your emails through the spam filters and an email marketing service looks much more professional than sending out a group email of your own.

And, finally, remember to periodically review the content of your website.  Make sure that the event information is current, for example, and that all the information and links are still accurate.

© 2010 Miller Mosaic, LLC


Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter) has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the author of fiction and nonfiction books.  She blogs about book-related topics at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com  

57 comments :

  1. I used Wordpress for my website and oh boy was I confused! I'm used to Blogger so it took a while to understand how everything works. So taking the time to get to know all the gadgets, formats, and pages is very important.

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    1. I actually don't like blogger much, but I feel like I'm stuck with it. Learning new tricks is never easy for me. Thanks for visiting, Chrys.

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  2. Luckily my son is savy in this area...now, if he could transfer all the knowledge to me. Thanks again for all the information. I love reading these!

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    1. Thanks, TD. We appreciate your support always.

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  3. Despite the fact my work often includes website design, I was lazy with my own and just went with Blogger. I didn't do a newsletter, either. Epic Ninja Fail.

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    1. I'm not an advocate of newsletters, so you not having one doesn't worry me. Your blog covers everything, Alex. You do more than anyone else I know.

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  4. I use blogger for my blog and Go Daddy for my website. I built both by myself and continue to improve them. The website did cost money, but it was well worth it.

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  5. Yes, I saw the photograph of the tree! So pleased you download my poetry, Joylene. The lovely reviews have encouraged me to write more. I'm a poet first and a novelist second, but very few people purchase poetry books.

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    1. There is something truly wonderful about poetry. I love how lyrical yours are, Carole.

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  6. I don't think I could ever switch to Wordpress...too attached to blogger.

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    1. I don't work well with change. And it took so long to feel comfort with blogger. Hi Anne.

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  7. I know how to use blogger and I'll probably never switch. I could do better keeping it updated.

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    1. Hi Susan. I'm with you. I need to put a bit more effort into my pages. And I will. Thanks for stopping by.

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  8. Some excellent pointers, thanks, Phyllis, and just as applicable now as they were in 2010. I haven't invested the effort or money in a 'real' website, but have been content with the versatility and simplicity of Wordpress for my blog. I'll pay for the name upgrade when/if I reach the point of publication. At that point I'll switch the Home page to a static one and make one of the other pages into the blog so that the site functions more like a regular website.

    I learn a lot about what's effective by visiting other writers' websites and blogs. I keep a folder of screenshots of the aspects that appeal to me. Someday I might get around to incorporating them. LOL.

    One aspect of some sites that I really dislike is the pop-up that advertises the bonus element of signing up for a newsletter. The pop-ups are turning up everywhere, and cancelling them before I can move into the site is annoying.

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    1. I find them annoying too, and wonder what prompts a blogger to include them. Is there really enough money in it to warrant such an annoyance? Don't know. Thanks, Carol.

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  9. One of these days, I'm going to transfer over from Blogger to a self-hosted Wordpress site. Not that Blogger is bad, but the Terms of Service say they are free to do what they want with the content I publish through them.

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    1. Free to do what they want, is always a scary thing to read. Thanks for visiting, Ken.

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  10. I love WordPress and think it's superior to Blogger, but I like that Blogger is integrated with all the other Google products. It's a tough choice. Thanks for the helpful info!

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    1. You're welcome, CD. Thanks for visiting.

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  11. Joylene, thanks so much for hosting Phyllis today. I always enjoy her information and use it when I can. I haven't gone over to WP because for me, it isn't as user friendly as blogger, but I did have a pro set up my blog/site and am glad I did. Now I need to work on that email list! Also, glad you dropped by today and commented on my blog! Always nice to have you visit! Lisa, co-host #IWSG May, @ http://www.lisabuiecollard.com

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    1. Thanks for co-hosting, Lisa. I'm sorry I don't get over for a visit as often as I'd like. I truly appreciate your support.

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  12. Thanks so much for this info, Phyllis. As always, I appreciate your insight. Joylene, the ever gracious hostess, thanks to you as well. :)

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    1. Glad it helped, Karen. Have a great day.

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  13. A lot of great tips! I am self-hosted WordPress on my own domain. I did have Blogger at one time, but grew grumpy with it. I'm pretty happy with what I have now.

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    1. You're braver than I am, Loni. I would like to switch, but I don't want to lose what I've done here. Might have to come to that tho.

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  14. It seems that I can comment from a different computer system than my own system. First, thanks to everyone who leaves comments each month on my posts. Much appreciated and I apologize that until now I have been unable to respond.


    Second, for Carol Garvin: On my author website that is WordPress I put the blog on the home page because I thought it would make that site more interesting to have occasional fresh content on the home page. The beauty of a self-hosted WordPress site is that you can put the blog wherever you want on the site.

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    1. I am thrilled you can now comment, Phyllis. At least now it won't seem as if you're my phantom guest blogger any longer. This is exciting revelation.

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  15. Some very good tips on setting up a site. My website is more geared toward my professional speaking, but I do list my books. It's hosted on a site where I am able to go in and make changes whenever I need to.

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    1. I can make changes to this blog whenever, but the formatting is a nightmare to control. It's always a "what you see is not what you get" dilemma.

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  16. Great list! I've been rearranging things slowly. Taking out things and adding others. I'm trying to change my branding. It'll be a loooong process 'cause I don't want to freak out regular followers. LOL!

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    1. Your page looks great, Lexa. It's always a welcome place to visit.

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  17. Hey Joylene,

    How's it goin', eh?

    As per usual, even though weird jargon to me, I know that Phyllis brings a lot of practical advice to your site. I keep my own blog site as simple as possible. Goes nicely with my personality. Noted that Phyllis can leave comments on here now. That's very good.

    Thanks for being part of "IWSG" aka "I Was Seeking Gary".

    Gary

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    1. The thing is, Gary, your blog goes a long ways in making me feel at home. Love the photos, love Penny, love your go-to-attitude. No BS, glad I found your blog so many years ago.

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  18. Making it clear and concise is definitely key.

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    1. Which is why it certainly helps to get feedback. Carrie Butler provides that service for authors. Thanks, Lynda.

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  19. Let me chime in here to say that it is important that the information on a site is "clear and concise" to the site visitor. Many times things that are clear to us as the owner of a site are not clear to a visitor.

    Also, it is important to review the content of a site on a regular basis. Things change and a site should be as current as possible.

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    1. I'm still doing the happy dance over your virtual presence. Very kewl. It's a huge plus!

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  20. Neuro Linguistic Programming, Joylene, I use the work of Paul McKenna.

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    1. Thanks, Carole. I'll check him out.

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  21. I was surprised to find out how many people didn't understand permalinks. You really need some technical savvy to be an author anymore.

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    1. What's so amazing is every question can be answered simply by querying online. I have family and friends asking me tech questions all the time. I point to their phone and remind them they have access to anything they need. Interesting that they forget that. Thanks, Lee.

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    2. Absolutely true. I'm always typing in How to XXX, and up pops an answer or a forum where I can find help.

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  22. Thanks for the advice. Yes, this is all too much to remember and do in this time and age.

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    1. One step at a time. Thanks, RR. Happy writing.

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  23. Good advice! Lucky for me, I started following bloggers with more know-how than myself years before I started taking forays into setting up my own brand. Otherwise the danger is doing a ton of work and gathering readers, only to have to re-do brand and website and blog down the track.

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    1. Very true. And then there's the keeping up with changes. Most days my head's spinning. Thanks for Phyllis, I keep on top of things. Hi Yvette. Thanks for visiting.

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  24. Thanks for the tips. I'm just about to set up a website (or maybe have it set up for me!) so it's good to know some of the things I'll need to consider. So far all I've done is registered the domain name - that's in my author names so it seems I got that bit right!

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  25. I use WordPress, but I'm not self-hosted. I know, I know. I should be. But just thinking of it makes my head hurt.

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    1. I understand, TBM. That's why it's so important that we continually bring new elements to the forefront, while encouraging each other. Thanks for visiting.

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  26. My website actually isn't self-hosted, either--despite my advice for other writers. What can I say? I just don't have the money. Instead, I usually a really awesome freebie host called Weebly. :)

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    1. There are lots of writers in the same boat, Carrie. Thanks for the info.

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  27. Great advice! I tried managing my own web site but backed off after it turned out to be complicated way beyond my computer skills. Have been thinking about the alternative and looking into a small company in Atlanta that handles this stuff. -- Hope I can finally return to a blogging routine -- computer issues and a bit of playing hooky turned ate up the days. But the flower garden I started from scratch is blooming its heart out. Hope all's well with you and yours Joylene.

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  28. This is wonderful advice! Thank you for sharing! I don't have a book out (yet), but I will bookmark this for when I do.

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